ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Saturday expressed confidence that despite numerous economic and political challenges faced by Pakistan, the country’s people would unite to overcome these difficulties and create a better future.
During an interview with Al-Jazeera English TV channel while visiting Iraq, the foreign minister emphasized the global significance of the devastating floods that occurred in Pakistan last year. The floods affected 33 million people and resulted in substantial financial losses that had far-reaching implications for Pakistan’s economy.
In order to rebuild a climate-resilient Pakistan, the foreign minister mentioned that a conference had been organized in Geneva in collaboration with the United Nations. Efforts were being made to materialize the pledges of approximately $9 to $10 billion made during the conference. Furthermore, significant financial support had been arranged through bilateral engagements with international financial institutions. The foreign minister also stated that they were working towards reviving the International Monetary Fund (IMF) program.
Regarding allegations of funds misuse in the past, the foreign minister dismissed them as baseless and unsubstantiated. He clarified that misconceptions about fund utilization were rooted in frivolous accusations, none of which had ever been proven. In response to allegations made by PTI chief Imran Khan, the foreign minister held him responsible for his own downfall, stating that history would prove it. He said that Imran Khan always supported dictators in the past and the documented fact that his rise to power was through rigged elections.
The foreign minister mentioned that the announcement by the military top brass, declaring the army’s commitment to remain apolitical, had upset PTI supporters. He added that citizens were offended by the incidents on May 9 when PTI supporters attacked the GHQ and Corps Commander House. He assured that those involved in the incidents would face legal consequences.
When asked about political change, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari emphasized that change could not happen overnight. He stressed that the only way to bring about change was through democratic forces in society and through the civilian and political processes involving the parliament. He criticized Imran Khan for paying less attention to parliament and underscored the importance of strengthening the democratic role of civilian and political leadership.
The foreign minister highlighted that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had always challenged dictatorships, including the last one under General Musharraf. He expressed regret that no other political party in Pakistan had mounted an attack similar to the one carried out by PTI on May 9.
Regarding the situation in Afghanistan after the fall of Kabul, the foreign minister stated that Pakistan’s position aligned with that of the international community. He emphasized the international community’s expectations for the Taliban to respect women’s rights, promote education, and prevent the use of Afghan soil for terrorist activities. He stressed the need for the global community to engage with the new rulers of Afghanistan for a secure and prosperous Afghanistan.
The foreign minister acknowledged security threats from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and stated that Pakistan wanted the Taliban to take action against these terrorists. He mentioned a recent meeting between Pakistan, China, and Afghanistan that focused on the threats of terrorism.
Regarding relations with Iran, the foreign minister highlighted the establishment of a border market at the Iran-Balochistan border to encourage bilateral trade. Efforts were also underway to establish electricity transmission from Iran to Balochistan. He considered the restoration of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran as a positive development that could lead to resolution of regional issues and peace dividends.
Addressing allegations against China’s investments in Pakistan, the foreign minister rejected them as biased and emphasized the strategic cooperation between the two countries for economic prosperity. He expressed optimism about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the increased economic activity between the two countries.
The foreign minister reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to maintaining relations with all countries and