Pakistan will only partner with peace, Khan says in Davos speech

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan delivers a speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, on January 22, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 23 January 2020

Pakistan will only partner with peace, Khan says in Davos speech

  • The sooner there is peace in Afghanistan, the better it would be for the region – PM Khan
  • Pakistan ‘would not become part of any other conflict,’ he said

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in his speech on Wednesday told delegates at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos how maintaining peace was in Pakistan’s best interests in terms of its economy and geopolitics.

Khan chronicled the scourge of militancy and terrorism which became his country’s biggest impediment to growth when it partnered with the US during the Soviet-Afghan war and again in the war against terror post 9/11.

“That was a watershed for Pakistan. For economic growth, you need peace and stability and order. Militancy became an impediment. Once I came into power, I decided Pakistan will only partner with peace. We will not become part of any other conflict.”

He pointed out that Pakistan now favored dialogue. “We have tried to ease tensions between the US and Iran and to facilitate the peace process in Afghanistan.”

Following the keynote speech, WEF president Børge Brende held a brief question and answer session with Khan, during which the premier said that “2019 was the safest year in Pakistan.” 

He praised Pakistani security forces for halting the spread and rise of militancy. “I have to pay tribute to our security forces for crushing terrorism. The terrorism is coming from Afghanistan and the sooner there is peace in Afghanistan, it would benefit the region ... that can only happen if the Taliban and Afghan government sit together.”

He further highlighted Pakistan’s stance that Afghan peace must be achieved through dialogue, not military efforts. “I do not understand why countries go to resolve differences through military conflicts. When you start a conflict, you don’t know when it will finish ... US and Afghan war has cost trillions,” he said.

With regard to ongoing tensions between Iran and the US, Khan said that a war between them “would be a disaster for the world. Suddenly, everything will be offset, and God knows how long it will go on. We have spoken to Saudi Arabia and (the) United States. I spoke to (Donald) Trump that this conflict would be disastrous.”

When asked what the US president’s response was, Khan smiled and said that Trump “didn’t say anything.”

In the keynote speech, the premier also pointed to improving state institutions and making the issue of addressing climate change one of his top priorities through reforestation. 

“As a child, I fell in love with the wilderness, nature, and mountains of Pakistan. If I ever got the opportunity, I would preserve the nature of this country and start a reforestation campaign,” said Khan, who achieved his goal of planting 1 billion trees before coming to power.

Noting that Pakistan was vulnerable to climate change and that pollution had become a “silent killer,” he added that his next objective was to plant 10 billion trees over the next four years.

Concluding his speech, Khan added that Pakistan had great “mineral wealth” and its gold and copper reserves alone could pay off the country’s inflated foreign debt. China was also helping Pakistan to develop its “very fertile agriculture land.”

Khan also held bilateral meetings with several world leaders on the sidelines of the forum, including the US president.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the WEF and the Pakistani premier is visiting Davos on the invitation of Prof. Klaus Schwab, the forum’s founder and executive chairman.

Bringing stranded Pakistanis home is government's 'top priority' — Qureshi

Updated 01 April 2020

Bringing stranded Pakistanis home is government's 'top priority' — Qureshi

  • Hundreds were left stuck in transit after Pakistan sealed its borders to prevent virus spread
  • Flight operation for Canada to resume from Friday and UK from April 4, PIA official says

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Wednesday that bringing stranded Pakistanis back to their homeland was government's top priority.
He chaired a high-level meeting at the foreign ministry in Islamabad to discuss the situation arising from Coronavirus outbreak when Hundreds of Pakistanis in transit were left stranded at airports across the world after the country sealed its borders to prevent imported virus cases.
“We discussed phase wise repatriation of Pakistanis from different countries of the world and our top most priority are those who are stranded at different airports,” Qureshi said.
Pakistan suspended all incoming international flights on March 22 as part of sweeping measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Qureshi said that a crisis management cell had been established at the ministry of foreign affairs which was in touch with the Pakistani embassies in the world. "We have the exact number of Pakistanis abroad.”
The minister added that set safety protocol will be followed for all the passengers, as was seen last week for the flight coming from Thailand.
“All the 170 passengers of special flight from Thailand were tested and all of them were found negative. We have to ensure provision of quarantine and other medical facilities for the coronavirus positive people at airports,” he said.
The meeting was also attended by the Federal Minister for Aviation Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Special Assistant for Overseas Pakistanis Zulfiqar Bukhari, Special Assistant for National Security Dr Moeed Yousuf, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood, Secretary of Aviation Division Hasan Nasir Jami, senior officials of foreign ministry and military officials.
The spokesperson of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Abdullah Hafeez, said the national carrier had received government's nod to start limited flights for repatriation of Pakistanis stuck abroad.
“The government has allowed PIA to resume partial flight operations,” Hafeez told Arab News on Wednesday.
In the first phase, flights will operate to Canada and United Kingdom from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, he said.
“A limited number of passengers will be brought back in the first phase so that they can be tested for COVID-19 according to the National Institute of Health (NIH) capability,” Hafeez said. 
Two chartered flights carrying 400 passengers, including the Canadian High Commission staff, will set off for Toronto from Islamabad International Airport on Thursday, he informed. 
“The regular flight operation for Toronto will resume on April 3 while for United Kingdom, it will start from April 4,” he said.
The spokesperson added that on the way back, all flights will land only at Islamabad airport where passengers will be kept in quarantine for six hours in different hotels until the results of their coronavirus tests arrive. 
“The passengers with negative reports will be allowed to leave for their homes with NIH guidelines and COVID-19 positive passengers will be taken to quarantine centers for further treatment,” Hthe official said.
He added that passengers would be able to book the tickets from PIA website and require to wear mask without which they would not be allowed to board the plane. 
"PIA staff has been given special training to ensure their safety and all aircrafts would be disinfected after each travel,” the spokesman said.