Indian army chief’s statement meaningless: FM Qureshi

MULTAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Saturday said Indian army chief Bipin Rawat’s recent statement is meaningless and that it will not change Pakistan’s ideology. A day earlier, the Indian army chief had said, “Pakistan has made its state an Islamic state. If they have to stay together with India, then they have to develop as a secular state.” Speaking to reporters in Multan, the foreign minister said, “The opening of Kartarpur corridor was hailed globally with people on both sides of the border agreeing to it and India even sending two of its ministers.” "It was our wish that the foreign minister and the governor of Punjab also attend the groundbreaking but this was a good first step and we should take it in a positive way,” he added. The foreign minister continued, "It is Prime Minister Imran Khan and the government’s desire that there should be peace and stability in the region. If there is peace in the region then the government can pay attention to the problems facing the country. Pakistan is facing economic and employment issues which can be solved through investment,” he said. “Investment will only come through peace,” FM Qureshi stressed. He added Pakistan desires for peace on its eastern and western borders and better relations with its neighbours. Responding to the Indian army chief’s statement on a secular country the foreign minister said, the remarks were meaningless and will not change their ideology. “Pakistan is an Islamic state and came into being because of an ideology. These remarks will not change it,” he asserted. On the subject of a separate South Punjab province, the foreign minister said, “A separate South Punjab province is part of our manifesto and we are working towards finalising it.” He added, “There are some legal hindrances and we do not have the majority to make constitutional amendments. We need the support of the opposition parties." Qureshi shared that the steps needed to facilitate the people of South Punjab have been decided. “We will make a secretariat and will employ senior officers who will make sure that problems are solved closer to home rather than Lahore.” “Keeping in mind the region's backwardness and requirements it has been decided that a separate development programme will be set up from next year. If we take a look at the current budget it is clear that more money is spent on other districts than South Punjab which creates an imbalance and we need to end that,” he added. When asked about the rise in the price of the dollar, the foreign minister said, “There are several reasons behind the rise of the dollar and we can only speculate. The rupee was artificially stagnant and we have to find a way around the market mechanism.” “We have to see how we can increase our exports. When there is an increase in exports there will be an increase in foreign exchange,” he added. Qureshi further said, “We received a pile of problems and are trying to solve them. We are facing problems and the nation will also have to face them too. We are trying that the burden is shifted to those who can take it.”
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