Pakistan FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi says, We stand with the UAE and will protect its interests on all fronts.


Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday said the UAE and Pakistan have developed strong relationships over a period of time and it will further strengthen in future.

Talking to Khaleej Times after visiting the Pakistan Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, Qureshi said the UAE is a time-tested friend and Pakistan is committed to support its sovereignty and safety.

“We are strategic partners and will remain strategic partners on all fronts. Either it is economy or diplomacy or politics or defence, we stand with the UAE and will protect its interests on all fronts,” Qureshi told Khaleej Times.

He said Pakistan has already condemned Yemen’s Houthi rebels’ attacks on UAE, calling the act a violation of the principle of state sovereignty while demanding an end to such military strikes.

“Such acts of terrorism are a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the UAE. They also pose a serious threat to the overall peace and stability in the region and must be stopped immediately,” Qureshi said.

The foreign minister paid rich tribute to the UAE leadership for hosting a successful Expo despite the challenges in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.

“I’m impressed to see the first Expo in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. All credit goes to the UAE leadership for hosting such a huge show with a success,” Qureshi said.

OIC Islamabad Summit

Qureshi invited foreign ministers of Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for Islamabad Summit next month to discuss important issues such as Palestine, Kashmir, Islamophobia and climate change, among others.

“I have invited the UAE foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to attend the OIC Islamabad Summit on March 22 and 23. He has prior commitments for Expo 2020 that will conclude on March 31st, but still he will try to attend the two-day event or send his representative,” Qureshi said.

“I will be visiting the national pavilions of some friendly nations today. I will also go to OIC Pavilion at the Expo 2020 to extend the Islamabad Summit invitation to all OIC foreign ministers,” he said.

Afghan issue

The Pakistan foreign minister also highlighted Afghan humanitarian crisis at his media briefing and said the international community must act to address severe shortage of food and medicine in the war-hit nation.

“World should help Afghanistan and must pay attention to resolve its crisis as 38 million Afghan population has been facing serious issues due to sanctions and blockage of its foreign exchange reserves,” he said.

“We have been hosting four million Afghan brothers and sisters for the past four decades and now don’t have capacity to receive another influx of refugees. If we will not address the Afghan concerns, then economic migrants will knock the European door,” the foreign minister said, adding that the sanctions on Afghan government should be eased and gradual steps should be taken to resolve the crisis.

PM Russia, China visit

Qureshi also shed light on Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan visit to Russia next week and said it will be a historic to propel bilateral economic and defence relations as well as pave the way for trade with central Asian states.

“We have taken gradual steps to build up our relations with Russia and the Prime Minister visit on February 24 and 25 will unlock opportunities to boost economy, trade and investment as well as defence ties,” the foreign minister said.

In reply to a question about the Prime Minister’s recent visit to China, he said it was very successful and further strengthen our bilateral economic and diplomatic ties.

“We have decided to accelerate work on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as well as promote industrial transformation and agricultural development in Pakistan. It was one of the fruitful visits and results are beyond our expectations,” Qureshi said.

Later, the Foreign Minister also visited the pavilions of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, China and Turkey.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UAE Afzal Mahmood, Consul General of Pakistan in Dubai Hassan Afzal Khan, and Director of Pakistan Pavilion, Rizwan Tariq, also accompanied with Qureshi.

Earlier, Tariq briefed the Foreign Minister on the design and features of the Pakistani Pavilion, which is divided into seven different sections, including Pakistan’s history, culture and tourism.

So far, about one million people have visited the Pakistani Pavilion. Due to its unique design, it is among the top five pavilions at Expo 2020 Dubai.

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