Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has reaffirmed Pakistan’s readiness to work with the United States as a partner for achieving peace and security in the region.
“Pakistan desires a broader and comprehensive partnership with the United States, beyond security and particularly in the education sector,” he said while addressing a gathering of students, academicians, think tank analysts, and media persons at an exclusive event organized by the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC, and hosted by Vali Nasr, author and dean of the School.
Speaking on the topic ‘Pakistan’s Efforts in Internal and Regional Security’, the interior minister covered a wide range of areas from Pakistan’s counter-terrorism operations, which had resulted in a marked decline in terrorist incidents in the country, to Pakistan’s role in promoting regional peace and stability.
Iqbal briefed the audience about the National Action Plan (NAP), the 20-point program developed by the government to counter terrorism and extremism.
The implementation of the NAP, in conjunction with the sweeping counter-terrorism operations undertaken by the country’s security forces, had been critical in improving the security situation in Pakistan, the minister said.
This was now paying dividends in the form of rising investor interest in Pakistan, including from corporate America.
The minister said Pakistan shared the international community’s concerns about the instability in Afghanistan, which continued to spill over into Pakistan.
He said that Pakistan desired peace in Afghanistan and would thus support any effort to effect political reconciliation in Afghanistan, which was the only viable path towards obtaining lasting peace in the region.
The minister said that blaming Pakistan for the security failures in Afghanistan was unhelpful as well as offensive to the people of Pakistan, whose sacrifices in the fight against terrorism were without parallel in the region.
The government has an economic vision for the country, which is based on peace and stability paradigm, he added.
Turning briefly to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Iqbal, who is also the Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms, said CPEC was envisioned as a regional connectivity project by Pakistan and China.
“CPEC would not only radically overhaul Pakistan’s transport and energy infrastructure, but it would act as a catalyst for regional integration. It should thus be welcomed by all countries that desire to see stability and prosperity in South Asia,” he added.