Friday, 3 December 2021

UN chief assures Pakistan of constructive role in region

DAVOS: Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif said the United Nations has longstanding responsibility to play a role in the resolution of this issue. He said this during his meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the 47th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum at the Congress Centre. The UN secretary general assured Nawaz to play a vital role for countries in the region, including Pakistan. Nawaz said Kashmir was an international dispute, which remained on the agenda of the Security Council. He said a sustained dialogue process on all outstanding issues, including the Jammu and Kashmir was vital to make progress. It was in that spirit Pakistan invited India for discussions on the resolution of the Kashmir dispute, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and in line with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. India did not respond positively, he added. The PM said his government’s foremost priority was to build a peaceful neighbourhood. “We are committed to lasting peace and security in our region and an environment conducive to economic cooperation; which is in the interest of all the people of South Asia,” he added. “We are convinced that the welfare of the people of our region lies in economic progress and prosperity. This cannot be achieved if we are not able to resolve our problems and cooperate with each other,” he said. He said New Delhi was fuelling instability in an already tense region by adopting a no-talks posture, vitiating the atmosphere through incendiary statements, and trying to muzzle the voice for the legitimate right to self determination of the Kashmiris. He reiterated that the Kashmiris were guaranteed a free, transparent and impartial plebiscite by the resolutions of the UN Security Council. This promise was yet to materialise, he added.

“We look forward to your leadership and good offices. The United Nations has longstanding responsibility to play a role in the resolution of this issue,” he said. The secretary general assured Nawaz that he was fully cognizant of the sensitivity of the issues between India and Pakistan which has security consequences for the region. He praised Pakistan’s contribution for the United Nations and peacemaking operations as well as hosting millions of Afghan refugees. He said that he would play a very constructive and positive role for the countries in the region, including Pakistan. Nawaz also raised the issue of Indus Water Treaty with the UN Secretary General. “I am pleased to meet you soon after your assumption of office. It gives me great pleasure to see you leading the premier international institution,” he added. Nawaz appreciated his inspirational role as the UN’s high commissioner for refugees. “Your visits to Pakistan in that tenure enabled you to understand our challenges in hosting millions of refugees.” “Pakistan believes that you were the ideal candidate for Secretary Generalship. It needed a leader, to take it forward in to the 21st century,” he added. The PM said that the priorities Antonio Guterres had set soon after assuming his office were also encouraging. The UN member states need to put peace first, he added. “Pakistan assures you of its support and cooperation to enable you to fulfill your mandate”, the PM said, adding, “We also support your call for prioritizing conflict prevention and sustainable peace.”

He also invited the UN secretary general to visit Pakistan at his earliest convenience. “Your visit will showcase your support and commitment to peace and progress in the region,” he added. Separately, talking to a group of heads of companies at a roundtable, Nawaz said his government had devised a comprehensive plan to create investment friendly environment and was liberalising its policies to welcome foreign entrepreneurs. “We offer incentives to attract new capital inflows, including tax exemptions, tariff reductions, infrastructure, and investor facilitation services,” he said. The chief executive officers (CEOs) present at the roundtable included Tadashi Maeda, Chief Executive Officer, Executive Managing Director, Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Tokyo, Japan, Ilele Gordon, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, Ingredion Incorporated, US, Levent Cakiroglu, Chief Executive Officer, Koc Holding, Turkey, Sigve Brekke, President and Chief Executive Officer, Telenor Group, Norway, Wang Ling, Executive Vice President, Nestle, Petra Lox, Head Public Affairs, Novartis AG, Switzerland, Martyn Parker, Chairman, Global Partnerships, Swiss Re Management Ltd United Kingdom, Western Europe. Nawaz said Pakistan offered to establish special economic zones (SEZ), which provided tax holiday for investors with duty free import of plant and machinery. The government, he said, had set up export processing zones where investors enjoyed special facilities and tax holidays. He said it was all protected by legislation. “We would, therefore, like to invite you to establish your exclusive SEZ,” he said. The PM said the law for SEZ had been made to meet global challenges of competitiveness to attract foreign direct investment. He said it would allow creating industrial clusters with liberal incentives, infrastructure and investor facilitation services to enhance productivity and reduce cost of doing business. He said the economic outlook of Pakistan had altogether changed in the last three years, which was being acknowledged globally.

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