Ahsan Iqbal says Pakistan committed to peace in region

 
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ISLAMABAD, Sep 18 (TNS): Minister for Interior Prof Ahsan Iqbal Monday said Pakistan was committed to peace in the region and would not allow anybody to use its soil for terrorism.

Speaking to media persons here after attending a ceremony of Asia Peace Festival organised by Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA), he said, “Pakistan does not want that its land is used against any other country, or any other country uses its land against Pakistan.”

To a question, he said the government was working in coordination with the Afghan government to promote regional peace.  In certain cases, he said condemned prisoners in jails were used to defame Pakistan.

The minister said Pakistan would lodge protest and use diplomatic sources, if others committed terrorism against it. He said only a strong economy would ensure a strong defence for Pakistan.

Development and improved standard of living was not possible without peace, stability and harmony, Ahsan said adding the world had entered the information age and countries were competing for economic ascendancy.

“If there is a conflict, then the development process gets stalled in the country.”     He said Pakistan had defeated terrorism and now its economy, sports activities and tourism were being revived.

To a question, the minister said the bye-elections in NA-120 in Lahore was a victory for democracy. People voted for the agenda of development and not for those who wanted to create chaos in the country, he stressed. “In the past, the country was facing 20 hour long electricity shortages. Now electricity is available 20 hours a day.” He said people expressed confidence in the leadership of Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.

The minister said PMLN had reservations about the way elections were held in Lahore, adding he had sought report from the institutions about the kidnapping of PMLN workers by anti-democratic forces.

He congratulated the Pakistan Council of the Arts and organisers of Asian Film Festival for arranging a film festival in which thousands of films were presented for screening by film makers of 30 countries.  The minister said Pakistan was on a path of recovery, contrary to 2013, when Newsweek declared Pakistan as one of the most dangerous counties, but now there was renewed optimism and energy.

“Pakistan is a peaceful and hospitable country,” he told the audience comprising foreign delegates amid applause. He said as a developing country, Pakistan needed to harness its human and natural resources. Pakistan needed to make speedy progress by avoiding conflict and confrontation and by enhancing cooperation, he added. He said the government would be giving a tax relief package to filmmakers to promote the local film industry. He said Pakistan would now be a new destination for film makers. Actors and film makers were the agents of change, he remarked. He said the festival would bring people of Asia together and would lead to new platforms to expand regional connectivity and cooperation.

He said the future belonged to those who blended science with arts and focused on innovation and creativity.  Director General PNCA Jamal Shah highlighted the prominent features of the Film Festival.