December 2004 News

Big Powers Share Pak View On Kashmir: Musharraf

9 December 2004
The Nation

On Board President`s Aircraft: President General Pervez Musharraf has described his visit to Latin America, the US, UK and France as highly productive saying it helped improve Pakistan's political and diplomatic ties with these countries and also opened new vistas of economic cooperation. 'It's been a very positive visit. During my meetings with the leadership of these countries we enhanced our bilateral ties and I utilised the opportunity to improve perceptions about Pakistan; on top of it we secured firm commitments to bolstering our trade with these important economies,' he said flying back home from Paris. The President said Pakistan deems it very important to foster close diplomatic, political and economic ties with Latin American nations. 'The response, both in political and economic dimensions of the relationship has been great and now we will build on this through a consistent follow-up strategy,' he said. Continuing, the President disclosed that a special cell will be set up in the Ministry of Commerce, headed by a seasoned professional, which would follow up the goodwill elicited by the Latin American nations vis-a-vis cementing trade relations. In this context, he referred to Mexico's readiness to negotiate a free trade agreement and identification of areas of trade with Brazil and Argentina and said these would be pursued with concrete efforts. Referring to his talks with President George Bush at the White House, the President said Washington has assured him of considering a free trade agreement, saying it would impart a boost to Pakistani exports. The President said British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacque Chirac have also expressed their support for Pakistan's efforts to have preferential trade with the robust European Union countries. 'We are hopeful of taking major strides in our exports and this would help reduce poverty and also curb extremism.' The visit, he said also served to invigorate diplomatic ties with the countries. This is evident from Mexican President's decision to visit Pakistan next year for opening Mexico's embassy in Islamabad, 32 years after Pakistani mission was established in the North American country, he said. On the world situation, he said the leaders of the powerful Western countries, the US, Britain and France - were receptive to his urging that political disputes must be addressed to rid the world of terrorism in the long-term. 'I put across a loud and clear message that the underlying causes of terror have to be addressed because, if left festering, the disputes will continue to breed a sense of deprivation and extremism.' He said Washington, London and Paris also shared Pakistan's emphasis that the long-standing Jammu and Kashmir dispute needs to be resolved for durable peace and stability in South Asia. In answer to a question, Musharraf said it is a matter of pride for Pakistan that the world leaders asked him to play a role in addressing major international issues including Palestine. 'It is great for the country that we are being asked to contribute our bid in resolving world disputes - the world believes we have a role - it clearly signifies our elevated status in the comity of nations. 'The world recognises that Pakistan has a significant role to play in the region, in the Muslim world and the world at large - it should be a matter of great pride for us.' Pakistan, he said has been striving for injecting a new life into the Organisation of Islamic Conference to make it an effective body of the Muslim world.


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