Pakistan was facing a "challenging situation" on the western frontiers with Afghanistan as well as the eastern front with India, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Wednesday. Addressing the Business Leaders Summit in Islamabad, he said, the topmost priority of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is to revitalise the cash-strapped country's economy.
But Qureshi said the country faced challenging situation on its western and eastern borders. "We have a challenging situation on the western front in Afghanistan and we have a situation brewing on the eastern front. You saw what happened in the last few days post-Pulwama," he said, referring to the recent tensions between India and Pakistan after the February 14 terror attack carried out by a suicide bomber belonging to the Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
Both India and Afghanistan have blamed Islamabad for not doing enough to curb terrorism and allowing terror groups operating in Pakistan to carry out cross-border attacks. On relations with India, Qureshi said, Prime Minister Imran Khan had offered a hand of friendship towards New Delhi after assuming office.
"Prime Minister Imran reaffirmed that Islamabad will take two steps if New Delhi takes one. Pakistan wants to solve issues with India through negotiations," he said. The foreign minister said that the ruling PTI's economic team has taken many steps for economic uplift of the country during the first six months of the government.
"The government is taking steps to create investment opportunities in the country and these steps have already paid the dividends," he said. "When Prime Minister Khan came into power six months ago he inherited a lot of challenges, including corruption and other socio-economic ills, which had to be overcome."
"PTI has been elected on the agenda of change and the people will see a change by the end of the tenure of the present government," Qureshi said. The priorities of the government are clear. The government's leadership is very clear on its priorities.
"We do not have Swiss bank accounts and Canadian passports," he said. Speaking about business opportunities, he said the government plans to make Pakistan a hub of business and investment in the region.
He said the government is focused on economic diplomacy and to increase bilateral trade as Pakistan has a geo-strategic location. "We are increasing bilateral trade with Iran, China and other countries of the region," Qureshi said.
"China is our strategic partner and we want to transform this relationship into an economic partnership. We are negotiating with China to help Pakistan in the agriculture sector and in establishing economic zones," he said.
(With inputs from agencies.)