AZIZ'S VISIT TO JAPAN WAS THE EVENT OF THE WEEK
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz's visit to Japan, apart
from his tour to various other countries last week, seems to be the
highlight of the week as it is expected to have far reaching effects on
the economy of Pakistan. Particularly, decision of a leading Japanese
automobile company to use Pakistan as export terminal for global trading
might place Pakistan on the world map as a world class producer of
During his meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister
Junichiro Koizumi, PM Aziz presented specific proposals on ways and
means to further consolidate bilateral relations between Pakistan and
Japan while visiting Tokyo last week.
The Pakistani and Japanese premiers deliberated over
a wide spectrum of regional and global issues including Iran, Iraq and
Afghanistan situation, reforms in UN, Pakistan's relations with
neighboring countries and war on terror.
During his stay in Japan, PM Shaukat Aziz attended a
reception organized by friendship league of Pakistan, Japan
parliamentarians, PM observed that Pakistan-Japan relations were based
on the principles of mutual respect, non interference in each other's
internal affairs and proximity of views on global issues.
Outlining his meetings with various segments of
society, the Prime Minister observed that as an outcome of his meeting
with Japanese industrialists, they showed interest in making investment
in Pakistan and boosting economic ties. He added that a big delegation
from private sector is also accompanying him so that they could go for
interaction at personal level with Japanese trade and industry people.
Appreciating the impressive economic achievements of Japan, the PM paid
glowing tributes to the economic growth achieved by Japan, saying,
"this country in fact is a symbol and role model for all the
During his stay, PM Aziz observed that Pakistan was
not in an arms race with India as its nuclear program was aimed at
maintaining strategic balance in South Asia.
"We have no intention of matching India's
defense, but we will maintain a minimum deterrence," he remarked
while replying to a question about the recent US-India strategic accord.
The PM, however, said: "we believe in peace with all our neighbors
and are making progress in talks with India".
Pakistan's entire defense budget was far less than
the mere increase in Indian defense budget. The country's nuclear
program was defensive in nature, catering to its strategic needs.
"Pakistan's nuclear program is meant to maintain a strategic
balance in the South Asia Region," he observed and went on to say
that "we are not in any arms race with any country". Pakistan
desires peace with India but, he added, the two countries must try to
find a peaceful solution to the pending issues, especially the core
issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
The areas of health, education and social sectors
were the priority of his government, the PM declared.
He expressed the confidence that Pakistan would
attract three billion dollars worth of foreign direct investment (FDI)
during the current financial year. Honda Motors has announced to set up
a plant in Pakistan for exclusive manufacturing of CD-70 brand of its
motor bikes for global marketing.
The PM expressed the hope that decision of Japan to
resume official development assistance would encourage Japanese
companies to invest more in Pakistan. As a result of economic growth,
there was a great demand for infrastructure development in Pakistan. He
said the country needs to reform its railway, besides having more power
units to meet its growing energy needs.
Replying to a question, Prime Minister Aziz observed
that following the successful floatation of Islamic Bond, Sukuk-Pakistan
would go for another Euro Bond by the end of this year or early next
About UN reforms, Shaukat Aziz said Pakistan wants
the reforms to be broad based, democratic and equitable. "Our
policy is not country-specific, it is generic and based on principles,
he declared with a sense of clarity.
Answering to another question, PM said that the
attempt to link Pakistan in London bombings is unfortunate. There was no
evidence of link of any body to London incidents and no one has been
arrested in Pakistan in that connection, the PM observed.
Pakistan had no role or link in the nuclearization of
North Korea and the country strictly believed in non-proliferation.
"We believe in a nuclear free Korean peninsula and we also believe
that there should be no proliferation whatsoever.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz stated that the
information gathered from Dr AQ Khan network jointly with the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been shared with other
countries, besides Japan. We have closed this unfortunate chapter, which
was an individual act and grossly overstated, he remarked.
Pakistan was a responsible nuclear power with a
robust command and control system and added that the country's nuclear
assets were under that system. Pakistan has no linkage to what it is
being happening in the Korean peninsula, the PM categorically made
Pakistan's nuclear program was defensive in nature
and caters to its strategic needs, he reiterated. He, however, observed
that Pakistan believes that every country has the right to use nuclear
energy for peaceful purposes under the IAEA guidelines. "We do not
think anybody should proliferate and that's been our position
consistently". PM Aziz, in response to a query about the failure of
the six party talks in Beijing, said Pakistan was looking forward to
meet eight per cent of its energy needs through nuclear power under its
20-year energy plant. All the country's nuclear power plants were
working under the IAEA guidelines, he said.
STATUS QUO ON KASHMIR UNACCEPTABLE
During his stay in Japan, PM Aziz declared that
status quo on Kashmir was unacceptable and Pakistan and India need to
address the issue "squarely" without pushing it to the back
"Status quo is not the answer and we have to
think out of the box", the PM remarked in response to questions
after delivering a talk at the Japan Institute of International Affairs
on "the situation in and around South Asia and the future prospects
for South Asian Region".
The Kashmiris must get an opportunity to decide their
future and any solution must reflect the aspirations of the people of
Kashmir. All the three stakeholders have to sit on the table to arrive
at a solution, the PM stated.
"I remain optimistic and hope that the present
atmosphere will create an ambience leading towards the solution of this
complex issue." Aziz further said that Pakistan desires peaceful
environment in the region for its own interest. "Kashmir is the
long sanding dispute at the heart of tension in South Asia." The
PM, who was on a four-day visit to Japan, while addressing at the
prestigious Institute, observed that Pakistan was engaged with India for
the past two years in a peace process and have agreed upon a number of
confidence building measures.
"Atmosphere in South Asia has improved, but we
must make progress to resolve the core issue," he stressed.
"We believe that with sincerity, courage, and flexibility, it
should be possible to find a solution acceptable to Pakistan, India and
most importantly to the people of Kashmir. He said "we need to
address the issue squarely rather than trying to push it to the back
burner. This is an issue that concerns fundamental rights of the people
and simply cannot be ignored".
A peaceful resolution of disputes and differences,
especially Kashmir, will allow South Asia to fully realize its enormous
potential for development and cooperation, he pointed out.
"Both the countries need to look ahead and make
sincere efforts to achieve a solution to improve the atmosphere,"
he stressed. Referring to the trade between the two countries, he said
it was limited as Pakistan believed that progress on major issues has to
be tandem with the progress on the Kashmir issue and if this issue was
resolved, movement could also be made on other matters. Regarding new
dangers of terrorism and extremism, threat of proliferation and the
challenges of development that exist besides the conflict situations, PM
observed that good governance and progress have become necessary for
preservation of independence and sovereignty of a country.
The history of international terrorism in Pakistan's
neighborhood dates back to the days of Soviet invasion in 1979. He said
that at that time, the entire world, particularly the West, got united
to resist this aggression and to assist the Afghan Jihad.
"Afghanistan became the last front of the Cold
War. But after 10 long years when the Soviets withdrew, the world also
turned away from Afghanistan and got preoccupied with the surge of
freedom and free market in Eastern Europe and the collapse of Soviet
Union, a phenomenon partly triggered by Afghanistan," he added.
PM recalled that around 30,000 Arab Mujahideen
brought in the 80s to fight the Soviets coalesced into Al-Qaeda in the
90's with their own Middle East-specific agenda. He said Pakistan which
played a key role in resisting the Soviets in the 80s, has become a key
partner in the international fight against terrorism. "We reject
terrorism. It is a danger posing a serious threat to the modern
societies and is anti-progress. We are also fighting terrorism and
extremism primarily in our own interest," he added. Apart from
taking action against terrorists and extremists, there was a need to
address the root cause which lies in the long-standing disputes and
issues such as Palestine, the Middle East and Kashmir, he said.
Extremism and terrorism breed an environment of humiliation and
deprivation created by denial of freedom and justice, he remarked.
He referred to the concept of Enlightened Moderation
by President Musharraf and said it addresses the issue aptly. To a
question about the image of Islam, PM Aziz categorically rejected the
notion that the religion had anything to do with terrorism. "Islam
is a religion of tolerance, interfaith harmony and gives complete
freedom to those who practice their beliefs".
There were two of the holiest shrines of Sikhs,
besides worship places of Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and others in
Pakistan, who were free to practice their respective religion without
Islam offered Ijtehad; a system of consensus which
allows interpretation according to changing times. He also rejected the
notion of clash of civilizations and said all religions believe in
tolerance. "We are proud of our religion as it preaches peace and
tolerance," he said.
The Prime Minister stressed the need for developing
an understanding and openness amongst people of all faiths for forging
greater interfaith harmony. He said a certain minority, despite the
belief it professes, pursues extremism, but that such attitude should
not be attributed to any particular religion. He said there could be
nothing farthest from the truth. The impression that Islam was linked to
terrorism was created by certain individuals and we must fight their
extremist behaviour, he asserted. Pakistan was in the forefront in the
war on terror and extremists and the world needed to cooperate in the
efforts to make it a safer place to live for the coming generations.
Regarding the Gwadar port, the prime minister
clarified that it was not a defense establishment. "It is an open
city, with beautiful beaches and a five star hotel in its final stages,
being developed as a tourism resort," he said, adding, the
commercial port was being set up with the Chinese cooperation as an
alternative to Karachi port..