Dialogue only solution to regional conflicts: PM
* Raja says fallout of three-decade-old conflict in Afghanistan has not allowed our people the degree of prosperity they deserved
VIENTIANE: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Monday, in his address to the 9th Asia-European Meeting Summit (ASEM-9), said wars and conflicts breed poverty and deprivation, and it is important for the regional countries to resolve their differences through dialogue and negotiations.
“Through talks we would be able to preserve peace as well as the hard-earned progress we have achieved,” Raja said at ASEM-9, which is being held in Laos capital. The summit, themed “Friends for Peace, Partners for Prosperity,” is being attended by the prime ministers and heads of states of 49 member countries.
The prime minister said that in the pursuit of peace and prosperity, Pakistan has made tremendous sacrifices, which need to be acknowledged. “Peace is a prerequisite for prosperity as region’s enormous potential would remain underutilised if an atmosphere of conflict and tension continues to prevail,” he said. Prime Minister Raja said the security situation in the region; caused by fallout of three decade-old conflict in Afghanistan, has not allowed our people the degree of prosperity they deserved.
Both Asia and Europe have gone through financial crises during the recent years, he said, adding that it is time for both to learn from these harsh realities. The prime minister said he was glad that there was a desire on both the sides to share their experience of financial crises to mitigate their impact in the future. “As we move ahead, new challenges are emerging, disturbing peace and harmony,” he said, adding that it is important that all religions and faiths and their followers are accorded the respect they deserve.
Raja said it was most unfortunate that misusing the freedom of expression, some individuals have tried to trespass the threshold of decency and in the process sought to cause misunderstanding between the followers of various religions. This trend would be seen as another kind of extremism and, therefore, is neither desirable nor welcome, the premier observed. “All religions teach tolerance and accommodation. We need to inculcate, promote and respect these values,” he added.
With regard to ASEM, he said Pakistan attaches great importance to its process and since joining ASEM in 2006 the country has actively participated in its activities at all levels. He said during this year, Pakistan had three-fold association with ASEM, of which first was that the country was one of the two coordinators from Asia; second, it was a member of the ASEM Chairman Support Group, while the third was that Pakistan had also acted as coordinator for the NESA Group of countries in ASEM.
Raja said Pakistan also had the honour to host the Asian ASEM Senior Officials meeting in Islamabad in June this year which provided the country with a unique opportunity to serve, in more than one capacity. He said both Asia and Europe can learn a great deal from each other’s experience and ASEM is the right forum for this purpose. app