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No Pakistani ‘boots on the ground’ in other countries

* Nawaz dismisses impression that some countries have sought Pak Army’s help in operation on their lands * Pakistan can’t be neglectful of its defence, sovereignty
AFP

MIANWALI: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday categorically said that Pakistan was not sending its military troops to other countries.
The prime minister dismissed the impression that some countries have asked Pakistan’s armed forces for operations on their land. Talking to newsmen after a ceremony to rename Mianwali Airbase as MM Alam Airbase, the prime minister said the recent visits of the leadership of brotherly countries, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait, were testimony of their friendship and must not be linked with such assumptions. 
Prime Minister Nawaz said the visits of the leaders of Arab countries was in the Pakistan’s interest and more such visits would take place in the future as well. He termed the visit of Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al-Khalifa as fruitful and productive. He said the country was facing serious challenges and it was high time to take tough decisions. Nawaz Sharif said the country could not afford wasting more time and steps were being taken to put it on the path to development. 
The prime minister said that Pakistan could have been made a great country, but regretfully ample efforts were not made in the past to exploit its marvellous potential. He said his government, without wasting time, was making headway for the prosperity of the nation, he added. Nawaz Sharif said that Pakistan was not part of the arms race in the region, however it would not neglect its defence and sovereignty at the cost of pursuing the peace strategy. 
“Being peaceful does not mean withdrawing from the right of independence. We have to defend our political, economic and cultural sovereignty,” the prime minister said while addressing the ceremony to rename Mianwali Airbase as MM Alam Airbase in honour of the legendary Pakistan Air Force fighter pilot. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif emphasised that Pakistan does not harbour aggressive designs against any other country. “Our government is clear on this issue. A strong Pakistan with strong armed forces guarantees regional peace,” he said. 
The premier said every necessary step would be taken to strengthen the country’s armed forces, including the air force and navy. He quoted a verse from the holy Quran which signifies making ready the horses against enemies, and said its connotation in today’s world is to equip the armed forces with best weaponry and advanced professional training of troops. He said the countries of South Asia must consider the plight of their more than one billion population, most of which is living below the poverty line. 
Prime Minister Nawaz urged the leadership of South Asia to shun the arms race and instead fight against the social evils of poverty, illiteracy and diseases. He said that Pakistan’s history was filled with great heroes who always kept ahead the country’s integrity before their lives. He said amongst these national stalwarts were the names of people whose bravery was acknowledged across the borders as well. He mentioned Air Commodore Muhammad Mehmood Alam who, he said, was a pride of the Pakistan Air Force. He expressed confidence that other personnel of the PAF must be ready to follow the same spirit of bravery.
He said to be like MM Alam does not require one to be a pilot necessarily, rather anyone working in other fields can also adopt the same passion like this air warrior. He said the name carries in it a whole pattern of devotion, conviction and passion. He announced renaming the PAF Mianwali Airbase as PAF MM Alam Airbase to honour the great hero on his first death anniversary. MM Alam is esteemed for downing five Indian fighter aircraft in less than one minute in the 1965 war against India. The prime minister said this airbase with minimum staff and facilities was still an important base of the PAF and hoped that its renaming would rejuvenate the passion of bravery and courage among the PAF personnel to ensure the defence of Pakistan.

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