Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari expressed concern over the recent surge in terrorist activities in Pakistan saying that incidents like the hostage situation at the counterterrorism facility in Bannu are “alarming”.
A hostage crisis occurred when terrorists of banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) seized control of the Counter-Terrorism Department’s (CTD) compound in the country’s northwest on December 18, taking several security personnel hostage. However, the security forces cleared the facility in a successful operation in which 25 terrorists were killed — three days after the militants overpowered security guards in the centre.
“Regional peace is inevitable in order to achieve economic stability. Protecting our people is our first priority,” FM Bilawal said in a debate over South Asia at United States think tank Atlantic Council.
He said that Pakistan seriously desires an end to terrorism and militancy and establishing peace in the region, for which the country has played a key role.
He also said that the security situation in Pakistan is better than 2007.
“We are strictly obliged to take action against extremism, especially the outlawed TTP,” Bilawal said, adding that such action is necessary for the protection and security of the people.
He said that Pakistan takes action against the banned outfit and expects Afghanistan to do the same on its soil.
‘Pakistan wants better links with US, Europe’
Moving on to Pakistan’s relations with other countries, the foreign minister said that they are making efforts to strengthen its bilateral ties.
“We want better links with the US, Europe and other regions,” Bilawal said.
He also expressed pleasure over Pakistan’s exit from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list.
He also appreciated US’ efforts for peace and stability.
“Pakistan and the United States can move forward together in various fields. There are opportunities for cooperation in agriculture, health and many other sectors,” he added.
Bilawal seeks world efforts for flood victims’ rehabilitation
Shedding light on Pakistan’s situation during the record monsoon rains from June to September, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader said that the country’s biggest challenge is to deal with the floods, possible future environmental disasters and helping the victims.
Our focus is on dealing with the destruction caused by the flooding, said Bilawal.
The minister urged the international community to cooperate to rehabilitate the flood victims.
“The international community must work with Pakistan against climate change as different countries have been affected by it,” said Bilawal, hoping to receive funds from fellow countries at the International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan. He also thanked the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’s appeal for help for the flood victims.
“This conference is the beginning to deal with climate change. We are working on a strategy to deal with the future challenges,” said the foreign minister.