ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Monday left here on a four-day official visit to Germany and United Kingdom.
Talking to media persons before his departure at the Chaklala Air Base, the Prime Minister said his visit aimed at strengthening bilateral and economic ties with the two significant European countries.
Gilani who is due to arrive in Germany’s capital Berlin today, said Pakistan and Germany have a long history of good relationship especially in terms of cooperation in economy and investment.
He said Germany is Pakistan’s fourth largest economic partner and mentioned that the world’s first Bilateral Investment Treaty signed between Pakistan and Germany in 1959 marked its golden jubilee the current month.
The Prime Minister recalled his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of SCO summit last month, where she being the member of IMF Board pledged to play role in for providing assistance to Pakistan at IMF forum.
He said European Union is an important trading partner and the government was pursuing the concept of focusing on ‘trade rather than aid’.
He said access to EU markets could be made through ‘Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Plus’ and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and hoped that Germany would play a significant role in facilitating Pakistan in this regard.
Responding to a statement by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown demanding Pakistan to ‘do more’ and tracking down Osama, the Prime Minister said, “On one hand, the world community including Britain praises Pakistan in its efforts on war on terror and appreciates its efforts in military operations while on the other side, they ask for more. If they ask to do more, it seems an out of context thing.”
He said in Afghanistan, the loss of lives of NATO forces with the presence of Germany and UK was less in number as compared to the sacrifices Pakistan made alone in fighting war against terrorism and extremism.
“This is a blue litmus test [on Pakistan’s contribution in war on terror],” he said.
To a question on Pak-India relations, Gilani said there was now a realization by Indian side as well to improve relations with Pakistan.
He mentioned his talks with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh in Sharm el Sheikh where the latter agreed that there was a need to make a way forward in ridding the region of much important issues including poverty, inflation and unemployment.
“We should have way forward on this. We should not make our relations hostage to one incident [Mumbai incident],” he said adding Indian Army Chief Deepak’s statement regarding limited nuclear war was irresponsible.
The Prime Minister said Pakistan had been confronting frequent incidents like the Mumbai episode, however believed that the only way forward to improve ties with India was to resume composite dialogue.
He appreciated the intentions of Dr Singh who agreed to resolve all core issues including Kashmir dispute, adding that Pakistan also strong believed that friendly environment should prevail for the continuation of dialogue.
On the peaceful passage of Eid ul Azha with no untoward incident reported across the country, Gilani congratulated the entire nation and paid tribute to the law enforcement agencies for effectively controlling the situation.