Pakistan will continue to fight terrorism until complete elimination: Ahsan

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ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal Thursday said peace and stability are a prerequisite for the progress and prosperity of the country.

Addressing an International Day of Peace event, organized by Ministry of Interior in Islamabad on Thursday, the Interior Minister said Pakistan has all the potential to realize its developmental goals but this requires peace and stability.

Ahsan Iqbal said in other words, peace and development are intertwined and added to put it in Hegelian terms, there is a dialectical relationship between peace and development. “The people of the country value importance of peace and stability more than anyone else as they have lost thousands of men and women in uniform and civilians in war on terror,” he said, adding that with every sacrifice, the resolve of nation against violent extremism and terrorism has strengthened over time.

The Minister said Pakistan has made it clear that it will continue to fight terrorism until it is completely eliminated from the country once and for all. Pakistanis aspire to lead a peaceful and prosperous life. The political and democratic history of the country is a testimony to the fact that its people have always rejected the forces of extremism and violence and sided with the forces of peace and development. He said one of the country's biggest assets is its youth who are a force of positivity and progress and added numerous educational and skill development programmes are being launched to facilitate the youth.

The Minister said during next three years, every district in the country would a have a university campus which would facilitate the local students. Moreover, HEC has been asked to initiate Inter Universities Olympics to promote sports activities amongst students. On the occasion, the Minister administered oath from office bearers of Young Peace and Development Corps which he launched to to create linkages of Planning Commission with universities where intellectual capital of the country lies.

Young Development Corps aims to engage youth in a way where energy of the youth is harnessed in a positive manner for a better Pakistan and also to take the Vision 2025 goals and pillars down to university level in order to generate input from the youth.

“It is essential that we leave a peaceful and prosperous Pakistan for our future generations. Therefore, we must learn from our past and avoid repeating the same mistakes. It is a healthy exercise to critically reflect on our past and pragmatically plan for our future,” he added.

The Minister said through various energy projects power shortage would be overcome, which is the first prerequisite of industrial development. “The energy security would ensure economic security for the country,” Ahsan Iqbal, who is also Minister for Planning Development and Reforms, said.

Ahsan Iqbal said development and improved standard of living was not possible without peace, stability and harmony. The world had entered the information age and countries were competing for economic ascendancy. “If there is a conflict, then the development process gets stalled,” he maintained. As for peace and security, a requirement for industrial investment and development, he mentioned that the government had taken solid steps to improve the security situation in the country.

“Pakistan was committed to peace in the region. The government was working in coordination with other governments to promote regional peace, he said and added only a strong economy with favourable environment would ensure development and prosperity,” he said.

The minister said Pakistan had defeated terrorism and now its economy, sports activities and tourism were being revived. He said Pakistan was on the path of recovery, contrary to 2013, when security situation was not well, but now there was renewed optimism and energy. He said as a developing country, Pakistan needed to harness its human and natural resources. It needed to make speedy progress by enhancing cooperation. He said the future belonged to those who blended science with economy and focused on innovation and creativity for achieving development.

Under the Vision 2025, he said, the Government had envisaged the country as a hub of trade, commerce and connectivity. “Critics may argue that the government is just building roads, but in reality everything whether it is health services, education, or business needs better connectivity without which nothing is possible.” He said as compared to 2013, Pakistan is now considered as emerging economy by western world which is a good change.

Ahsan Iqbal said as a federal minister incharge for planning and development he has firsthand experience in understanding the nature of economic development challenges. “I am pleased to share that the highest-ever allocation of funds have been channeled towards historically disadvantaged regions of Pakistan over the past four years. This is an important aspect of security because regional inequalities fuels anger and mistrust towards the state.” “Extremism and terrorism are the exact opposite of the core values of Islam. The message of Islam is of peace and inclusiveness. There is a Hadith in Muslim and Bukhari. Do you know what is better than charity, fasting and prayer? It is keeping peace and good relations among people as quarrels and bad feelings destroy humankind.”

“In order to grow faster, we have to develop self-confidence as a nation that can eventually stir positive thinking. The gains made over the past four years in terms of security and economic development are unprecedented. Pakistan is destined to achieve sustainable and long-lasting peace and prosperity once we channel our collective efforts towards realizing Quaid-e- Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah's vision of an inclusive Pakistan,” he added.

In his opening remarks, Secretary Interior said eradication of lawlessness and terrorism is the national objective. He said International Peace Day is being observed across the globe and added to mark the day, this conference under the title “together for peace” was organized which would serve as a milestone to redefine our national narrative on peace, development, inclusiveness and harmony. He paid rich tributes to all those who have sacrificed their lives for peace in the world.

In his remarks, Chairman HEC said that everyone has to work together for defeating terrorism and emphasized the need to understand each other and give space to each other so as to achieve good results.

The function was attended by Secretary Interior, Arshad Mirza, Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC), Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, renowned singer Shehzad Roy, school and university students and media-persons. NNI

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