TAXILA: The deputy head of delegation of European Union (EU) in Pakistan, Stefano Gatto, here on Sunday said the EU acknowledged Islamabad’s efforts for regional peace and the sacrifices made during the ongoing war against terrorism.
He was talking to mediapersons at Zaildar House where diplomats from over 40 countries gathered to celebrate the Spring Orange Festival. He said Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was invited to the White House to address a summit on countering violent extremism so that the world could know the Pakistan’s contribution for regional peace.
He said the EU countries were committed to helping Pakistan under the EU-Pakistan Development Cooperation Programme in the war against terrorism and had provided huge funds, assistance and necessary tools to achieve the target goals of eliminating radicalism from the country, especially KP. He said the EU would also continue supporting Pakistan in the field of social and economic justice, awareness, education and electoral reforms.
Diplomats say EU providing funds and equipment to help Pakistan eliminate terrorism and radicalism
Mr Gatto said the EU also provided four bomb disposal vehicles to the Punjab and KP police recently. Besides, the EU has also joined hands with the KP government under the ‘stabilisation and counter extremism/promoting peace in KP programme’ under which not only funds would be provided for elimination of terrorism but also support would be offered for the rehabilitation of terrorism-hit areas. He said the EU delegation would meet Pakistani officials in Islamabad on Monday for further enhancing the bilateral relations.
Dean of the diplomatic corps, Rodolfo Martin Saravia, said Pakistan was blessed with a diversity of cultures and land of ancient civilisations which can change the fate of the country through tourism. He said it was high time these potentials were promoted abroad along with the soft image of the country.
Mr Saravia, who spent over 10 years in Pakistan, added that though Pakistan faced security issues, the media should promote the positive things about the country. He said he served in different countries but never saw such courageous and resilient people as the Pakistanis.
Thusantha Wijemanna, the director general Saarc, said though goals set for the formation of the association had not been achieved, time would soon come when it would be transformed into a vibrant regional organisation to address and resolve all the issues faced by the peoples of the region. He said Saarc can play an effective role in bringing together the members countries by encouraging confidence-building measures, better cooperation and elimination of mistrust besides promoting trade and information.
In reply to a question, he said confidence building cannot be achieved overnight as it was acquired through a dialogue process for which the platform of Saarc can play a key role.
The diplomats later cut a cake to mark the orange festival. Local social figures, including Zaildar Ahsan Shah and Zaildar Syed Zaheer Hussain Shah, said Pakistan was a peaceful country and its people were known for their hospitality. They said certain elements in order to achieve their nefarious designs had been working to defame Pakistan.
Later, the diplomats visited the Taxila Museum and took keen interest in the statues put on display there.
Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2015