Govt. policies pull the economy out of the woods: PM

ISLAMABAD, Feb 18 (APP)-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Wednesday, revamping of tax administration, boosting of exports, revival of sick units and privatization at top throttle are basic planks of economic agenda to place the economy on sound footing. Inaugurating the first-ever Pakistan Business Summit here at Planning Commission auditorium, the Prime Minister said, the country was pulled out of quagmire after passing through economic turmoil which erupted as wake of nuclear explosion and subsequent economic sanctions. The Prime Minister said as a result of the economic approach of the government, the economy is back on the rails and efforts should be made to place it on the sustainable path of fast economic growth.

Confrontation cannot solve problems between Pakistan and India: Nawaz

ISLAMABAD, Feb 18 (APP)- Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday said, confrontation between Pakistan and India, would not solve outstanding problems, including kashmir dispute. "How can you break the ice? Will confrontation solve," problems between India and Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif told ,"Pakistan Business summit, 99," here Today. Nawaz Sharif asked, "how tension can be reduced," between Pakistan and India without negotiations. There could be no ,"headway," on Kashmir dispute unless Pakistan and India sit across the table to resolve the issue. Regretting the decision of those opposing Indian Prime Minister's visit to Pakistan on Feb.20, he said ,"we would welcome him," and would use the opportunity to find a solution to Kashmir dispute through dialogue. Vajpayee is visiting Pakistan on the occasion of an inaugural bus service from New Delhi to Lahore. Nawaz Sharif will greet his Indian counterpart at Wahga border. Nawaz Sharif said, it was for the first time, an Indian Prime Minister was talking of holding dialogue with Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir. Atal Behari Vajpayee has stated, Kashmir is an issue which needs a settlement, Nawaz Sharif told top businessmen from across the country.

Mushahid praises China for unconditional support to Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Feb 18 (APP)-Information and Culture Minister Mushahid Hussain on Wednesday commended China for its stead-fast and unflinching support and assistance to Pakistan without attaching any political strings. "China has always supported and given assistance to Pakistan in hour of need without any pre-conditions or attaching any strings," he said at a luncheon hosted in honour of new Chinese Ambassador Lu Shu Lin. Islamabad-based Chinese diplomats and media representatives also attended the luncheon. Mushahid said Beijing's assistance to Islamabad was never meant to make Pakistan a dependent country. "China's support for Pakistan has always been based on promoting principle of self- reliance and not forging dependence on aid," he added. He said Pakistan's relations with China have always been friction free and time-tested. "Our relations are based on the principle of respect for the principle of non-interference in each other's internal affairs as well as mutual respect for state sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Pak-India bus service agreement signed

ISLAMABAD, Feb 18 (APP): Bus service agreement between Pakistan and India, finalised in December 1998, was signed here Wednesday at a ceremony held at the Ministry of Communications. Federal Secretary Communications, Dr. Muhammad Akram Sheikh and the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Mr. G. Partha Sarthy signed the agreement on behalf of their respective governments, The agreement envisages bus service between Lahore and New Delhi four times a week. Both the sides will operate two buses. The buses with capacity of 40 passengers (each) will operate form Lahore on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and from new Delhi on alternate days. Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) will operate buses from Pakistan side whereas Delhi Transport Corporation has arranged this service from India. Terminal points in Pakistan will be the Faletti's hotel in Lahore and in India, the main bus terminal points will be DTC, New Delhi. The bus from both ends will start at 0630 hrs and the travel journey would be 12 hrs including stay at three different service areas enroute. The border clearance is expected to be maximum 30 minutes.Border facilities in Pakistan are being improved to facilitate the passengers clearance.

Foreign policy achieved breakthroughs in last two years: Sartaj

ISLAMABAD, Feb 18 (APP): Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz said here Wednesday that Pakistan's foreign policy during the last two years has achieved breakthroughs including diplomatic success after the nuclear tests, securing of international spotlight on Kashmir dispute and Prime Minister's successful visit to the United States. He was speaking at Pakistan Radio's programme Jaeza. The Foreign Minister said, Pakistan's nuclear tests, carried out in response to Indian explosions in May last, were imperative for restoring balance of power in the region. "The nuclear tests enhanced Pakistan's image internationally and after that we faced off economic challenge in the form of sanctions and with the support of the entire nation we came through successfully without compromising on our security interests." Aziz said, the Kashmir issue gained prominence at international level and UN Security Council, NAM, P-5, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, US President Bill Clinton, all recognized its linkage with regional peace and security and called for a settlement of the dispute. Referring to Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee's forthcoming visit to Pakistan, the Foreign Minister, the Indian leadership has announced to discuss Kashmir dispute with Pakistan. "Previously, they claimed that Kashmir is their integral part but now after wide projection of the issue New Delhi is ready to discuss it with us."

No formal proposal to start steamer service between Karachi-Mumbai: Sartaj

ISLAMABAD, Feb 18 (APP): Minister for Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said that there is no formal proposal to start a steamer service between Karachi and Mumbai. In a live Radio programme "Jaiza", broadcast here Wednesday night he said that first passenger traffic between Karachi and Mumbai will have to be studied and if feasible the matter could be taken up.

Pakistan takes Kashmiri leadership into confidence before Vajpayee's visit

ISLAMABAD, Feb 18 (APP): Pakistan has taken into confidence Kashmiri leadership on both sides of the Line of Control before the forthcoming visit of Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. This was stated by Sartaj Aziz in a live Radio programme "Jaiza", broadcast here Wednesday night on the two-year performance of the PML government. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, during his meeting with both APHC leaders and Azad Kashmir leadership had made it clear that by inviting Vajpayee to visit Pakistan, should be not be taken as a change in Pakistan's policy on Kashmir. It neither reflected any weakness, he said. Aziz said similarly Pakistan's High Commissioner in New delhi held a meeting with APHC leaders last Tuesday and later conveyed their feelings to the Prime Minister. Pakistan's policy to take Kashmiri leadership into confidence will also continue in future, he added. Sartaj said that Prime Minister told the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leadership in Pakistan and government and opposition of Azad Kashmir that Prime Minister Vajpayee's forthcoming visit should not be taken as a change in "our stance on Kashmir".

Pak- Indian ties cannot improve sans some headway on Kashmir: Sartaj Aziz

ISLAMABAD, Feb 18 (APP): Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz on Wednesday said Indo-Pak. relations could not improve without progress on the issue of Kashmir. He did not expect any quick settlement of the Kashmir issue as a result of Vajpayee's visit to Pakistan on Feb.20, but said, the level of talks between the two sides had been elevated. Giving a resume of two years performance of Nawaz Government in realm of foreign affairs over a Radio Programme, "Jaiza," Wednesday, Aziz said, if "India creates flexibility," in its stand on Kashmir,"it will be a good headway." Vajpayee has recently described, Kashmir as ,"critical issue", he said. He urged India to have ,"purposeful and meaningful," dialogue with Pakistan on the core issue of Kashmir.

No proposal to waive visas between India-Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Feb 18 (APP): Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz said there is no proposal to waive visas between India-Pakistan. Speaking in a live Radio programme "Jaiza", broadcast here Wednesday night by Radio Pakistan the Foreign Minister said that a large number of people visit each other and the visa restriction cannot be relinquished.