Malaysia won’t take sides in Pak-India tension: Mahathir

The Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has said Malaysia appreciates and will continue to maintain its good relationships with Pakistan and India but won’t take sides with anyone in the event of conflict.

Dr Mahathir said by taking such a stand, it also illustrated indirectly that his three-day official visit to Pakistan did not mean that Malaysia had chosen its side. “We cannot side with anyone. I think this, allowing terrorists to have this upper hand, is very dangerous. We must stop terrorists, both sides (Pakistan and India) must prevent acts of terrorism. When terrorists fight, they just want to take revenge,” he said. “They (terrorists) cannot conquer. What can they do?…kill people. Is that what humanity is fated for? We don’t want to take sides with anyone, but we appreciate the problems they face,” he said at a press conference at Nur Khan Airbase before leaving for Malaysia after concluding his visit to Pakistan.

The Malaysian prime minister also said the over-reliance of the Islamic countries on the developed nations has caused them to be afraid to protest against any wrongful actions by Western countries. He said because of this, they had to abide by what the Western countries did. “Islamic countries are too dependent on the developed nations for everything. Their ability is limited. Due to the strong support for Israel by Western countries, Islamic nations are scared to condemn Israel, and of Western countries taking action against them,” he said.

Mahathir said Malaysian delegation came to know about the wonderful capabilities of Pakistanis during the visit. He said if Pakistanis can build JF-17 Thunder aircraft and military vehicles then they can achieve anything. Replying to a question on national car producer Proton’s joint-venture to establish a manufacturing assembly plant in Pakistan, the Prime Minister said it is better for Proton to enter markets like Pakistan rather than developed countries. “When they (Pakistan) agreed with us to the proposal to manufacture our (Proton) cars, I felt it was a good thing. If they could produce military vehicles, I don’t think other types of vehicles would be much of a problem,” he said. “There are many fields… but (before this), we did not know of their capabilities and they did not know of our capabilities. Only when we are here, can we see their strengths. Their population is 210 million, we are 32 million. If we (with a population of 32 million) can make (our own) cars, they can do a lot more,” Mahathir explained. Mahathir said he knows Pakistan would like to sell their planes to Malaysia. “Everybody wants to sell planes to us. Give us one or two planes so that we can see (gauge them). (Besides that) some of the vessels, land vehicles were built by them. I don’t know how strong the Pakistani army is, and (if) those missiles can carry nuclear warheads, people will think twice about attacking Pakistan,” he said.

Asked on his discussions with Prime Minister Imran Khan on his efforts to fight corruption, Mahathir said both nations were facing the same problems in taking to court “people from the past (government) who are corrupt”. “They (Pakistan) want to take action against people from the past (government) who are corrupt but they find it difficult to get hearings in the court. They have a problem with that. We, too, have a problem because it looks like the courts have their own ideas about how serious this matter (is). As a result, we have not made much progress. We have taken cases to the courts but there are no trials,” he said. Before leaving Islamabad, the Malaysian prime minister was briefed on JF-17 Thunder jets. According to reports, Malaysia has shown interest in the Pakistani fighter plane which was built in cooperation with China. Prime Minister Imran Khan was present at The Nur Khan Airbase to see off his Malaysian counterpart.

Meanwhile, Mahathir Mohamad in a TV interview appreciated Pakistan for eradicating terrorism. Mahathir said enhanced people-to-people contacts and exchanges by promoting tourism are vital for strengthening bilateral relations and cooperation between Pakistan and Malaysia in diverse areas, including trade, economy and investment. “Pakistan has a lot of natural resources, so has Malaysia and the countries can complement each other,” he said in the interview.

The Malaysian prime minister, who concluded his three-day state visit to Pakistan on Saturday, said he was happy over the visit, which provided him an opportunity to interact with the Pakistani leadership and identify the areas of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. He mentioned peace and stability coupled with the measures of promoting tourism as prerequisites for any country to achieve economic progress and development. Mahathir mentioned the huge number of tourists attracted every year to Malaysia, which had only 32 million population, and said he felt comfortable during his stay in Pakistan, which had all the ingredients to promote tourism and tap its potential.

Besides punishments, he said the menace of corruption could also be tackled by promoting ethical and religious values in the society. He, however, added that leaders must not be corrupt, if they were then it was very difficult to check the menace. To a question about Islamophobia, the Malaysian prime minister said, “Islam being a religion of peace taught us not to fight, kill or indulge in violence. We need to find out what we have done wrong.” At the same time, he said, media should not be allowed to be used by the people, who had no knowledge about Islam.

Mahathir also spoke about how his country, which was an agrarian society, achieved socio-economic progress and development through increased industrialisation by attracting local and foreign investors. He said for industrialisation, foreign investors are offered various incentives, which later enabled his country’s people, who acquired technical kills and know-how by working with foreign companies, to establish their own industries. He said the promotion of technical education, skill enhancement and knowledge-based information and technologies are very important for industrialisation of any country, including Pakistan.

Malaysia’s automotive company Proton was establishing a car assembly plant in Karachi in cooperation with Pakistan’s Al-Haj Automotive and the first Proton car would be on the road by June next year. Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Malaysian counterpart had performed the symbolic ground-breaking of the car assembly plant during the Pak-Malaysia Investment Roundtable in Islamabad on Friday.

March 24, 2019

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