Federal Finance Minister, Asad Umar, on Friday, celebrated Pakistan opening its doors to the world with an improved security situation. While addressing the graduation ceremony of 27th Advanced Diplomatic Course, organised by Foreign Service Academy for Foreign Diplomats in Islamabad, he asserted that Pakistan was trying to improve trade and economic ties with different countries to exploit its full potential. Minister Umar referred to the geo-strategic location of Pakistan, calling it the pivot of the Silk Road. The implementation of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was said to be strengthening Pakistan’s economic ties with its time-tested friend. He further pointed out that Pakistan and Turkey were also on the path of developing a strategic economic framework while talking about the establishment of a strategic relationship council with Saudi Arabia to further deepen the bilateral relations. The minister said that Pakistan was a multi-cultural society with a rich history and incredible heritage, further adding that the government wanted to make it accessible to the rest of the world. Relating to the recent standoff with India, Umar said that things appeared to be on the mend. “We, however, will continue to be guard till the elections are held in neighbouring India,” he added. Pakistan was said to remain committed to improving relations with all regional countries including India. The minister said that our hand of friendship is still extended to India but if India resorted to any misadventure, this hand would turn into a fist. The finance minister remarked, “We have the capacity and capability to defend the motherland.” On Afghanistan, Umar said that Pakistan’s efforts for the Afghan peace process were now being widely appreciated while maintaining that Pakistan would continue to play its role to make the dialogue process successful. Foreign Service Academy Director General, Aftab Ahmad Khokhar, gave a welcome address on the occasion and said that 23 participants from 18 countries had participated in the advanced diplomatic course. He hoped that the participants would serve as Pakistan’s ambassadors to their home countries, helping to promote bilateral ties. A participant from West Indies appreciated Prime Minister Imran Khan for benevolently helping defuse the tension with India. Published in Daily Times, March 16th 2019.