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February 26, 2014

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Pakistan not assisting rebels in Syria: Sartaj

Pakistan not assisting rebels in Syria: Sartaj
ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Tuesday categorically rejected the sale of arms to rebels for use in Syria or a change in Pakistan’s policy on that country under the Saudi pressure.Making a policy statement in the National Assembly, Sartaj said during the visit of Saudi crown prince to Pakistan, the two sides had only decided to enhance their bilateral defence cooperation.
“We already have three agreements on exchange of military delegations, training and employment and deputation of defence personnel in Saudi forces,” he said. He strongly rejected the media speculations about a change in Pakistan’s policy on Syria and linking it with the visit of Saudi crown prince.
“This impression is baseless and misleading that there has been a shift in policy on Syria. Pakistan fully honours national and international laws in its agreements and sale of arms. Pakistan stands by its stance of quick solution to the Syrian conflict and restoration of peace and stability. There should be no doubt about Pakistan’s stance that Syrian sovereignty should not be violated and I reiterate this position of the government,” Sartaj Aziz maintained.
He urged those spreading rumours to act responsibly in the national interest and refrain from propaganda. “Pakistan is a responsible state and sells arms only through legal mechanism and by abiding all relevant national and international regulations,” he said.
Talking about Pakistan’s international obligations as well as the UN resolutions and Geneva Communiqué, he said Pakistan stood committed to its stance on the withdrawal of foreign armed forces from Syria, ending siege of different cities and an end to bombardment, enabling the people there to run the affairs of the country.
“Pakistan is also committed to its stance on protection of territorial sovereignty of Syria, end to atrocities and contributing to international efforts for restoration of peace in the restive country, respect to the masses opinion and initiation of dialogue to defuse the situation,” he said.
He said the sale of arms also required the end user certificate that the recipient would not sell them onwards or transfer to any third country.Sartaj Aziz clarified that the points related to the Syrian conflict contained in the Pakistan-Saudi Arabia joint statement at the conclusion of Saudi crown prince were in line with the consistent policy of Pakistan on the Syrian situation.
He said Pakistan was against interference in the internal affairs of another country or advancing the agenda of any other country. He said it was necessary to deal with chemical weapons, but it did not mean to heighten unrest and kill thousands of citizens.
“Furthermore, there should be a transition system with full authority and all parties should cease shelling and aerial attacks,” he said. Meanwhile, taking part in the debate on Pakistan’s foreign policy, the opposition members warned the government against interference in the affairs of Syria or any other country.
They asked the government to learn a lesson from the U-turns taken on policy in the past saying any change in Pakistan’s principled stand on non-interference in the affairs of other countries would further isolate the country in the international community.
They were of the view that the Government of Pakistan should carefully move forward, particularly towards improving relations with Afghanistan, India and Iran.
Those who took part in the debate included Shafqat Mehmood, Sajid Ahmad, Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari, Ayesha Syed, Dr. Nafeesa Shah, Dr. Shireen Mazari, Sahibzada Yaqoob and Maulana Amir Zaman.

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