ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office Thursday denied the Indian media reports that Pakistan had annoyed Russia by supplying arms to Ukraine.
“The reporting about supply of defence items by Pakistan to Ukraine is not accurate. Pakistan maintains a policy of non-interference in military conflicts. Pakistan only exports defence stores to other states based on strong end use and non-re-transfer assurances. And this is the case of our position in the Ukraine-Russia conflict,” said the Foreign Office spokeswoman Mumtaz Zahra Baloch during a weekly press briefing here.
To several queries, the spokeswoman clarified that the IAEA dealt with the civilian nuclear technology and it was the mandate of IAEA director who was visiting Pakistan. Zahra corrected misconceptions that there was any talk about a deal or to curtail Pakistan’s nuclear program.
“I can categorically state here that this issue is not on the agenda of DG IAEA and will not be discussed and there will be no agreement in the context you are referring to. We must realise that the IAEA deals with the civilian nuclear technology and that is its mandate,” she reiterated.
Reacting for the first time to the ongoing raids on the offices of BBC in India, the spokeswoman said, “We believe that the raids conducted on the BBC offices in India are yet another manifestation of the shrinking space for freedom of the media. Such repressive measures are undoubtedly a reprisal after the release of the BBC documentary revealing the truth behind the Gujarat massacre of 2002 and illegal and unilateral steps of 5th August 2019. Having failed to hide the truth, the Indian government is now targeting an international media house. This, we believe is another stain on India’s so-called democratic credentials,” Zahra said.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has started a whirlwind tour of European capitals which will take him to Munich, Vilnius and Hungary.
“The foreign minister accompanied by Minister of State Ms Hina Rabbani Khar will be attending the Munich Security Conference from 16-20 February. At the conference, he will participate in multiple events, including round table discussions. He will hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts and leaders participating in the conference,” said the spokeswoman.
From Munich, Minister Bhutto will travel to Lithuania for an official one-day visit at the invitation of the Lithuanian foreign minister.
In the last leg of his tour, the foreign minister will visit Hungary from 21-22 February. In official talks with his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto, the two sides will deliberate upon the entire spectrum of bilateral relations and exchange views on regional and international issues.
“The foreign ministers will also sign two MoUs on bilateral cooperation – on cooperation between diplomatic academies and another on sports and sports education between the two countries,” Zahra said.
As Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif reaches Turkiye in an expression of solidarity after the recent massive earthquake, Pakistan continues with relief work both in Turkiye and Syria.
“Following the deadly earthquake, Pakistan has mobilized relief assistance for both Türkiye and Syria. Our humanitarian assistance until 15 February includes 12 flights to Türkiye; 21 NLC trucks dispatched by road to Türkiye; 2 flights to Syria and 12 trucks dispatched by road to Syria. An 85-member urban search and rescue team is currently operating in Türkiye while a 10-member search and rescue team and a 10-member medical team are operating in Syria to support the relief efforts. Additional assistance is being sent through train and sea,” the spokeswoman said.
Meanwhile, Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Erling Rimestad, who is currently on a visit to Pakistan, met with Foreign Secretary Dr. Asad Majeed Khan, as part of regular bilateral interactions. The two sides discussed diverse areas of bilateral cooperation, particularly trade and investment, maritime, climate change and higher education.
“It was agreed to strengthen high level exchanges and further expand mutually beneficial collaboration,” said the spokeswoman.
She said Counselor of the US Department of State Derek Chollet was visiting Pakistan with an inter-agency delegation from 16-18 February.
In Islamabad, Counselor Chollet will meet with the foreign secretary and other senior officials. “The discussions will focus on the bilateral engagement process, which has been institutionalized in trade and investment, climate change, clean energy, health, security, education, and other shared priorities. Long-term cooperation with the US on flood rehabilitation and recovery will also be discussed”, she added.
Meanwhile, Pakistan will mark the 16th anniversary of the tragic Samjhauta Express terror attack of 2007 on 18th of February. The incident resulted in the death of over 40 Pakistani nationals on the Indian soil. “It is a travesty of justice that the mastermind behind the blast, Swami Aseemanand, has been exonerated of these charges. Pakistan reiterates its demand for justice in this case and calls on India to fulfill its legal obligations, find the perpetrators and punish them for this reprehensible act,” said the spokeswoman.
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