ISLAMABAD: For the first time, China, together with Pakistan and Iran, has decided to find ways and means to counter the threat of terrorism facing the region. In this regard, the Foreign Office on Thursday announced that the first Pakistan-China-Iran Trilateral Consultation Meeting on Counter-Terrorism and Security was held at the director general level on Wednesday in Beijing. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General (Counter Terrorism) Abdul Hameed led the Pakistan delegation. “The delegations held detailed discussions on the regional security situation, particularly the threat of terrorism faced by the region. Based on the outcome of these consultations, the three sides have decided to institutionalise the trilateral consultations on counter-terrorism and security.
Further details will be worked out in due course,” the spokesperson at the Foreign Office announced during the weekly media briefing. For China, which is behind the CPEC projects in the region, this trilateral cooperation would go a long way to ensure that security threats are addressed for these projects to be completed. China has also sensed that the continuing border incidents on the Pak-Iran border, where non-state actors carry out terrorist attacks inside both countries, should be contained. Meanwhile, as Petroleum Minister Musadik Malik visited the United States to discuss the future of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, the FO spokesperson struck a cautious tone. “As we have said in the past, for Pakistan the IP project is an important project and we remain committed to it. There are certain complications with regard to its implementation. In that context, we remain engaged with both Iran and the United States. Exact details of the meetings that the Minister of State for Petroleum held in the United States may be ascertained from the concerned ministry,” she said.
As criticism mounts both inside and outside Pakistan about a clampdown after May 9 in which there are reports of alleged custodial torture, curtailment of free speech and political gatherings, the spokesperson responded that the Government of Pakistan will continue to follow its obligations under the law and Constitution. “I think the question that you have asked is more political in nature than a question for the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I would like to reiterate what we have said in the past, that Pakistan is a country of laws, it is a country which has constitutionally guaranteed human rights and fundamental freedoms and we are a democratic setup with a free and independent judiciary,” she added. A journalist wanted to know about the large number of Pakistanis who despite an e-visa are being deported from Malaysia, the spokesperson admitted that this issue has been brought to the notice of the High Commission in Kuala Lumpur. “It has contacted the local authorities to seek clarification on the matter. The Malaysian authorities have confirmed that there is no discrimination against Pakistanis and that Pakistanis are not being singled out on arrival in Malaysia, which has a specific policy with regard to e-visas. Malaysian immigration authorities verify on arrival the e-visa that the individuals have,” she explained. Sometimes during the e-visa issuance process, the applicants are not interviewed. In those cases, the interviews are conducted on arrival. “This is their policy and it is not just for Pakistan. They conduct interviews of e-visa holders when they land at the Kuala Lumpur airport and establish the credentials of the visitors.
Those who are unable to satisfy the immigration authorities are declared not-to-land or NTL and repatriated by the next available flight. “Pakistanis constitute five percent of those NTLs. I would also like to inform here that our Mission in Kuala Lumpur has been raising this issue with the local authorities. It has also been in touch with Pakistani passengers in difficulty and facilitates them at the KL airport. “Lastly, we will continue to work with the relevant authorities both in Pakistan and Malaysia to find workable solutions for visitors who travel on e-visa,” she added. Meanwhile, Pakistan said that it has seen the statement from Iranian Naval Chief Rear Admiral Shahram Irani, who had proposed an Ocean Naval Alliance including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, India and Pakistan. “We will examine any proposal when it comes to Pakistan. At this stage, we are not in a position to comment on a statement which has been made,” said the spokesperson.
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