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February 10, 2018

Visible signs of Indian interference in Pakistan: FO


February 10, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office has said Indian involvement in acts of sabotage in Pakistan is no secret and the case of detained RAW agent Kulbhushan Yadav bore witness to this fact.

Speaking at the weekly press briefing here on Friday, Foreign Office spokesman Dr Faisal said there are visible signs of Indian interference in Pakistan to foment unrest and put the China Pakistan Economic Corridor project off its track. He said all the states have a legitimate right to peaceful use of nuclear technology and Pakistan is firmly committed to its policy of restraint in this connection and expects the same from others. To a question about Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s statement about martyrdoms along the Line of Control, the spokesman said such statements reflected the Indian mindset, while Pakistan still believes in a peaceful neighborhood which must be reciprocated. He said the armed forces of Pakistan are showing an exemplary restraint but are fully capable of responding to any form of aggression in a befitting manner. To a question, he said the joint exercises by the naval forces of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are a feature of regular cooperation between the two countries to benefit from each other’s expertise.

Answering a question about a bill introduced by the US House of Representatives to end non-defense aid to Pakistan, the spokesman said Pakistan is not averse to accepting the US monetary assistance even though it has decided in principle not to seek further monetary assistance. “We would like to place on record that the past US assistance has served the mutual interest of the two countries. This fact has been repeatedly acknowledged by the US officials,” Dr Faisal said. “A similar bill was introduced in the US Senate a couple of weeks ago. According to our embassy in Washington, these bills are at preliminary stages and will be considered in the respective committees. The sponsors of these bills have a particular mindset, as they oppose international assistance and advocate that the money should be spent inside the country for infrastructure development”, he said.

Meanwhile, when The News approached the spokesman about the details of the second two-day Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) underway at the Foreign Office on Friday, the spokesman was reluctant to say anything. Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai is heading the Afghan delegation, while Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua is heading a combined civil and military delegation. Of importance in the Kabul meeting is that the Afghan government has agreed to Pakistan’s proposal of a joint investigation into the recent terrorist attacks in Kabul.

Earlier, he had told the media that APAPPS, a joint action plan for cooperation in the areas of counter-terrorism and reduction of violence, peace and reconciliation, refugees’ repatriation and joint economic development, had held its second meeting in Islamabad. “During the talks happening this afternoon with the Afghan delegation, as well as Foreign Secretary’s recent visit to Kabul on February 3, 2018, the (Afghan refugees) issue along with the matter of terrorist attacks launched on Pakistan through Afghan territory will be discussed. Any solution to the Afghan quagmire will have to take into account these two important matters. We have a long and porous Pak-Afghan border.”

Earlier in the first meeting in Kabul held in a ‘cordial’ environment, some progress was made by both the delegations. “There are still important areas to be discussed and agreed upon, and both sides remain committed to continuing their discussions to reach an agreement on the APAPPS”, the spokesman added about the talks that started today.

Of importance for Pakistan during the two-day APAPPS talks in Islamabad will be the return of over one million Afghan refugees in Pakistan. “The matter of safe and early repatriation of Afghan refugees to Afghanistan with dignity remains a fundamental concern for Pakistan. We have repeatedly raised this issue with the Afghan government and the International community. Safron is in the process of finalising a repatriation plan. We are also engaged with the Afghan government, donors and other stakeholders for smooth resettlement and reintegration of the returning refugees in Afghan society,” said the spokesman. Safron is ensuring that there is a visa policy, so that the returnees can have proper visas and documents if they want to come back to Pakistan.

To address the issue of illegal crossover from Afghanistan to Pakistan, work continues on effective border controls. “Pakistan will encourage and facilitate legitimate travel and trade while curbing illegal movement across Pak-Afghan border.”

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