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September 14, 2018

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Indo-US joint statement ‘inconsistent with diplomatic norms’

ISLAMABAD: Taking an exception to the unwarranted references against Pakistan in the Indo-US joint statement, the Foreign Office on Thursday said mentioning a third country with unsubstantiated accusations in a formal outcome document was inconsistent with the established diplomatic norms.

The joint statement was issued after talks between the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense General Jim Mattis with their Indian counterparts in New Delhi.

Speaking at the weekly press briefing here, Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal said Pakistan was ready for talks with India and the US had been conveyed this and was waiting for a response from Delhi. After a visit to Pakistan in which the US and Pakistan spoke about a ‘re-set’ in bilateral relations, Pompeo blasted Pakistan in the Indo-US joint statement.

“Pakistan rejects these baseless allegations. Accordingly, we have conveyed our position to the US side. The ministry is of the view that mentioning a third country with unsubstantiated accusations in a formal outcome document is inconsistent with the established diplomatic norms. What is more ironic is that many other thorny issues involving the third countries were avoided in the joint statement by the Indian side on the pretext of the same diplomatic practice. As you are aware, the Mumbai trial is ongoing in the Anti-Terrorism Court in Pakistan and judicial process shall take its course,” said the spokesman.

Instead, he said, Pakistan wondered it was rather ‘unsurprising’ to see zero mention of continued ceasefire violations by India across the LoC/WB, which pose a serious threat to peace and stability in the region.

“We expect the US to focus similarly, if not more, on the Indian state terrorism and the resulting humanitarian emergency in the IHK, where Indian atrocities have intensified. Indian occupation forces continue to kill innocent Kashmiris with impunity. Last month alone, more than 30 innocent Kashmiris were slaughtered in cold blood,” said the spokesman.

In this regard, he pointed out that the Hurriyat leaders continued to be incarcerated on trumped-up charges, while foreign journalists were prevented from reporting on the situation.

“The recent suspension of Al Jazeera is just a case in point. After the brutal murder of Shujaat Bokhari, the Indian forces have arrested Kashmiri journalist Atif Aasif Sultan on trumped-up charges exposing the truth behind the Indian claims of being the so-called biggest democracy and its commitment to freedom of expression and the press,” added the spokesman.

However, he said Pakistan was ready for talks with India and the international community had been conveyed the same, while a response from India was awaited. To a query about a statement of the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan that the new government in Pakistan had opened a political window for India and filled India with certain hopes, Pakistan says it has noted this.

“We have been saying since long that dialogue is the only way forward to settle all outstanding issues between Pakistan and India. We are officially waiting for a response from India on how they want to move forward. We have a consistent position on this. If you see the recent overtures, Prime Minister Modi called our prime minister and our foreign minister also received a letter for his Indian counterpart. We want to utilise the same window and see how we can move forward,” responded the spokesman. On CPEC, the spokesman in response to an interview by the commerce adviser’s interview, said he believed there’s no effect on the relationship with China.

“I completely reject any insinuations against CPEC. We have already issued a detailed press release and we stand by that,” he said. He said Pakistan was still working with Afghanistan on reopening its consulate general in Jalalabad due to security concerns.

“We are working with the Afghan government to resolve the issue. Till resumption of consular services at the Consulate General of Pakistan in Jalalabad, students, patients and other visa seekers residing in the jurisdiction of Consulate General of Pakistan in Jalalabad may contact the Pakistan Embassy in Kabul for issuance of visas,” explained the spokesman.

On the issue of Pakistan’s high commissioner to the United Kingdom Sahibzada Ahmed Khan and his ‘inappropriate’ behaviour at an awards ceremony, the spokesman said he had been summoned to the Foreign Office.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi tweeted, “I am dismayed by the actions of our high commissioner to the UK and have asked him to return to Pakistan and provide an explanation for his behaviour at the IPPA Awards held in London”.

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