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October 26, 2018

Pakistan, US engaged in pursuing Afghan peace: FO

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October 26, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday said Pakistan and the US along with other regional stakeholders are engaged in pursuing an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led political settlement in Afghanistan.

Speaking at the weekly press briefing here, the Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal said the US Special Representative on Afghan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad visited the region, including Pakistan, a couple of weeks ago. “It is important to reiterate that Pakistan’s cooperation with Afghanistan and the international community to bring about lasting peace in Afghanistan is borne out of our firm belief that a stable Afghanistan is vital for eliminating terrorism inside Pakistan and the region in general,” he said. The spokesman said he has no information on reports that Mulla Baradar has been handed over to the Taliban by the Pakistani authorities.

Responding to some harsh statements coming again from Washington about Pakistan’s Afghan policy, the spokesman said, “There is no question of any country applying pressure on Pakistan for something which we believe is in our own interest. Our foreign policy is based on principles of peace within and peace without. In all our domestic and external pronouncements, we are guided only by Pakistan’s national interest and prosperity of the people of Pakistan”. To a query about Pakistan renewing its proposal to India for a bilateral arrangement on a nuclear test ban, the spokesman replied, “Pakistan announced in August 2016 that it was prepared to consider translating its unilateral moratorium into a bilateral arrangement on nuclear non-testing with India. That proposal is still on the table and is reflective of our policy of promoting restraint and responsibility in South Asia and our consistent support for the objectives of the CTBT.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua summoned Ambassador of the Netherlands to the Foreign Office and lodged a strong protest with him against the blasphemous tweets by Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders. Janjua firmly told the ambassador that the Dutch government should condemn and take suitable measures to counter and prevent such actions from taking place. “Such acts cannot be allowed with impunity under the pretext of freedom of expression. These discriminatory incidents spread hate and intolerance and provoke extremism and violence, which were prohibited under human rights laws and standards,” Januja told the top diplomat according to her office.

Recently, after immense pressure Geert Wilders had decided not to exhibit the blasphemous cartoons in parliament but has now started to Tweet hateful material which has deeply hurt the sentiments of Muslims. The foreign secretary conveyed deep concern and disappointment of the government and the people of Pakistan on continued and deliberate malicious attempts of the Dutch parliamentarian to hurt the sentiments of hundreds of millions across the world. The Dutch government under the garb of freedom of expression has allowed hate speech against Muslims but has own laws which do not allow such freedom if for example one cannot deny that the Holocaust took place. The Dutch ambassador assured that the concerns of the government and the people of Pakistan would be conveyed to the authorities in the Netherlands.

Earlier, during the weekly media briefing at the Foreign Office, the spokesman shied away from countless questions about details of Pakistan playing role as mediator in the Saudi-Yemen war. In a televised address to the nation, Imran said he was ready to play such a role but neither he nor Foreign Minister Shah spoke about details and whether Saudi Arabia had agreed to it. “As a matter of policy, Pakistan has always worked for the best of relations between our brotherly Muslim countries and we shall continue to do so,” was all that the spokesman offered.

Earlier, speaking on Geo TV, Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry revealed that the prime minister had responded to a Tweet from some Yemeni leader but he was unable to remember his name. Later a Tweet from Mohammad Ali al-Houthi, former president of the Revolutionary Committee and cousin of main Houthi leader Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi, emerged in which he first congratulated and later invited Imran Khan to visit and play a role for peace in Yemen.

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