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Pakistan-India dialogue: Decision prerogative of both govts, says ISPR

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January 25, 2019

RAWALPINDI: The Pakistan Army on Thursday rejected the Hindustan Times report claiming that the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa had contacted his Indian counterpart to initiate bilateral talks.

According to Geo News, Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor in a tweet called the news story ‘factually incorrect’. The “COAS has neither approached Indian COAS nor has served with him in Congo,” the tweet said. The military spokesman said: “Decision for talks is prerogative of both the govts.”

Meanwhile, irked by the Indian response to a request by Pakistan for sending a delegation to Pakistan to finalise negotiations on the draft agreement for operating the Kartarpur Corridor by November this year, the Foreign Office said it was ‘regrettable that India has behaved in a childish manner’. "Peace initiatives will be responded to with peace and a bullet will be repaid with a bullet," the Foreign Office announced. “I can assure you that our reply to the Indian proposal will be mature and well-considered,” said the Foreign Office spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal as Pakistan readies to write to Delhi asking it to show seriousness over the Kartarpur Corridor.

“India has regrettably behaved in a childish manner, as far as its response is concerned. We have seen a similar reply from India in the past, in September 2018, in response to the letter from Prime Minster Imran Khan,” he responded to a query at the weekly media briefing. “After extensive meetings, between various stakeholders in Pakistan, a finalised draft agreement was prepared, which was subsequently shared with India requesting it to send a delegation to Pakistan for negotiations on the draft agreement”, he added. Instead of responding to Pakistan’s invitation. Delhi proposed dates for a Pakistani delegation to visit India thus creating confusion and displaying non-seriousness over an important issue.

In another development, recently photographs of the Jinnah House in Mumbai have emerged showing it to be in use of the Ambassador of Netherlands to India as his official residence. When asked, the spokesman who must have been briefed by Pakistan’s High Commission in Delhi, preferred to say that he had no information on this. “I have to check. I do not have any information at the moment. As I have maintained, Pakistan’s claim on the Jinnah House is legitimate,” he replied.

Recently, India and Afghanistan had opened an air corridor through which Afghanistan is exporting mainly dry fruits to India through cargo flights. Asked if Pakistan had recently disallowed these flights over its territory, the spokesman responded, “I have seen those media reports. Our position on overflight cargo planes from India remains unchanged. However, passenger flights from India are operating as per the laid down SoPs”. The spokesman did not clearly state whether Pakistan has stopped these cargo flights in so many words.

The spokesman, to a query, denied that Pakistan has destroyed any Indian fishing boat recently. “No sinking of any Indian fishing boat took place in operating areas of PMSA ( Pakistan Maritime Security Agency ) on 17 January 2019, as claimed by the Indians. The proclaimed position of the incident referred is 110 nautical miles away from Pakistan EEZ in Gulf of Kuch, where PMSA does not operate. Notwithstanding the above, poaching in Pakistani EEZ by Indian fishing vessels is a frequent activity. The PMSA conducts anti-poaching operations as per laws, and International Regulations and UNCLOS-1982”, he explained.

As Pakistan once again took credit for facilitating the recent ongoing peace talks in Qatar between the Afghan Taliban and the United States, the spokesman pointed to interest expressed by the visiting US Senator Lindsey Graham, perceived to be close to US president, for a meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Trump. “Interest has been expressed from the US side for a meeting of the prime minister with President Trump. Senator Graham reiterated this interest during the visit. There are no dates, as of now, for this meeting. A lot of preparation and homework is required before such high-level engagements are materialised,” explained the spokesman. He pointed out that Graham’s meetings with the prime minster and the foreign minister were useful in understanding each other’s perspective and reviewing the regional security situation.

Unsure about the actual situation the spokesman to another query about presence of Daesh in the recent Punjab killings, first said that there was no organized presence of Daesh in Pakistan but later said on this specific incident the media could check with the Home Department of Punjab or the Ministry of Interior.

As a Pakistani Jew Fischel Benkhald tweeted that he had been allowed by the government to travel to Israel, the spokesman while responding to any change in the policy said,” On questions regarding Israel, our position on Israel remains unchanged”. As the Supreme Court fixes January 29 to hear the review petition in Aasia Bibi case, the spokesman said the government would implement the Supreme Court decision.

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