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April 26, 2019

FO spokesman says he was misquoted on Dr Aafia

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April 26, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Encouraging the media to show ‘more responsibility’, Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal Thursday denied having said that Dr Aafia, the Pakistani national serving jail term in the US, was reluctant to get back home.

“The remarks were quoted out of context; we are in touch with Dr Aafia and her family, and we will continue our efforts to bring her back. We encourage responsible journalism,” he said while responding to a query during the weekly media briefing here.

Faisal said Pakistan will continue to raise the issue in Islamabad as well as in Washington. “We remain engaged with the US authorities. Our consul general in Houston regularly visits Dr Aafia. The last visit took place on 18 April 2019,” he added.

Talking about the ailing detained Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik, the spokesman said Islamabad had requested New Delhi to issue a visa to his wife on humanitarian grounds to see him. “Yasin Malik’s health is an issue of extreme concern to us. I would reiterate that he should be released. Secondly, we support his wife Ms. Mushaal Malik’s decision to visit him and hope that the Indian authorities will issue a visa to her, so that she can see her ailing husband,” Faisal said. He said the Indian authorities had committed blatant violations of human rights and illegally incarcerated not just Yasin Malik but many other Kashmiris too.

“These arrests have been made under various draconian laws such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act. We demand an immediate end to such measures and stress that the resolution of dispute of Jammu & Kashmir should be brought about by dialogue,” he added.

To a query about a possible visit by the Azad Jammu & Kashmir prime minister to Srinagar, the Foreign Office said it would support any measure that could help bring an end to oppression and grave human rights violations in the Indian Held Kashmir (IHK).

On the Kartarpur Corridor, the spokesman said though Pakistan was keen it became operational as per schedule, meetings were delayed as the Indian government was not willing to hold delegation level meeting at this juncture.

Meanwhile, Pakistan and the United States both denied reports that a firing range was being built inside the US Embassy in Islamabad. In fact, though this facility is inside the Diplomatic Enclave and a Pakistan police facility, it was not on the US Embassy premises. The Foreign Office remarked that no firing range was being constructed in the US embassy.

“Islamabad police and the US embassy are cooperating for upgradation of Islamabad Capital Territory’s firing range facilities,” the spokesman said. The US Embassy in Islamabad too said such reports were ‘baseless and untrue’.

“Responding to multiple requests from the Government of Pakistan and, with the approval of the Ministry of the Interior and other relevant Pakistani government agencies, we agreed to fund the complete refurbishment of an existing firing range for the Islamabad Capital Territory Police,” a US Embassy spokesman said in a statement.

“The upgrades to the firing range are intended to make the range safer for the police, as well as the citizens and diplomats who live and work near the range,” the US mission added. The statement added that the firing range was not in the US Embassy compound but a Pakistani police facility on the Diplomatic Enclave.

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