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April 10, 2020

Foreign Office summons Afghan envoy

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April 10, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Thursday asked Afghanistan to immediately hand it over ISIS-K leader, Aslam Farooqi, for his involvement in anti-Pakistan activities in Afghanistan, so that he could be further investigated.

Earlier, Kabul announced that it had arrested and taken into custody the head of the ISIS-K and 20 other commanders from the group. Farooqi is also known as Abdullah Orokxai and heads the ISIS-K, which is also known as the Islamic State of the Khorasan Province (ISKP).

“The Ambassador of Afghanistan to Pakistan was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and conveyed Pakistan’s views with regard to the arrest of ISIS-K leader, Aslam Farooqi, by the Afghan authorities on 5th April 2020,” said the Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui.

The Afghan ambassador was also told that both Pakistan and Afghanistan should coordinate actions against terrorism, including through the established mechanisms. She emphasized that Pakistan had been expressing its concerns over the activities of this group, which were clearly detrimental to Pakistan. “Pakistan’s position in this regard was being regularly shared with the Government of Afghanistan and others concerned,” she added. The Afghan intelligence agency National Directorate of Security (NDS) Saturday said the arrest came after the ISKP claimed responsibility for the attack on a Sikh religious complex in Kabul on Wednesday, killing 25 people.

In November last year, Russel Travers, US Acting Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Office of Director of National Intelligence, stated, "Of all of the branches and networks of ISIS, ISIS-K is certainly one of those of most concern, probably in the neighbourhood of 4,000 individuals or so”.

He added that the ISIS-K had attempted to certainly inspire attacks outside of Afghanistan and attempted to conduct a suicide attack in India which failed.

Earlier, Pakistan had in response to the Afghan government’s special request, and based on humanitarian considerations, decided to facilitate movement of cargo trucks and containers to cross-over into Afghanistan through Torkham and Chaman border crossing points thrice a week (on Monday, Wednesday and Friday) from 10 April 2020 onwards.

Commenting on the present situation in Afghanistan, Farooqui said Pakistan had always supported a peaceful, stable, united, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan at peace with itself and with its neighbours.

“We believe that the signing of the US-Taliban Peace Agreement has created a historic opportunity for the people of Afghanistan. It is imperative that this historic opportunity is seized and all parties work together constructively for securing durable peace and stability in Afghanistan,” she said.

Meanwhile, earlier in the weekly media briefing at the Foreign Office, Pakistan raised its voice for Kashmiris in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJK) and for Palestinians in the Gaza strip and said it was condemnable that at the time of the coronavirus pandemic there was a lack of medical supplies and assistance, which was adding to the sufferings of these people.

“It has been 249 days since the illegal and unilateral action of India in IOJK. Pakistan also remains deeply concerned over the lack of medical supplies and assistance where 170 cases of Coronavirus have been reported as well as the death of five people,” said the spokesperson.

Pointing to the current human rights and humanitarian situation in IOJ&K I, the spokesperson said it was “indeed regrettable”.

“The hardships of the average Kashmiris have only precipitated following the Covid-19 pandemic on the footsteps of India’s illegal and unilateral actions of August 5. We urge India to lift the communication blockade in IOJ&K so that full information on affected Kashmiris and essential items and medical supplies can be provided to the impacted people”, she demanded.

The spokesperson pointed to the foreign minister and his recent letters to the Presidents of UNSC and UNGA highlighting India’s illegal attempts seeking to change the demographic structure of IOJ&K and urged them to play their role.

“Similarly, the matter was also raised in the telephonic conversations of the foreign minister with his counterparts. It is unfortunate that instead of taking tangible actions to improve the Human rights situation in IOJ&K, India is trying to take advantage of the shift in world attention towards COVID-19,” she added.

Turing to the Palestinians where Israel has refused to let ventilators enter Gaza, the spokesperson said the blockade of the Gaza Strip violated the international law and is condemnable.

“Pakistan calls for immediate lifting of the blockade in order for Palestine to fight against the coronavirus pandemic”, she said.

The spokesperson voiced support for a viable, independent and contiguous State of Palestine, on the basis of internationally agreed parameters, the pre-1967 borders with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.

To a query about Dr. Afia presently imprisoned in the US, the spokesperson said Pakistan’s Consul General in Houston had been tasked with inquiring her wellbeing in view of the spread of Coronavirus.

“The CG has called the prison warden to inquire after Dr. Afia and was informed that she was doing well. Pakistan’s Consulate General will continue to get updates on her health and would also resume regular visits to the prison as soon as US authorities permit such visits owing to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic,” commented the spokesperson.