ISLAMABAD: British Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey has brushed aside impression that the visit of former prime minister Imran Khan to Russia resulted in a conspiracy against his government by any country in the West.
The British minister, who is on a two-day visit to Pakistan, was talking to senior journalists through video-link from British High Commission Wednesday after meeting with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
James Heappey categorically said whatever is happening in Pakistan at the moment is entirely the consequence of its domestic politics, and denied any sinister foreign plot role in it. He added any suggestion that there is somehow some sort of outside interference is utterly whimsical.
His comments came as PTI long march and agitation is under way as its chairman Imran Khan has called for the long march to press for early elections in the country.
To a query, the visiting British minister said Imran Khan believes that US conspired with local elements to dislodge his government because of his visit to Moscow for strengthening bilateral ties. The allegation has already been denied by the US government.
The minister reminded that his country was “disappointed” with Imran Khan’s visit to Moscow and had then communicated the same to the then government in Islamabad.
The British minister had important meetings during his stay in Pakistan and called on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif earlier in the day, and said he is of the view that Pakistan government agrees with London’s position about sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and that Russia was the aggressor.
“Certainly, the government here agrees with that. It matters a great deal. Of course it does,” he said. To another question about his meeting with the prime minister, he said Shehbaz Sharif was interested to hear that “our security and defence concerns continue to align.”
“Shehbaz was very keen to understand from me that, that doesn’t reflect any sort of change in enthusiasm for the relationship with Pakistan. And of course it doesn’t,” the British minister said. “We really don’t want to have to choose between the two and I don’t think we see any reason to choose between the two,” he said. To a question about his government’s position on Kashmir dispute, he said Kashmir is a bilateral issue between Pakistan and India, and fundamentally it is for the two to resolve this issue.
To a question about defence cooperation between Pakistan and the United Kingdom, the minister who looks after armed forces portfolio in London said, the political intent is that the militaries of the two countries should have more to do with each other, train together and prepare to face challenges together. The details, he said, have to be worked out by the generals of the two sides.
Earlier, the Prime Minister Office said the prime minister received James Heappey Wednesday. Emphasising that Pakistan and the UK enjoy a long-standing partnership which is grounded in historic connections and abiding people-to-people linkages, the premier hoped that the Pakistan-UK Enhanced Strategic Dialogue (ESD) would help deepen bilateral engagement between the two sides in a range of mutually beneficial areas. In this connection, he expressed the desire to further enhance trade and investment ties between the two countries. Noting that the two countries would be marking the 75th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations this year, the prime minister hoped that the occasion will be commemorated in a befitting manner and provide new impetus to further advancing Pakistan-UK cooperation in the years ahead.
The prime minister also stressed the importance of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, while highlighting the importance and urgency of taking necessary steps to avert humanitarian crisis in that country.
He urged the international community to remain engaged in search for a diplomatic solution in accordance with the relevant international law and the UN charter. The premier also highlighted the serious situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K).
Underlining Pakistan’s commitment to promote peace in the region, including with India, he stressed the importance of a peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people. He also underscored the importance of maintaining stable military balance in South Asia.
The visiting UK minister reciprocated prime minister’s sentiments to further augment the historic relationship between the two countries, especially in trade and investment sectors. He also conveyed his government’s deep appreciation for Pakistan’s cooperation with the UK, particularly with regard to evacuations in the aftermath of developments in Afghanistan post-August 15, 2021.
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