Sartaj phones Afghan security adviser to convey concern

ISLAMABAD, Dec 4 (APP): Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign
Affairs Sartaj Aziz Sunday said India could not succeed in its attempts
to damage Paksitan’s relations with Afghanistan and creating differences between the two brotherly states.
“Indian attempts cannot impact our relations with Afghanistan, which
are based on strong links of religion, history, culture and at people to people level,” Sartaj Aziz said at a press conference soon after his arrival here from his 24 hour visit to Amritsar to attend the Heart of Asia Conference.
He said Indian efforts to separate the ‘conjoined twins’ Pakistan and Afghanistan would not bring any favourable result for it.
He said Pakistan was concerned about terrorism in Afghanistan, a country which had suffered a lot. He, however, stressed that making efforts for stability and peace in Afghanistan was a joint responsibility.
Referring to his meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Sartaj
Aziz said he reassured him of the commitment made by Prime Minister
Muhammad Nawaz Sharif during his 2015 Kabul visit to not let his country’s soil used against Afghanistan.
However, he said Afghanistan needed to cooperate with Pakistan on
border management so as to check movement of terrorists and drug smugglers.
Reacting to the statement of President Ghani at the Heart of Asia Conference, Sartaj Aziz said it was “regrettable” but “understandable”
in a way that it was result of the anxiety due to the increased level of bomb blasts and terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.Sartaj Aziz said the Amritsar Declaration issued at the conclusion
of Heart of Asia Conference was a ‘balanced statement’, however, the
Indian media tried to project the reference to Lashkar e Taiba, Jaish e Muhammad and Haqqani network to pressurize Pakistan.
“But, if you carefully read the declaration, it also mentioned TTP (Tehreek i Taliban Pakistan), Jamat ul Ahrar and many other regional organizations like Daesh, ILU and Jandullah because the context was not the terrorism in Afghanistan but in the region.”
The declaration, he added, in fact called upon all the countries to take action in accordance with their national counter terrorism policies and in case of Pakistan, it was all part of its National Action Plan.
The Adviser said Pakistan did not need to be pressurized on counter terrorism, because it had done more than any other country in the world during last three years.
“We are not doing it under any external pressure, but in our own national interest and security,” he emphasized.
At the conference, Sartaj said he presented in his statement ‘an objective assessment of the challenges’ Pakistan and Afghanistan were facing at present and highlighted the importance of a politically driven solution.
He said at the HoA forum, he also pointed that the security situation in Afghanistan needed a holistic approach for the complex scenario in presence of several groups within the country and foreign elements.
The Adviser said on the sidelines of conference, he held meetings
with Iranian Foreign Minsiter Javad Zarif and discussed bilateral cooperation particularly in the wake of lifting of sanctions.
With the Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan Rasit Meredow, Sartaj
Aziz said the ‘useful meeting’ was held where the latter was appreciative of the prime minister’s recent statement on joining the Lapis Lazuli corridor project. He said the timings and mechanism of the project were discussed.
The progress on TAPI (Turkmenistan Afghanistan Pakistan India) pipeline, he said, was discussed, which was no longer a gas project only, but also boasted fibre optic, a number of communication projects and electric lines.
During the meeting with the Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister,
Sartaj said, peace in Afghanistan and ways to carry on the Quadrilateral Coordination Group process were discussed.
He said there were no bilateral meetings held or requested with the Indians. He, however, mentioned brief interactions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitly and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval to whom he “met, shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.”On not allowing him to hold a press conference in Amritsar, Sartaj Aziz said he could not meet the Pakistani journalists because of stringent security measures and was informed that no one was being allowed to visit the hotel of his stay during a certain time period.
He agreed that the treatment meted to Pakistani media persons in Amritsar, who were visiting the city to cover the conference, “was not good’.
To a question on visiting India a day prior as earlier scheduled, he said due to a report of morning fog by the air traffic control, he decided to reschedule to timely attend the conference that was to start by 10 am.
On dialogue with India, Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan wanted peace and bilateral dialogue, however, “dialogue through media raises hostility.”
He said India’s agenda against Pakistan had a political element as their elections were nearing and fanning anti Pakistan sentiments suited them.
Sartaj Aziz said blaming Pakistan on supporting terrorists was India’s excuse to divert international attention from their ongoing atrocities in Kashmir.
“Kashmir is a reality. Why 700,000 army personnel have been deployed
in the Kashmir valley,” he pointed out.
He said Pakistan was firm on its stance on Kashmir and wanted dialogue with India to reduce tension on the Line of Control which was resulting in killing of innocent lives.
About the outcome of his visit to Amritsar to attend Heart of Asia meeting, he said there was no expectation of any breakthrough, and termed it a continuous process for Afghan peace.

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