Pak relationship with China not impediment to its relations with others: FO

Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri - File photo

Pak relationship with China not impediment to its relations with others: FOISLAMABAD, July 1 (APP): Pakistan on Thursday said that with a foreign policy being one of friendliness and goodwill towards all the nations, it believed that its relationship with China was not an impediment to its relations with other countries.

“We want close cooperative relation with all others. We desire close cooperative relations with the US. We want to broaden the scope of these relations, particularly in the areas of trade and investment,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri told a weekly news briefing here.

“We have convergence with the U.S. on number of issues, particularly the Afghan Peace Process. Close cooperation between Pakistan and U.S has contributed to the progress achieved in Afghan Peace Process so far,” he said in response to a question.

The Foreign Office Spokesperson in response to another question said he did not agree that Pakistan-U.S. relationship was deteriorating.

“The two sides remain committed to maintain close coordination on all matters of common interest. The two sides also continue to work closely on the Afghan Peace Process,” he maintained.

About the statement of Prime Minister Imran Khan with regard to relations with China, the Foreign Office Spokesperson said Pakistan had close cooperative relations with China, adding, the two countries have an all weather strategic cooperative partnership nurtured over decades.

“The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has taken this relationship to new heights. It has contributed significantly to the development of port, roads and energy infrastructure in Pakistan,” he added.

“CPEC has now entered into second phase with focus on industrial cooperation, trade, agriculture and socio-economic development,” he mentioned.

To another question, the Foreign Office Spokesperson said Pakistan had consistently maintained that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.

“We believe that the Afghan Peace Process is at a critical juncture and the Afghan leadership must seize this historic opportunity and workout an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement for durable stability in Afghanistan,” he added.

The Foreign Office Spokesperson further said Pakistan also believed that a meaningful engagement of the international community for promoting reconstruction and economic development in the post-conflict Afghanistan was important for ensuring sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan.

To a question about the security of Pakistan Mission and officials in Afghanistan, he said “We believe that security of all diplomatic missions is the responsibility of the host Government under Vienna Convention. We hope that this responsibility will be fulfilled in letter and spirit.”

Regarding a statement by President Ghani, the Spokesperson said that negative statements erode mutual trust, vitiate the environment between the two brotherly countries and disregard the constructive role being played by Pakistan in facilitating the Afghan Peace Process.

“Such statements need to be avoided. I think at this critical juncture, the Afghan leadership must dedicate all its energy and efforts towards taking the Afghan peace process forward,” he added.

The Spokesperson further said that Pakistan had played a constructive role in the Afghan peace process and would continue to play its part.

Regarding downsizing of Pakistani diplomatic missions in Afghanistan, he said, “As of now, no such proposal is under consideration.”

“We believe that our presence in Afghanistan has its significance for overall peace and development efforts in Afghanistan,” he added.

To a question, the Foreign Office Spokesperson reiterated that there was no change in Pakistan’s principled position.

“Pakistan has consistently called for a two-state solution, with pre-1967 borders and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as the capital of Palestinian State,” he added.

To another question, the Foreign Office Spokesperson said Pakistan has always acknowledged and appreciated Turkey’s role in the Afghan Peace Process, adding, Pakistan has been participating in Turkish led initiatives related to peace in Afghanistan including the Heart of Asia-Istanbul process.

“We will continue to work with Turkey and the larger international community for promoting peace in Afghanistan,” he added.

To a question, the Foreign Office Spokesperson said since Iran was an important regional country and a neighbor of Afghanistan, Pakistan believed that Iran had an important role to play in the Afghan Peace Process.

“In the past too, Pakistan has worked with Iran on the Afghan Peace Process, and we are ready to work with Iran in future also toward our shared objective of peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he added.

To a question, the Spokesperson said Pakistan was the only country which had consistently maintained that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. “Now, the entire international community has come to the same conclusion,” he remarked.

“We have played an important role in the Afghan Peace Process. As a result of Pakistan’s efforts three key milestones. i.e. US-Taliban Peace Agreement, the initiation of Intra-Afghan negotiations and the Agreement on Rule and procedures were achieved last year,” he added.

The Spokesperson said that Pakistan has also played an important role in the development efforts of Afghanistan through a number of development projects including construction of roads, hospitals and educational facilities.

“We have offered over 6,000 scholarships to the Afghan students as part of our efforts to help build human resources in Afghanistan,” he mentioned,

As for the security situation in Afghanistan, the Spokesperson pointed out that Pakistan had suffered the most due to the security situation and instability in Afghanistan. “We have lost over 70,000 lives and suffered economic losses of over US$150 billion,” he added.

The Spokesperson said that Pakistan remained concerned at the security situation in Afghanistan and had been consistently calling for reduction in violence leading to permanent ceasefire in Afghanistan.

“We believe progress in the Afghan peace process is critical for peace and stability in Afghanistan. An inclusive, broad based and comprehensive political settlement is, therefore, the best way forward and to achieve that all Afghan sides need to show flexibility,” he added.

About the situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), the Foreign Office Spokesperson welcomed the United Nations Secretary General’s recent report titled “Children and Armed Conflict.”

The report documents grave concerns of the United Nations Secretary-General on the Human Rights Violations of children in IIOJK, said, adding, the indiscriminate targeting of Kashmiris with pellet guns, causing excessive and permanent injuries had been particularly highlighted in the report.

“We call upon the international community to take cognizance of the plight of oppressed children in IIOJK,” he added.

The Spokesperson also urged India to immediately stop its illegal practices that were in contravention of its obligations under the international law.

“Pakistan strongly condemns the continuing Indian machinations aimed at denying the Kashmiri people their inalienable right to self-determination as enshrined in the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions,” he added.

The Spokesperson said that the meeting held in New Delhi last week was yet another attempt by the BJP government to further marginalize the Kashmiri people to perpetuate India’s illegal occupation in IIOJK.

The true representatives of the Kashmiri people, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), were not even involved in this futile exercise, he said, adding, the leadership of APHC has been clear in demanding the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination in accordance with the relevant UNSC Resolutions.

“It is evident from what has been said by the participants after the meeting that reversal of the actions of 5 August 2019 and full restoration of statehood is a unanimous demand. The meeting has also further exposed the falsehood of the Indian narrative of so-called normalcy in IIOJK,” the Spokesperson maintained.