ISLAMABAD, Jan 31 (APP):Pakistan Thursday dismissed allegations of maneuvering the Afghan peace process, saying it was facilitating talks between Taliban and the United States (US) in “good faith” despite attempts by some regional actors to ruin the efforts.
“Pakistan on request of the US and Afghanistan and as shared responsibility is facilitating the talks, however, some actors, having their interests served by perpetual conflict in Afghanistan, are active to scuttle the peace process,” Foreign Office Spokesman Muhammad Faisal said during weekly press briefing here at the Foreign Office.
He was responding to a statement by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s First Vice Presidential candidate Amrullah Saleh who said, “The determination and will for peace had always been in Kabul, but the key to peace had always been hostage with Rawalpindi.”
The spokesman warned the Afghans, the US and Taliban to “remain watchful of these detractors and expose them so that their nefarious designs do not undermine the nascent peace process.”
Responding to a statement of former Indian National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon accusing Pakistan of promoting terrorism through Afghanistan to target India, he said, “India appeared to be consistent in its flights of fancy and paranoia and callously continued state-sponsored terrorism in Indian occupied Kashmir despite international condemnation.”
“India should introspect and alleviate Pakistan’s concern about use of Afghan soil for launching terrorist activities in Pakistan instead of indulging in far-fetched allegations which have become routine hyperbole,” he said.
Despite being a “complex and sensitive matter”, the Afghan peace process was heading in a positive direction, he added.
The spokesman confirmed that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar had been appointed by Taliban to lead their side for negotiations with the US in Qatar.
Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar who was released by Pakistan in October last after an eight-year detention, would operate from his political office in Qatar.
On Pakistan’s announcement to open Torkham Border with Afghanistan, he said the step would increase transit trade and enhance people-to-people contacts with Afghanistan as 60,000 people crossed the border from both sides on daily basis.
He mentioned that Pakistan was the largest market for Afghan exports for consuming 90 percent of the latter’s fresh fruit and vegetables.
Following the waiver of regulatory duty on import of fresh fruit from Afghanistan last year, an increase of 29 percent in Afghan exports to Pakistan was recorded, he added.
On Aasia, the woman who was acquitted of blasphemy charges by Supreme Court of Pakistan, the spokesman confirmed that she was still in the country and had not shifted to Canada or any other country.
However, he said, Aasia being Pakistani citizen, was free to choose if she wanted to stay or move abroad.
He condemned the summoning of the Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India by the Indian Foreign Secretary on January 29, in reaction to the telephonic talk between Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and All Parties Hurriyat Conference Leader Mir Waiz Umar Farooq.
He said interaction between the Pakistani representatives and Kashmiri leadership was a norm and termed India’s actions including diplomatic summon and calling Mir Waiz a terrorist a “gimmickry for the country’s upcoming election.”
On Indus Waters Treaty, the spokesman said India remained in violation of the truce in shape of Kishan Ganga Hydroelectric Project and Ratle Hydroelectric Project, pointing that the matter was pending with The World Bank for empanelment of the Court of Arbitration.
He said inspection tours were obligatory on both sides under the Indus Waters Treaty, the last one conducted in 2014. He said Pakistan had been repeatedly urging India to conduct inspection tours including during the 115th meeting of the Permanent Indus Waters Commission held in August 2018.
On reports of suspicious helicopters transporting terrorists of Daesh in Afghanistan’s areas bordering Pakistan, Faisal said the rise of Daesh in close vicinity was a matter of grave concern for Pakistan and the issue needed to be addressed urgently.
He termed as “unwarranted and unjustifiable” the comments of US Congressman Daniel Coats on Pakistan before a Senate Committee in context of terrorism and said Pakistan had made exemplary contribution in eliminating terrorism from the region and had rendered immense sacrifices, also acknowledged by President Donald Trump.
On recent meeting between Russian envoy Zamir Kabulov with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Islamabad, he said in-depth discussions were held on regional situation and also the Afghan peace process, as the two sides agreed to hold regular consultation to support regional initiative for lasting peace.
The spokesman said a dedicated Gandhara Forum had recently been set up at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to promote the ancient civilization through number activities.
On repatriation of the body of legend Pakistani actress Roohi Bano from Turkey to homeland, the spokesman said the mission and consulate in Ankara were in touch with the family of deceased.
To my knowledge, she had been buried in Istanbul and the family had yet to decide on the transportation of her remains, he added.