Pakistan open for dialogue with India: FO

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ISLAMABAD, June 30 (APP): Pakistan on Thursday said it remained open for dialogue with India for the resolution of mutual issues
whenever India would be ready for it.

“We remain open for dialogue. Pakistan will be ready for talks when India will be ready,” the Foreign Office Spokesman said in a weekly press briefing held here at the Foreign Office.

Spokesman Nafees Zakaria said Pakistan considered dialogue as the best way to resolve issues with India and had taken several initiatives in the past.

In response to Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s recent statement, the Spokesman said no wedge could be drawn between the civil and military leadership of Pakistan as latter was committed  to democratic process.

“The Armed forces remain committed to support democratic process in Pakistan,” he said when asked to comment on Modi’s statement where he said it was hard to decide whom to talk to in Pakistan on peace process – whether to the democratically elected government or ‘other actors’.

The Spokesman said people of Pakistan took great pride in the armed forces for their services and sacrifices for the country.

He said strengthening people-to-people contacts with India was important, for which the two sides had been making efforts.

He said Pakistan encouraged promotion of religious tourism with India and to facilitate Hindus and Sikhs to visit their holy sites in Pakistan.

On return of Afghan refugees, the Spokesman said the deadline for their stay in Pakistan had been extended to December 31, 2016.

He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had graciously offered to provide every possible support to the Afghan refugees till their respectable return to their homeland and integration to the Afghan society.

He mentioned that over three million Afghan refugees were in Pakistan at present, with half of them registered with the government.

Zakaria said Pakistan wanted the Afghan government and the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) to engage in a serious dialogue for the repatriation of refugees.

Whether the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) was ‘alive or dead’ following the drone strike that killed the Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhter Mansour, the Spokesman said all member countries remained committed to ensure peace in Afghanistan.

He said Pakistan was sincerely committed to play role as facilitator for Afghanistan’s sustainable peace.

The Spokesman said the US Senator John McCain, who is also the Chairman of Senate’s Armed Forces Committee, would be shortly
visiting Pakistan.

Asked if the issue of subsidy on F-16 fighter aircraft would come under discussion with the Senator, the Spokesman said the Pak-U.S relationship was broad-based and must not be looked through the prism of F-16s only.

On membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Spokesman said Pakistan considered that it fulfilled the criteria and credentials of membership on merit.

He said during the NSG meeting held in Seol, Korea on June 23- 24, Pakistan’s stance for non-discriminatory and criteria-based approach was recognized by several member countries in their discussions.

He said Pakistan would consider about applying for the Missile Technology Control Regime when the “time would be right”.