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ISLAMABAD, Jan 7 (APP): Pakistan on Thursday welcomed the start of 2nd round of Intra Afghan Negotiations in Doha and called upon both the sides remain constructively engaged and show flexibility in the negotiations.

“We call upon both sides to remain constructively engaged and show flexibility in the negotiations for reaching an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement which would lead to lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said here in his weekly press briefing.

He said the two teams had made significant progress by finalizing the rules and procedures last month and had now reconvened to negotiate on substantive issues.

Hoping that the two sides would prioritize working out a roadmap for reduction in violence and ceasefire in the negotiations, the spokesperson reiterated its abiding commitment to a peaceful, stable, united, sovereign, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan.

Pakistan also welcomed the decision by the Saudi Arabia and State of Qatar to reopen the land, air and sea borders between the two countries.

He also appreciated other steps being taken by the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to resolve four decades old outstanding issues between the GCC countries.

He lauded the positive role played by the Emir of Kuwait towards resolution of differences and reiterated that Pakistan continued to accord high importance to its relations with the GCC and its member states.

Mentioning the observance of Kashmiris’ Right to Self-determination Day observed on January 5, 2021, the spokesperson said the Day reminded the international community, in particular the UN Security Council, of the imperative of honouring its commitment towards the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

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In their messages on the Day, Prime Minister Imran Khan, President Arif Alvi and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi highlighted grave human rights violations in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and urged the international community to ensure that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes against humanity are held accountable.

He told media that Pakistan had approached the UN Secretary General, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the European Union to seek immediate release of Kashmiri human rights activist and political leader, Asiya Andrabi, who remains incarcerated in infamous Tihar Jail in India.

It has been highlighted that Andrabi’s life is in danger owing to imminent risk of persecutory conviction by a sham court on 18 January 2021.

Chaudhri said the voices from around the world continued to condemn inhuman oppression of the Kashmiri people and illegal and inhuman incarceration of the Kashmiri leadership.

Pakistan welcomes the statement by the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) urging the UN, OIC member states and the international human rights community to put pressure on the Indian government for release of Andrabi and her associates and all other political prisoners.

Moreover, the Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organization (MAPIM) has also strongly condemned worsening human rights violations; extrajudicial killings; illegal demographic change; inhuman incarceration of Kashmiri leaders, particularly of Asiya Andrabi and her associates.

The spokesperson also categorically rejected completely unwarranted assertions by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in connection with the Hindu temple incident in Karak.

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“This is not the first time the Indian government has tried to feign concern for minority rights elsewhere, while being the most egregious and persistent violator of minority rights itself,” he remarked.

He said as a perennial purveyor of state-sponsored discrimination against its minorities, India is in no position to pontificate on the issue of minority rights elsewhere.

“The clear difference between India and Pakistan in respect of minority rights can be gauged from the fact that the accused in the Karak incident were immediately arrested, orders were issued for repair of the temple, the highest level of judiciary took immediate notice, and senior political leadership condemned the incident,” the spokesperson stated.

Regarding the situation in IIOJK, he said India had continuously subjected the people of IIOJK to a brutal military siege, inhuman restrictions and state terrorism for an unprecedented 521 days since India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5th August 2019.

Pakistan strongly condemns the latest extra-judicial killings by the Indian occupation forces of three Kashmiri youth in Srinagar on 29 December 2020.

Apprising media of a recent visit of President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Djibouti, along with a 12 member parliamentary delegation, he said during the interaction, the leadership underlined the salience of Pakistan’s “Engage Africa” policy, which aimed at forging closer ties with the continent by expanding Pakistan’s diplomatic footprint and deepening economic engagement.

Underlining the shift from geo-politics to geo-economics, the foreign minister emphasized the importance of economic diplomacy as a key component of modern diplomatic practice.