ISLAMABAD - Pakistan on Thursday said that it would form ‘joint teams’ with the United States to share intelligence information for actions against terrorists.
Addressing her weekly press briefing, Foreign Office spokeswoman Tehmina Janjua said the joint teams of Pakistan and the US would share intelligence information on terrorists so that action could be taken against them.
However, she ruled out participation of US troops in any action against terrorists on Pakistani soil. She said it was during the recent visits of US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Senator John Kerry that Islamabad and Washington agreed on joint operations.
“However, that doesn’t necessarily mean presence of foreign troops on Pakistani soil. It could be sharing of intelligence,” she said, adding, “The most important thing is that we all face a common threat. The question of sovereignty is very dear to the government and people of Pakistan and this has been clearly underscored by our leadership in meetings with Secretary Clinton and Senator Kerry.”
She said, “Joint operations take various forms. I will not go into details but let me just state that intelligence-sharing does not necessarily mean the presence of troops. On details of operations, I am not in a position to talk any further.”
To a question about David Headley’s testimony in a US trial linking the ISI to the Mumbai attacks, Tehmina said there should be no “baseless speculation” from any quarter regarding Headley’s testimony.
“Pakistan has not been given access to Headley and hence we are not in a position to determine the details of what he (Headley) is saying or what he is not saying,” she said.
She said, “Therefore, what we can say is that it is our expectation that all sides will refrain from vitiating the atmosphere by baseless speculation from the trial.”
To another question, Tehmina said Pakistan had given India a non-paper on the Siachen issue during a recent meeting of the defence secretaries of the two countries in New Delhi.
DATES: “The dialogue process with India is going according to the schedule and the two sides are in the process of finalising dates for the foreign secretary-level talks on peace and security, Jammu and Kashmir, and friendly exchanges,” Tehmina said.
“Pakistan is going into the dialogue process with India with an open and constructive mind and with the objective of having result-oriented talks,” she said.
On the Indo-Pak dispute over the Kishanganga project, she said Pakistan was in the process of going into the court of arbitration in accordance with Indus Basin Treaty.
She said Pakistan and India were having talks on the visa regime, adding that Islamabad efforts were aimed at facilitating as much as possible the people who wish to visit families in Pakistan and for frequent visits of the business community.
US Talks: To another question, she said preparations were underway for holding next round of Pakistan-US strategic dialogue. She said Pakistan’s commerce delegation was in Kabul for the last few days in connection with the finalisation of the implementation details of the new Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA).
She said the talks were held in a constructive atmosphere and both the countries had finalised the subject to final approval by both respective governments about the implementation of APTTA.
She said at the invitation of Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Jaweed Lodin would pay a three-day visit to Pakistan from the next Sunday.
“Both sides will be working to complete the preparations for a visit by the Afghan president in the near future,” she said.
On the reports about operation in North Waziristan, the FO spokeswoman said Pakistan was fighting terrorism for its own national interests and any decision for an operation in the agency would be taken in accordance with Pakistan’s own interests and priorities.
To a question, she said Pakistan, the US and Afghanistan were engaged in a trilateral process. “We have had two meetings of the trilateral process at the senior official levels in which matters of peace and reconciliation have been discussed as well as pursuing the development track in Afghanistan,” she said.
She said, “All issues regarding talks with the Taliban will be discussed in the context of the trilateral process. I would also like to point out that it was Pakistan’s proposal that the three should form a core group on reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan. And this proposal, we are happy to say, was accepted by both Afghanistan and the US. So we have a forum where we discuss all issues related to reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan.”
In her opening statement, the FO spokeswoman said Pakistan would attend the Asia-Europe meeting being held in Budapest on June 6 and 7. She said Pakistan fully subscribed to the concept of inter-regional cooperation in Asia.