- FO spokesman says Islamabad repeatedly asked US leadership to refrain from making unfounded assertions
- Says govt always emphasised the need of ‘Afghan-owned’ and ‘Afghan-led’ efforts for peace in Afghanistan
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday refused to tender an apology to Bangladesh over the controversial video shared on the Pakistani High Commission’s Facebook page that claimed that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was not the one who declared independence in 1971.
Clarifying on the recent ‘video-clip controversy’ between Pakistan and Bangladesh, Mohammad Faisal, the new Foreign Office (FO) spokesman who took over from the outgoing Nafees Zakaria, said that the video clip was not uploaded on the website of FO but on the High Commission’s Facebook page by someone else. “The video was immediately deleted and we have tweeted about it from spokesperson’s official account yesterday,” he added.
“We sincerely hope that the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and Bangladesh will continue to move in letter and spirit of the Tripartite Agreement of 1974,” he said and added that the tripartite agreement between Pakistan, India and Bangladesh was the cornerstone for taking the relations forward between the two countries.
The video prompted the Bangladesh foreign ministry to summon Pakistan’s High Commissioner Rafiuzzaman Siddiqui to register protest and demand a formal apology from Pakistan. In an apparent tit for tat move, Pakistan summoned the Bangladesh High Commissioner to inform him that sharing a video by a third party could not be attributed to the Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka.
Distancing itself from the video, the Foreign Office questioned the origin of the controversial clip and lodged a strong protest with the Bangladeshi envoy for using what it called ‘undiplomatic language’ in a Note Verbale.
Pakistan also rejected the US allegations of terrorist ‘safe havens’ terming them as ‘baseless’, with the FO spokesman saying that Islamabad has repeatedly conveyed to the US leadership that it “should refrain from making unfounded assertions”.
“We reject baseless allegations of safe havens and have repeatedly conveyed to the US leadership that it should refrain from making unfounded assertions,” said FO spokesman. He added that Pakistan has contributed with both blood and treasure in the fight against terrorism and made significant gains through its effective counter-terrorism operations.
The spokesman also said that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had also appreciated the need for intelligence cooperation between the two countries. “During the recent interactions with the United States, all issues of mutual interest, including counter-terrorism and regional situation, have come under discussion,” he added.
About the reports of a ‘list of 75 terrorists’ handed over to Pakistan by Secretary Tillerson, the spokesman said that he was not privy to any such development. When asked whether Afghan government had responded to a list of terrorists wanted by Pakistan for mounting terrorist attacks from Afghan soil, the spokesman said that Afghanistan so far had not shared any update on the list.
Responding to a question about Pakistan’s request to US for taking action against Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) leader Mullah Fazlullah, Muhammad Faisal said that Pakistan has raised concerns with Afghanistan and US at all relevant forums on his [Fazlullah’s] ease of mobility within Afghanistan, which is a concern especially because Fazlullah has used Afghan soil to perpetrate deadly attacks within Pakistan.
“There are examples of terrorist attacks in various parts of Pakistan including Lahore, Sehwan Sharif, Parachinar and Quetta, and we have serious concerns about it,” he said.
Regarding probe into the mysterious disappearance of Afghan deputy governor from Peshawar who reportedly was on a private visit, the spokesman said that no prior intimation was given in this regard, adding that Afghan Embassy had approached the authorities about the incident and all efforts were underway to trace the deputy governor’s whereabouts.
Commenting on the recent sitting of Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG), Faisal highlighted that QCG is an initiative which is facilitating talks between Afghan Taliban under shared responsibility. He informed that the QCG members agreed to work together for increased efforts to hold peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
“In fact, the QCG emphasised the need for Afghanistan to bring out its own national reconciliation plan for taking the Afghan reconciliation process forward. The spirit of QCG has not been to blame each other,” he added.
The spokesman further clarified that Pakistan has always emphasised the need of ‘Afghan-owned’ and ‘Afghan-led’ efforts for bringing lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. “Pakistan has welcomed and participated in all such initiatives, and will continue to do so in the future,” he stated while referring to the upcoming meeting on Afghan peace process in Dubai next week.
Faisal also stated that the US administration had repeatedly stated in both private and public interactions that it wants to see de-escalation between Pakistan and India. “We welcomed these statements by the US officials since Pakistan has also been making consistent efforts to ease tensions with India,” he said and added that India, however, had repeatedly refused to engage bilaterally.
He underscored that India had resisted any efforts of mediation by a third-country, which indicated its defiance to the peaceful means for dispute resolution as envisaged in the UN Charter.
“The Kashmir dispute can only be resolved through implementation of relevant UN Security Council (SC) Resolutions, which remained unimplemented to this day, as the people of Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK) have been struggling for the just right of self-determination, as envisaged in the resolutions, from the past 70 years,” he said.
“All the three parties [Pakistan, Kashmir and India] must hold a dialogue under the ambit of UNSC Resolutions to resolve the dispute amicably,” he said and added, “FO has already issued a press release regarding the appointment of Sharma,” the spokesman said referring to the new Indian negotiator on Kashmir.
When asked to comment over the formation of a regional bloc by India, Japan, US, Australia and some other European countries against China, the spokesman said that today’s globalised world calls for cooperation and collaboration, and added that Pakistan acknowledged the right of countries to establish relations with other countries of their choice.
“However, partnerships and alliances should not be directed against other countries. Every country has the right to peaceful development unless it threatens other’s peace and security,” he added.
About the growing extremism in India, the Faisal commented that the growing extremism and intolerance in Indian society was visible to everyone.