–FO Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal says such ‘controversial statements’ to have adverse impact on regional peace
—Pakistan protests summoning of high commissioner to Delhi over Qureshi-Mirwaiz phone call
—FO says Aasia Bibi is in Pakistan, can go abroad if she wants to
–Saudi crown prince to visit on February 16, says envoy
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday dismissed allegations levelled against the country in a United States threat assessment report that it provides safe haven to militant groups, saying that such “controversial statements will be counterproductive and have the potential to adversely affect the peace and stability of the region”.
On Wednesday, United States Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats presented a threat assessment report for 2019 to the US Senate, predicting that militant groups in Pakistan will continue to take advantage of their “safe havens” to plan and conduct attacks in neighbouring countries and beyond.
The report came after the US had welcomed Pakistan’s role to promote a negotiated solution to the war in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal during a weekly briefing on Thursday warned Washington against issuing allegations which could be “harmful”.
Commenting on the situation in Afghanistan, Dr Faisal said that matters between Taliban and Kabul are “their business”.
Faisal maintained that the dynamics between the Taliban and Afghan government are theirs to resolve and that Pakistan expects them to resolve the matter amicably.
Expressing concern at the growing activity of Daesh on the Pakistan-Afghan border, the spokesperson said, “We need to be on the same page when it comes to the Afghan peace process.”
He added Pakistan is facilitating trade with Afghanistan by making arrangements so that the Torkham border crossing can remain open 24 hours a day.
“Pakistan is making the transport of imports to and exports from Afghanistan easier [by keeping the border open],” he said.
Dr Faisal said that the Foreign Office would soon release details about Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s upcoming visit to Pakistan, which he described as an “extremely important” trip.
‘ANTI-PAKISTAN RHETORIC BEING USED IN INDIA’S DOMESTIC POLITICS’:
Dr Faisal also said that Pakistan has summoned India’s high commissioner over All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi phone call.
The development comes a day after Delhi had summoned Islamabad’s representative in India to lodge a protest over Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s telephone call to Kashmiri leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
On Wednesday, FM Qureshi had briefed Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on the efforts of Pakistan government to highlight the human rights violations being perpetrated by the Indian occupation forces in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Farooq had appreciated the efforts of the Pakistan government and emphasised that the Indian atrocities shall never be able to suppress the will of the people.
The FO spokesperson said that India had summoned Pakistan’s high commissioner to New Delhi on Wednesday night to lodge a protest over Qureshi’s telephone call to Farooq. However, Pakistan rejected India’s objections to the telephone call and reaffirmed its support for the Kashmiri struggle for self-determination.
In response, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua summoned India’s high commissioner to the Foreign Office this morning to lodge a protest over the summoning of Pakistan’s high commissioner to Delhi on Wednesday.
Dr Faisal condemned India for its comments on Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, calling him a ‘terrorist’.
“Kashmir is a disputed territory. The Indian government’s move to summon the Pakistani high commissioner is an attempt to influence the upcoming elections,” the FO said, adding: “If you wish to contest your elections, don’t involve us in them.”
Foreign Secretary Janjua made it clear to the Indian diplomat that Pakistan would continue to extend support to the people of Kashmir.
He further stated that Pakistani authorities had contacted the Indian government to address a border crossing matter by a child in Zafarwal area in Punjab’s Narowal.
Earlier in the day, the Foreign Office also issued a statement and rejected objections raised by India over Qureshi-Mirwaiz phone call.
“Kashmir is an unresolved issue between Pakistan and India and acknowledged as such through UN Security Council resolutions, including the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration,” the statement said.
“We also categorically reject any insinuation that seeks to project as ‘terrorism’ the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiri people for self-determination. This is an outright travesty,” the statement said.
Moreover, the FO said Pakistan is committed to extending its political, diplomatic and moral support to the people of occupied Kashmir. “The leadership in Pakistan has always been communicating with the Kashmiri leadership. This is not anything new,” it added.
The FO further said, “Pakistan will maintain its support and solidarity till the time the Kashmir dispute is resolved peacefully, in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the people of the occupied valley.”
‘AASIA BIBI IS FREE TO GO ABROAD’:
The FO reiterated that the Supreme Court (SC) verdict in the Aasia Bibi case shall be upheld. “Aasia is in Pakistan and she will go abroad if she wants to,” the FO spokesperson commented during the briefing.
In response to a question on Kartarpur, the spokesperson said that Pakistan has a clear policy on the corridor and “India’s conduct has been immature”.
SAUDI CROWN PRINCE TO VISIT ON FEB 16:
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman will visit Pakistani on February 16, Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Bin Saeed Al-Malki confirmed on Thursday. During his two-day visit, the crown prince will also address the Pakistani nation, the envoy said, adding that security arrangements for the visit of Saudi Prince Mohammad Bin Salman are underway in Pakistan.
Earlier, according to sources Saudi ambassador held a meeting with officials of Pakistan’s foreign ministery and exchanged views on the visit of Saudi Prince.