ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office (FO) on Friday confirmed contact between Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman but wasn’t aware if the two talked about economy.
“Our understanding is that ISPR (Inter-Services Public Relations) will be able to comment on it,” FO Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said at a weekly briefing here on Friday.
The FO’s statement comes amid reports that the COAS reached out to Washington requesting help in securing early loan dispersal from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
According to a report published in Nikkei today, Gen Bajwa spoke on the phone with Sherman.
“The sources, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said Bajwa made an appeal for the White House and Treasury Department to push the IMF to immediately supply nearly $1.2 billion that Pakistan is due to receive under a resumed loan program,” it stated.
Pakistan has been mired in economic turmoil with depreciating rupee, sky-rocketing inflation and a spiralling energy crisis, and officials hope the revival of the IMF programme will help bring stability to the country.
Last month, the Fund confirmed it had reached a staff-level agreement with Pakistan on the combined seventh and eighth reviews for a $6 billion loan facility, a development that paves the way for the release of the much-awaited $1.17bn.
However, the tranche will only be released after an executive-level agreement, which has been delayed till late-August.
Rejection of comments by India
In his briefing, the FO spokesperson said that the FO has completely rejected and strongly condemned the “unwarranted and totally unacceptable comments made by the Indian Defence Minister at a recent event in occupied Kashmir”.
“Pakistan has also categorically rejected the baseless and misguided remarks made by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson in an effort to politicise the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC),” he asserted.
Ahmed added that attempts to cast aspersions over CPEC showed India’s insecurity as well as the pursuit of a hegemonic agenda which had held back socio-economic development in South Asia for decades.
“It is in fact India that is illegally occupying the State of Jammu and Kashmir for over seven decades while perpetrating gross and widespread human rights violations and effectuating blatant territorial and demographic changes in the occupied territory in complete contravention of international law and relevant UNSC resolutions.”
He also highlighted the “politicisation” of 44th Chess Olympiad held in India’s Chennai, “by passing the torch relay through Srinagar in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir” which he said was in utter disregard of the globally acknowledged “disputed” status of the territory.
Deteriorating health of Yasin Malik
Towards the end of his briefing, Ahmad said that Pakistan was deeply concerned over the deteriorating health of Hurriyat leader, Muhammad Yasin Malik, saying that the latter continued to suffer for his “legitimate political resistance to India’s illegal occupation of IIOJK”.
“We reject this judicial persecution and demand his immediate release,” he stressed.
The FO spokesman said that the inhuman incarceration of Yasin Malik, his sham trials under fabricated cases, the fallacious conviction and the malfeasant attempts at tarnishing the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiris for their right to self-determination only further confirmed India’s known credentials as a serial violator of human rights and usurper of fundamental freedoms of the Kashmiri people.