NEW YORK: Pakistan desires peaceful relations in South Asia but after unilateral cancellation of Pakistan-India talks, the ball is now in New Delhi’s court vis-a -vis revival of the peace process, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry said.
He also revealed to journalists during a briefing that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will speak about the decades-old Jammu and Kashmir dispute in his address to the UN General Assembly on Friday.
Islamabad believes, as part of its core policy, that the Kashmiris should have the right to self-determination, he said.
Foreign Secretary, who is part of the delegation headed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said Pakistan is not part of the international coalition being cobbled to fight Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militants.
He explained that Islamabad’s hands are full as it is waging a major operation Zarb e Azb – against militants in North Waziristan.
Regarding prospects of a meeting between senior Pakistani and Indian officials, who are in New York for the UN General Assembly session, the Foreign Secretary said the onus now is on India since it cancelled the foreign secretary level talks, which were scheduled to be held in Islamabad last month in a resumption of the peace dialogue.
“If the Indians are interested in a meeting, we expect them to approach us”.
He said the officials from the two countries have not had any meeting during a Commonwealth foreign ministers conference.
Responding to a question, he said Pakistan has a longstanding policy to engage Kashmiri leaders as part of consultation process.
He said the Kashmir issue cannot just be wished away.
In response to a question, Aizaz Chaudhry noted that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s participation in the UN General Assembly is not only an opportunity to spell out Islamabad’s views on key international issues but also it emanates an important message that Islamabad is moving forward with its agenda of economic progress and peaceful relations.
He also emphasized the point that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s articulation of his economic agenda and foreign policy approach in his address to the large UN gathering of world leaders will be the highest level point of reference and a strong statement of Islamabad’s position on wide-ranging issues.
Besides, he said, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is having bilateral meetings with world leaders including U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
The Foreign Secretary said Islamabad has no confirmation that any Pakistani is fighting alongside ISIS militants in Iraq or Syria.
Aizaz Chaudhry made it clear that Pakistan is not fighting militants in North Waziristan to satisfy any foreign power but to ensure peace, security and stability on its soil.
“There is no place for terrorists in Pakistan”, he said, when questioned about a UN Security resolution that asks nations to take concrete measures to stem the flow of terrorists, and added that Islamabad is already pursuing a range of steps to curb the menace of terrorism.
Replying to another question, the Foreign Secretary said Pakistan has made urgent efforts to repatriate stranded Pakistan from violence-hit Libya, and will continue to bring back the remaining citizens.