WEB DESK: Pakistan on Thursday confirmed joining the Saudi led 34-state military alliance on counter-terrorism but the extent of participation in anti-terror activities will be decided once details on coalition are acquired from Riyadh.
The announcement was made by Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah during his weekly media briefing while responding to a query whether or not Pakistan was part of the 34-nation alliance against terrorism or not.
“We’re welcomed it [alliance] •Yes, we’re part of it,” he confirmed, adding: “To be specific, we will participate in it as it is against terrorism and the only thing that needs to be decided is the extent of our participation in various activities of the alliance.”
However, he avoided responding to a question when asked whether Pakistan was formally consulted by the kingdom before its inclusion in the alliance. He further said that Pakistan has consistently supported all regional and international efforts to combat terrorism and extremism and it was in that context that we have welcomed this alliance against terrorism. “We are seeking additional information to decide the extent of our participation in various activities of this alliance,” he added.
He pointed out Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy close brotherly relations and have been co-operating with each other in various fields including in fight against terrorism. “We maintain close contact with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia bilaterally and within the framework of OIC and have been exchanging ideas on how to deal with the increasing threats posed by terrorists and extremist mindset to the region,” he said.
Asked how effective the alliance would be without regional countries Iran, Iraq and Syria, the spokesperson declined to comment, saying it was for each country to respond to various developments that are taking place at the regional and international levels. To another question about renaming the Pakistan-India Composite Dialogue, he said that all the elements that were part of the Composite Dialogue are included in the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue that was announced on 09 December 2015.
“What is important is to have a dialogue between the two countries, which is uninterrupted and result-oriented,” he emphasised. He also declined to comment on the statements by Indian politicians on the dialogue process, saying it was important to make sustained efforts to realise the shared vision of the leadership of the two countries of a peaceful and stable South Asia.
About the resumption of dialogue between Afghan government and the Taliban, he said that the important trilateral and quadrilateral meetings held on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia Conference were helpful in reaching a broad consensus on resuming the peace talks and the way forward. He said that all four countries – including Afghanistan, Pakistan, US and China – will be working together to chalk out a way forward.
He said that Pakistan attaches great importance to peace and stability in Afghanistan. “We have been supporting Afghanistan and the peace process. The interests of both countries are best served by enhancing cooperation, rather than getting involved in a blame game,” he added. Responding to US lawmakers concerns over Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, he said that Pakistan is a responsible nuclear weapons state, adding our nuclear programme has a certain context and that the programme is for our defence.
To another question about IAEA Board of Governors’ report on Iran’s possible military nuclear program as being totally closed, he said Pakistan welcomes the progress made in the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Earlier, the spokesperson rejected the remarks attributed to Foreign Secretary by some media outlets about the Saudi-led military alliance against terrorism that Pakistan was “surprised” by its inclusion in alliance against terrorism.
“We reject the remarks attributed to the Foreign Secretary as incorrect and misleading,” he said, adding the Foreign Secretary had merely said that “we are ascertaining details” about the announcement made by Saudi Arabia concerning the alliance. Referring to the first anniversary of the terrorist attack on APS Peshawar, he said the leadership, officers and staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and their families join the nation in paying tribute to the Martyrs of APS Peshawar who lost their precious lives in the cowardly terrorist attack a year ago.
“The nation today is united more than ever before in its resolve to eliminate the menace of terrorism and extremism from the soil of Pakistan, once for all,” he said, adding the Ministry will continue to apprise the international community of the sacrifices given by the people of Pakistan while combating terrorism, in order to make the world a safer and a better place.