WEB DESK: The Foreign Office on Thursday said that the participation of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Sushma Swaraj, Indian External Affairs Minister, in ‘Heart of Asia Conference’, to be held in Islamabad on December 08, is yet to be confirmed.
The FO spokesman, Qazi Khalilullah, told a weekly press briefing that as per schedule, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, would inaugurate the conference, but ‘we are yet to get confirmation from the Afghan president’.
As to the participation in the Heart of Asia Conference, the spokesman added, foreign ministers of China, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Iran and Afghanistan have so far confirmed their participation. However, he said that confirmation list is being updated on a daily basis, adding “we’ll share necessary information with you closer to the event dates. The Indian External Affairs Minister’s participation is also yet to be confirmed.”
Qazi said that Pakistan is waiting for the participation of Afghan president in the conference, adding when Afghan dignitaries are here, there will be discussion on all important issues including the peace process in Afghanistan. “Pakistan is committed to facilitating an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process,” he added. He said that the theme of the ministerial level Conference is ‘Istanbul Process – enhanced cooperation in countering security threat and promoting connectivity in the heart of Asia’.
He said that the agenda of the conference is aimed at cementing regional ties, adding it is also aimed at expanding cooperation among Afghanistan and regional partners in countering terrorism and elimination of poverty and extremism. The spokesman also reiterated that Pakistan wants result oriented dialogue with India to resolve all outstanding issues including Kashmir and promote bilateral relations. He said that they are waiting how to move forward after the last Monday’s meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in Paris on the sidelines of the Climate Change Summit.
To a question, he regretted the statement made by Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan in the wake of Sharif-Modi meeting in Paris, saying, “it is against the diplomatic norms for an Ambassador to try to undermine relations of his host country with a third country”. “We expect all regional countries to support efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan,” he added.
He rejected reports that Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Jalil Abbas Jilani, a former foreign secretary, has been drawing pension benefits despite audit paras. “This is unfortunately baseless and misleading. Ambassador Jilani, a Foreign Service of Pakistan officer, retired after a distinguished career in the service of Pakistan spanning over 37 years including as Foreign Secretary,” he added.
Like all other civil servants, Ambassador Jilani duly completed all the required formalities after retirement in obtaining requisite clearances and certificates before drawing his pension benefits, he said, adding one such requirement indeed was the settlement of all outstanding audit paras, which was strictly complied with in Ambassador Jilani’s case.
About reports of tracking down an alleged Pakistani spy by Indian authorities, he said Indian authorities had not approached Pakistan in this regard, adding we reject allegations against the High Commission and our premier intelligence agency. “They are baseless and unfounded. Such allegations levelled against our intelligence agency in the past have proved to be false,” he maintained.
The spokesman said that Pakistan has no information that Mulla Akhtar Mansoor, the current chief of Tahreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan, was injured during fighting. “We are not aware of this incident. However, we have noted that Taliban spokesperson has denied that any such firefight took place,” he added.
About media reports that Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval met Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit two weeks prior to the chance meeting in Paris between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said it was a brief unscheduled meeting which was telecast by media as it was taking place.
He said that Daesh is a terrorist outfit and it has no footprint in Pakistan, adding Pakistan will take necessary action if its presence is detected in Pakistan. “It is our commitment to eliminate terrorism from our country. Action against terrorists has been taken successfully under the operation Zarb-e-Azb and the National Action Plan. We have also been extending cooperation to the international community in eliminating terrorism.
Source: Business Recorder