The Foreign Office Thursday said that US President-elect Donald Trump’s intention to visit Pakistan as well as his willingness to play a role in resolving outstanding issues including Jammu and Kashmir dispute with India will be warmly welcomed.
Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria, while responding to media queries during weekly briefing, said that the Wednesday’s telephone call of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to US President-elect Donald Trump was a courtesy call, adding Pakistan’s leadership had earlier sent messages of felicitations to the President-elect on his election victory.
“We attach high importance to our relationship with the US and would like to see it strengthen further. We look forward to closely working with the new administration.
The President-elect’s intention to visit Pakistan would be warmly welcomed,” he said, adding, “Pakistan welcomes Trump’s willingness to play a role in resolving the outstanding issues between Pakistan and India, including the core issue of Jammu & Kashmir.”
About Pakistan’s participation in Heart of Asia Conference in India this week and any possibility of bilateral meetings with Indian leadership, he did confirm Pakistan’s participation in the conference but did not confirm any bilateral meeting on the sidelines.
However, he added that Pakistan has time and again said that it believes in peaceful neighbourhood and has always stressed the need for meaningful dialogue as the only viable solution to lasting peace. Unfortunately, India has been heightening tension at the LoC and Working Boundary, he added.
He said that Indian atrocities in the Occupied Jammu and Kashmir are of grave concern to Pakistan. “We have always maintained that all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir dispute, should be resolved through dialogue,” he said. Zakaria further said that Pakistan is participating in Heart of Asia Conference for being committed to contributing towards all efforts and initiatives that are aimed at bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Despite all negativity, Pakistan’s participation in the conference is quite significant and should be seen as such, he maintained.
About the prospects of revival of peace talks in Afghanistan through Heart of Asia Conference, he said that Heart of Asia is not the same process as Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG).
He pointed out that Heart of Asia follows a set of agenda items, comprising 14 member states, which takes stock of the progress made each respective year; every member country contributes in its own particular way and in the area of cooperation towards bringing stability in Afghanistan.
While QCG on the other hand is a specific process, comprising four members, and its aims at establishing peace in Afghanistan through bringing warring factions to the negotiating table, he added. “It is an intra-Afghan process. Pakistan remains committed to this process and will contribute as a facilitator in the QCG, along with two other facilitators, the US and China, and make efforts for a lasting peace in Afghanistan,” he added.
To another query, he said that CPEC is a project of both China and Pakistan. Therefore, both countries will decide as to how and what sort of participation of other countries will be made in CPEC or CPEC-related projects,” he said. He added that the investment in CPEC has increased to $54.5 billion and it pertains to energy, infrastructure and industrial development projects.
On Russian Foreign Ministry’s clarification that Russia was not engaged in any talks with Pakistan to join CPEC, he said that the statement was self-explanatory. As far as Pakistan-Russia relations are concerned, he added, this relationship is growing steadily in diverse fields. “We attach high importance to our relations with Russia,” he added.
On Indian threats of the Indus Waters Treaty, he said that the treaty is binding on both India and Pakistan, especially under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 1969. He said that the IWT has an effective dispute resolution mechanism which both India and Pakistan have been utilising in the past.
“India has to abide by its international obligations if it wants to be taken seriously by the international community,” he added.
About situation in IoK, he said that Pakistan has been forcefully urging the international community to take note of the genocide and crimes against humanity committed by the Indian forces on innocent civilians, including the women, children, elderly and patients.
He said that the Ambassadors of P-5, OIC and the EU have been regularly briefed on the grave human rights situation in IoK, adding Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Jalil Abbas Jilani had met Ambassador Richard Olson, the former US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, at the State Department and handed over a dossier containing information on the gross human rights violations by the Indian security forces in IoK.
Apart from that, he added that the Prime Minister had also sent special envoys to many friendly countries including the US to sensitise international community on the issue. “We are committed and we will continue to highlight the Kashmir dispute and Indian atrocities on defenceless Kashmiris,” he added.
On Indian-Bangladesh expected defence deal, he said, “As a matter of principle, we do not comment on the relationship between two sovereign countries.” “However, a cardinal principle that we believe in is that relations between any two countries should not have an adverse bearing on any other country,” he added.
To another question regarding refusal of Indian visas to the national hockey team, he said that visas were not given to Pakistan hockey team. He said that the team applied on October 24, 2016 and waited for visas until November 28, 2016 which was the deadline for the confirmation of team’s participation.