ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal on Thursday said the opening of the Kartarpur border crossing is conditional on India responding to Pakistan, adding that India is using chemical weapons on unarmed citizens of occupied Kashmir.
In a weekly press briefing, the FO spokesperson stated that the Kartarpur border issue — along with other matters — will remain pending if India doesn’t agree to hold talks with Pakistan.
“Pakistan strongly condemns Indian aggression, “We want to resolve the Kashmir issue as per the wishes of the Kashmiri people.” FO said.
Dr Faisal also claimed that about 18 Kashmiris had been killed by the Indian forces within the past two weeks. He condemned the killing of Kashmiris as well as the use of chemical weapons by the Indian army in held Kashmir.
Dismissing criticism, Dr Faisal also said that Pakistan was not “pleading” with India to hold talks, but that it was the latter who had initiated contact.
Dr Faisal said while Pakistan believes in Quaid-e-Azam’s principle of peaceful ties with neighbours, it has not made efforts to convince India to hold talks. He recalled that the first initiative to hold talks was, in fact, taken by Indian Premier Narendra Modi who wrote a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan.
When asked about Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav’s trial at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Dr Faisal said that Pakistan was “fully prepared” to contest the case. The hearings of the case will be held at the ICJ headquarters in The Hague from February 18-21, next year, adding that Pakistan will present a strong case against Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“Pakistan will not compromise on matters pertaining to national interest,” Dr Faisal reiterated.
The FO spokesperson also talked about Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s recent meetings with United States National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, claiming that talks with the US were “moving in a positive direction”.
“This is why a second major meeting was held within a month,” he said. Pompeo had visited Islamabad last month after PM Khan’s government was sworn in office. Dr Faisal also hinted that another meeting between US and Pakistani officials would take place this month; however, he did not take any names.
FO said that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised Pakistan’s role in establishing peace in Afghanistan.
In response to a journalist’s question, Dr Faisal said the US should hold dialogue with the Taliban. “We will hope that the negotiations are fruitful,” he said.
“We don’t want a single country to be held responsible for establishing peace in Afghanistan. All countries should play their part in this effort,” the FO spokesperson said.
The foreign office also confirmed that Qureshi met with the president of the World Bank. In the meeting, the foreign minister discussed the Indus Waters Treaty and the disputed Kishanganga dam issue.
When asked if there was a change in Pakistan’s position on Shakeel Afridi, the man who helped the US nab Osama bin Laden, Dr Faisal clarified that while Islamabad was ready to talk about the matter, its stance remained the same.
Dr Faisal confirmed that a meeting between Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and US President Donald Trump had taken place.
Responding to a question about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) plan, Dr Faisal said Pakistan and China are on the same page on the matter.
“The planning commission can better respond to questions pertaining to Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in the CPEC plan,” he added.—INP