ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office remained hesitant to confirm what the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has already admitted about its role with regard to mediation between Pakistan and India to normalise relationship.
Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaurdhi to repeated questions during his weekly media briefing on Friday, declined to confirm what the UAE Ambassador to Washington Yousef Al Otaiba stated the other day about the secret talks between the top intelligence officials of Pakistan and India in Dubai and that the UAE played a role “in bringing Kashmir escalation down and created a ceasefire, hopefully ultimately leading to restoring diplomats and getting the relationship back to a healthy level”.
“As for the role of third parties, we have always maintained that the international community has an important role to play in averting risks to peace and stability in the region and facilitating a just and lasting solution to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people,” Chaudhri said when asked to comment on the revelations made by the UAE envoy to Washington.
He asserted that Pakistan has always underscored the need for a meaningful dialogue on all outstanding issues including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
“We believe that resolution of all outstanding issues including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is critical for durable peace and stability in South Asia,” he added.
Unfortunately, he added that India has vitiated the environment though its illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 20019 in IIOJK.
“The onus is now on India to create an enabling environment for a meaningful and result-oriented dialogue,” the spokesperson asserted.
As for the contacts between India and Pakistan, he added that states have ways and means to communicate with other states which remain available even during wars.
“So, what is important is that whether Pakistan is ready to talk to India; what needs to be discussed between the two sides; and whether a meaningful and result-oriented dialogue can take place under the current environment,” he said.
He said that Pakistan has never shied away from talks with India and has always underscored the need for a “meaningful dialogue” and peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
“We believe durable peace, security and development in the region hinge on peaceful resolution of the long-standing Jammu and Kashmir dispute. We, therefore, believe that the two sides need to discuss all outstanding issues including Jammu and Kashmir with a view to seek peaceful resolution of this long outstanding dispute as per international legitimacy,” he said, adding that Kashmir remains central to any meaningful engagement between India and Pakistan.
Asked to comment on the recent report by the US National Intelligence Council, Pakistan and India might stumble into a war in the next five years, Chaudhri said that Pakistan is a peace-loving country and “we continue to promote peace, security and stability in the region for the prosperity of our own country and of the South Asian region on the whole.”
He recalled that in his inaugural speech, Prime Minister Imran Khan had stated that “If India takes one step forward for peace, Pakistan will take two”. “Our desire for peace was also manifested when we released the captured Indian pilot as a gesture of peace after the Balakot misadventure by India…We have consistently maintained that durable peace and stability in the region is contingent upon resolution of outstanding disputes and the core issue between India and Pakistan is indeed the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” he added.
However, he reiterated that the onus is on India to create the enabling environment for a meaningful dialogue that promotes peace and precludes the occurrences, which might result in avoidable conflict in the region.
On its part, he added that Pakistan remains committed to regional peace and stability and at the same time remains resolutely resolved to defend itself against any misadventure. To another query, he said that a Jatha of 818 Sikh Yatrees arrived in Pakistan on April 12 via Wagah Border, adding that that it has participated in the annual rituals of Baisakhi Festival at Gurdwara Panja Sahib.
He said that Yatrees are scheduled to visit different Gurdwaras during their stay from 12-22 April 2021, including one night stay at Kartarpur for the first time.
As per tradition, he stated that the relevant institutions made adequate arrangements for travelling, accommodation, langer, security and medical assistance to Sikh Yatrees to make their stay conformable. The leader of Jatha, Harpal Singh Jalla, expressed his satisfaction and appreciation for the overall arrangements made by the government of Pakistan. He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has once again sent a message of goodwill by allowing the Jatha to participate in Baisakhi Festival at Gurdwara Panja Sahib after a gap of one year.
The Government of Pakistan especially relaxed the COVID-19 restrictions for Sikh Yatrees to send a message of Pakistan’s love and affection for the Sikh community across the world, he added. “The false spin by Indian media or any official statement alleging that Sikh Yatrees are stranded in Pakistan are unfortunate. Pakistan remains committed to facilitating Sikhs from around the world, including from India, for visiting their religious sites,” added.
On Afghan peace process, he said that Pakistan has played a pivotal role in facilitating the efforts for achieving durable peace and security in Afghanistan including in facilitating the US-Taliban peace deal; the commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations on 12 Sept 2020; and the agreement on Rules and Procedures between the Afghan parties in Doha in Dec 2020.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021