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ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday said all Chinese nationals including Ambassador Nong Rong, are safe in a terrorist attack in Quetta on Wednesday, and vowed that Pakistan will pursue the perpetrators of the heinous act and bring them to justice.

Speaking at his weekly media briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri strongly condemned the terrorist attack that took place in the parking of a local hotel in Quetta, left four people dead and a dozen others injured.

To a question if India was behind the attack and the Chinese ambassador and the nationals as the possible target of terror attack, responsibility for which has been claimed by the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the spokesperson said thorough investigations from all angles are being carried out in the Quetta blast. Referring to some media reports, he said the Chinese ambassador was not present in the hotel at the time of attack.

“All Chinese nationals are safe and the concerned authorities are taking all necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of Chinese diplomats and nationals,” he added.

To another query about the possibility of any future engagement between Pakistan and India, he said Pakistan has consistently underscored the need for a ‘meaningful’ dialogue with India and peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

However, for any meaningful and result-oriented dialogue to take place, a conducive and enabling environment is of utmost importance, he emphasised.

“We believe that India, through its illegal and unilateral actions of August 5th, 2019 has vitiated the environment, therefore, the onus is on India to create an enabling environment so that a “meaningful and result-oriented” dialogue can take place,” he added.

About the role of third countries, including the UAE, he said Pakistan has always highlighted the importance of the role by the international community in averting risks to the regional peace and stability and facilitating a lasting resolution to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, in accordance with the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions which call for a free and impartial plebiscite under the UN auspices.

Asked if there was any provision in Vienna Convention to expel the French ambassador in light of the parliamentary resolution currently under debate in the National Assembly, Chaudhri said all states under the Vienna Convention have been granted the prerogative to take such decisions.

“However, on this particular issue a resolution has already been moved in the Parliament of Pakistan,” he said, adding, he would refrain from making any comment any further on the issue.

Responding to the Afghan National Security Adviser’s allegations of Pakistan’s meddling in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, the spokesperson said that in accordance with our bilateral agreements and mutual understanding reached in Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Security (APAPPS), the two countries have official channels to discuss complete gamut of bilateral relations.

“Statements that erode mutual trust need to be avoided,” he emphasised.

Commenting on the US General McKenzie’s remarks that Pakistan will be the most affected by the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, Chaudhri said that besides the legitimate security concerns, Pakistan also wishes well for the safety and security of Afghan people. It’s, therefore, we call for an orderly and responsible withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan leaving no security vacuum that could be exploited by spoilers. It is, therefore, important that the withdrawal coincides with the progress in the peace process.”

He said that Pakistan is working closely with all stakeholders in the Afghan peace process, including the US.

He said Pakistan has consistently maintained that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and that dialogue and a political settlement through Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process was the only way forward for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.

“We do believe that peace and security of Afghanistan indeed has implications for the security of Pakistan. In fact, after Afghanistan, Pakistan has suffered the most due to the conflict in Afghanistan. Likewise, Pakistan stands to gain from peace in Afghanistan,” he added.

He said Pakistan will continue to work for peace and stability in Afghanistan. “We remain committed to working closely with the international community for durable peace in Afghanistan.

He asserted that a meaningful engagement of the international community for promoting reconstruction and economic development in the post-conflict Afghanistan is also important for ensuring sustainable peace and stability. Asked about Pakistan’s position on the increased troop deployment by Russia along the border with Ukraine, the spokesperson declined to comment on the development, saying: “We don’t have any comment to offer on this.”

About Prime Minister Imran Khan’s forthcoming visit to Saudi Arabia possibly at the end of Ramzan, he said during a recent telephonic conversation between the prime minister and the Saudi Crown Prince, the later had extended an invitation to him to visit the Kingdom, which he accepted.

He said the dates from both sides are being worked out through diplomatic channels.

He said it will be a bilateral visit, in which the entire gamut of bilateral relations as well as the regional situation is likely to come under discussion.

Asked to comment on the letter sent by AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider to the federal government, expressing “reservations” on the proposed reforms in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), he said that the ongoing reforms in GB are administrative, political, and economic reforms that are a long-standing demand of the people of GB.

“The envisaged provisional reforms reflect the aspirations of the indigenous populace of GB,” he added.

The spokesperson once again reiterated that there is no change in Pakistan’s principled position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, which remains firmly anchored in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

“The sanctity of the UNSC resolutions on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute remains paramount,” he added.

About Foreign Minister Qureshi’s visit to UAE and Iran, he said the entire gamut of bilateral relations and regional as well as international issue of common interest came under discussion during the visit to the UAE and ongoing trip to Iran.

About situation in the Gulf, he said that Pakistan has consistently expressed the desire for brotherly relations among the Muslim countries, and “we would be happy to play any facilitative role in this regard, as and when required.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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