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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, on Thursday, reiterated its call on the international community to actively and constructively engage with interim Afghan government to avert humanitarian crisis in the war-ravaged country.

Speaking at his weekly media briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad also highlighted the importance of realisation of the ground realities as well as international recognition of the interim government as an important aspect for continued engagement with a view to deal with the economic and humanitarian challenges.

"The question of recognition is an important aspect. Different countries have difference positions on this. Pakistan's position is also very clear...there is a new reality and everyone needs to acknowledge that. There is a need to avoid a serious humanitarian crisis. For that, irrespective of the question of recognition, continued and constructive engagement is required," he said in response to a question as to how long will it take for the world and Pakistan to recognise the Taliban government.

He said that Pakistan is actively promoting this cause and there are engagements by the countries who are not talking in terms of recognition, but they are engaged directly or directly.

He said that Pakistan is also working closely with the regional countries as well as members of the international community for achieving lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.

"We have been calling on the international community to stay engaged with all relevant parties and to respond to the current situation in a careful and a calibrated manner," he added.

During the talks with the visiting Afghan delegation led by acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, Pakistan expressed its commitment to peace, stability and progress in Afghanistan.

He said that the working groups on trade, transit and commerce; finance; and aviation met under chairmanship of the respective ministers.

Outcomes of these discussions focusing on strengthening bilateral and transit trade regime and facilitating movement of people by land and air were shared in the delegation level talks.

He added that Pakistan also offered technical assistance in health and education. About the Troika Plus meeting hosted by Islamabad the other day, he said that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also underlined the need to help prevent an imminent humanitarian and economic crisis in Afghanistan through continued and enhanced engagement of the international community as a collective and shared responsibility.

On the negotiation on GSP Plus status, he said that the current GSP Plus regime expires in December 2023. "The European Commission, we understand is reviewing the framework under which the scheme will be renewed beyond January 2024, and that would be relevant to all beneficiary countries. For the current cycle review, Pakistan is very confident about a positive outcome," he added.

He also stated that the OIC's Assistant-Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Special Envoy for Jammu and Kashmir, Ambassador Yousef Al-dobeay, accompanied by a high-level delegation including ASG for Humanitarian Affairs, Ambassador Tarig Bakhit and other senior officials visited Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir from 7-12 November.

In Azad Jammu and Kashmir, he added that the delegation visited the LOC, Thotha Refugee Camp, interacted with refugees who have fled Indian atrocities in the IIOJK, met the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) and called on the president and prime minister of AJK besides meetings with AJK Legislative Assembly, and representatives of various political parties.

He said that the visit clearly demonstrated Pakistan's confidence and openness in providing access to international organisations in stark contrast with India's denial for fact-finding and independent assessment of the situation in the IIOJK.

"In all engagements, the two assistant-secretary generals reiterated OIC's consistent and unwavering support for Pakistan and the Kashmiri people and rejected the series of illegal actions taken by India since 5 August 2019," he added.

He further stated that the OIC's support is indispensable for Pakistan's principled position of a just and peaceful settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions and wishes of the Kashmiri people.

He said that this week Pakistan also commemorated the second anniversary of the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor-dubbed the "Corridor of Hope" by the UN secretary general. He said that the corridor is a shining example of Pakistan's efforts to promote interfaith harmony, and is reflective of the primacy Pakistan accords to religious minorities in the country.

"The corridor is open from the Pakistan side since June 2020. We expect that India, in the same spirit, will allow pilgrims to avail the Corridor to visit Kartarpur Sahib," he said.

He said that Pakistan is also set to welcome thousands of devotees from India and around the world coming to Pakistan for the upcoming birth anniversary celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak from 17-26 November for which elaborate arrangements have been put in place.

"As the minorities in Pakistan celebrate their religious festivities and enjoy freedom of religion, we note with growing concern how minorities in India, particularly Muslims, are being systematically persecuted and ostracised under the Hindutva-driven ideology of the BJP-RSS combine. It is reprehensible that targeting of Muslims, their properties and houses of worship is continuing since last month," he added.

About the Indian media reports with regard to alleged acquittal of the UN designated persons by the Lahore High Court, he said that this is not the first time that the Indian media has tried to sensationalise the legal proceedings of UN designated persons and this is basically designed to serve a vested agenda.

He said that Pakistan's criminal justice system is grounded on the principle of due process and rule of law, which allows even the convicted individuals, fundamental right to exhaust all legal means that are available to them.

"The cases reported by Indian media have not reached finality. UN designated persons related to this case continue to be interned after being convicted in multiple other cases. The Indian media reports are trying to twist the facts and that has already been clarified by the relevant law enforcement agency in Pakistan through media," he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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