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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office on Friday endorsed Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement that Pakistan does not want to enter into the “bloc politics” between the United States and China, saying it reflects the country’s consistent policy of seeking “cooperation rather than confrontation”.

Speaking at his weekly media briefing after a series of questions with regard to Pakistan’s decision to skip the US President Joe Biden’s Summit on Democracy apparently on China’s request as well as Prime Minister Khan’s Thursday’s statement that Pakistan does not want to enter into “bloc politics”, Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said that the premier’s statement was in line with Pakistan’s longstanding policy not to become part of any bloc.

“This is a consistent policy of Pakistan. We have always maintained our position in principle about this concept of bloc politics. So, the statement of the prime minister, in my view, is very much understandable and reflective of the longstanding policy and position of the government of Pakistan,” he said.

In response to a question that on the one hand Pakistan wants not to become part of any “bloc”, while on the other skipped US President Joe Biden’s Summit of Democracy, he said that the Foreign Office has already issued a statement about Pakistan’s position and termed some commentaries on the decision as “unfounded”.

Regarding bilateral aspects, he maintained that Pakistan remains closely engaged with the US on a range of issues. “We value our partnership with the US and we wish to expand it bilaterally as well as in terms of regional and international cooperation.

There have been exchanges recently, including by a delegation led by the House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair,” he said, adding that another delegation of the US Senate Armed Services Committee led by Senator Angus King, is also arriving on Friday night [December 10]. “We have these continuing engagement with the US,” he added.

To another query as to what exactly led Pakistan to say “No” to the US “Summit on Democracy”, he said that there are certain issues in which there is no “Yes” or “No”. “This is an issue that was there and we considered. Our statement speaks for itself and again I would like to refer you to the statement which is quite clear,” he added.

When asked to comment on Prime Minister Khan’s referring to the new “Cold War” between the US and China in his statement the other day, he said that it was in line with Pakistan’s consistent position about “no bloc politics”, adding that Pakistan is concerned about the recurrence of the “Cold War type environment”.

“We think it is neither in the interest of the waging powers nor in the interest of other countries. So, it is in that context that we think this is not productive and not helpful. We would like an environment of cooperation rather than confrontation,” he added.

Yet to another query as to whether it is not a contradiction when Pakistan says that it would not be part of any “bloc politics”, but at the same time decided to stay away from the Summit on Democracy, being seen as “Pakistan has effectively joined the “Chinese bloc””, the spokesperson termed the “impression” as “unfounded” without making further comments.

Meanwhile, when asked about the boycott by some Western countries including by the US of the Winter Olympics being held in Beijing, he said that Pakistan oppose any form of politicisation of sports and hopes that all nations would come together in Beijing to showcase their sporting skills.

“At the outset, let me say that Pakistan would like to wish China a very successful hosting of Beijing Winter Olympics. We are confident that despite limitations imposed by Covid-19, the Beijing Winter Olympics would offer a spectacular and colourful gala to sports enthusiasts across the world including Pakistan. The Olympic games symbolise sportsmanship, team spirit, unity, efforts, struggles, and maintaining grace in competitions whatever the results,” he added.

To another query about Pakistani students’ problems in China, he said that both Pakistan and China are engaged on the issue of the students, both in Islamabad and Beijing. He said that there is a desire and understanding to resolve the issue at the earliest.

The spokesperson further stated that Pakistan is looking forward to hosting the 17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers on 19 December in Islamabad with the focus on the serious humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

“We believe the OIC leadership can help galvanise other international actors, and this meeting will be a timely opportunity to consider practical arrangements and concrete steps to correspond to the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people,” he said.

He said that invitations have already been extended to all the OIC member states, observers, and others, including the Permanent-5 members of the UN Security Council at the level of special representatives for Afghanistan.

Responding to another query as to whether the condolences expressed by military leadership of Pakistan on tragic death of India’s CDS General Bipin Rawat, his wife and loss of precious lives in a helicopter crash was at the level of the State or by institution, he declined to comment, saying that the statements by the military leadership of the country are already there who have expressed condolences over the tragic incident. “I don’t want to go into this interpretation and everyone knows and you also have seen the statements,” he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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