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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office on Monday stated in categorical terms that the statements from the National Security Committee (NSC) have ruled out any “foreign conspiracy” behind the regime change in Pakistan as has been stated by former Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying all speculations in this regard should be put to rest.

Speaking at his weekly media briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar also rejected the media reports as “baseless and unfounded” about any sort of pressure on Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan. “The speculative media reports attributed to Ambassador Asad Majeed after the NSC meeting are baseless and totally incorrect. There’s no question of any kind of pressure on the ambassador,” he said.

He stated that it is a fact that the element of trust and confidentiality is centre to conducting effective diplomacy for any country. He said that Pakistan has the full capability to defend its interests, as well as, promote its stability and security.

He; however, said irresponsible comments should be avoided and such episodes carry the potential of undermining our diplomacy and complicating our external relations.

“Therefore, we feel that the categorical statements from the two consecutive meetings of the NSC which were based on the assessments from all stakeholders where conspiracy has been ruled out. It should put to rest this matter,” he asserted, adding that the Foreign Office believes that it is time to move on so that “we get back to conducting diplomacy and concentrating on our important relationships in the best interest of Pakistan.”

He said that our core focus should be improving our relationships with our partners and the United States is one of the key partners of Pakistan and both sides are keen to build on the long-standing relations, as well as, to further strengthen and diversify our relations.

To a question about the cypher telegram, he stated that the issue has been in the public debate and “it has been a kind of little politicized.” “So, I don’t want to go into that, but to briefly state that facts. I think it is important to recall what has been the discussion in the meetings of the NSC. I think there was no contradiction in the two communiqués of the two meetings which actually complement each other,” he added.

He said that the statement of the NSC’s meeting was the “most authentic reference” to the entire matter from the relevant and competent government departments. “I have nothing to add to that the communiqués of the NSC speak for themselves,” he added.

To a question that the diplomatic communication was withheld and kept in secrecy from the former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi when it was received at the Foreign Office, the spokesperson categorically rejected the reports as baseless, saying that such assertions are unfounded.

“There is no question or possibility of hiding or holding back something like that. It was a cypher telegram which is an accountable and classified document whose handling and access are strictly in accordance with relevant cypher instructions and procedures,” he said, adding that the cypher telegram was duly received at the Foreign Office and immediately distributed among the relevant authorities.

About the demarches made with the US both in Islamabad and Washington, he said that these were according to the decisions of the first NSC meeting on March 31, 2022 which had directed that demarches be made with the US in accordance with normal diplomatic procedures and that direction was implemented.

Responding to another question, he excused himself from getting into the meaning of “foreign interference” and “foreign conspiracy”, a debate denigrated after the first NSC meeting. “I think, it’s not for me to get into the meanings and semantics of these terms. It’s quite clear that the matter has been adequately and sufficiently discussed and addressed in the meetings of the National Security Committee,” he added.

To another query about the cross-border attacks from Afghanistan, he said that Pakistan and Afghanistan are brotherly countries and regard terrorism as a serious threat for peace and development. He emphasized on cooperation between the two countries to curb cross-border terrorism in an effective manner.

“Islamabad looks forward to continue close engagements with Kabul for long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan and to create an environment conducive to regional stability, economic cooperation, and connectivity,” he added.

About India, he said that Pakistan categorically rejects the malicious Indian propaganda regarding the alleged use of the Kartarpur Corridor for business meetings. “It is obvious that this concoction is part of India’s deliberate smear campaign seeking to undermine Pakistan’s historic initiative of opening the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor for Sikh pilgrims from India and around the world,” he added.

The spokesperson further stated that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has received messages of felicitation from leaders of a large number of countries, including Turkey, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Germany, UAE, Iran, Bahrain, United Kingdom, India, Malaysia, Jordan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and others. The Prime Minster also received a felicitation call from President of the European Union Ursula von der Leyen, he added.

He also expressed grave concerns over the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. “Pakistan strongly condemns the raid on Al-Aqsa Mosque and the assault on worshippers, especially during the holy month of Ramadan,” he said.

He added that this is an egregious violation of all humanitarian norms and human rights laws. In recent weeks, he added that Israeli forces have killed dozens and injured countless Palestinians in the occupied East Jerusalem and other areas.

“Pakistan also calls upon the international community to take urgent steps to protect innocent Palestinian lives, and uphold international law and principles of the UN Charter. The Extraordinary Meeting of the OIC Executive Committee is being held in Jeddah on Monday to discuss the ongoing Israeli aggression. Pakistan is participating in the meeting as current chair of OIC-CFM,” he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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