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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday once again dismissed media reports with regard to use of its air space by the United States for carrying out a recent drone attack in which top al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed.

Speaking at his weekly media briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar reiterated Pakistan’s support to countering terrorism in accordance with international law and relevant UN resolutions.

In response to a question about the media reports that claim that the drone strike conducted by the US in Afghanistan killing top al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was carried out through intelligence sharing between Pakistan and the US and that Pakistan allowed its air space for the drone strike, the spokesperson maintained that “there is no evidence of this action having been undertaken using Pakistan’s airspace.”

“So, this is something that I can add to that,” he added. Asked whether Pakistan welcomes the development that the top al-Qaeda leader was killed in Kabul, the spokesperson skipped any specific response but reiterated Pakistan’s position which was earlier issued through a statement.

“I think one part to our statement needs to be mentioned in its totality. We said that Pakistan stands by countering terrorism in accordance with international law and relevant UN resolutions. So, that’s a very clear statement,” he added.

To another question, he pointed out there are various resolutions of the UN on countering terrorism, and they encompass different aspects of counter-terrorism.

“There are various international obligations under these resolutions. Regarding al-Qaeda, I think it is clear that it is a terrorist entity, which is listed under the UN Security Council sanctions regime and states are under obligation to take actions that are prescribed by the UN Security Council,” he said. He added that Pakistan has in the past, taken resolute actions and supported the efforts of the international community in fighting terrorism. “Some of the notable success against al-Qaeda was possible because of Pakistan’s role and contribution,” he added.

Asked to comment on the recent visit of the US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the spokesperson expressed his inability to comment, saying he had no specific details.

Referring to the third anniversary of India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 today (Friday), the spokesperson said that the illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 and subsequent steps that were designed to undermine the internationally recognized disputed status of occupied Jammu and Kashmir, and to alter the demographic structure of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) - all in violation of international law and relevant UN Security Council resolutions on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

He stated that not only has India reneged on its obligations and the solemn commitments of its leadership to abide by the UNSC resolutions and let the Kashmiri people exercise their right to self-determination, it has let loose a reign of terror and suppression, gross and widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, in an attempt to perpetuate its illegal and forcible occupation of the IIOJK.

He added that the situation has been particularly aggravated since India’s illegal actions of 5th August that were accompanied by the inhuman siege, curfews, physical lockdowns and communication blackouts, enforced by over 900,000 Indian occupation forces, in what is considered the densest military occupation anywhere in recent history.

Since August 2019, he pointed out that at least 660 Kashmiris have been martyred by Indian occupation forces in IIOJK, besides the systematic campaign of oppression, extra-judicial killings of innocent Kashmiris in fake encounters and so-called ‘cordon-and-search’ operations, custodial deaths, use of pellet guns, enforced disappearances, collective punishment, and incarceration of almost the entire Kashmiri leadership.

He pointed out that there is a series of arbitrary legal and administrative steps including land confiscation, influx of non-Kashmiris, creation of alien settlements, and issuance of millions of illegal domicile certificates – all aimed at demographic engineering in order to turn the Kashmiri Muslim majority into a minority in their own land.

“In an attempt to hide its atrocities, India, the serial violator of human rights, has employed censorship, and crackdown on civil society, human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists, who are harassed and persecuted under the draconian laws,” he stated.

He also paid rich tributes to the struggle and sacrifices of Kashmiri people and also assured them of Pakistan’s unambiguous, steadfast and all possible support for the realization of their right to self-determination.

“This support is based on complete unanimity and national consensus, and which will be on full display across the country on Friday (today) and showcased by many activities and diplomatic outreach by Pakistan Missions abroad alongside the Kashmiri and Pakistani diaspora,” he added.

The spokesperson while referring to the recent visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, termed it as “disturbing” developments in the region. He said that Pakistan through a statement of the Foreign Office reaffirmed its strong commitment to “One-China” Policy, adding that Pakistan firmly supports China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“We expressed our deep concern over the evolving situation, which has serious implications for regional peace and stability. We strongly believe that inter-state relations should be based on mutual respect, non-interference in internal affairs, and peaceful resolution of issues by upholding of principles of UN charter, international law and bilateral agreements,” he added.

About Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s visit to Phnom Penh, Cambodia from 4-6 August where he is leading Pakistan’s delegation to the 29th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Foreign Ministers Meeting, he said that the visit is a manifestation of Pakistan’s strong interest in advancing mutually beneficial relations with the ASEAN region.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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