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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office said on Thursday that “Pakistan is both determined and capable” to counter any threats to its peace and security, and it will continue to engage with Afghanistan to discuss all matters of mutual concern, including safety and security along the border.

This was stated by Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch during her weekly media briefing when she was asked to comment on the US State Department spokesperson Ned Price’s statement that “Pakistan has a right to defend itself from terrorism.”

“I would not go into the specifics of the statement, but I would like to reaffirm that Pakistan is both determined and capable to counter any threats to its peace and security and we will continue to be engaged with Afghanistan to discuss all matters of mutual concern, including safety and security along the border,” Baloch said when she was asked to comment on the statement of her counterpart from the US State Department.

To another query about Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah’s reported statement that “Pakistan reserves its right and can attack terrorist sanctuaries in Afghanistan” which he later refuted, the spokesperson said that Pakistan is a responsible member of the United Nations.

“As a responsible member of the United Nations it subscribes to and will always uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, which include territorial integrity and political independence of states,” she said.

She added that Pakistan has consistently said that it will continue to support the Afghan people in their quest for a unified, independent and sovereign Afghanistan that is at peace with itself and its neighbours.

When her comments were sought on the negative statements coming from certain Afghan Taliban authorities, the spokesperson declined to respond to these statements, saying it was not wise for her “to give importance to social media charter and comments by individuals who do not have official positions.”

“Pakistan and Afghanistan have mechanisms of engagement and dialogue and these mechanisms are functional. We would continue to engage with Afghanistan on all matters relating to security and border management issues,” she asserted.

Asked to confirm the Afghan Taliban’s claims that they have killed Daesh terrorists involved in a failed assassination attempt on a Pakistani diplomat, she said: “We have seen the reports. We are trying to verify these reports.”

To another question about Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir’s visit to Middle Eastern countries, she said that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have close fraternal relations, rooted in history and common faith.

“We share a similarity of views on a range of regional and international issues. Our relations are multi-dimensional that include cooperation in the defense domain,” she said, adding that the visit of the Chief of Army Staff is in the context of promoting Pakistan-Saudi relations and defence ties.

About relations with the US, she said that “we are witnessing a positive momentum in our relations with the United States and we want to proceed forward and further our relations based on mutual respect, trust, and mutual interest.” Asked if Pakistan is seeking any major economic package from international financial institutions, she said that the matter is on the agenda of Pakistan’s engagement with international financial institutions, “and we will continue to raise with them.” However, she did not divulge further details.

To a similar question, she said that Pakistan is engaged with its “friends” and international financial institutions on matters relating to financial assistance and “we will continue to engage with them.”

Responding to a question about the recently-exchanged list of prisoners in which Pakistan had demanded consular access to the prisoners of 1965 and 1971 wars, she said that there is a list of some missing defence officials.

“Pakistan has shared the list with India and asked for information and consular access to these individuals. We believe that the issue of 1965 and 1971 prisoners needs to be resolved at the earliest,” she said. However, she declined to share specific details of the missing officials.

About the International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan being held in Geneva on Monday next, she said that Pakistan expects long-term response from the international community for building a climate-resilient infrastructure.

Giving an overview of Indian human rights violations in illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, she said that the Indian security forces reportedly killed 214 Kashmiris, 57 of them in custody or in fake encounters during the last year. Only last week, she added that four individuals were killed in a fake encounter in Sidhra town in Jammu.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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