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ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Friday categorically stated that Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programme is not on the agenda of talks with any country or financial institutions, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and described the doubts expressed by certain parliamentarians during a debate in Senate as “speculative”.

Responding to a question about a recent debate in Senate, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch termed the doubts cast by certain parliamentarians as “speculative” and stated in categorical terms that Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programme is not on the agenda with any government, any financial institution or any international organisation.

“This debate is just speculative and I would not like to add to the speculation,” she added.

Certain parliamentarians, particularly former chairman Senate Raza Rabbani, while referring to some conditions on Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programme allegedly by the IMF had asked the government to take the parliament into confidence before striking a staff-level deal with the Fund.

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Commenting on the reports that China has demanded payments from Pakistan overdue on the Chinese independent power plants installed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), she said that the media has taken an inter-governmental conversation “completely out of context by adding sensationalist jargon to it”.

“Let me underline that Pakistan and China consult closely on all matters and find optimal win-win outcomes and we will continue to do that. The people of Pakistan are proud of our friendship with China, which has always come to Pakistan’s assistance when most needed including in this difficult economic situation,” she added.

She said Pakistan and China always consult closely on all matters and find optimal outcome and people of Pakistan are proud of our friendship with China, which has always come to Pakistan’s assistance whenever needed including in this difficult economic situation.

She added that Foreign Secretary Dr Asad Majeed Khan is currently in Beijing to lead the Pakistan delegation for the Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC) with China. The Chinese side is led by Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong. “The two sides will have an in-depth exchange of views on the entire spectrum of bilateral ties and on important regional and global developments,” she said.

The foreign secretary met China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang in Beijing on Friday. During the meeting, the foreign secretary stated that Pakistan and China are iron brothers, trusted friends and enduring partners for peace and development. “State Councillor Qin Gang reiterated China’s strong commitment to China-Pakistan All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership and to extend continued across-the-board support to Pakistan,” she added.

State Councillor Qin Gang and Foreign Secretary Asad Majeed Khan reaffirmed the significance of China-Pakistan strategic ties in the evolving regional and international milieu and noted with satisfaction the steady momentum in the relationship.

They agreed to further build on the consensus reached during the visit of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to Beijing in November 2022 to further advance comprehensive cooperation across diverse domains such as CPEC, trade and investment, financial cooperation, socio-economic development, cultural exchanges, and people-to-people ties.

“Pakistan and China are ‘all-weather strategic cooperative partners’. China is a consistent and generous steadfast friend of Pakistan for the last several decades,” she said in response to a question, adding that China has invested in various sectors in Pakistan including power, energy and CPEC when nobody was ready to invest in Pakistan. “We are grateful for Chinese friends for their consistent commitment for CPEC,” she added.

To a question about the Saudi-Iran peace deal, she said that Pakistan has continued to call for peace in the region and security for all our friends, including Saudi Arabia. “We hope that with this agreement and the normalisation of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, there will be progress on outstanding issues including any differences that they have on Yemen. We hope this would have peace dividends for the region including in Yemen,” she hoped.

To another similar query, she said that the agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia is a result of the meditation efforts of China and the constructive talks that took it facilitated and the two sides were able to resolve their differences. “We welcome this development.

Pakistan like several other countries and friends of both Iran and Saudi Arabia played their part in facilitating dialogue,” she said. She recalled that the first meeting of the foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia took place in Islamabad on the sidelines of the OIC meeting last year.

“But we do not wish to take away credit from China in this latest agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia on normalization of relations and congratulate them for their successful diplomatic efforts,” she added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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