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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office said on Friday that a Pakistan military delegation attended an SCO meeting held in India on Thursday – a day after New Delhi blocked Islamabad’s participation in the organisation’s meeting by misusing the office of its chair.

Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, while responding to queries during the weekly media briefing, said that a delegation of Pakistan from the joint staff headquarters physically attended a meeting of the SCO in India.

She said the meeting was the 16th meeting of the expert working group under the council of ministers of defence of SCO member states.

Earlier on Tuesday, India as the current chair of the SCO blocked Pakistan’s participation in an SCO’s seminar on armed forces’ contributions to military medicine, healthcare, and pandemics held in New Delhi.

Commenting on the move, the spokesperson said Pakistan expressed its concerns with the SCO, adding the country’s point of view has been well registered with the organisation.

She further said the first meeting of the Joint Working Group on Political Cooperation under the framework of the Pakistan-GCC Strategic Dialogue was held on 21 March in Riyadh.

The dialogue was co-chaired by Additional Foreign Secretary for the Middle East, Ambassador Rizwan Sheikh and Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Negotiations at the GCC General Secretariat DrAbdulazizAlwaisheg.

She added that the two sides discussed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and GCC and exchanged views on regional and global security; counter-terrorism; and Islamophobia.

Referring to the visit of Foreign Secretary DrAsadMajeed Khan to China from 16-18 March, she said that DrAsadMajeed Khan and Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong co-chaired the Third Round of Pakistan-China Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC).

The two sides reviewed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations and agreed to expand and reinforce political and security cooperation, bilateral trade, economic and financial cooperation, cultural exchanges, tourism, and people-to-people ties.

“It was also agreed that Pakistan and China will enhance high-level engagements and dialogue mechanisms and make the channels of communication even more robust,” she said, adding the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and agreed to remain engaged in the expansion of CPEC including on participation of third parties to enhance regional connectivity and cooperation.

She said Pakistan and China would further strengthen dialogue and cooperation in multilateral platforms.

The spokesperson further stated Pakistan-Malaysia Bilateral Political Consultations would be held next week in Kuala Lumpur. Agenda includes discussion on political, security and military cooperation, trade and investment ties, cooperation in science & technology, health, tourism and culture.

The two sides will also exchange views on regional and global issues including developments in the Asia-Pacific region, climate change, and Islamophobia.

Responded to another query about the reported incident of alleged sexual abuse of a Pakistani girl by an Arab diplomat at the Diplomatic Enclave, Islamabad, the spokesperson said that an investigation was ongoing and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was in contact with the police as well as the concerned embassy.

Referring to the situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), she said India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested senior journalist and human rights defender, IrfanMerajin Srinagar last week.

“We are concerned about the safety and wellbeing of IrfanMeraj and dozens of Kashmiri journalists and human rights defenders, including KhurrumPerviaz, who are under incarceration in prisons across IIOJK and India,” she said.

She added that they were prisoners of conscience who were being victimised for shining a spotlight on the dire situation of human rights and fundamental freedom in the IIOJK. “We urge India to bring an end to the suppression of journalists and human rights defenders and to its policy of stifling freedom of expression and assembly in the occupied territory,” she said, adding Pakistan would continue to raise its voice against those grave and systematic human rights violations in the IIOJK.

She further stated that Pakistan would continue to extend political, diplomatic, and moral support to our Kashmiri brothers and sisters for the just and peaceful settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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