ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office on Thursday responded to the countries expressing concerns over the country’s prevailing political situation that Pakistan has the will and full ability to deal with all domestic challenges in accordance with its Constitution and the laws.

Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, while commenting on the European Union’s statement and the US Congressmen’s letter to the US Secretary of State about the situation in Pakistan, told her weekly media briefing that likewise in the past, Pakistan will come out of those challenging situation with the will of the people and through national consensus.

“We all understand that our country is passing through a difficult situation. At the same time, we are a confident and optimistic people. We believe that Pakistan has the capacity to persevere in adversity. We have in the past overcome many challenges and we will, insha’Allah, come out of the current challenging situation with national consensus, will of the people and on the basis of our laws and Constitution,” she said.

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She asserted that Pakistan was a vibrant democracy and “we have mechanisms in place to deal with all issues that arise domestically.”

To a similar question including the earlier statement by the Chinese foreign minister who called for national consensus to resolve the domestic issues, she said Pakistan had several channels of communication with friendly governments and through those channels of communications all matters of mutual concern were discussed at length.

Commenting on the US State Department’s recently released “International Religious Freedom” report, she categorically rejected the “baseless” assertions made about Pakistan in the report, saying that such “ill-informed” reporting exercises about internal affairs of sovereign states are “pointless, irresponsible and counterproductive”.

“Pakistan is proud of its religious diversity and pluralistic social fabric. The constitution of Pakistan sets a robust framework to safeguard and advance the rights and freedoms of all Pakistanis irrespective of their faith. These rights and constitutional guarantees are protected, upheld and reinforced by an independent judiciary,” she asserted.

She said Pakistan strongly believed that each state itself had the primary responsibility to promote and protect religious rights and freedoms of its nationals.

With this understanding, she added that Pakistan had always engaged constructively with the international community in promoting mutual understanding on the important question of religious freedom and minority rights.

“In our interactions including with the United States, we have raised serious concerns about the steady surge in anti-Muslim hatred, racism and Islamophobia. we hope to work with international partners to counter these pernicious forms of religious intolerance, discrimination and Islamophobia,” she further commented.

She also welcomed the important statement made by the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Affairs on the situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

She pointed out that the Special Rapporteur in his statement had warned against Indian plans to hold the G-20 Tourism Working Group meeting in occupied Srinagar.

“We agree with the Special Rapporteur that the situation in IIOJK should be decried and condemned and not pushed under the rug and ignored with the holding of the G-20 meeting,” she said. She asked the G-20 members to pay due attention to these observations and sage advice.

She said Pakistan had a principled position on Jammu and Kashmir dispute which was rooted in the UN Security Council resolutions which called for its solution on the basis of the aspirations of Kashmir people under the UN-supervised plebiscite. She categorically stated that Pakistan’s position on Jammu and Kashmir dispute had not been changed.

To another question, she said Pakistan remained committed to the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project. “We are engaged with Iran to discuss the issues regarding the completion of this important project,” she said.

Condemning the recent violence in Gaza, she called on Israel to adhere to its international obligations and respect the recent ceasefire agreement.

She reaffirmed Pakistan’s unstinted support for the Palestinian cause and renewed its call for a viable, independent and contiguous Palestinian state with Pre-1967 borders and Al-Quds Al Sharif as its capital.

To another query about Indian government giving a land in Kupwara in IIOJK, to an Israeli company, Arava Mines Limited to carryout mining of lignite, near the Line of Control (LoC), she said Pakistan had voiced its concerns about the exploitative measures taken by India in the occupied territory.

“India has been attaching and confiscating properties that belong to the Kashmiri people and giving it to outsiders and changing the demographic structure in IIOJK so that Kashmiris become a disempowered minority in their own land. We condemn these measures and urge India to reverse all such exploitative actions and to ensure that the people of Kashmir have a voice and the right to decide about their future including in the economic domain,” she added.

To another query about the ongoing ethnic cleansing in an Indian state, Manipur, she expressed Pakistan’s concerns about the treatment of minorities by India.

“As a principle, we do not comment on the internal affairs of other countries. In the past, however, Pakistan has expressed concerns about the treatment of minorities by India and we hope that India will make efforts to protect its minorities,” she added.

About the visit of Deputy Minister of Interior of Saudi Arabia Dr Nasir bin Abdulaziz Al-Dawood from 16-17 May, she said he called on the Prime Minister, Minister of Interior, and the Minister of Narcotics Control.

During the visit, two sides also signed the agreement on “Road to Makkah” Project. She said the Road to Makkah project was a mechanism for shifting the immigration and customs clearance process from Saudi Arabia to Islamabad International Airport aimed to relieve Hujjaj [pilgrims] from the ordeal of immigration and customs clearance on landing at the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). “The two sides will remain engaged to expand the number of airports in Pakistan to benefit from this facility,” she added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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TimeToMovveOn May 19, 2023 07:21am
This is joke of a presser.
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KU May 19, 2023 09:58am
No we cannot face any kind of domestic challenge, just look over your shoulder to socioeconomic chaos being faced by people, but propaganda rules the country.
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Naik May 19, 2023 10:48am
Pakistan has ability to deal with domestic challenges: FO Provided the compromised generals are side-lined!
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TimeToMovveOn May 19, 2023 05:50pm
"Pakistan has ability to deal with domestic challenges: FO " -- If what we are seeing is a demonstration of your ability, we should really be worried.
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