ISLAMABAD: Amid concerns that Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan might have compromised the security of the cipher communication system, the Foreign Office on Thursday said its communication systems with the country’s foreign missions were found safe and protected in a recently conducted audit.

Speaking at her weekly media briefing in response to the queries by journalists, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said that Pakistan’s communication system with its foreign missions abroad is safe and protected by the Official Secrets Act.

“These communications are protected by Official Secrets Act and I am not at liberty to speak about the presence or absence of a particular document, which is secret in nature, in this Ministry,” she said while refusing to comment on the question with regard to the presence or absence of the original cipher at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs following concerns that the former prime minister might have compromised the security of the communication system allegedly by mishandling a classified cable sent to Islamabad by Pakistan’s then ambassador in Washington in 2022.

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“I can however state that we have recently done an audit of our communication systems and we are reassured that these systems as per our recent audit are safe and protected,” she added.

On January 30, a special court established under the Official Secrets Act handed both former premier Imran Khan and ex-foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi 10 years in jail in the cipher case.

To another question, she declined to comment on the court judgment with regard to the sentence to the former premier, saying: “We do not wish to comment on any judgment of the courts of Pakistan including this one.”

Commenting on the 33rd report recently submitted to the United Nations Security Council Committee by ISIL (Daesh) and Al Qaeda/Taliban Monitoring Team, the spokesperson called upon the Afghan interim government to take action against the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and handover their leadership to Pakistan.

In its report, the ISIL (Daesh) and Al Qaeda/Taliban Monitoring Team, has disclosed that the banned TTP has been receiving significant backing from al-Qaeda and other militant factions for executing attacks in Pakistan in addition to support from the Afghan Taliban.

“Pakistan has been raising concerns over the terror threat emanating from Afghanistan and the presence of the elements in Afghanistan involved in terrorism in Pakistan. We urge the Afghan interim government to take action against them and handover their leadership to Pakistan,” she said.

About relations with Iran, she said that Islamabad had recently held very good negotiations with Tehran, adding that the recent visit of the Iranian foreign minister to Pakistan was very successful in the sense that the two sides came to a clear understanding, on the expectations from each other and about the concerns that we have about terrorism.

“There was a clear understanding that we will fight this terrorist threat and we will work closely with each other and for which the appointment of liaison officers in Turbat and Zahedan would play a critical role…We are quite hopeful that with this understanding, both countries can move forward from a very sad episode and work together to address common challenges and common threats,” she said.

To another question, if both Pakistan and Iran have agreed joint actions against terrorists, she said that at this point, such operations are not contemplated upon. “We will coordinate our efforts and that is why we will have these liaison offices which will help the two sides in understanding each other’s concerns and perspective and facilitate action against terrorists acting against the interests of our two countries,” she added.

With regards to the border markets, she said that there has been an understanding of the two countries and the two foreign ministers have agreed to speed up the process.

She said that it will take some time, as there are a number of departments involved including the Customs authorities of the two countries and ministries of commerce, and they will have to discuss with each other the modalities before these border markets are inaugurated.

When asked about the killing of nine Pakistani workers in Iran, she said that this was an inhumane act which has been condemned both by Pakistan and Iran. She added that Pakistan expects the Iranian authorities to share details of the attack as soon as the investigation into the incident is completed.

To another question about the statement by the Indian External Affairs Ministry on the recent press conference by the foreign secretary with regard to India spy agencies’ involvement in the killing of two Pakistanis, Baloch said that the Indian External Affairs Ministry has not denied the veracity of the credible evidence regarding New Delhi’s involvement in extraterritorial and extra-judicial killings in Pakistan.

He said that Pakistan has also shared the evidence of India’s involvement in terror acts with “third” countries from where the Indian spies are operating. She said that Pakistan hopes that with their cooperation, the perpetrators behind the terror attacks would be held to account.

She said that India’s charges of terrorism against Pakistan are neither new nor credible, describing them as ridiculous, adding that India has been involved in terror incidents and extraterritorial and extra-judicial killings in countries around the world.

She also expressed grave concerns over the attacks on Muslim places of worship in India, adding that there is a concerted campaign to demolish mosques in India and replace them with temples. “These acts would remain a blot on the face of Indian democracy for the times to come,” she added.

Baloch called for full implementation of the International Court of Justice’s judgment to uphold the human rights, dignity and identity of the Palestinian people as per the UN charter and international laws, adding that the UNSC should play its mandated role to impose a ceasefire and protect the people of Gaza from ongoing atrocities.

The spokesperson said Pakistan would observe Kashmir Solidarity Day on February 5, adding that an elaborate program has been outlined to mark the day.

She said Pakistan will continue to extend moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people for the just and peaceful settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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