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ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office said on Friday that Pakistan, being an independent and sovereign country cannot be instructed by any foreign country on its domestic affairs and there are mechanisms in place where people can resolve any issue relating to elections or any issue relating to the democratic process in the country.

Responding to queries by journalists during her weekly media briefing regarding the US State Department’s repeated remarks with regard to the February 8 general elections, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch dispelled the impression of taking “instructions” from any foreign country with regard to Pakistan’s internal affairs – the general elections.

“Pakistan is an independent and sovereign country. We believe in our own sovereign right to make decisions about Pakistan’s internal affairs. Pakistan is a vibrant democracy and there are mechanisms in place inside Pakistan where Pakistani people can resolve any issue pertaining to questions relating to elections or any issue relating to the democratic process in Pakistan,” the spokesperson remarked.

When her comments were sought on the letter by some US lawmakers in which they have urged President Biden and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken not to recognise Pakistan’s new government until the allegations of fraud in the recent elections are thoroughly investigated, the spokesperson declined to comment on the letter, saying it is a communication between public officials in the United States.

“Yes, we understand that such a letter has been sent by some Congressmen to the US Secretary of State. This is a communication between public officials in the United States and is not addressed to the Government of Pakistan. We, therefore, have no comments to offer on such letters,” she added.

To another query about four Pakistani nationals indicted in the US in connection with supplying armsto the Houthis, she said that Pakistan is aware of the development and is in contact with the US authorities in this regard.

“We have seen the press release issued by the US Department of Justice indicating the said charges. We are in touch with the US Embassy in Islamabad and our Mission in Washington to ascertain more facts regarding the incident and to provide consular access to the individuals following confirmation of their nationality,” she said.

To another question about former prime minister and PTI founding chairman Imran Khan’s letter to the IMF, the spokesperson said that the caretaker prime minister has already made a statement on this matter. “The Ministry of Finance takes a lead on IMF-related issues, so they will be in a better position to comment on this subject,” she said.

Responding to a recent statement by the Indian Minister for External Affairs that India sent a strong message to Pakistan when it did a “surgical” strike in Balakot, she said that it is a historical fact that whenever India has engaged in a belligerent act, Pakistan has responded in a befitting manner.

“Pakistan, we all remember, responded to Indian aggression in Balakot in a resolute manner. It not only downed two Indian fighter jets but also captured an Indian pilot. Pakistan’s response to any future aggression will also be similarly resolute,” she said.

She said that Pakistan believes that the maintenance of peace and stability is a shared responsibility of countries in the region and such remarks only vitiate the atmosphere in the region and should be avoided.

To another query about the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project, she said the Cabinet Committee on Energy has already made a decision regarding the IP gas pipeline project.

She said that Pakistan considers the Iran-Pakistan pipeline project as an important project that symbolizes friendship between the two countries. She said that ensuring energy security remains a top priority for the government of Pakistan and the Iran-Pakistan pipeline, among other projects, forms an important component of Pakistan’s future energy mix.

She said that the Cabinet Committee on Energy has approved the recommendations to resume work on the 80-kilometer section of the pipeline, which is inside Pakistani territory.

The spokesperson also expressed Pakistan’s strong condemnations of Thursday’s massacre by Israel’s occupation forces of unarmed Palestinians, who were awaiting life-saving aid and food delivery in Gaza.

“This massacre demonstrates a blatant disregard for civility and international humanitarian law and Israel’s deliberate and inhumane policy of mass starvation. Pakistan reiterates its call for an immediate and urgent ceasefire, lifting of the inhumane siege and unimpeded access of humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. Israel must also face justice for its crimes against humanity being perpetrated with impunity against the Palestinian people,” she added.

She also announced that Pakistan is hosting the 9th Pakistan-EU Political Dialogue on 06 March 2024 and Foreign Secretary Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi will lead the Pakistan delegation, while European External Action Service (EEAS) Deputy Secretary GeneralEnrique Mora will lead the EU side.

She said that the two sides will discuss the implementation of the Pakistan-EU Strategic Engagement Plan, counter-terrorism, as well as important regional and global developments. The last Pakistan-EU Political Dialogue took place on 22 November 2022 in Brussels.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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