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ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday expressed the optimism that the US Congress subcommittee’s forthcoming hearing on US-Pakistan relations in the wake of February 8 general elections will contribute to promoting positive dynamics in bilateral ties based on mutual respect and understanding between the two countries.

Responding to media queries during her weekly news briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said that Pakistan values its close relationship with the United States and believes in constructive engagement on all matters.

“We are aware of the notification and the hearing of the subcommittee that is scheduled for the 20th of March. And we respect the prerogative of legislative bodies to discuss and debate international issues. We sincerely hope that their deliberations contribute to promoting positive dynamics in bilateral ties based on mutual respect and understanding. We, therefore, hope that the US Congress will continue its supportive role in strengthening Pakistan-US ties and developing avenues of mutually beneficial cooperation,” she added.

US Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu will brief the House Subcommittee on ties with Pakistan in the wake of the February 8 general elections.

The United States House Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia is scheduled to conduct a hearing on “Pakistan After the Elections: Examining the Future of Democracy in Pakistan and the US-Pakistan Relationship” on Wednesday, March 20th.

The committee has invited Donald Lu, the US Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau for South and Central Asian Affairs, US State Department as a witness, to explain about the prospects of US-Pakistan ties in the wake of the February 8 elections with “the US Observations”.

The United States and some other Western countries have been urging Pakistan to investigate the allegations of fraud in the elections. Donald Lu is the top US diplomat, named by the PTI founding chairman Imran Khan in the cypher controversy.

To another question about the information minister’s allegations that PTI wants to disrupt the GSP Plus status, she said that Pakistan has close multidimensional ties with the European Union and GSP Plus is an important pillar of our bilateral relations.

She said that the facility is pivotal for Pakistan’s trade, and it is a successful framework for development and mutually beneficial cooperation between Pakistan and the European Union.

She said that the ninth round of Pakistan-EU political dialogue took place last week, where both sides agreed to continue and strengthen cooperation in various domains including GSP Plus. “So, we are confident that going forward, Pakistan and the European Union will continue to work together in the framework of GSP Plus,” she added.

Responding to another query, she said that Pakistan has taken strong exception to the implementation of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act by India. She said that the legislation and the relevant rules are evidently discriminatory in nature as they differentiate among the people on the basis of their faith.

She said that the regulation and laws are premised on a false assumption that minorities are being persecuted in Muslim countries of the region and the facade of India being a safe haven for them.

She pointed out that the rising wave of Hindutva under the BJP government has led to rapid political, economic and social victimisation of Muslims and other minorities in India. She said the discriminatory steps further expose the sinister agenda of transforming India into a Hindu Rashtra.

Baloch advised the Indian authorities to stop pre-choreographed targeting and systematic marginalization of minorities. She said only a few days ago, a group of UN special rapporteurs urged corrective actions to protect human rights and attacks against minorities in the run-up to India’s national elections.

Commenting on India’s recent test of a ballistic missile, she said that Pakistan has taken note of the missile test on March 11, adding that the advance notification was shared by India but it did not follow the three-day timeline as stipulated in Article 2 of the Agreement on Pre-notification of the Fight Testing of Ballistic Missiles. “The agreement on pre-notification we believe must be complied with in letter and spirit,” she added.

About the recently held 59th Session of the Programming Committee of SAARC held in Kathmandu, Nepal, she said that Director General (South Asia &SAARC) Ilyas Mehmood Nizami represented Pakistan at the committee.

She said that the Committee reviewed the status of SAARC processes and activities and finalised the budgets and calendars of activities of the SAARC Secretariat, specialised bodies, and regional centres.

Since the postponement of the 19th SAARC Summit which was planned to be held in Islamabad, she added that the Programming Committee is the only Charter Body of SAARC that reviews all organisational activities and processes.

As a founding member of SAARC, she stated that Pakistan is fully committed to advancing the objectives of the organisation as enshrined in its Charter and has always played an active role in the SAARC processes and activities.

About the situation in Gaza, she said that Pakistan remains deeply concerned about the ongoing atrocities against the people of Gaza by Israeli occupation forces. “We strongly condemn yesterday’s attack on UNRWA’s food distribution center in the eastern part of Rafah in Southern Gaza. Attack against the few remaining food distribution centers for a population on the verge of famine is part of Israel’s deliberate and inhumane policy of mass starvation. It is inhumane, unconscionable and a crime against humanity,” she added.

She stated that Pakistan also condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the recent Israeli decision regarding the construction of 3,500 new settlement units in the occupied West Bank.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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Maqbool Mar 15, 2024 05:20pm
This is how the USA makes each and everyone accountable, unlike our great country , now in turmoil
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