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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has expressed its desire to engage in meaningful discussions with the United States to address “misunderstandings” with regard to the country’s domestic situation and electoral laws.

Speaking at her weekly news briefing in response to media queries about the US Congressional hearing of alleged rigging in Pakistan’s February 8 general elections, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said that during the hearing some statements were made, which were intrusive and reflected a misunderstanding of Pakistan’s domestic situation and electoral laws.

“We hope to engage in meaningful discussions with the United States to address these misunderstandings. We also hope that the US Congress will play a positive and constructive role in strengthening Pakistan-US ties and developing avenues of mutually beneficial cooperation,” the spokesperson said.

Lu submits written testimony in US Congress: ‘Despite complaints Pakistan polls were as per law’

She said Pakistan respects the prerogative of legislative bodies to discuss international issues. She; however, said the deliberations of these legislative bodies should contribute to promoting positive dynamics in bilateral ties based on mutual respect and understanding.

US Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu, a central figure in the cipher controversy, testified before a Congressional panel on Thursday about US-Pakistan ties in the wake of allegations of rigging in the February 8 general elections, as he told the panel that if the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) failed to investigate allegations of irregularities in the polls, it will retard the bilateral relationship.

When her response was sought on Lu’s remarks about the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project, she said that it is the sovereign decision of the Pakistan government to move forward on the project and it will start work on construction of the pipeline. “At this point, there is no room for any discussion or waiver from any third party for the construction of the pipeline inside Pakistan’s territory,” she made it clear when her response was sought on the top US diplomat’s statement that Pakistan has not yet sought any waiver.

However, she added that Pakistan remained in contact with American partners, and “we have conveyed to them the importance of energy security for Pakistan’s future and the important role that the Pakistan-Iran pipeline plays in the overall context of Pakistan’s energy security.”

To Lu’s remarks that the US continues to monitor the weapons it provides to Pakistan especially F-16 to ensure their correct use, she underlined that the hearing was an internal event of the United States where the Congress and the administration were engaged in a conversation.

As far as Pakistan is concerned, she added that Pakistan remains in dialogue with the United States on all aspects of our mutual interest and that includes cooperation in the realm of security and defence. “We will continue to engage with them (the US) with respect to our defence needs and the regional situation that Pakistan faces. And we hope they will understand our concerns and requirements,” she added.

To another query, she said that the case of Shakil Afridi is being dealt with according to the laws of Pakistan and the country’s position on his case has not changed. “He (Afridi) is in prison as a result of the legal processes and a decision by the courts of Pakistan. Pakistan’s position with regard to the case of Shakil Afridi hasn’t changed,” she added.

About Dr Aafia Siddiqui, she said that Pakistan has remained in contact with the US State Department, the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Prisons to extend all possible support for Dr Aafia Siddiqui for her welfare and to explore all options with regard to her continued stay in the United States.

Commenting on the 18th March cross-border operation in Afghanistan, she said the operation was not targeted against the people, institutions or the military of Afghanistan. “We respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and look forward to working together to find joint solutions in countering terrorism and preventing any terrorist organisation from sabotaging bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan,” she said.

She added that Pakistan carried out intelligence-based anti-terrorist operations in the border regions inside Afghanistan and the prime target of the operation was terrorists belonging to Hafiz Gul Bahadur Group, which along with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has been responsible for multiple terrorist attacks inside Pakistan.

She said Pakistan has on multiple occasions shared concrete evidence and intelligence with the Afghan authorities about the presence of terrorist sanctuaries inside Afghanistan. “It is a reality that terrorists especially the TTP have their basis in Afghanistan. This is not just Pakistan’s assertion but also confirmed by the international observers including reports by the United Nations,” she said.

She said that Pakistan is looking forward to work together to find joint solutions in countering terrorism and preventing any terrorist entity from sabotaging bilateral relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan. “We should be partners in peace and partners against terrorism,” she added.

About the terrorist attack in Gwadar port, she said that Pakistan’s security agencies successfully eliminated the terrorists involved. She added that Pakistan remains committed to protecting all projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) including the Gwadar port. “Pakistan believes that these terror organisations, including BLA, are a threat to the entire region. And we would like to work with our neighbouring countries in defeating this terror threat,” she added.

When asked about the Indian Home Minister Amit Shah’s recent remarks that Azad Kashmir is part of India, the spokesperson said these are unwarranted statements and based on fallacy. She said Jammu and Kashmir is an internationally-recognised dispute whose final disposition is to be made by the Kashmiri people in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.

AFP adds: Government dismissed a warning from the United States that relations between the two countries would suffer if it did not probe irregularities in last month’s election.

Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, the spokeswoman for Foreign Ministry, said the warning from Donald Lu, the top US diplomat for South Asia, “reflects a misunderstanding of Pakistan’s political situation and electoral laws”.

“We hope to engage in political discussion with the United States to address misunderstandings so that our two countries continue to move forward for regional cooperation,” she told reporters in the capital, Islamabad. Lu told lawmakers on Wednesday that the United States had “serious concerns” about the conduct of the February 8 election and ongoing disruptions of media and social media, including a prolonged shutdown of X, formerly known as Twitter, and called for an investigation.

“The Election Commission of Pakistan, should it find that these irregularities are substantiated, should rerun elections where there’s been interference,” Lu told a hearing of a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee.

Lu said the United States was not considering any major new military sales to Pakistan, a Cold War ally whose army and intelligence apparatus has long played a dominant role in politics and whose past links with Afghanistan’s Taliban soured ties with Washington.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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Re=== Mar 22, 2024 07:21pm
LOL mis understanding. IK won, but we declared someone else the winner....is a mis understanding. HA HA>
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