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Foreign Affairs Diary:Pakistan maintained principled stand on Syria’s sovereignty

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SPOK FO

Text by: Chaudhry Ahsan Premee

Associated Press Service

Oct 30,2015 Islamabad.

The spokesman said without opening remarks that house is open to question during his weekly press briefing at Foreign Office Islamabad.

In this context, the Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that Pakistan has a principled position on Syria based on neutrality, impartiality and respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty of Syria. We believe that Syrian government and opposition groups should exercise restraint and settle their differences peacefully. Pakistan supports all efforts employed at facilitating a peaceful Syrian-led and inclusive solution that meets the aspirations of the Syrian people through a comprehensive political dialogue.

 Regarding your second question, over the last few days, a lot has been said on this issue. Pakistan has never accepted any pressure from anywhere on its nuclear program. Pakistan is a responsible Nuclear Weapon State and we have every right to take all possible measures for our defence.

The Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that As you know, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are brotherly countries. We enjoy friendly and cooperative relations and have close cooperation in many fields including defence and security. The exercise that you have referred to started two weeks ago. It is a joint military training exercise, focused on joint anti-terrorism training of the special forces of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The exercise aims at affording an opportunity to explore new avenues of cooperation to fight terrorism and enhance skills. Let me add that Pakistan is deeply concerned at the increasing threats to regional peace and stability in the Middle East. We believe that there is a dire need to ensure that the region does not get further destabilized by terrorist groups. Pakistan-Saudi Arabia cooperation in counter-terrorism is important in this context.

Spokesman said in response to a question that Pakistan and Russia enjoy friendly relations and cooperate in many fields. We want to enhance relations with Russia in all fields of mutual interest. Recently, the two countries signed an agreement for a gas pipeline from North to South. Russia would be investing US$ 2 billion for  the construction of this pipeline. There have been a number of visits from Pakistan to Russia in the past at the Head of State and Government level. We would, therefore, welcome the visit of the Russian President to Pakistan. Ground-breaking ceremony of the gas pipeline would be a good occasion for the visit.

Spokesman said in response to a question that you may be aware that the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan had declared the occupation of Iraq as illegal. The statement you have referred to may be seen in that context.

Regarding your second question, Pakistan has taken action against all terrorist groups under operation Zarb-e-Azab. Measures have been taken against extremists and terrorists under the National Action Plan as well. International community appreciates efforts made by Pakistan to eliminate terrorists. We have said that there are no good or bad terrorists. For further details, I would like to draw your attention to the Pak-US Joint Statement issued during our Prime Minister’s recent visit to the US. Pakistan’s sacrifices and successes in eliminating terrorism have been appreciated by the US leadership.

Pakistan is ensuring that its territory will not be used against Afghanistan and expects that Afghanistan’s territory will also not be used against Pakistan. We expect the Government of Afghanistan to make sure that its territory is not used to stage attacks against Pakistan.

Spokesman said in response to a question that In response to your first question, let me say that a number of countries and the UN have offered assistance in the wake of 26 October earthquake. We are grateful for this expression of support and solidarity. As you are aware, the Government is responding effectively to the situation, through its own resources. I am not aware if any decision has been taken to accept international assistance. You may wish to contact NDMA in this regard.

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Yes, the Prime Minister of India had called our Prime Minister and offered condolences as well as assistance. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif thanked the Indian Prime Minister for his offer. You are right that some good gestures have been made in the past by both sides. However, this does not diminish the need to resolve outstanding disputes and issues including Kashmir through a “sustained and resilient dialogue process between the two neighbors”, as emphasized in the Pak-US Joint Statement issued during the recent visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Washington.

Spokesman said in response to a question that both the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and Secretary of Iranian Supreme National Security Council made detailed statements at the Joint Press Conference on 28 October 2015. As part of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s vision of a peaceful neighborhood, we want to enhance our relations with Iran. We have said that removal of sanctions on Iran would offer opportunities for greater economic interaction between the two countries. What the Prime Minister has said about the two ports is very important. We want these two ports to complement each other, not compete.

 Spokesman said in response to a question that such accusations have been made hundreds of times in the past. We have rejected them as baseless and unfounded. The latest accusations, therefore, do not require any response.  I wish to add that an Indian Minister had recently said that whereabouts of Dawood Ibrahim were not known to them.

Spokesman said in response to a question that, I would invite your attention to a very detailed Joint Statement issued after the meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on 22 October 2015. It deals with these issues as well. It is available on our Ministry’s website.

Spokesman said in response to a question that due to close relations between Pakistan and China, exchange of visits between our two countries at various levels is common. I am not aware of the visit you have referred to.  However, you may like to ask this question to the Ministry of Defence.

As to Daesh, our position is very clear. We are against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. There is no footprint of Daesh in Pakistan. Our Armed Forces and security agencies have said that even a shadow of Daesh will not be tolerated in Pakistan. They will take appropriate action in this regard, if required.

Spokesman said in response to a question that you may refer your question to the Ministry of Defence. However, I can confirm that there is an agreement between the two countries on pre-notification of military exercises.

Spokesman said in response to a question that what was discussed between the two leaders is reflected in the Joint Statement which was issued after Prime Minister’s meeting with President Obama. It is available on the Ministry’s website.

Spokesman said in response to a question that ,I have already stated Pakistan’s position on Daesh. Terrorism is our common enemy.  Cooperative approach is required to deal with the menace. We support coordinated action by concerned countries in their own territory to deal with terrorism. We have extended this kind of cooperation to Afghanistan. We are cognizant of the threat posed by Daesh and have alerted our security agencies accordingly.

Cooperation on counter terrorism can take many forms, such as intelligence sharing and training.

Spokesman said in response to a question that we support peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. On the request of the Afghan Government, we hosted the first round of peace talks in July this year. Pakistan remains willing to facilitate the peace process in every possible way, if the Afghan government so requests. This was reiterated by the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs during the press conference you have referred to. He had also welcomed any contribution which Iran could make in promoting  an Intra-Afghan dialogue to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan.

 Spokesman said in response to a question that the steep rise in India’s defence budget and its massive arms buildup through acquisition of modern weaponry is a matter of concern. The growing conventional asymmetry undermines regional stability and also negatively impacts the balance of strategic deterrence. Pakistan remains fully cognizant of evolving security dynamics in South Asia and, while adhering to the policy of avoiding an arms race, will take all measures to safeguard its national security.

Spokesman said in response to a question that you may refer this question to his Spokesperson.

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