Islamabad: There has been a marked improvement in bilateral relations between Pakistan and the United States since August 2018, and specifically on Afghanistan, in line with the consistent advocacy and stance of Prime Minister Imran Khan that there is no military solution to the Afghan problem.
“Pakistan has been extending support and facilitation, in good faith, to seek a political solution to the prolonged Afghan conflict. The relevant Afghan stakeholders are now moving forward towards starting the Intra-Afghan dialogue, which we hope would lead to a comprehensive and inclusive political settlement”, said the spokesperson at the weekly virtual media briefing.
Pakistan says that there have been positive strides in the ongoing peace process including the historic Agreement between the US and the Taliban. In this regard, the US Special Envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad was informed on Wednesday that Pakistan remains committed to continue working with regional and international partners to support efforts for a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan. “Pakistan remains ready to engage in endeavours to facilitate closer Pakistan-Afghanistan economic partnership and regional connectivity projects”, she added.
Eyebrows had been raised at the inclusion of Adam Boehler, CEO of US International Development Finance Corporation who accompanied Khalilzad. But the spokesperson to several queries said that this was part of ongoing Pakistan-US economic engagement in line with the decision of the leadership last July to intensify trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.
“You would recall that in February this year, US Secretary Commerce Wilbur Ross had also visited Pakistan”, said the spokesperson without giving any details of proposals if any that were discussed by the two sides.
Media reports suggested that the US has not hidden its disdain for CPEC, and Boehler’s visit could be attempts to wean Pakistan away from the Corridor. Boehler met with Pakistan’s economic team under the leadership of the Adviser on Commerce to discuss specific areas of cooperation for US investments. “There have also been several virtual meetings between the two sides on matters related to economy, trade and finance”, said the spokesperson.
Pakistan has been consistently sensitizing the international community regarding Indian leadership’s threatening statements to use terrorism as a tool to destabilize Pakistan. Pakistan has already shared with the international community, incriminating evidence regarding Indian Intelligence Agency RAW’s involvement in terrorist activities in Pakistan. The international community must take immediate cognizance of India’s use of state-terrorism to destabilize neighboring countries.
As reports and photographs of a Kashmiri grandfather gunned down by Indian security forces and his three year old grandson took the media by storm the spokesperson reminded that more than 110 innocent Kashmiris have been martyred by the Indian occupation forces during the past 6 months in fake “encounters” and so-called “cordon-and-search” operations. “The BJP leadership must realize that it is directly responsible for these politically motivated, arbitrary killings of Kashmiris by the Indian security forces. International law prohibits the arbitrary deprivation of life and extra-judicial killings”, she pointed out.
This norm the spokesperson added is codified in every major human rights treaty and convention. No illegal Act, such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), can sanctify or provide legal cover to a crime recognized as such by international law. “The international community must take immediate cognizance of the persistent reports of arbitrary and extra-judicial killings in IOJ&K”, she said.
Meanwhile Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi held a video conference with Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod of Denmark on Thursday. COVID-19 pandemic, regional situation and other matters of mutual interest came under discussion said his office in a statement. He briefed the Danish foreign minister on the measures being taken by the government of Pakistan to contain the pathogen while safeguarding lives and livelihoods.
“Foreign Minister Qureshi further commended Denmark’s deft handling of the crisis, which had made it the leader in Europe in opening up following lockdowns in the aftermath of the pandemic. The foreign minister expressed hope that Pakistani nationals will not be subjected to any restrictions or discrimination as and when travel restrictions are relaxed by Denmark”, said the statement.
The foreign minister conveyed concern on temporary suspension of PIA flights into Denmark as a follow up to EASA’s decision. He underlined that all necessary steps were being taken by the government to ensure the highest level of flight safety in PIA operations. PIA remained committed to maintaining the highest standards and quality in its operations. The Foreign Minister stressed the need for review of the EASA decision.
He also shared deep concern over continuing lockdown in IOJ&K as well as the intensification of military crackdown and extra-judicial killings by Indian occupation forces. He denounced India’s moves to alter the demographic structure of IOJ&K by introducing new domicile law and granting domicile to 25,000 non-Kashmiris, calling it a clear violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and international law, including the 4th Geneva Convention.