Ties with Israel, never: FO

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Pakistan on Thursday rejected the suggestion of former president Pervez Musharraf that the country should be open to the notion of formal ties with Israel, saying no such step could be taken as it had not recognised the Jewish state.
“We do not have any relationship with Israel because we do not recognise Israel. Nor is this under consideration,” Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said addressing his weekly press briefing.
He was asked for his reaction to Musharraf’s recent suggestion that Pakistan should be open to the idea of establishing relations with Israel.
Asked about a possible US and Israeli attack on Iran, Basit said, “Pakistan has always advised restraint and emphasised that issues surrounding Iran’s nuclear programme shall be resolved peacefully and through dialogue.”
“Pakistan respects Iran’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear technology. It is important that all countries respect and abide by their international obligations. We sincerely hope that the issue would be resolved through dialogue and the situation would not be allowed to escalate as another conflict in the region would be hugely devastating,” he said.
To a question on Wednesday’s drone attack in the Tribal Areas, Basit said, “Our position on drone attacks has always been very clear. We are of the view that strategic disadvantages of drone strikes outweigh their tactical advantages. Winning hearts and minds is crucial to win against violent extremism and this cannot happen if the collateral damage continues. Then there is the issue of violation of our sovereignty which we can never condone.”
“You would appreciate that at present the Parliamentary Committee on National Security is reviewing the entire gambit of engagement with the US. At this stage we would not like to go beyond of what we have been saying about this particular issue,” he said.
Basit avoided saying anything in response to a question that the events of the last few days had drawn the attention of the international community and the UK high commissioner had clearly stated that respect for the law and democracy should be ensured in Pakistan.
Asked whether the statement by the UK high commissioner and similar views expressed by a US embassy’s spokesman were interference into Pakistan’s internal affairs? he said, “The matter is beyond my mandate.”
Asked that the country’s leadership, both political and military, had been accusing each other and whether that was not a bad signal to international community, Basit said, “Dwelling on this subject is beyond my purview.”
In his response to a query on Pakistan’s new ambassador to the US, Sherry Rehman’s meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, he said, “That was a courtesy call by our ambassador-designate. As you all know she would be presenting her Letter of Credence to President Barack Obama shortly. They discussed the current state of Pak-US relations. The ambassador-designate apprised Secretary Clinton of the parliamentary process underway to review the terms of engagements with the US/NATO ISAF.”
To another question on MFN status for India, Basit said, “As far as MFN is concerned, you all know that a decision has been taken in principle to move from the positive to a negative list in our trade with India. The work is in progress and the Ministry of Commerce is engaged in consultations with all stakeholders.”
“A final decision in this regard will be taken by the cabinet and I do not see that happening before October 2012,” he said.
On the news reports regarding US financial aid given to a religious group (Sunni Ittehad Council), Basit said, “I have seen this press report. I am sorry I would not able to give anything beyond what has appeared in this report.”
Asked whether the US had taken Pakistan into confidence regarding opening of Taliban office in Qatar to initiate a dialogue process and also whether he still believed that the Afghan reconciliation process should be Afghan-led, he said, “There is no change in our position on reconciliation in Afghanistan.”