–FO spokesperson refuses to comment on next round of talks to be held between US and Taliban
–Says Pakistan will not give up claim on Jinnah House in Mumbai
–Asks international community to take probe Indian atrocities in Kashmir
ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office (FO) on Thursday refused to give a date for the next round of negotiations between the Afghan Taliban and US officials, reiterating its claim that Islamabad exercised limited influence over the militant group.
Addressing the weekly press briefing, FO Spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal said, “We have always stated that Pakistan exercises limited influence over the Taliban, and we cannot say as to when the next round of negotiations between the US and Taliban will take place.”
The spokesman also termed the trilateral meeting between Pakistan, China and Afghanistan ‘successful,’ in which all three countries vowed to cooperate against terrorism.
“Pakistan has played its part in the Afghan peace process, and it has been lauded. All three countries had consultative meeting as well, in which it was decided that the parties would work against terrorism, and enjoy the benefits of the One Belt One Road,” he added.
Dr Faisal further stated that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met the Afghan delegation and reassured the Afghan foreign minister of cooperation from Pakistan for peace in the war-torn country. The spokesperson reiterated Pakistan’s resolve to work towards the Afghan issue through dialogue.
“Pakistan is playing its part for the establishment of peace in Afghanistan and wants to find a solution to the issue with the Afghan leadership,” he asserted.
About the Afghan elections, the FO spokesperson said it is Afghanistan’s internal matter. “Pakistan does not interfere in any country’s internal matter,” he said.
Speaking on issues pertaining to India, the FO spokesman said that Pakistan will not relinquish its claim to Jinnah House — the mansion that prior to Partition belonged to Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Mumbai.
There was an ongoing legal battle between the government of India and Jinnah’s daughter Dina Wadia before her death last year. Wadia had in 2007 filed a petition at the Bombay High Court in order to regain the control of the estate.
The development comes a day after India’s External Affairs Minister Shusma Swaraj announced that the Indian government will be turning the estate into an international convention centre following the transfer of the ownership of the house by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) to her ministry.
As per India Today, Swaraj wrote a letter to Bharatiya Janta Party legislator Mangal Prabhat Lodha, saying that her ministry will refurbish the bungalow on the lines of Hyderabad House in Delhi.
“The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has instructed us to renovate and refurbish Jinnah House to develop it on the pattern of facilities available in Hyderabad House in Delhi. Accordingly, approval of the PMO was sought for transfer of the property from ICCR to our ministry. PMO has now accorded necessary approvals,” Swaraj wrote in the letter.
INDIAN SPY & KASHMIR:
Speaking about the matter of Indian spy Nehal Ansari, Dr Faisal said that Pakistan cannot hold a prisoner back once their sentence has completed as per the law.
On Tuesday, Indian national Hamid Nehal Ansari, who served a three-year sentence for espionage in Pakistan, crossed over to India from the Wagah-Attari border.
On Wednesday, Pakistan People’s Party leader Sherry Rehman demanded that the government should brief the House regarding Nehal Ansari’s release.
“Every six months a list of prisoners is exchanged between Pakistan and India. After the completion of sentences, prisoners are released. Next list will be exchanged on January 1,” Dr Faisal added.
“This [Ansari’s release] does not mean we have moved from our stance on the Kashmir dispute.”
Dr Faisal said Pakistan condemns the genocide of defenceless Kashmiris.
“India is committing ceasefire violations at the Line of Control to divert the world’s attention from its atrocities,” he said, adding that India cannot suppress the Kashmiris through use of force. International intuitions should be allowed to probe into the atrocities in the valley,” he added.
Dr Faisal further clarified that the land of Kartarpur is not being ‘handed over’ to India and “any questions related to this matter are baseless”.
“Kartarpur Gurdwara will only be opened for the Sikh [community’s] religious rituals,” he stressed.
Regarding the Pakistanis who went on a hunger strike in a prison in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Dr Faisal said that the Pakistani High Commissioner in Sri Lanka met with the prisoners and legal proceedings have been initiated to help the jailed Pakistanis.