India has no role to play in Afghanistan, says Pakistan


–FO spokesman says Pakistan will discuss LoC ceasefire violations with UNGA president


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Foreign Office on Thursday said that India has no role to play in Afghanistan.

Addressing a weekly media briefing, FO Spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal said that Pakistan has always maintained that the solution to the Afghan conflict lies in an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. He mentioned that Pakistan had facilitated the direct talks between the United States and the Taliban and remained convinced that an intra-Afghan dialogue was crucial to peace and stability in the war-torn country.

“Pakistan will continue to support and facilitate the Afghan peace process in good faith and as a shared responsibility,” he said and added that the ongoing visit of US Special Envoy on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad to Islamabad after Kabul is also part of the same reconciliation process.

The spokesman did not confirm the reports of the arrest of a senior Taliban military commander Hafiz Mohibullah in Peshawar.

Dr Faisal categorically said that India has no role in the Afghan peace process. When asked about China’s relevance in the domain of the Afghan peace process, he said the matter was “sensitive” and the Chinese government was in a better position to respond. However, he recalled that Pakistan along with China had participated in trilateral meetings in Kabul last December, concluding several agreements among the three countries.

Talking about Indian atrocities in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), Dr Faisal said that the Indian troops are targeting unarmed civilians and the country has violated the Vienna Convention by detaining a Pakistani official.

Rejecting India’s claims about Pakistan using its so-called Border Action Teams to infiltrate the Line of Control (LoC), he said that no such force existed in the country.

He termed the allegations as “baseless” and said that Pakistan Army is a responsible and professional force, committed to protecting the lives and property of its own citizens and does not resort to such irresponsible provocation. On the contrary, he said, the Indian occupation forces are deliberately targeting civilians in a desperate bid to raise the bogey of external threats.

“While India continues with its aggressive and belligerent posturing, it is justifying its ceasefire violations by levelling baseless allegations of infiltration from the Pakistani side,” he said.

He said that the Indian agenda was also apparent from its repeated ceasefire violations instead of using the hotline contact between the two sides.

The spokesman said that Pakistan consistently maintained the smooth functioning of United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) in line with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions to maintain peace and tranquillity. However, he said, India was restricting UNMOGIP’s movement in its side as compared to Pakistan that allowed its unhindered monitoring.

On Kartarpur Corridor, the spokesman said that the work continued actively at the Pakistani side with the construction of a bridge at the River Ravi underway. He said that the topographical and hydrological surveys had been completed to materialise the project aimed at facilitating the Sikh pilgrims to their holy shrine inside Pakistan.

The spokesman also said that Prime Minister Imran Khan would pay an official visit to Qatar on January 21-22 on the invitation of its ruler to discuss issues of bilateral interest.  In response to a question regarding Qatar’s offer of providing 0.1 million jobs to Pakistani citizens, he said that the prime minister would also discuss the matter regarding the import of manpower.

The spokesman said that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman would visit Pakistan in February, for which the dates were being worked out. He said that the two sides were actively pursuing to finalise the agreements and memorandums of understanding to be inked during the visit.

He also said that United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) President Maria Fernanda Espinosa would be arriving in Pakistan on Friday till January 22. During her meeting with the prime minister and the foreign minister, he said the issue of continuous human rights violations in IOK would be taken up from the Pakistan side.

To a question regarding the controversy about discrepancy in the visit dates of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to Pakistan, the spokesman said that the FO press release clearly mentions that his “official visit started on Sunday”. He said that the foreign ministry was onboard regarding the unofficial stay as well.