Dialogue process: Pakistan won’t accept any Indian conditionality: FO

Discarding the Indian proposal to “choose between the Indian government or Hurriyat leadership” for dialogue process, Pakistan on Thursday rejected any conditionality on resumption of the stalled dialogue process between the two countries. Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam while responding to questions during her weekly press briefing said the dialogue between Pakistan and India is not a favour that one country does to the other.

She said that dialogue between Pakistan and India is a necessity for peace in the region so that South Asia also focuses on economic development and welfare of the people. “We do not accept any conditionality…Kashmiris are no Indian separatists; they are people in occupied territory struggling for their right to self-determination that has been recognised by the United Nations resolutions. Pakistan is a party to the dispute… so this contention is not acceptable,” she stated in response to Indian Defence Minister Arun Jaitley’s statement.

Jaitley on Wednesday told a summit in New Delhi that “a red-line has to be drawn by Pakistan to consider who they want to speak to – the government of India or to those who want to break India. Unless Pakistan makes a conscious choice, a dialogue with Pakistan will not be possible,” the Indian defence minister said.

To a question about trade between India and Afghanistan via Pakistan, the spokesperson said that Pakistan does not want to stop trade between India and Afghanistan through its territory. She said Afghanistan is a landlocked country and Karachi port is available to India for trade with Afghanistan. About summoning of the US Ambassador on Wednesday to lodge protest over the recent report by the Pentagon to the US Congress, she termed the portions of the report about Pakistan utterly baseless, unsubstantiated and unacceptable.

She said that Pakistan has launched a comprehensive law enforcement operation against terrorists and it has repeatedly said that we are not making any distinction among terrorists in this operation. At the time when the operation Zarb-e-Azb began, she said that the Afghans and the Americans were asked to take a corresponding action on other side of the border to prevent the escape of militants.

She referred to the DG ISPR’s statement who confirmed the unfortunate fact that Pakistan did not receive co-operation which it expected and which would have been in the interest of making safe not only Pakistan but also Afghanistan. “In this background, these baseless allegations in report to US Congress are unacceptable to Pakistan,” she said.

“We do not object to any country’s presence in Afghanistan per se, we have very clearly articulated our policy that we want all countries close and far to contribute to reconstruction, economic development and stability in Afghanistan,” the spokesperson said, adding that Pakistan pursues a policy of non-interference and strict neutrality in Afghanistan.

She said Pakistan believes that it is for Afghans to decide how they want to proceed on reconciliation and other matters. “But we have also said that Afghan soil must not be used against Pakistan,” she added. Asked about Pakistan’s response on the trials of Jamaat-i-Islami leaders by Bangladeshi government, she said that Bangladesh is a fellow Muslim country and the history of the two countries goes back to pre-independence.

“We have repeatedly said that while we do not comment on the internal developments in other countries, at the same time we are monitoring the reports and we have noted the comments by the other countries and by human rights organisations about the these trials,” she said. She further stated that the people of Bangladesh and people of Pakistan struggled together for independence. “As a fellow Muslim country and a fellow SAARC country, we wish the best for the people of Bangladesh,” she added.

About the visit of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, she confirmed that the visit will take place but did not give the exact dates of his visit. “We will make the formal announcement at an appropriate time,” she added. To another question about the agenda of Army Chief’s visit to Kabul, the spokesperson said that it was part of Pakistan’s continuous engagement with Afghanistan at various levels.

She referred to a recent visit of the Adviser on Foreign Affairs to Kabul during which, a vision for Pakistan-Afghanistan relations was discussed. It had security contours, economic co-operation, people-to-people contact and enhancing political engagements as well as engagements between security officials of the two countries, she said. She said that Pakistan has presented a proposal to Afghanistan on how to better manage the international border between the two countries and Afghanistan has indicated its readiness to pursue negotiations on the proposal. To another query, she condemned the recent attack on Al-Aqsa mosque and the violence against peaceful people who were praying. She also condemned desecration of the holy place.