ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday confirmed joining the Saudi Arabia’s 34-nation coalition against terrorism, however it said the extent of participation in counter-terrorism activities was yet to be decided.
“Yes, we are part of it [coalition]. We have decided, and we welcome it,” the Foreign Office Spokesman said in response to a question whether Pakistan was part of the alliance announced by Saudi Arabia against terrorism.
Spokesman Qazi Khalilullah in a weekly media briefing here at the Foreign Office said, “We are participating in this alliance against terrorism. The only thing that needs to be decided is the extent of our participation in various activities of the alliance
The Foreign Office Spokesman said that Pakistan consistently supported all regional and international efforts to combat militancy, extremism and terrorism and added that Pakistan in this context had welcomed the formation of Saudi alliance.
He said that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoyed close brotherly relations and had been cooperating with each other in various fields including fight against terrorism.
“We maintain close contacts with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia bilaterally and within the framework of OIC [Organization of Islamic Cooperation] and have been exchanging ideas on how to deal with the increasing threats posed by terrorists and extremist mindset to the region,” he said.
To a query about non-inclusion of other countries including Iran and Syria in the alliance, he said he would not comment on it and it was upto these countries how they respond to various developments taking place at regional and international levels.
He said the focus of the alliance was on countering terrorism and for this reason, Pakistan was supporting it.
The Spokesperson categorically dismissed a news item published in an English daily on Wednesday which quoted the Foreign Secretary as saying that Pakistan was surprised to its inclusion in 34-nation alliance announced by Saudi Arabia.
“We reject the remarks attributed to the Foreign Secretary as incorrect and misleading,” he said, adding that the correspondent had misquoted the Foreign Secretary.
He clarified that in response to questions during informal interaction with journalists on December 15, the Foreign Secretary had said that Pakistan was ascertaining the details announced by Saudi Arabia concerning the alliance against terrorism.
The Spokesman said later in the day, the Foreign Office had issued a formal response that also mentioned Pakistan welcoming the alliance.
“We respect views and analysis of all correspondents, however we expect that they will not be mixed with facts to mislead the readers particularly about Pakistan’s relations with important countries,” he said.
He said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would be conveying its concern to the management of the newspaper regarding the misleading report by its correspondent.
The Foreign Office Spokesman to a query about changing the title of Pak-India Composite Dialogue to Comprehensive Dialogue, said all the elements that were part of the former were also part of the latter announced on December 9.
“The important thing is to have a dialogue, which is result- oriented and sustained for which we are aiming for,” he said.
About the Heart of Asia Conference held in Islamabad, he said several meetings including trilateral and quadrilateral settings were held on the sidelines of the Conference which were very successful.
He said the meetings had a very positive outcome in developing a broad consensus on resuming peace process and the four countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the United States would collaborate in devising a future framework on peace in Afghanistan.
The Spokesman mentioned that the leadership of Pakistani and Afghan representatives met on the sidelines of Conference and discussed all issues that needed attention of both the countries in order to further enhance their relations.
He said Pakistan attached very high importance to peace and stability in Afghanistan and had also been supporting peace talks.
“The interest of both countries are served better by cooperating rather than engaging in blame game,” he said.
To a question about the concern expressed by the U.S lawmakers about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, the Spokesman said Pakistan was a responsible nuclear state and was committed to maintaining full spectrum credible minimum deterrence.
He categorically stated that the programme was for the country’s defence.
About Pakistan’s position on a recent incident in Nigeria where many Shiite were killed, the Spokesman said he would check the media reports and would also seek views from the country’s mission abroad.
He said Pakistan’s position was clear that all citizens including minorities had equal rights regardless of their whatsoever religious affinities.