Pakistan not to take dictation from outside: Asif

Indian arms build up may lead to strategic blunder: FO

Islamabad

Minister for Foreign Affairs Khawaja Asif on Thursday said that Pakistan will always keep national interest supreme before taking decisions and will not take dictation from any external power.
During National Assembly question hour, he said national interests were not kept supreme in the past. “We will continue our efforts, for peace on Eastern and Western borders but dictation would not be taken from others, he said.
He said Pakistan trade relations with Afghanistan have been affected during the last few years. He said that Afghanistan insists to give it trade route through Wagah border which had been denied.
He said that the Speaker National Assembly has summoned the meeting of National Security Council on February 1,to discuss many issues including relations with Afghanistan.
The minister said that Pakistan’s decision to join US in 1989, 1990 and 9/11 was not in the best interest of the country.
Khawaja Asif said “Pakistan pursues the policy of peaceful neighborhood. Our focus is on maintaining and strengthening peaceful and friendly relations with all neighboring countries China, Iran, Afghanistan and India, on the basis of mutual respect and equality.”
He said that in recent years, Pakistan had contributed hugely for the regional peace and security and taken successful military action against all elements that are detrimental to peace and security of the region.
“Through our military operations, we have cleansed our territory of all terrorist groups that were threatening not only the peace in Pakistan but also in the region.
Khawaja Asif said that Pakistan is building border management infrastructure along Pak-Afghan border with a view to encourage bilateral trade and facilitate legal travel between the two countries while making the illegal crossing of the border difficult.
He said, “Pakistan believes that peace and stability in Afghanistan is in the best interest of Pakistan.
We believe that Pakistan benefits more than anyone if there is lasting peace in Afghanistan. We understand that a stable Afghanistan would help us promote our agenda of economic development and regional connectivity. “
The foreign Minister said, “In our reckoning, the only solution to Afghan conflict lies in a politically negotiated settlement that is owned and led by Afghans. Towards this end, Pakistan as a policy participates in all Afghanistan related multilateral fora to contribute constructively to the peace and stability in Afghanistan.”
He recalled that Pakistan participated in the first meeting of the China-Afghanistan- Pakistan ,Foreign Ministers Dialogue in Beijing. “The three sides agreed to take joint steps against terrorism and not to let any country, group or individual to use their ,territory for violence anywhere” he added.
Khawaja Asif said, “On bilateral plane, we had shared with Afghanistan a comprehensive engagement plan titled, Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Solidarity (APAPS) that envisages bilateral engagement under five working groups. We will be taking further steps in coordination with our Afghan brothers for early operationalization of the working groups.
He said that Pakistan has been home to millions of Afghan brethren, who were forced to leave their country by persistent conflict in Afghanistan. Pakistan has offered unprecedented hospitality and support to the Afghan people and extended life amenities like education and health at par with the Pakistani citizens, he added.
“Over 50,000 Afghans educated in Pakistani educational institutions, are now working in Afghanistan’s public and private sectors, fulfilling the needs of their country” he added. Pakistan has extended 6,000 fully funded scholarships for Afghan students in Pakistan. Almost 3000 have already been availed and another batch of 750 Afghan students is set to start their scholarships in Pakistan.
Pakistan dedicated 100 seats to the Afghan female candidates. In addition, Pakistan undertakes capacity building programmes of Afghans in various professions.
Pakistan is also pursuing the policy of good relations with Bangladesh. “Pakistan-Bangladesh relations are rooted in common history. Pakistan desires to maintain a forward looking approach in its bilateral relations with Bangladesh” he added.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Dr. Mohammad Faisal said in Islamabad Thursday. “India’s confrontational attitude and huge arms buildup are threat to regional peace and stability and may lead to strategic miscalculation. Indian Army Chief’s provocative and irresponsible recent statements reflect jingoistic mindset of India which can further exacerbate the already volatile strategic environment.”
The spokesperson said Indian false claims and belligerent statements are motivated by an exaggerated view of its capabilities and hegemonic designs.
He clarified that Pakistan is not desirous of escalation and has reacted with restraint but Indian mistaken belief and irresponsible rhetoric is fraught with unforeseen danger.
Pakistan is fully capable of giving a befitting response in case of any misadventure. The spokesperson said, the ongoing spree of ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and Working boundary are aimed at diverting world attention from Indian forces‘ atrocities in Occupied Kashmir.
It is highly regrettable that India is not cooperating with the United Nations Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan which has the mandate to monitor the situation along the Line of Control and Working Boundary.
Replying to a question, he said the growth of extremist groups in India proves that terrorism has no borders or religion. He said it is unfortunate that intolerant and extremist Indian society provides fertile breeding grounds to terrorist organizations for gaining footholds and expand.
He said increased recruitment of Al Qaeda network in India is a worrying development. To another question, the Spokesperson said terrorism is a global menace and Pakistan’s contribution in the global war against this menace is matchless which has been acknowledged internationally.
He said through successful operation Zarb-e-Azb, Pakistan neutralized the Al Qaeda operators. Referring to annual report of Stare Bank of Pakistan released in May last year, Dr Faisal said the report revealed that Pakistan incurred over 123 billion US dollars in direct and indirect losses due to war against terror from 2002 to 2017.

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