US move to sell air-defence weapons to India disturbing: FO

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STAFF REPORTER ISLAMABAD Pakistan on Thursday termed United States’ decision to sell integrated air-defense weapons system to India as “disturbing”, saying it would further destabilise the already volatile region. At her weekly news briefing on Thursday, Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said the sale of such sophisticated weapons to India would disturb the strategic balance in South Asia with security implications for Pakistan and the region. She said defense relations between the US and India were contributing to the destabilisation of peace and security in South Asia. Farooqui went on to say that the international community was fully aware of India’s aggressive policy designs against Pakistan and the threatening statements of Indian political and military leadership. She said South Asia could not afford an arms race and conflict. “It is therefore incumbent upon the international community to prevent destabilisation of the region.” Voicing concerns over increased ceasefire violations by India, the spokesperson said India had committed 272 ceasefire violations since the start of the year. “As a result three civilians have embraced martyrdom and 25 others sustained serious injuries.” The FO spokeswoman said Pakistan was concerned about the possibility of India resorting to distractions such as “false-flag operations” during the forthcoming high-profile visits to Pakistan by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and United Nations chief Antonio Guterres and US President Donald Trump’s visit to India. The spokeswoman also recalled that President Trump had offered mediation on the Kashmir dispute multiple times. “It is time that these offers take on a material shape,” she said. “We are expecting that he [Trump] will take up the matter with Narendra Modi during his visit.”