‘Pakistan to welcome NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan’
* FO spokesman Abdul Basit says Islamabad approaching July 15 foreign ministers’ meeting with positive mindset
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, as a neighbouring country, will welcome the NATO forces’ decision to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan because it has suffered a lot due to the ongoing conflict in the neighbouring country, the Foreign Office (FO) spokesman said on Thursday.
During the weekly briefing at the Foreign Office, Abdul Basit said, “It is for the US and other coalition troops to decide as to when they will leave Afghanistan.”
During the reconciliation process in Afghanistan, the Karzai-led government has also expressed a desire for the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country. “We are keenly looking forward to the Kabul Conference on July 20. We hope that the conference will take up and consider the proposals of the Peace Jirga which was held from June 2 to June 4 in Kabul,” the FO spokesman said.
Islamabad is of the view that the jirga’s proposals are doable, he said, adding that Pakistan hoped that the Kabul Conference would give due consideration to those proposals.
To a question, Basit expressed concern over the human rights violation in Indian-held Kashmir (IHK), saying several innocent civilians have been killed recently, including a nine-year-old boy. “We reiterate our solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and will continue extending full diplomatic and moral support to their legitimate cause and struggle for self-determination,” he said.
The spokesman said that Amnesty International, in a statement issued on July 5, also expressed concerns over the situation, urging India to avoid the use of force and to investigate the killings of civilians by its troops.
Approach: About the Pakistan-India bilateral relations, the FO spokesman said that Islamabad would approach the forthcoming foreign ministers’ meeting on July 15 with a positive mindset and expected to engage in sustained talks.
“We are looking forward to this meeting and all issues will be discussed as agreed by the two prime ministers,” he said.
Basit recalled that when Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh met at Thimphu, they agreed to resume the dialogue process.
To a question regarding India’s protest over the Pakistan-China nuclear deal, the spokesman said, “We are concerned. India has no locus standi in these matters. Accordingly, the Indian protest, if any, is uncalled for and irrelevant.”
“As far as I know, the World Bank has never been engaged in this project. It is the Asian Development Bank. Thus the question of the World Bank’s refusal to participate in the project does not arise,” he added.
Basit declared the statement of the Indian army chief, where he alleged that Pakistan was supporting terrorists, was baseless and self-serving.
To a question about the dossier handed over by the Indian government on the Mumbai attacks, he said, “this is an ongoing thing and we have been exchanging information regarding the Mumbai trial”.
“We will like that those who have committed the crime be brought to justice. As regards the question that how this would affect the dialogue process between Pakistan and India, I think there is a realisation on both sides that Pakistan and India need to move forward and neither country will gain by not talking to each other,” he said.
“We are hopeful that the July 15 meeting will help move the process forward allowing the two countries to resolve issues of mutual concern and to promote cooperation in South Asia on the whole,” Basit said.