Pakistan’s Foreign Office on Thursday reiterated denials of Islamabad selling any weapons to Ukraine during its ongoing conflict with Russia, stressing arms exports all to countries are bound by end-user commitments.
Earlier this week, BBC Urdu published a report alleging that Pakistan-made weapons were being used in Ukraine, adding that they appeared to have been purchased by U.S. companies before being transferred to Kyiv. Responding to a question on the report during a weekly press briefing, FO spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch reaffirmed that Pakistan has not sold weapons to Ukraine or Russia owing to its policy of strict neutrality in the conflict. “Pakistan’s exports of weaponry to countries is accompanied by end-user certificates and we expect the parties which import Pakistani weapons to respect those end user commitments,” she added.
The spokesperson also rubbished international criticism of the government’s ongoing drive to expel illegal immigrants from the country, stressing this measure did not apply to registered refugees and was in line with immigration laws. “Our decision to repatriate people who are in violation of our immigration laws is a decision irrespective of any nationality. Pakistan believes that it is our sovereign right to implement our immigration laws under which individuals who are staying here illegally can be deported, as is the case in any country in the world. So we do not need to provide explanation to [other] countries,” she said, regretting “misunderstandings” and “misreporting” on the issue.
She also addressed concerns expressed by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk about reports of mistreatment, arbitrary detention and destruction of properties of Afghan nationals, maintaining the repatriation of illegal foreigners was taking place in a humane manner and instructions had been issued to all law-enforcement agencies in this regard. She said the government had announced that it would take strict action against individuals found involved in harassment of any individual facing deportation, reiterating that 24/7 helplines had been established to register all complaints.
TTP and Afghanistan
On reports of the Afghan Taliban considering a rethink of their policy on the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Baloch said Islamabad and Kabul remained engaged on bilateral issues. “Any positive reports of action against TTP, we hope will result in concrete results, which means that the terrorist incidents in Pakistan perpetrated by TTP elements with hideouts inside Afghanistan will come down and in the end completely eliminated,” she said, adding Pakistan had shared evidence of TTP hideouts inside Afghanistan with Kabul. “We have urged the interim Afghan government to take concrete action against these TTP elements, dismantle their networks and prevent terrorist attacks from across the border into Pakistan. We also want them to hold the perpetrators and abettors of terrorist incidents inside Pakistan to account. We remain engaged with Afghan authorities with focus on these goals,” she added.
To a question on evidence of illegal migrants being involved in terrorism in Pakistan and using Afghan soil for such assaults, the spokesperson said she would not like to brand an entire ethnicity or an entire people as terrorists or as responsible for terrorist incidents. “Pakistan has concerns that terrorist incidents in recent months have links with terrorist elements, which are based in Afghanistan. We have also intelligence that many of these terrorist networks have links with some individuals staying illegally in Pakistan,” she said, adding that the repatriation policy targeted illegal migrants irrespective of any nationality. To a query, she explained 58,368 Afghan refugees had left for third countries since the return to power of the Taliban in 2021.
Condemning the ongoing Israeli aggression in Gaza, Baloch emphasized the attacks on premises and personnel of humanitarian agencies. “Pakistan also condemns Israel’s war on hospitals in Gaza as hospital after hospital is being targeted by the occupation forces in complete disregard of international law,” she said. “We are appalled by Israeli incursion into Al-Shifa hospital, placing patients, medical staff and civilians at risk. We join the international community to hold Israeli occupation accountable for its attacks against hospitals. Israel must also be held accountable for deliberately targeting mosques, churches and schools sheltering civilians who have been rendered homeless because of Israel’s destruction of their homes,” she added.