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Pakistan Committed to Just Settlement of Kashmir Dispute: Foreign Office

Spokesperson rejects reports of U.S. establishing ‘regional drone hub’ in the country

by Staff Report
Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs

File photo

Pakistan will continue to extend political, diplomatic and moral support to Kashmiris until their right to a just and peaceful settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute has been achieved in accordance with U.N. Security Council resolutions, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Baloch said on Thursday.

Addressing a weekly press briefing, she referring to the ordeal of women in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, stressing that Islamabad would continue to advocate for their rights and invite the international community’s attention toward their ground realities. “At least 682 women civilians have been victims of extrajudicial killings by Indian forces since January 2001,” she said. “Instead of providing them protection, Indian security forces molested or raped 11,256 women during the same period. Women constitute majority of the Kashmiri people suffering from psychiatric problems that are widespread in the climate of oppression and fear. Over two-dozen women leaders and activists, including Asia Andrabi, remain incarcerated in different jails of IIOJK and New Delhi,” she added.

Urging women globally to take notice of their Kashmiri sisters’ plight, she advised them to call on India to protect women’s rights in IIOJK. She also addressed reports of Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial skipping a SCO meeting of chief justices in New Delhi, clarifying that he had “unavoidable” commitments on March 10-12. “He has accordingly conveyed his regrets to his Indian counterpart who is the current chair/host of the meeting,” she added.

On whether Pakistan would attend any future SCO meetings, she said Islamabad considered the Shanghai Cooperation Organization an important organ and would continue to participate in all activities and constructively contribute to its outcomes. “Now, regarding the in-person participation that you have asked about, at this stage we do not have final decisions,” she added.

To a question on a U.S. intelligence report that had referred to heightened tensions between Pakistan and India, and China and India triggering a potential conflict, Baloch said Islamabad had consistently advocated peace and dialogue in South Asia. “Our foreign policy is based on building partnerships for peace, friendship and prosperity in the region and beyond,” she said. “We desire friendly ties with all our neighbors. We have also advocated a constructive engagement and a result-oriented dialogue with India on all outstanding issues including the core dispute of Jammu and Kashmir. Unfortunately, India’s unabated hostility and retrogressive steps have vitiated the regional environment and impeded the prospects for peace and cooperation,” she added.

Pak-U.S. ties

To another question, the spokesperson dismissed reports of Pakistan expressing willingness to allow the U.S. to establish a “regional drone hub” on its territory during a recent dialogue on counterterrorism. “There was no discussion on the topic [regional drone hub],” she clarified. “It was not on the agenda and it was not discussed and, therefore, there is no need for speculation in that matter,” she said, adding that Pakistan had been very encouraged by the dialogue on counterterrorism with the U.S.

“It was a good opportunity for the two sides to discuss counterterrorism issues, as the challenge of terrorism is a challenge for the entire world,” she said. “The topics that we covered included cooperation at multilateral forums, cyber-security, countering violent extremism,” she continued, adding that capacity-building, especially in anti-money laundering, was also discussed. Stressing that Islamabad and Washington were old allies, she said their engagement on all matters was based on the interest of both countries.

She said two important dialogues would be held between Pakistan and the United States next week. The first, Energy Security Dialogue, is scheduled for March 15 and would be led by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Energy Resources Assistant Secretary Geoffery Pyatt. The second, the Climate and Environment Working Group, would meet on March 16, with the U.S. State Department’s Oceans and International Environment and Scientific Affairs Assistant Secretary Monica Madina leading the American delegation. Both sides, she said, would discuss Pakistan’s climate priorities and energy transition, water management, climate-smart agriculture, biodiversity and protected national areas, air quality, and solid waste management.

The Foreign Office, she said, was also organizing bilateral dialogues with countries in East Asia, including Australia, China, Japan, and Malaysia, in the days ahead.

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