Pakistan on Friday advised the international community to hold dialogue to resolve the Ukraine crisis, just days ahead of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s historic visit to Russia.
During a weekly media briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said: “We continue to follow the developments closely (in Ukraine). I think (engagement and dialogue) is the right way to go forward.”
He avoided commenting on the exact dates as to when would PM Imran Khan leave for Moscow; however, he confirmed that the visit on the invitation of the Russian Federation is expected next week.
“The preparations are underway, and we will share more details formally later. Pakistan attaches great importance to its multi-faceted and strong relationship with Russia”, he reiterated.
Regarding the Pakistani community in Ukraine, he said that the foreign office remains in close contact with the community, especially the students.
“They are taking care of their welfare and they are also issuing necessary advice and guidance to them keeping in view the evolving situation,” Asim said.
SAMJHAUTA TRAGEDY: The Indian Charge d’Affaires was summoned to the Foreign Office to convey Pakistan’s strong protest, that despite 15 years having elapsed, India is yet to bring to justice the terrorists behind the 18/2 Samjhauta Terror Attack.
“We conveyed our alarm that the Hindutva extremism and ‘Saffron terror’ that had motivated the inhuman attack 15 years ago has intensified manifolds under the current regime in India,” Asim said.
Pakistan believes that it is not a question of lack of information or evidence, it is a question of lack of commitment to due process of law and political will on part of the Indian government.
“This is evident from the way the trial was held and you are well aware of the shameless way they acquitted the accused including Swami Aseemanand who had publicly confessed of being the mastermind of the attack”, the spokesman said.
The Indian diplomat was told to convey to his government that it was best advised to put an end to state patronage of terrorism and bring to trial the terrorists behind the Samjhauta Express blasts.
Asim said: “Pakistan also calls upon India to renounce the use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy, and faithfully comply with its obligations under the international legal regime governing terrorism.”
It is pertinent to mention here that February 18 marks 15 years of the Delhi-Lahore Samjhauta Express train explosions that resulted in the tragic deaths of 68 passengers, including 44 Pakistani nationals.
“To this day, our hearts mourn their untimely demise. It is extremely unfortunate that despite the availability of clear evidence, the families of the victims of the Samjhauta Express terrorist attack continue to await justice”, the spokesperson said.
India’s continuing failure, he said, to provide justice to the victims of this horrendous terror attack is a reconfirmation of the culture of impunity that the perpetrators of terrorist attacks enjoy in India.
“The families of the victims long for the day when the terrorists responsible for the cold-blooded attack will be apprehended and made to face the full force of law. However, the reality of today’s India is awash with injustice, inequality, and unabashedly rampant state-sponsored terrorism”, he pointed out.
BAN ON HIJAB: Pakistan once again expressed its deep concern and condemned what it said was the “reprehensible” act of banning Muslim girl students from wearing hijab (headscarf) in the Indian state of Karnataka.
“In this context, on February 9, the Indian Charge d’Affaires was given a demarche and urged to convey to the government of India, Pakistan’s extreme concern over the anti-hijab campaign, being spearheaded by RSS-BJP combine in Karnataka, which is part of its larger exclusionist and majoritarian agenda aimed at dehumanizing and demonizing Muslim women”, he recalled.
TERRORISM: Replying to questions over cross-border terrorism from Afghanistan, India and Iran, the spokesman said that Pakistan has said on various occasions that this is “our consistent policy and position that terrorism is an international phenomenon.”
“It is a problem that is being faced by many countries in the world. Pakistan is one of them,” he said.
Pakistan has been one of the biggest victims of terrorism over the years.
“We have faced the brunt of terrorism and we are very committed to, as you have seen in the past, confronting this menace with a lot of courage, sacrifice and success.
“I can assure you that all the necessary steps that are required, are being taken by the government of Pakistan concerning preventing the threat of terrorism including that from across the borders, and those who are involved such as India,” he added.
The spokesperson was of the view that there is a track record of terrorists getting support from abroad and “we are fully aware that we will take all necessary steps to bring this cross-border terrorism to stop.”
He asserted that the foreign office is also in touch with the authorities of the Afghan interim government.
IRAN: Answering queries regarding the involvement of Iran from where terrorist attacks were recently carried out in Balochistan and arrests of 13 people in Karachi with links to Iran, and whether this was taken up with the visiting Iranian interior minister, the spokesman replied in the affirmative.
“The visit of the Iranian interior minister had a wide agenda, there were useful consultations, high-level meetings and I think it was part of the ongoing very constructive and fruitful dialogue and engagement of Pakistan with Iran.
“We will continue that engagement with Iran, including in the relevant mechanisms, as Iran is a close friend and partner of Pakistan”, explained the spokesman.
However, he hastened to add that Pakistan has been one of the biggest victims of terrorism over the years.