December 30, 2022
ISLAMABAD – The Foreign Office (FO) said on Thursday that Pakistan was engaging with Afghan authorities on “all issues” including better border management, upgrading the security of diplomats, and curbing terrorism.
“Afghanistan has given certain assurances and we hope the promises made will be honored,” FO Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said.
Her remarks come against the backdrop of a spate of recent terrorism incidents in the country, believed to have been planned and directed by the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leaders based in Afghanistan.
The TTP, which has ideological linkages with the Afghan Taliban, has executed around 115 attacks so far this year, most of which happened after August this year when the group’s peace talks with the Pakistan government began to falter. The ceasefire was formally ended last month by the TTP.
Pakistan has been pressing successive governments in Kabul to take action against the TTP and other militants based in Afghanistan.
In response to a question in a year-end media briefing today, Zahra said: “Pakistan has consistently expressed its desire to see a peaceful, prosperous, stable, and connected Afghanistan.
“We wish that Afghanistan emerges as a trade and energy-connectivity conduit to our region,” she added.
‘India continues to act as a regional bully’
During the briefing, the FO spokesperson maintained that bilateral relations with India could not fully normalise until the resolution of the outstanding disputes, especially the core issue of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).
“A Hindutva-inspired nationalist government in India continues to act as a regional bully and create hurdles in the development of normal bilateral relations,” she said, adding that suppression of minorities and the people of the IIOJK is a matter of great concern for Pakistan.
Baloch affirmed that Pakistan will continue to make all possible efforts for the settlement of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.
“Islamabad wants India to end its suppression in IIOJK and desist from supporting terrorist activities inside Pakistan,” she said.
“Pakistan is interested in peace and dialogue and it is up to the Indian authorities to take a responsible position to improve relations.”
Relations with US
Talking about the country’s pivotal relations with the US, the FO spokesperson said a positive momentum in the bilateral ties was witnessed, with the visits of Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
“The US agreed to our long-standing request for provision of military hardware,” the diplomat said. “De-hyphenation of relations would further contribute to the strengthening of our bilateral relations.”
Baloch also highlighted the country’s achievements on the diplomatic fronts, listing the exit from the Financial Action Task Force grey list and establishment of a Fund for Loss and Damage at COP27 for developing countries as a few.