‘Normal Indo-Pak Ties Vital for Peace’

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ISLAMABAD: Amid ongoing tensions triggered by a verbal duel between politicians from Pakistan and India, the Foreign Office here said on Thursday normalisation of ties between the two countries are vital for peace and development in the region.

“Pakistan will welcome any positive step that promote peace and bilateral relations between the two countries,” Foreign Office spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah said, during his weekly press briefing in Islamabad.

“Pakistan on its part is committed to good neighbourly relations with all the regional countries, including India,” the spokesperson added.

However, he upheld there are ‘serious issues’ between the two countries which need to be resolved through dialogue process.

Responding to a question on whether Pakistan has contacted the international community on Modi’s admission of his country’s role in the breakup of Pakistan, the spokesperson said, “Pakistan will take all appropriate actions necessary to protect its interests.”

Khalilullah’s statement follows Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s telephone conversation with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to convey his greetings on the advent of the Islamic holy month of Ramazan.

The conversation, which according to the prime minister’s office lasted for five minutes, is seen as significant against the backdrop of the current verbal spat between Pakistan and India.

During the call, the Indian leader said his country wanted ‘good ties’ with Pakistan while Nawaz, on his part, stressed that Islamabad and New Delhi should strive for peace by overcoming their differences.

Nawaz’s remarks suggested that despite rising tensions, the Pakistani government is still keen to de-escalate the situation.

“No IS footprint in Pakistan’

Further, the FO spokesperson denied that the militant group, Islamic State (IS), has a footprint in Pakistan.

“Pakistan stands committed in the war on terrorism and this role has also been appreciated by the international community,” he reiterated.

Qazi also lauded the armed forces on the completion of one year of Operation Zarb-e-Azb.

“The operation has achieved resounding success in eliminating terrorism,” he added.

The spokesperson said, “The international community is also deeply appreciative of the sacrifices given by the people of Pakistan to make the world a safer place.”

Ban Ki-moon hopes for ‘amicable’ Kashmir resolution 

United Nations: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hopes Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif “will continue to engage with each other” to try to resolve the Kashmir situation “peacefully and amicably”, according to Ban’s deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq. 

At the daily press briefing here on Wednesday, Haq side-stepped a question by a Pakistani journalist who, referring to Kashmir, wanted to know if Ban was going to “call upon India to have some sort of a dialogue with Pakistan” and mentioned US Secretary of State John Kerry’s call Tuesday to Sharif. 

Haq avoided saying if Ban would make a call. “Our hope in this, is that the leaders of the two countries will continue to engage with each other and try to resolve the situation peacefully and amicably,” Haq said. “And we will see where they go with that.” Kerry has brought to the fore what he called “the recent increase in the tensions publicly between India and Pakistan”. 

That was the first issue that he brought up at his first press conference, since his bicycling accident last month, saying that he and Sharif had talked about it. “It’s very, very important that there be no misinterpretation or miscalculation with respect to any of the back-and-forth and the empowerment some entities might feel,” he said. Kerry added that Sharif told him about his conversation with Modi. 

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