India can't open disputed Siachen for tourism: FO

Spokesman terms death certificate of Col. Rtd. Habib as fake

By Ajmal Khan Yousafzai
ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday categorically said that Siachen Glacier was a disputed territory, which India could not open for tourism.
“India has made attempts to occupy the territory of Siachen. The disputed land cannot be opened for tourists,” Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal said here at a weekly press briefing.
Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had recently announced that tourists could access Siachen, the world’s highest battlefield between Pakistan and India, as both claim sovereignty over the entire territory.
The FO spokesman, however, said that India had not formally conveyed its decision on Siachen to Pakistan.
As regards Pakistan Army’s retired officer Colonel Habib Zahir reportedly killed in a torture cell after he went missing in Nepal two and a half years ago, he said, “I have seen the death certificate which looks fake. It is obviously a campaign of sensationalization being undertaken by hostile agencies against Pakistan and its nationals.”
He said the family of Colonel Habib Zahir and Pakistan remained extremely concerned about his whereabouts.
On London-based Muttahida Qaumi Movement founder Altaf Hussain who sought asylum in India and whether Pakistan intended to raise matter with the British authorities, the spokesman said, “It is a issue of serious concern and a comprehensive response will be issued soon.”
Altaf Hussain, in his speech on social media from London, had said that if Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi would provide asylum to him and his colleagues, he would be ready to come to India.
When asked whether Pakistan was considering to open Hindu religious sites in Azad Kashmir for people across the eastern border, he said Pakistan was ever ready to increase people-to-people contacts, however, India’s reluctance to negotiate mutual matters was the main hurdle.
“India after its August 5 decision has made it difficult and almost impossible to work out bilateral issues and Pakistan despite its good intentions cannot unilaterally materialize any such project,” he said.
Rejecting the impression that Pakistan had ever worked on making Gilgit-Baltistan its province, Dr Faisal said it always insisted on giving fundamental rights to the people of the area.
“The human development in Gilgit-Baltistan cannot be made hostage for the reason that India is not willing to resolve the issue of Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.
He said Pakistan considered the plebiscite as per resolutions of the United Nations Security Council as the only solution to resolve the matter.
“The people of Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and Occupied Kashmir are very close to our hearts and we will do whatever we can for their empowerment,” he said.
The FO spokesman said the humanitarian crisis in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir was worsening due to continuous denial of food, medical care and permission to offer Friday prayers in mosques for over three months. He urged the international community to take notice of the grave situation in the held Valley, which had put the civilians, including women and children, under the history’s ‘biggest human jail’.
The spokesman condemned the recent derogatory remarks of former Indian army general about the Muslim Kashmiri women and said it was a moment for Indian media and intellectuals to introspect on which path of intolerance and bigotry their country had embarked upon. He confirmed that Queen Maxima of Netherlands would visit Pakistan from November 25 to 27 in her capacity as the UN Secretary General’s Special Advocate on Inclusive Finance and Development.
The FO spokesman condemned the incident of desecration of Holy Quran in Norway and said Pakistan’s policy of respect of religions was ‘to live and let live’.
On reports of low number of pilgrims visiting Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, he said Pakistan had permitted 5,000 pilgrims per day from India for a day-long stay, however, there were reports of hurdles being created by New Delhi in that regard.
Agencies add: The spokesperson, Dr Muhammad Faisal said that the death certificate of missing ex. Military Colonel Habib Zahir being circulated in the media was fake.
The foreign office spokesperson said that the certificate was an attempt by hostile agencies to subvert and disinform the masses.
Colonel Retired Habib Zahir remains missing from Nepal, maintained Dr Muhammad Faisal.
Earlier on September 18, The spokesperson said that according to Zahir’s family, he had posted his CV on LinkedIn and the UN website for a job. In response, he received a call and email from Mr. Mark stating that he had been shortlisted for the job of Vice President, read the statement.
He was asked to visit Kathmandu, Nepal for which he was sent air-ticket for Lahore-Oman-Kathmandu by Oman Airlines for an interview on 6 April 2017.
On 6 April 2017, he had messaged his wife from his cellphone intimating that he had landed safely at Lumbini after which his mobile appeared switched off and his family lost contact with him, said the spokesperson.
Dr Muhammad Faisal said that investigations revealed that the UK cell number of Mr. Mark was fake and actually was an internet/computer-generated number.
The website that he was contacted from was found to be operated from India and was subsequently taken down, the spokesperson said and added that the government of Nepal constituted a special team to look into his disappearance but there has not been any progress in the matter so far.
The spokesperson said, “In view of his disappearance from Lumbini, which is 5 kilometers from the Indian border and the involvement of Indian nationals, Pakistan also repeatedly requested the government of India to assist in locating him. However, no positive response has been received from the Indian side.”
His family is very distressed and also approached the UN Working Group on Enforced Involuntary Disappearances in Geneva for assistance in locating him, the statement said and added that his disappearance had also been reported in media, including outside Pakistan.