We aren't bothered by India's Rafale deal, says FO


By Our Diplomatic Correspondent
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal on Thursday urged the world community not to push the South Asian region into an arms race.
In his weekly press briefing, Dr Faisal said Pakistan knew very well how to defend itself against the Rafale or any other fighter jets.
“The whole world was a witness to the February 27 episode,” Dr Faisal said while commenting on the induction of Rafale fighter jets by India.
The spokesperson further said Pakistan will not indulge in any arms race. “The focus of the present government was on human development, health and education,” he said.
Voicing concerns over the indefinite curfew and blatant human rights violations in occupied Kashmir, Dr Faisal said Pakistan demands the lifting of all sorts of restrictions and stoppage of human rights violations in the held valley.
He added Pakistan stands by the oppressed people of Kashmir. “We are trying to raise the plight of Kashmiri people at every avenue,” Dr Faisal said.
Dr Faisal continued,“Despite Indian efforts to cover up its brutalities in the occupied valley, the plight of Kashmiris was being recognised across the world.” He pointed out that three US presidential candidates have added their voice in censuring India on the appalling humanitarian situation in the valley. Responding to a question about Kartarpur corridor, the spokesperson said a formal invitation has been extended to former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh to attend the opening ceremony of the corridor. “Work on Kartarpur corridor is continuing with full speed and it will be completed on time. The opening of the corridor will be held on time as committed by Prime Minister Imran Khan,” he noted.
In response to another question, Dr Faisal said Pakistan was working on the dates of SAARC summit to be held in Islamabad, adding that the dates will be shared when finalized.
Furthermore, he said there was a possibility of PM Imran paying a visit to Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Commenting on the Syrian conflict, Dr Faisal said Pakistan appreciates Turkey’s role in finding a viable political solution to the conflict. “We also commend Turkey’s humanitarian efforts of graciously hosting over 3.5 million Syrian refugees on its soil,” he said. He added Pakistan also recognises Turkey’s legitimate security concerns in the region. “Pakistan continues to support the territorial integrity of Syria and hopes that a political solution to the conflict will be reached at the earliest that takes into account the concerns of all the regional stakeholders,” Dr Faisal said.
Agencies add: Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal on Thursday said that the possibility of a visit by Prime Minister Imran Khan to Saudi Arabia and Iran was “on the cards”. Addressing his weekly press briefing, Dr Faisal, in response to a question said: “The possibility of a visit of [the] prime minister to Saudi Arabia and Iran is on the cards and I will update you as things unfold.”
Asked another question with regards to whether the possible visit was a continuation of the premier’s recent visits to the United States and China or whether it had to with the regional situation, the FO spokesperson said: “[I] don’t want to say anything further on this.”
Media reports quoting sources had said that Prime Minister Imran was expected to hold consultations for the visits after returning from China and the dates for the potential trips would be discussed in the consultations.
While visiting the United States in September for the United Nations General Assembly, the prime minister said that US President Donald Trump had asked him to help defuse tensions with Iran, adding that he had already spoken with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in an attempt to mediate.
The premier had added that prior to arriving in New York he had visited Saudi Arabia and spoken to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who also asked him to talk to Rouhani. Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since May last year when Trump abandoned a 2015 nuclear deal and began reimposing sanctions on Iran in a stated campaign of “maximum pressure”.