ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office rejected on Thursday fresh allegations levelled by Kabul about the influx of terrorists in Afghanistan from Pakistan and called for closer cooperation to deal with the issue of cross-border terrorism.

“I do not have any information which corroborates that terrorists and militants were going from Pakistan and were involved in these acts,” FO Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said at the weekly media briefing.

She was responding to allegations levelled by the Afghan interior ministry that a large number of militants from Pakistan were joining Afghan Taliban’s Spring Offensive.

Taliban had last week started their annual offensive from Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan and have vowed country-wide attacks.

The spokesperson noted that Afghanistan did not share information with Pakistan about the alleged movement of militants.

She denounced Taliban’s Spring Offensive and emphasised on peace and reconciliation in war-ravaged Afghanistan.

“We support the reconciliation process in Afghanistan. …If Afghanistan is stable and peaceful, there is peace and stability in our bordering regions. Therefore, we would continue to support the reconciliation effort,” she added.

Referring to the economic corridor, which Pakistan intends to build in cooperation with China, the spokesperson observed that peaceful neighbourhood, particularly a peaceful Afghanistan, was necessary to fully benefit from the project that is being seen by many as a ‘game-changer’ for the region.

She also reminded the Afghan government about the steps taken by Islamabad for improving bilateral relationship.

“We have invested a lot in building peace and we have very high stakes in maintaining peace and stability, the best course for both countries is closer cooperation and coordination.”

Ms Aslam recalled the improved border coordination between Pakistan and Afghan security forces and the counter-terrorism operation (Zarb-i-Azb) that Pakistan started in last June.

She said it had been Pakistan’s policy that no-one would be allowed to use its territory against Afghanistan and accordingly expected Kabul to reciprocate.

On a question regarding President Ashraf Ghani’s visit to Delhi, Ms Aslam said: “The region needs peace and cooperation for development. The international community and the countries in the neighbourhood have the responsibility to constructively engage in Afghanistan to promote economic development.”

CHANGING KASHMIR’s DEMOGRAPHY: The spokesperson cautioned against Indian moves to change the demography of the Occupied Valley.

“Any effort to create special and dedicated townships, zones or any other step to alter the demographic composition of Jammu and Kashmir is in violation of UN Security Council resolutions,” Ms Aslam said.

She mentioned internal resistance to BJP government’s plans to alter the Occupied Valley’s demographic character.

This is the second time this year that Pakistan has raised this issue.

The Indian government is reportedly planning to settle non-state subjects in the Occupied Valley to turn Muslim majority there into a minority, besides dividing the population on ethnic, religious and communal lines.

SEAMEN: The spokesperson criticised Indian treatment of 10 Pakistani seamen, who survived Panamian vessel, MV Aymen, accident, and reminded Delhi of its responsibility to fairly treat them in accordance with international law.

“We have also learnt that the Pakistani seamen have been kept at a police station, and denied access to proper lodging. This is a matter of serious concern. If true, it is against international law and all established norms. International law requires every state to render assistance to any person found at sea in danger and to treat them humanely. Our concerns in this regard have also been conveyed to the Indian side,” she said.

The Pakistan’s high commission in India, she said, was in touch with the Indian government for ensuring security and wellbeing as well as early repatriation of the seamen to Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2015

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