ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Thursday expressed ignorance about a reported meeting of spy chiefs of Russia, Iran, China and Pakistan in Islamabad over the growing threat to the region from the militant Islamic State in Afghanistan.

Officials, however, privately confirmed to Dawn that the unprecedented meeting took place on Tuesday, which could besides dealing with IS provide a basis for greater regional cooperation for peace in Afghanistan.

The meeting, which was supposed to be secret, was first reported by Russian newswire TASS. The Voice of America (VoA) also carried a report on the meeting.

TASS had quoted spokesman of Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Sergei Ivanov as saying that heads of intelligence services of Russia, Iran, China and Pakistan met in Islamabad to discuss measures against assembling of IS terrorists returning from Iraq and Syria in Afghanistan.

TASS had said that the director of the Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergei Naryshkin, represented Russia at the meeting.

“The discussions focused on the dangers arising from a build-up of the Islamic State on the Afghan territory,” Ivanov said.

Russia has been extremely worried about IS threat emanating from the war-ravaged Afghanistan. Its officials held a number of meetings with Pakistani officials before the latest quadrilateral event.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had in February raised the issue of IS expanding its footprint in Afghanistan during the visit of the then Pakistani foreign minister Khawaja Asif to Moscow.

“This trend of spread of ISIS is extremely worrying and the US and Nato tried to obfuscate and neglect the facts and presented information that did not correspond with the reality. ISIS presence is serious. …It boosts the risk of terrorists infiltrating into Central Asian countries from where they can enter the Russian Federation,” Lavrov had said and criticised US and Nato for failing to provide explanations about flight of unmarked helicopters to areas having IS presence.

Pakistan and Russia had later at the 7th meeting of their Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism in March also reiterated this concern.

Pakistan, it is said, had also been discussing the matter with China and Iran. In those meetings Pakistan had expressed alarm over relocation of IS terrorists from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan, particularly its north-eastern parts.

The meeting of spymasters of the four countries, nevertheless, took many, particularly US, by surprise. The US, it is said, is particularly concerned over the emerging regional cooperation because it sees it as a potential challenge to its role in Afghanistan.

Russia and Iran have played a major role in the defeat of IS both in Syria and Iraq.

FO spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal, speaking at the weekly media briefing, renewed the call for Taliban to renounce kinetic options and join the peace and reconciliation process to end the conflict in Afghanistan.

He recalled that Pakistan and Afghanistan were discussing the Taliban issue under the newly-instituted bilateral mechanism — the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity.

Indian spy

Dr Faisal said that Pakistan on July 17 would be filing the second counter-rejoinder in International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the case of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, adds APP.

“Our team has prepared a comprehensive reply to Indian rejoinder, which will be filed on July 17,” the FO spokesman said.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2018

Opinion

Law & processions
16 Oct 2021

Law & processions

It is up to the police to impose reasonable conditions on a procession.
Is the party over?
16 Oct 2021

Is the party over?

Many in PTI are concerned how they can hang on till the next elections.
The last fortress
16 Oct 2021

The last fortress

The state wants to use the social media rules to trample on the right to freedom of speech.
Reopening under Covid
15 Oct 2021

Reopening under Covid

It will be a challenge to deal with all students returning to classrooms and maintaining SOPs.

Editorial

16 Oct 2021

Diminishing freedom

DESPITE the serious reservations of digital rights activists and tech companies, the federal government has...
16 Oct 2021

Dirty politics

IN her outburst against Prime Minister Imran Khan this week, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz may not have taken names but...
16 Oct 2021

Decreasing emissions

THE announcement by SAPM on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam that carbon emissions in the country came down by 9pc...
No need for NAB
Updated 15 Oct 2021

No need for NAB

THE National Accountability Bureau has sent instructions to its regional bureaus to stop processing cases that fall...
Forced conversions
Updated 15 Oct 2021

Forced conversions

THE majoritarian view has once again prevailed in the matter of bringing about legislation against forced conversion...
15 Oct 2021

Transgender rights

MEMBERS of the transgender community in the country are often at the receiving end of both their families’ and...