ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday ruled out any role for India in the Afghan peace process.
“India has no role in Afghanistan,” Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal said at the weekly media briefing while responding to a query about Pakistan’s position on India’s part in the reconciliation process.
This was in sharp contrast to what Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had told the National Assembly last month. “Since India is present in Afghanistan, its cooperation in this regard (facilitating a negotiated settlement of the Afghan conflict) will also be required,” he had told legislators.
US Special Envoy for Afghan Peace and Reconciliation Amb Zalmay Khalilzad during his ongoing regional tour travelled to New Delhi where he met Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. At the conclusion of his Indian trip, he had said: “We discussed how to help Afghans achieve enduring peace and areas of possible cooperation, both bilaterally and regionally.”
The FO spokesman in his briefing acknowledged that Pakistan has a difficult relationship with India. He said that despite Pakistan’s efforts for normalisation no concrete progress could be achieved in ties with India. “You all know that India is not willing to engage with Pakistan,” he reminded.
Talking about ceasefire violations by India along the Line of Control (LoC), he said, New Delhi was justifying it by levelling baseless allegations of infiltration from the Pakistan side.
“Indian mal-intent is also apparent from their repeated ceasefire violations instead of using the hotline contact between both sides,” he said.
The spokesman rejected Indian claims that Pakistan had planned a cross-LoC raid by alleged ‘Border Action Teams’.
“No such teams exist in Pakistan. The Pakistan army is a responsible and professional force which is committed to protecting the lives and property of its own citizens and would not resort to such irresponsible provocation,” he maintained.
He renewed the call for New Delhi to allow the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to monitor ceasefire violations.
“Pakistan has consistently maintained, including officially to India, the vital need for the smooth functioning of UNMOGIP in line with UN Security Council’s resolutions for maintaining peace and tranquility. Despite levelling false allegations, India restricts UNMOGIP allowing virtually no movement on the Indian side in contrast with Pakistan which allows unhindered functioning,” he said.
The spokesman said Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Qatar from January 21-22.
“Issues of mutual interest will be discussed during the visit. The prime minister will discuss the import of manpower by Qatar from Pakistan,” he said.
Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2019