Pakistan terms US move to sell air-defence weapons to India ‘disturbing’

Updated 14 Feb 2020

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Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said that Pakistan is hopeful regarding the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).  -- File Photo
Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said that Pakistan is hopeful regarding the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). -- File Photo

Pakistan on Thursday termed United States’ decision to sell integrated air-defence weapons system to India as “disturbing”, saying it would further destabilise the already volatile region.

At her weekly news briefing in Islamabad on Thursday, Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said the sale of such sophisticated weapons to India would disturb the strategic balance in South Asia with security implications for Pakistan and the region.

She said defence relations between the US and India were contributing to the destabilisation of peace and security in South Asia.

Farooqui went on to say that the international community was fully aware of India’s aggressive policy designs against Pakistan and the threatening statements of Indian political and military leadership. She said South Asia could not afford an arms race and conflict. “It is therefore incumbent upon the international community to prevent destabilisation of the region.”

Voicing concerns over increased ceasefire violations by India, the spokesperson said India had committed 272 ceasefire violations since the start of the year. “As a result three civilians have embraced martyrdom and 25 others sustained serious injuries.”

The FO spokeswoman said Pakistan was concerned about the possibility of India resorting to distractions such as “false-flag operations” during the forthcoming high-profile visits to Pakistan by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and United Nations chief Antonio Guterres and US President Donald Trump’s visit to India.

The spokeswoman also recalled that President Trump had offered mediation on the Kashmir dispute multiple times.

"It is time that these offers take on a material shape," she said. "We are expecting that he [Trump] will take up the matter with Narendra Modi during his visit."

“Indian provocations are obviously designed to divert global attention from its state terrorism in occupied Jammu and Kashmir as well as from Pakistan’s ongoing successful efforts in countering terrorism and with respect to fulfillment of our obligations under the FATF regime,” Farooqui said.

She went on to say Pakistan was hopeful with regards to the country's upcoming status review by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), adding that "our international partners are standing with us".

The spokesperson's remarks come a day after Hafiz Saeed, leader of the proscribed Jamaatud Dawa, and his aide were sentenced to five-and-a-half-years imprisonment by a Lahore anti-terrorism court in connection with two terror-financing cases.

The FATF's next meeting will be held in Beijing later this month in which it will decide whether Pakistan will be removed from or remain on the task force's grey list.

Ehsanullah's alleged escape

When asked about the alleged presence of Ehsanullah Ehsan in Turkey, the spokesperson told reporters that the Ministry of Interior was monitoring reports about his whereabouts.

The “mysterious escape” of the former Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman from the custody of a security agency had made news last week. The government or security forces, however, did not comment on his escape after the news broke.

Pak-Turk relations

Referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's two-day visit to the country, Farooqui said relations between the two countries were not only close and friendly but were based on a bond of brotherhood.

She added that the Turkish president was accompanied by parliamentarians and investors from his country and would meet Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi during his visit.