ISLAMABAD: Amid a global power rivalry between the United States and China, Pakistan on Thursday rejected speculations it had joined ‘the China bloc’.
“I would like to refute any such speculation that Pakistan has joined one bloc or the other. Pakistan has a consistent policy that we do not believe in bloc politics,” Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch told a weekly press briefing here.
She said Pakistan had an “All Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership” with China. She noted that it was a relationship that had grown from strength to strength over the last several decades and both countries were committed to this relationship.
Similarly, she said, Pakistan had excellent relations with a large number of countries around the world, in the Middle East, in Asia Pacific, in Europe and in Africa.
“The United States especially is one of the oldest friends and partner of Pakistan and the biggest export market. Our relations with the United States are perhaps as old as Pakistan itself. Pakistan-US relations are multidimensional with several areas of cooperation with Pakistani Americans acting as a bridge between Pakistan and the United States. We have no desire to take sides or to join one bloc or the other,” she said.
Answering a question about a letter written to US Secretary of State by more than 60 congressmen about human rights violation in Pakistan, she said: “We have seen the letter. We do not agree with the characterisation of events of May 9 and the situation in Pakistan, as reflected in that letter.”
She said the National Security Committee had spelt out the factual situation around the events of May 9. “Pakistan remains committed to its constitutional obligations to protect the rights and property of all its citizens. These constitutional guarantees and fundamental freedoms are being underwritten by our judiciary,” she remarked.
Criticising India’s move to host the meeting of the G-20 Tourism Working Group in Srinagar, she said Jammu and Kashmir was an internationally-recognised disputed territory.
She said the dispute had remained on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for over seven decades. In that backdrop, India hosted the meeting in Indian-held Kashmir in complete disregard of the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, principles of the UN Charter and international law.
“By holding the G20 meeting in Srinagar, India cannot hide the reality of its illegal occupation of IIOJK and oppression of the Kashmiri people. India’s facade of normalcy in Kashmir is met by the harsh reality that IIOJK remains one of the most militarised zones on the planet,” she remarked.She appreciated China, Saudi Arabia, Türkiye, Egypt and Oman for not attending the Srinagar meeting. These countries have stood for international law and for the UN Charter. She said India has politicised yet another international forum, and it was exploiting its position as the current Chair to advance its self-serving agenda.
“India should instead provide unhindered access to international media and independent human rights organisations to report on the situation in IIOJK. It must bring an end to the repression it has unleashed there, agree to the establishment of the UN Commission of Inquiry and hold a UN supervised plebiscite for the people of Kashmir to determine their own future,” she stressed.
Ms Baloch also announced that the government had appointed Ambassador Asif Ali Khan Durrani as Pakistan’s Special Representative on Afghanistan. A retired Foreign Service officer, Ambassador Durrani served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to Iran and the UAE. He also served in various capacities at Pakistan’s Missions in Kabul, Tehran, New Delhi, London and the Permanent Mission to the UN, New York.
As the Special Representative on Afghanistan, Ambassador Durrani will serve as a bridge between international partners and the Pakistani leadership. He will also represent Pakistan in major international mechanisms on Afghanistan held at the level of Special Representatives.
Answering a question, she rejected claims by some that President Dr Arif Alvi was holding secret meetings with ambassadors of various countries, without taking the Foreign Office on board.
Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2023