Mumtaz Zahra Baloch.—APP
Mumtaz Zahra Baloch.—APP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has outrightly rejected talks with the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) a day after the Afghan Taliban offered to mediate the talks.

Speaking at the weekly press briefing on Thursday, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said Pakistan will not negotiate with those responsible for the killing of civilians and law enforcement officials.

“I would not go into specifics of our conversations with Afghanistan,” said Ms Baloch when asked if Pakistan engaged with Kabul over the matter.

She added Pakistan has clearly articulated its concerns over the terrorist threat. “This is an ongoing process and we hope that steps would be taken to mitigate the terrorist threat.”

“We hope and expect that the commitments made, including in the trilateral outcome declaration between Pakistan, Afghanistan and China, will be fulfilled so that Afghanistan is not a source of terrorism and instability faced by its neighbours including Pakistan,” she remarked.

About the Greece boat tragedy, the FO spokesperson said Pakistani nationals were among the 104 survivors, and they were in good physical condition.

“Unfortunately, we have been unable to verify the number and identity of Pakistani nationals among the deceased and missing. Greek authorities have recovered 82 bodies. Their identification will take place through DNA matching,” she said.

“The relevant authorities have started collecting DNA samples from the families of those suspected to be on board and will be sharing this with the Greek authorities.”

She added that the survivors were being investigated to ascertain the circumstances under which the boat was operating, the masterminds behind the operation and the situation on board.

“These investigations are ongoing, and it may take some time to complete for the Greek authorities to make a final determination about their [survivors’] future stay in Greece.”

Ms Baloch also condemned the raid by Israeli forces on the Jenin refugee camp, in which four Palestinians, including a 14-year-old, were killed and more than 40 civilians were injured.

“We pray for the speedy recovery of the injured and once again urge the international community to take prompt action to protect Palestinians.”

She added Pakistan believes that a peaceful resolution of the issue lies in the implementation of the two-state solution. “We call for the establishment of an independent state of Palestine, based on pre-1967 borders, with Al Quds Al Sharif as its capital.”

She also announced that Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will undertake an official visit to Japan from July 2 to 3 at the invitation of Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2023

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