ISLAMABAD: Pakistan was yet to make a formal request to join the bloc of developing nations BRICS, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said on Friday.

Her statement came a day after the bloc — initially composed of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — added Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates to its ranks.

“We will examine the latest developments and make a determination about our future engagement with BRICS,” Ms Baloch said during the weekly press briefing at the FO.

When asked whether Pakistan was ignored during the bloc’s expansion, she said Pakistan followed BRICS’’ developments in Johannesburg and also noted its openness to inclusive multilateralism.

Spokesperson congratulates India on lunar mission’s success; calls envoys’ meeting with PTI leaders ‘normal practice’

“Pakistan is an ardent supporter of multilateralism and as a member of several multilateral organisations it has always played an important role for global peace and development,” she added.

Calling Pakistan “an important developing country,” the spokesperson said the country made “important contributions to promote peace, solidarity and cooperation among countries of the South”.

“We shall continue our efforts at the international fora for fostering the spirit of international cooperation and revitalisation of inclusive multilateralism.”

‘Normal practice’

The spokesperson was also asked about the meeting between the US ambassador and the chief election commissioner and a breakfast hosted by the Australian high commissioner which was attended by PTI leaders, including the former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

On the breakfast hosted by the Australian high commissioner, and attended by the US and western envoys, she said: “We have seen that there are a number of meetings that the foreign diplomats hold with Pakistani political figures. This is a normal diplomatic practice that diplomats in every country hold meetings with political leaders of the country where they are posted.”

About the meeting between the US ambassador and the CEC, Ms Baloch said she can only confirm that the meeting took place.

“I would advise you to contact the US embassy or the election commission to ascertain the details of the meeting and any contribution that meeting will make for the promotion of democracy and holding free and fair elections in Pakistan”.

Ms Baloch also appreciated scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation over the successful landing of Chandrayaan-3, which she said was “a great scientific achievement”.

When asked to comment on the UN and other global organisations’ statements following the attacks on the Christian community in Jaranwala, Ms Baloch said Pakistan has strongly condemned the incident.

“In Pakistan, when incidents of this nature happen, the state and media stand with the victims and immediate remedial actions are taken, including reconstruction of damaged properties and compensation to the victims.”

In a reference to India, she said Pakistan cannot draw equivalence to another country where “government functionaries at the highest levels are party to violence”.

“The law enforcement authorities are taking action. We are confident that justice will be done and culprits will be brought to justice.”

On the question of the arrest of six alleged Indian smugglers from near the border as claimed by Pakistan Rangers, she said the criminals “were trying to smuggle narcotics, weapons and ammunition to Pakistan”.

“The arrest of six Indian smugglers in a short span of time is a matter of serious concern for Pakistan,” she remarked.

“We urge the Indian authorities to prevent the recurrence of such incidents in future. Pakistan is in contact with Indian authorities with respect to our concerns”, she said.

To another question on the recent unprovoked firing by Indian forces in violation of the ceasefire line, she said the incident “was unacceptable”.

“We urge India to desist from such actions and ensure that the ceasefire agreement understanding continues to hold.” Pakistan’s concerns have been conveyed to the Indian authorities over the violation of ceasefire understanding and the unprovoked firing, according to Ms Baloch.

The spokesperson was also asked whether Pakistan has contacted India to grant visas to spectators who want to visit India for the ICC Cricket World Cup. She said the Pakistan Cricket Board was in contact with the International Cricket Council on this issue and “further details may be asked from them”.

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2023

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