• Top diplomats welcome Western scrutiny of Delhi’s ‘subversive activities’ on foreign soil
• Erdogan raises Kashmir issue during UNGA speech
• FM Jilani terms TTP, IS-K ‘global threats’
UNITED NATIONS / ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top diplomats on Wednesday welcomed Western scrutiny of India’s subversive activities on foreign soil, saying that the country was no stranger to its neighbour’s machinations.
“We are not surprised over Canada’s allegations,” Foreign Secretary Syrus Qazi told journalists at a Tuesday night briefing in New York. “We know the nature and the mode of behaviour of our eastern neighbour.”
Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani, in a separate talk at the Asia Society in New York, said that India’s “belligerence and anti-Pakistan rhetoric for [the] domestic electorate are taking us farther away from our objectives”, i.e. peace and security in South Asia.
Meanwhile, at the Foreign Office in Islamabad, Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch expressed alarm over India’s network of extra-territorial killings going global.
“It is also a reckless and irresponsible act that calls into question India’s reliability as a credible international partner and its claims for enhanced global responsibilities,” she told a weekly press briefing on Wednesday.
For decades, she said, Indian intelligence has been actively involved in abductions and assassinations in South Asia and that Pakistan has remained a target of a series of targeted killings and espionage by RAW.
When her attention was drawn towards the fact that there have also been such killings in Pakistan and the United Kingdom and that the lives of some senior Kashmiri leaders and activists in Brussels, London and New York were also under threat, she said: “Pakistan expects that Pakistani nationals or Kashmiris wherever they are, will be protected by the host governments. It is their responsibility to ensure safety and security”.
‘Experience with India’
Both Mr Jilani and Mr Qazi are accompanying Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar, who is in New York to attend the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, which began on Tuesday.
Responding to a question about the Canada-India dispute, Mr Qazi said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement that he had “credible evidence” linking the Indian state to Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s murder must be based on “some facts.”
Underlining India’s involvement in subversive activities in Pakistan, Mr Qazi said Pakistan holds Indian spy Kulbhushan Yadav, a serving naval officer who entered the country clandestinely to foment trouble, and that he had admitted to his crime.
“Based on our experience [with India], we are not surprised” by the allegations, the foreign secretary said. “If there’s any country that really understands India, it’s us … We have been dealing with them for over 70 years,” Qazi said.
Mr Jilani widened the discussion, recalling that Pakistan has always desired peaceful and cooperative ties with India, but those “positive outreach and peace overtures were met with negativity.”
“India’s illegal actions in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and abhorrent human rights violations of innocent Kashmiris at the hands of Indian security forces have further deteriorated relations,” he added.
Erdogan raises Kashmir
Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir was vindicated during the UNGA on Tuesday evening, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raised the issue, telling world leaders that there could be no stability in South Asia without peace in Kashmir.
“Another development that will pave the way for regional peace, stability and prosperity in South Asia will be the establishment of a just and lasting peace in Kashmir through dialogue and cooperation between India and Pakistan,” the Turkish president said in his address. “As Turkiye, we will continue to support the steps to be taken in this direction,” he said.
Prominent Kashmiri leaders immediately welcomed Mr Erdogan’s address, while Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Syrus Qazi said that caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar will also highlight Kashmir in his address to the General Assembly on Friday.
“Kashmir has been an integral part of all our activities, and it will be no different this year,” Mr Qazi said, while briefing the Pakistani media on the PM’s visit to the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Concern over Afghanistan
However, Islamabad’s chief concern was the enhanced threat from the terrorist organisations, including the Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP) and the so-called Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K), which are using Afghan soil to launch attacks on Pakistan.
In his speech, Mr Jilani said Pakistan remained closely engaged with the interim government of Afghanistan to defeat the terrorists who were a threat not only to the neighbourhood, but the entire international community.
After Kabul itself, Pakistan had the greatest stake in Afghanistan as events in the neighboring country directly impacted Pakistan, he added.
China ties not ‘zero sum’
The foreign minister said Pakistan’s relations with China were historical and anchored in strong trade and economic ties, adding that Beijing was Pakistan’s largest trading partner and a major investor, especially in infrastructure and energy sectors, and the flagship China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
However, he stressed that Pakistan’s relations with China were not a zero-sum game and not at the expense of its relations with any other country, least of all with the US, with which it had robust ties.
“We believe we can have close and cooperative relations with both the US and China,” he said. “Having acted as a bridge between the two countries in the past, we remain convinced that a stable and cooperative relationship between the US and China is instrumental for global growth, development, and security.”
Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2023