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Bajaur operation not under any pressure: FO

October 31, 2006

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ISLAMABAD, Oct 30: Pakistan on Monday emphatically dispelled the impression that the military operation in Bajaur agency was driven by any external pressure. “It has nothing to do with any influence or pressure. It is something that we have done and we have been doing for peace and security in our own region,” Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam stated at a weekly news briefing here.

She rejected the notion that the military action in Bajaur was a direct consequence of Pakistan’s policy being influenced by the Nato forces in Afghanistan. Asked if the action was prompted by some leads about ‘high-value targets’ in the area and if it would have a negative bearing on North Waziristan peace agreement, Ms Aslam said the DG ISPR had already given a statement and she did not want to add anything to that.

PAKISTAN-US: The spokesperson said that the second round of Pakistan-US Strategic Dialogue scheduled for Nov 6 in Islamabad had been postponed due to some ‘pressing engagement’ of US Under-Secretary of State Nicholas Burns. “This is not taking place next week. Nicholas Burns’ visit to the region has been postponed,” Ms Aslam announced. “He was visiting Pakistan, India and Afghanistan but due to his pressing engagement the visit is rescheduled,” she added.

She told a questioner “not to read too much into it” and added: “It was just a scheduling problem and the visit will take place at a later date.”

PRINCE CHARLES: According to the spokesperson the visiting Prince Charles did not raise the issue of British national Mirza Tahir Hussain’s death sentence during his meeting with President Gen Pervez Musharraf earlier in the day. She said: “The main objective of the visit is to support Pakistan-UK partnership and to highlight the shared heritage and community links between the two countries.” She declined to respond to a query regarding Pakistan’s position in case a clemency appeal were to be made at the state level, saying that it was in realm of speculation. “It is up to the President of Pakistan to decide on clemency appeal,” she said.

She confirmed that British Prime Minister Tony Blair would also be visiting Pakistan next month, details of which would be announced shortly. A number of visits from European countries were expected in the month including that of foreign ministers of Belgium and Netherlands, she stated.

NATO: Ms Aslam expressed her surprise at a reported statement by Nato commanders about the negative fallout of the North Waziristan peace agreement on the situation in Afghanistan. “I find it surprising since Nato itself has been trying to conclude similar agreements (inside Afghanistan) and I think one or two agreements of this nature have already been concluded,” she said.