ISLAMABAD, June 12: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday lodged a protest with the Nato secretary general on the ‘unprovoked and senseless’ attack on a Pakistani checkpoint two days ago.

However, he expressed the government’s commitment to continue working with US-led coalition troops in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan, on its part, will continue to have security cooperation with Afghanistan, under the mechanism of the Tripartite Military Commission,” Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told the international conference on Afghanistan in Paris.

The US-led air strike, which was the third in as many months after the formation of a new government in Islamabad, was denounced by Pakistan’s leadership as cowardly and unprovoked. “The attack struck at the very basis of cooperation in the war against terrorism,” a statement said.

Pakistan’s repeated protests with the tripartite commission have largely gone unheeded.

The tripartite commission comprises Nato’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Afghanistan and Pakistan, is meant to coordinate actions against militants, including stopping them from crossing the porous border and a mechanism for addressing border violations.

The commission has not been functioning properly and its meetings at higher level have not been held for quite some time.

Mr Qureshi used the forum to defend the new government’s efforts for reconciliation with militants.

“We believe that in the given situation, for building peace and stability, dialogue should have the primacy.”

He further said that Pakistan would only consider reverting to military option if talks failed.

Emphasising Pakistan’s commitment to close relations with Afghanistan, Mr Qureshi said that these had not only served the mutual interest of the two countries and its peoples, they could also become a powerful source of regional cooperation.

The foreign minister said that Pakistan would not only revive but also reinvigorate the process of ‘Joint Peace Jirgas’.

He said Pakistan would assist in the reconstruction process in Afghanistan and pledged $20 million for facilitating repatriation of Afghan refugees.

In Paris, the foreign minister met Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on the sidelines of the conference and protested against the Mohmand Agency attack, terming it senseless, blatant and willful negation of the sacrifices Pakistan had made in the war on terror.

BB INQUIRY: In a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Mr Qureshi discussed Pakistan’s request for an international probe into the assassination of PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto.

The secretary general informed him that the request was being studied by a legal wing of the UN.

The foreign minister also met Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki on the sidelines of the conference and reviewed progress on the gas pipeline project.

The Iranian foreign minister informed Mr Qureshi that Tehran had decided to withdraw import duty on Pakistani rice.

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