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Today's Paper | April 16, 2024

Updated 29 Dec, 2023 09:25am

Pakistan committed to peaceful ties with all, even India: FO

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is committed to a peaceful neighbourhood and would like to have peaceful relations with all countries in the region, including India, the Foreign Office said on Thursday.

When asked if the coming year held any prospects of resumption of ties with the eastern neighbour, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch told a weekly press briefing that India needed to take steps to create an environment for dialogue.

She, however, categorically pointed out that a dialogue with India could only take place based on equality, respect and with discussion on Jammu and Kashmir as the priority issue.

Referring to Islamabad’s request for membership of the BRICS forum, she expressed the hope that BRICS would move forward on Pakistan’s request in line with its commitment to inclusive multilateralism.

Mumtaz Zahra Baloch slams Delhi’s curbs on Muslim League faction in held Kashmir; regrets comments by foreign envoys over Baloch protests

She condemned the decision of the Indian government to declare the Masarrat Alam faction of the Muslim League Jammu Kashmir, or MLJK-MA, an unlawful association.

Mumtaz Baloch said that the party’s leadership was being relentlessly persecuted through prolonged detention and confiscation of properties.

Led by a prominent Kashmiri leader Masarrat Alam Bhatt, who has been imprisoned by India for over 20 years, the MLJK-MA is the fifth Kashmiri party banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), she said.

The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, Jamaat-i-Islami Jammu and Kashmir, Dukhtaraan-e-Millat, and Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party have already been outlawed, while the office of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference in Srinagar was also sealed earlier this year, she added.

“Banning of political parties and persecution of their leadership manifests a desire to stifle dissent in sheer disregard of democratic norms and international human rights and humanitarian law,” the spokesperson remarked.

She said that the people of Jammu and Kashmir had consistently rejected India’s harsh tactics aimed at consolidating its occupation. These actions blatantly violate foundational principles of the United Nations Charter, which affirm fundamental rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir including the right to self-determination, she added.

“India should immediately lift the curbs on the banned political parties in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir; release all the political prisoners and dissenters; and implement the UN Security Council’s resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir,” the spokesperson said.

‘Interference’

During Thursday’s briefing, Ms Baloch regretted “interference” by some foreign missions in Pakistan, who had commented on the ongoing protests by Baloch activists in the capital, saying the country was fully capable of handling its internal matters.

When asked about recent tweets by Norway’s embassy and the European Union ambassador in Pakistan, who expressed concern over the alleged mistreatment of Baloch protesters in Islamabad, she said the Constitution guaranteed freedom of expression to its citizens and the laws were in place to deal with such cases internally.

The interference of foreign embassies in Pakistan is regrettable, she said, adding the country was committed to protecting the rights of its people.

She said the country’s courts were independent and had taken decisions in this regard on several occasions.

Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2023

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