ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday strongly condemned the burning of the Holy Quran at a US airbase in Afghanistan, saying it was important that “utterly irresponsible and reprehensible things do not recur”.
“On behalf of the government and the people of Pakistan, we condemn in strongest possible terms the desecration of the Holy Quran” in Afghanistan,” foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit told a press briefing in Islamabad.
“It is absolutely important that such utterly irresponsible and reprehensible things do not recur,” he added.
US President Barack Obama was Thursday forced to apologise for the incident, which the Afghan presidency blamed on a US officer at the main US-run airbase of Bagram in Afghanistan.
At least 14 people, including two American soldiers, have been killed in three days of furious anti-US protests in Afghanistan over the burning.
Foreign interference to destabilise Balochistan
Basit said that there was evidence of foreign interference to destabilize Balochistan and said that Pakistan will not allow foreign interference in its internal affairs.
He said Pakistan does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries and that it expects the same from them.
He said that Pakistan is fully aware of the problems in Balochistan and is trying to resolve them politically.
The spokesman said, “Pakistan considers the US resolution on Balochistan as an arrogant step and ignorance on the part of a few US legislators.”
He said that the US delegation, during its meeting with Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani yesterday, had also declared that acts of a few individuals do not represent the policy of the US and its Congress.
The spokesman expressed confidence that this ill-conceived move will get no attention and will be rejected by the US house.
Khar-Clinton meeting ‘positive and constructive’
Responding to a question about the meeting between Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in London, Basit said the two sides discussed a range of issues.
Describing the meeting “positive and constructive” he said, Pakistan-US relations are important and efforts are being made to make them more transparent.
He said that at present, the parliamentary process is underway to determine new terms of engagements with the US which he hoped will be completed by the mid of March and then the country will move forward in the light of those guidelines.
The spokesman said that any visit from US Special Representative on Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc Grossman will be made after the completion of the parliamentary process.
Answering a question, the spokesman said that Khar had raised the issue of Balochistan during her meeting with her British counterpart.
‘Drone attacks unlawful, unacceptable’
Answering a question about drone attacks, the spokesman while terming them “unlawful and unacceptable”, said that Islamabad has been raising this issue with Washington bilaterally.
He said the drone strikes are counterproductive in the war against terrorism.
Answering a question about the US pressure on Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project, the spokesman said Washington has its concerns on the project but Pakistan will pursue it in its national interest.
He said, “We are continuing with this project which is expected to be completed by 2014.”