ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif will meet his Chinese counterpart in Beijing on Friday (tomorrow) for talks on bilateral relations and regional developments, which will come against the backdrop of the new US policy for Afghanistan.
According to a statement issued by the Foreign Office on Wednesday, the minister will leave for Beijing on the first leg of his tour to the regional countries to garner support for Pakistan in the wake of the US strategy announced by President Donald Trump last month.
According to the statement, Asif will hold talks with State Councillor for Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The two sides, the statement added, would review bilateral relations and regional developments, including the situation in Afghanistan.
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Earlier, the foreign minister spoke with his Afghan counterpart, Salahuddin Rabbani, by the telephone and expressed Pakistan’s readiness to work with Afghanistan in all fields, including political, economic, trade and transit and security, for progress and prosperity of both the countries.
Asif reiterated Islamabad’s support for the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process to bring about lasting peace in the war-torn country, the Foreign Office said in another statement. Both sides agreed to remain engaged for building closer cooperation between the two countries. They also agreed to meet in New York later this month on the sidelines of United Nations General Assembly.
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President Donald Trump unveiled the US strategy on August 21 that focuses on winning the Afghan war through troops surge. Another key aspect of the strategy is to put pressure on Pakistan to break its alleged nexus with the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network.
Pakistan strongly rejected the allegations of harboring any terrorists. The government also decided to prepare a comprehensive response to the Trump’s strategy, including the foreign minister’s visit to friendly countries to seek their support.
The government has also summoned envoys posted in key world capitals to Islamabad for consultations. The three-day envoys meeting will conclude on Thursday (today). Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will address the final session.
Meanwhile, Asif, in an interview with a private TV channel, acknowledged the existence of some internationally banned organistations operating from within Pakistan and called for imposing restrictions on the activities of those outfits.
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The minister mentioned the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) among those banned outfits. “We should impose some restrictions on the activities of elements like LeT and JeM, so that we can show the global community that we have put our house in order,” he told the channel.
Commenting on the concerns expressed by BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] summit about the militant groups, he said it should not be considered as China’s official stance on that matter. He hailed Beijing’s role in ensuring that the BRICS declaration highlighted the name of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, which, he said, was based in Afghanistan and carried out terrorist attacks in Pakistan.
Responding to a question about collection of hides of sacrificial animals, the minister said the Foreign Ministry had requested the people to avoid donating hides to the proscribed organisations yet those organisations were able to collect hides at some isolated places.
He rejected the narrative that the Pakistani soil was being used for terrorism but stressed: “We will have to convince the world that Pakistan has nothing to do with terrorism.” He reiterated that Pakistan must put its affairs in order, given that the “entire world is pointing fingers at us”. The minister added that Pakistan would face such embarrassment until the country got rid of the militant outfits.
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