The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday deplored India over “pervading extremism and anti-Pakistan prejudice” in its country as the Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association (IMPPA) upheld its ban on Pakistani performing artistes being cast in the Indian media.
“It is unfortunate that art and cinema, which bring people together by acting as cultural bridges, are being held hostage to hate and xenophobia,” the ministry said.
“Unfortunately this decision, following several others, including non-issuance of visas to Pakistani pilgrims, refusal to allow participation of Sikhs and Katas Raj pilgrims, and cancellation of sports matches, underscores the growing intolerance and bias prevalent in India,” the ministry deplored.
These decisions taken and/or upheld by the Indian government “expose it of [becoming] a sham-ocracy”, the MoFA statenment said.
“Politicising religious and cultural activities is detrimental, most of all, to India itself,” the statement read.
In his weekly press briefing, the FO spokesperson confirmed the visit of Lisa Curtis, senior director for South and Central Asia at the National Security Council (NSC) of US.
As per the foreign office, the meeting took place in the context of Pakistan’s “regular and continuous engagement with the US”.
Curtis was in Islamabad this week and held meetings with Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, Interior Minister
About the tensions on the border with India, MoFA in its press statement said it had summoned the Indian Deputy High Commissioner J P Singh to discuss “the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control (LoC)” on February 23 and February 27.
As per the statement, the reported firing on the LoC resulted in the death of two civilians, including a 13-year-old boy, while three others were injured.
“Despite calls for restraint, India continues to indulge in ceasefire violations,” the FO in its press statement said.
According to the foreign ministry, Indian forces have carried out more than 400 ceasefire violations along the LoC and the Working Boundary in 2018 alone. The firing resulted in the 86 civilian casualties, including 18 fatalities.
The FO further accused of India of continuing brutalities in the India-held Kashmir.
“The Indian occupation forces killed two Kashmiri youth, including a 26-year-old man who was detained in Tral and Hajin areas,” the statement said.
Th FO presser further quoted Amnesty International’s annual report of 2017-18, in which the global human rights watchdog “highlighted the impunity enjoyed by the Indian forces for human rights abuses in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir”.
“The report states that in April 2017, eight people were killed by the Indian forces following the protests during a by-election for an Indian Parliamentary seat,” it said.
The annual reports also mentions the arrest of Kashmiri photojournalist, Kamran Yousuf and a French filmmaker who was conducting a research for a documentary on the Kashmir conflict in the Indian occupied territory.
The miseries of the people in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir have increased every passing day,” MoFA said in the statement.
“We strongly condemn the inhumane and brutal treatment meted out to innocent and defenseless Kashmiris, both within the occupied land or [those] in detention,” the ministry stated, urging the international community to play its role in calling upon India and account the state “for its crimes against humanity” in the occupied territory.
On the other hand, ties between Pakistan and China continue to get stronger as MoFA held a photo exhibition on February 26 to commemorate the Chinese New Year, inaugurated by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif and the Ambassador of People’s Republic of China H.E Yao Jing.
“The photo exhibition is a glimpse of the strong Pakistan-China partnership, which celebrates the rich cultural linkages and bonds between Pakistan and China,” the FO statement read.
Additionally on the diplomatic front, the MoFA statement mentioned Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s two-day visit to Turkmenistan and Afghanistan “to participate in the link-up ceremonies of the Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI) project and other related events.
The ceremonies were also attended by the President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani.
In his statement at the inaugural ceremony in Turkmenistan, the Prime Minister reaffirmed TAPI’s significance as “not just a gas transit initiative connecting Central Asia with South Asia, but a multimodal project that would lead to greater regional and economic collaboration”. An Inter-Governmental Agreement on Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan electricity transmission line was also signed.
The PM also visited Herat, Afghanistan where he met President Ashraf Ghani and reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to working for lasting peace and security in Afghanistan.
PM Abbasi also “stressed on the potential of Afghanistan in becoming a regional hub of energy connectivity”, MoFA stated.
More on developments in the energy sector, the Pakistani foreign minister visited Russia last week and held discussions with the top officials regarding the implementation of Inter-Governmental Agreements signed between Pakistan and Russia over the import of liquid natural gas (LNG) in October 2017 and North-South Gas Pipeline project in October 2015.
Both sides agreed on enhancing trade and economic cooperation as well as further strengthening cooperation with Pakistan in the field of energy, the FO statement added.