ISLAMABAD: Pakistan appreciated Turkey’s role in finding a viable solution to the conflict in Syria and acknowledged its humanitarian efforts of hosting millions of Syrian refugees on its soil, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal said on Thursday.
At a weekly press briefing, Faisal said that Pakistan recognised Turkey’s legitimate security concerns in the region and stressed that a political solution to the Syrian conflict is reached at the earliest by taking into account concerns of all regional stakeholders.
“We recognise Turkey’s legitimate security concerns in the region. Like Pakistan, Turkey has also been a victim of terrorism,” Faisal said. “Pakistan also acknowledges Turkey’s humanitarian efforts by graciously hosting over 3.5 million Syrian refugees,” he added.
The spokesperson said that Pakistan had no intention to join arms race in the region but it would respond with full force in case of an external threat against its sovereignty. “Pakistan is not willing to be part of the arms race unless it is compelled to take steps for its defence,” he said.
Responding to a query about handing over of recent batch of Rafale fighter jets by France to India, Dr Faisal referred to downing of two Indian fighter aircraft in February by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). “We know how to defend ourselves. May it be Rafale on the other end or whatsoever,” he said.
Faisal called upon the world not to push the region towards a competition of buying arms, adding that the main focus of the Pakistan government was the development of the country’s education and health sectors.
On the Kartarpur Corridor, the spokesperson said that the project was expected to be completed as per schedule, as the work was underway at a fast pace. He added that the date of the opening of the corridor was yet to be finalised.
“The opening [of Kartarpur Corridor] will be on time as committed by Prime Minister Imran Khan,” he said, adding that formal invitation had been sent to former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh to attend the birth anniversary celebrations of founder of Sikhism Baba Guru Nanak.
Responding to another question if Prime Minister Imran was going to visit Saudi Arabia and Iran, he said: “The possibility of the visit to both countries was on the cards.” About Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India, he declined to comment since it was a matter between two countries.
When asked about the significance of the prime minister’s visit to China for the Kashmir cause, Faisal replied that China had already stated its clear position through a joint communique, issued at the end of the visit.
The spokesman said that Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts had cornered India which had no way left to justify its wrongs in the occupied valley. “Pakistan is making efforts to highlight the [Kashmir] issue on every international avenue and forum;” he said.
“This is a persistent and consistent pattern of efforts, and Pakistan will never inch back from raising voice for the eight million Kashmiris, who have been confined under continuous communication lockdown and curfew,” he added.
About the prospects of resumption of the stalled South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (Saarc) process, he said dates were being worked out after the Indian objection, raised during a Saarc foreign ministers’ consultative meeting at the UN, was vacated.
On reports of blocking the nomination of Saad Khattak as the high commissioner to Sri Lanka, he declined to comment on the discussion held in the Cabinet meeting. “As far as the ambassadorial postings are concerned, these are made by following a well-established set of procedures,” he stressed.