Indian army chief, General Manoj Mukund. PHOTO: FILE

Pakistan rubbishes Indian army chief's ‘spurious allegation’

Foreign Office spokesperson says IAEA to help Pakistan fight coronavirus through use of a nuclear-derived technique

​ Our Correspondent April 17, 2020
ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Friday strongly dismissed the India army chief’s allegations that Pakistan was sending ‘terrorists’ across the Line of Control (LoC) at a time when the world was busy fighting the novel coronavirus

“We strongly reject the irresponsible, spurious and totally false allegations against Pakistan made by the Indian army chief this morning,” Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqi said at a weekly news briefing.

“These baseless Indian allegations are patently designed to divert global and domestic attention from India’s state-terrorism and egregious human rights violations and clamping of fundamental freedoms in IOJ&K, particularly post-August 5, 2019, she added.

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Her strong reaction came after the Indian army chief during his visit to occupied Kashmir remarked, “it is very unfortunate that at a time when the whole world and India is fighting the menace of this pandemic, our neighbour continues to foment trouble for us.”

The Foreign Office spokesperson, instead, blamed India for increased ceasefire violations along the LoC despite the Covid-19 threat. She said that Pakistan had no desire to escalate the situation and “we have reacted” with maximum restraint.

“We have continuously urged the international community to take notice of Indian provocations. However, our armed forces remain ready to defend the motherland against any threat,” Farooqi told the briefing.

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“This year alone, Indian occupation forces in IOJ&K have committed over 765 ceasefire violations resulting in shahadat of three civilians as well as serious injuries to 54 innocent civilians. In 2019, India violated the ceasefire agreement 3,351 times. Pakistan continues to respond to Indian belligerence in a firm and responsible manner,” she said.

When asked if there was any chance of restoration of diplomatic relationship between the two countries, the spokesperson made it clear that Pakistan always wanted “good relations” will all neighbouring countries.

“The illegal and unilateral Indian action of August 5, 2019 and the continuing restrictions and human rights violations in IOJ&K have further vitiated the environment,” she pointed out.

IAEA assistance

The spokesperson said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was providing Pakistan a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine, biohazard safety cabinets, test kits and related consumables to help fight the novel coronavirus through the use of a nuclear-derived technique.

“The provision of this equipment will augment Pakistan’s national capacity to conduct Covid-19 tests which are crucial to containing the spread of the disease,” Farooqi said. The embassy of Pakistan in Vienna is coordinating with the IAEA for the equipment’s early shipment to Pakistan, she added.

“Pakistan deeply values the contribution of the IAEA and its leadership to help member states in their efforts to fight the global Covid-19 pandemic. We also acknowledge the generous contributions of the IAEA member states which have enabled the agency to boost scientific and technical capacities of countries in combating this global crisis.”

Pakistan has a longstanding relationship with the IAEA. As a founding member of the agency, Pakistan has continued to benefit from its technical assistance in various fields, including health, agriculture and energy, while also contributing to the agency’s work to promote peaceful uses of nuclear technologies.

About the stranded Pakistanis, the spokesperson said that a comprehensive and phased repatriation plan for the Pakistani nationals from different countries was under way. “So far, 2,287 stranded Pakistanis have been repatriated through 12 PIA special flights from Doha, Dubai, Bangkok, Istanbul, London, Baku, Tashkent, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore,” she said.