Pakistan on Thursday lodged a strong protest with the Afghan government over ‘the brutal murder’ of 23 Frontier Corps personnel inside Afghan territory, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz conveyed Pakistan’s ‘serious concern’ at the killings to Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Zarar Maqbool Osmani on the sidelines of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) ministerial meeting in the Maldives, the statement said.
“The adviser reminded his Afghan counterpart that at the trilateral summit held in Ankara recently, it was agreed that both sides would not only prevent the use of their territory against each other but also take action against militants engaged in hostile action,” it added.
According to the statement, Aziz urged the Afghan government to take prompt action to apprehend and punish the perpetrators of the heinous crime, and the Afghan foreign minister promised to convey this message of concern to relevant authorities in his country.
Sartaj Aziz also held talks with India’s External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid at the sidelines of the Saarc ministerial meeting.
Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said the meeting was held in a ‘cordial atmosphere’ and both ministers reviewed progress made towards normalising bilateral relations.
Aziz and Khurshid agreed to continue efforts to improve relations and address each other’s concerns in a constructive manner.
Meanwhile, at her weekly news briefing, Tasnim denied reports that Saudi Arabia had asked Pakistan to send thousands of its soldiers to the kingdom for security.
“There is a very outlandish suggestion that Pakistan is sending 100,000 troops to Saudi Arabia. This is not true,” she said in response to a question. “This issue was never discussed.”
She added that Pakistan could not spare such a large number of troops given its own security requirements.
The spokesperson also strongly denied the impression that Pakistan had changed its policy towards the crisis in Syria in the wake of the recent visit by Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2014.