Amid U.S. concerns, Pakistan declared that it was pursuing the multi-billion dollar Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project due to acute energy crisis in the country and it was also conveyed to the U.S. side by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his recent meetings in Washington. Foreign Office spokesperson Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry responding to queries during a weekly press briefing said the issue of IP gas pipeline project also came under discussion during the recent meeting between Prime Minister Sharif and President Barack Obama in Washington.
"Yes, the matter of [IP] was discussed. The position of the government of Pakistan was made clear. It should be seen in the context of acute energy crisis that we have in our country," he said, adding that all options are on the table and the government is pursuing the project. He described the Prime Minister''s visit to the U.S. as successful and result-oriented, and expressed the hope that it will help strengthen bilateral relations based on mutual respect.
He said the Prime Minister focused on all issues of interest and concern to Pakistan including economic growth, seeking U.S. co-operation to solve energy crisis, enhance trade co-operation, social sector development, counter-terrorism, regional stability and a balance in the bilateral relationship based on mutual respect and benefits.
"The visit was certainly successful from every angle as it would now enable the two countries to rebuild ties on the basis of mutual respect and interest, and bring things out of the mistrust witnessed in the recent past," he remarked. He said the primary achievement of the visit was that "a new beginning has been made by the elected leadership of Pakistan to build relationship with the U.S. based on mutuality of interest."
Referring to the U.S. co-operation in addressing the energy crisis, he said that Pakistan and the U.S. energy group constituted under the strategic dialogue will be meeting in November 2013 followed by a U.S.-organized Pakistani trade mission to meet U.S. energy companies in Houston, Texas.
To a question about the U.S. President bringing up the issue of prosecuting those involved in the Mumbai attacks in his meeting with Prime Minister Sharif, the spokesperson said Pakistan needed more evidences from the Indian side to move ahead in the Mumbai attacks case.
He did not specify the nature of evidences, saying that terrorism is of great concern to Pakistan since it was also a victim and the answer lay not in blaming each other but working jointly. He said the Prime Minister briefed President Obama on the progress in the improvement of Pakistan-India ties and stressed the need that Pakistan and India should join hands to fight against terrorism. The spokesman said that Pakistan strives for good relations with all its neighbors including Afghanistan and India to ensure peace and security in the region.
About the LoC violations, he said that Pakistan has already expressed serious concerns over recent violations of cease-fire by India, adding that the time was very unfortunate as Prime Minister Sharif was in Washington on official visit. He said the Indian troops in recent days have intensified unprovoked shelling on the working boundary and targeted 27 Pakistani posts that resulted in the death of two civilians and one security personnel.
Despite these violations, he said that Prime Minister Sharif has extended a hand of friendship to India and he has repeatedly expressed Pakistan''s desire to have good neighbourly relations with India. He said that India should respect the cease-fire and reciprocate to Pakistan''s sincere efforts for peace and stability in the region.
To a question, he said Pakistan has no intention to indulge in firing first and Pakistani troops only retaliate when fired upon. About the upcoming Pak-India DGMOs meeting, he said that Pakistan believes that the decision of the two Prime Ministers about the meeting of the DGMOs must be implemented immediately to resolve the matter. To a question about Dr Shakeel Afridi, he said that Afridi had violated laws of the country and Pakistani courts will decide about his fate and present democratic government does not interfere in the affairs of the country''s courts.
About the drone strikes, he said that the Prime Minister voiced Pakistan''s position on drone strikes in clear manner "we do hope that the drone strikes will end". He said that pressure was being built at international level as well within the U.S. regarding drone attacks, adding that "the strategy is working and we should give some time...hopefully, we will have a good solution to it".
Replying to another question, the spokesperson declined to go in ''further details'' whether or not there was an understanding between the government of Pakistan and the U.S. in the past. Asked whether Pakistan intends to initiate a war crime case against President Obama for killing Pakistani citizens through drone strikes as referred in the Amnesty International''s recent report, he said that Pakistan and the U.S. are not members of the International Criminal Court, adding that we believe that the strategy that the leadership of Pakistan is pursuing is effective.
It is two-pronged, he said, adding we are raising the drone attacks'' issue with the U.S. bilaterally in clear terms and at every level and we have also raised this issue in the international fora. "The drone strikes have implications for inter-state relations and peace and security of the world. There are also serious human rights and humanitarian implications. We are convinced that Pakistan''s view point will prevail," he observed.
Responding to a question, he said that the government''s proposed talks with the Taliban is an internal matter of Pakistan and is part of the efforts to secure peace and the U.S. side should have no difficulty in the talks. To another query, he said that the issue of Dr Afia Siddiqui was also raised in one of the meetings during the PM''s visit. He said that the government of Pakistan had rendered considerable help during the trial phase and now the focus is on the transfer of offenders.
"Transfer of offenders, means that the offender can serve the remaining sentence in his/her own country...since there is no bilateral agreement between Pakistan and the U.S. on transfer of offenders, Pakistan has applied for acceding to the Council of Europe Convention. Once that process is over, it could provide a framework for further discussion on the matter", he said. However, he clarified that the arrangements will not mean to transfer Dr Shakeel Afridi to the U.S.
(Source: Business Recorder)
Subscribe to our RSS feed to stay in touch and receive all of TT updates right in your feed reader