An upcoming meeting between the foreign secretaries of Pakistan and India will determine the fate of the composite dialogue between the two nuclear armed South Asian rivals.
This was the crux of Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam’s weekly briefing to the press on Thursday.
Recalling a recent meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in New Delhi, she pointed out that the two had directed their foreign secretaries to meet and discuss how to carry forward the process of dialogue between the two neighbours.
The FO spokesperson was responding to a question about the progress made towards finding a solution to the outstanding disputes between the two countries, including Kashmir, Sir Creek and Siachin.
“That meeting would take place in the not-very-distant future, though I cannot give you the exact date. That meeting would (indicate) where this process is headed. So we would not like to pass a judgment right now,” she said.
Asked to comment on the Modi government’s decision to get the building which housed the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), she said asking them to move out of the building did not abolish the mandate given to them by the UN Security Council in 1951 under Resolution 91. “As long as the Kashmir dispute is not resolved, the UNSC mandate remains. These measures are inconsequential and they do not have any impact on the legal status of the dispute,” she noted.
The spokesperson made it clear that Pakistan would not accept Kashmir’s “so-called accession to India”.
Ms Aslam also rejected reports that Muslims in the Chinese province of Xinxiang had been stopped from fasting during Ramazan. “These are rumours. It is factually incorrect. The Chinese have clarified that there is no such ban on fasting and that they respect the freedom of religion. They have clarified that they have guidelines in their system under which religious activities should not interfere with state functions,” she said.
In response to another query, she said Pakistan not made any request for international assistance with regards to the upkeep of the internally displaced persons, uprooted by the military operation in North Waziristan. “It has been made very clear that all expenditure related to temporarily displaced Pakistanis will be met from our own resources,” Ms Aslam said.
Talking about the fallout from the military operation, she said: “These are essentially law-enforcement operations and as a nation we have to deal with the fall-out of these operations. People in Swat have been settled back. Hopefully, after the operation is over, the people who had to leave their homes in North Waziristan will also go back. Our own resources will be mobilised to settle them and to restore their normal life. We have very clear instructions from the prime minister that we will not seek outside assistance”, she concluded.