PM raised issue of Aafia Siddiqui during US visit, Qureshi tells NA

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OUR CORRESPONDENT

ISLAMABAD

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad called on Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi here on Thursday. They discussed progress thus far made on the Afghan peace process, regional security and matters of mutual interest.

The US envoy shared with the foreing minister the outcome of the 7th round of US-Taliban peace talks in Doha and his recent engagements in Kabul.

Qureshi welcomed the progress achieved in the talks and the Intra Afghan Peace Conference in Doha in which all participants agreed upon a basic road map. It was noted that ultimately the intra-Afghan dialogue would be vital to reach an agreement where Afghanistan becomes a stable, peaceful and prosperous country. They also stressed that taking the Afghan peace process forward remained a shared responsibility.

Pakistan will continue to play its supportive role for smooth progress and successful outcome of these peace efforts, the foreign minister said. The US envoy’s visit to Pakistan is being considered very important as he will later proceed to Qatar for the eighth round of talks with the Taliban and try to remove differences over certain complicated issues including differences over a timeframe for the withdrawal of foreign forces.

They had started negotiations in October last year to find out a political solution to the American longest war. Both sides had last briefly met on July 9 and later decided to take a break in the seventh round to consult leaders for a final decision.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi says Prime Minister Imran Khan raised the issue of the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui during his recent visit to the United States. The foreign minister’s written response on the matter was presented during a session of the National Assembly with its deputy speaker Qasim Suri in the chair Thursday. He stated in his reply that Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s sister had met him ahead of the prime minister’s US trip.

Qureshi said the prime minister raised the matter of Afia Siddiqui’s release during his visit to the US. He said the incumbent government is completely familiar with the matter and making efforts to bring her back home. Moreover, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr. Muhammad Faisal says Pakistan has been facilitating the peace process with the Taliban to bring peace, prosperity and stability in Afghanistan and the entire region. Addressing weekly briefing in Islamabad on Thursday, he said Prime Minister Imran Khan is committed with Afghan peace process.

The Spokesperson said matters related to the visit of Taliban as announced the Prime Minister are being finalized. He said Pakistan has played a pivotal role in taking forward the peace process and our role in this regard has been widely acknowledged. He said Pakistan will keep on supporting peaceful, stable, united, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan.

Responding to a question about any progress on US President Donald Trump’s offer of mediation on Kashmir issue, the Spokesperson said Pakistan looks forward to efforts of the international community for resolution of the Kashmir dispute. He said the US President’s offer of mediation on Kashmir dispute is a monumental success of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

He said Kashmir is the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy, and Pakistan will utilize all options under the UN resolutions if India proceeds to change status of occupied Kashmir in its constitution. Dr. Muhammad Faisal said India recently has been committing frequent ceasefire violations along Line of Control, targeting civilians.

The Director General South Asia and SAARC Dr. Mohammad Faisal summoned the Indian Deputy High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia again today and condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control on Tuesday.

 

Two innocent civilians were martyred and fifteen sustained serious injuries in the firing of Indian forces.

The Director General urged the Indian side to respect the 2003 Ceasefire arrangement, investigate these and other incidents of ceasefire violations, and maintain peace on the LoC and the Working Boundary.

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