ISLAMABAD - Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam Thursday dispelled the impression that there was any pressure from abroad to send former President Pervez Musharraf out of the country for treatment.
“I do not know of any such pressure,” the spokesperson told a questioner during the weekly press briefing. To another question, she said the US Secretary of State John Kerry and Adviser to Prime Minister Sartaj Aziz would soon meet in Washington to review progress of the strategic dialogue process between the two countries. “The dates are still being negotiated,” she added.
The spokesperson went on to say that there were five working groups between Pakistan and the US. “Three of them have already met while the other two on counterterrorism and finance are expected to meet,” she added. “We don’t have any exact date for them. If these working groups meet before the review, then the review session at the foreign ministers level will sort out their outcome as well, otherwise they can take place afterwards at a date convenient to both the sides,” she further said.
When her attention was drawn towards the statement of the Indian foreign minister that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would visit Pakistan in April this year, the spokesperson replied in negative. “We don’t have any confirmed dates. There was an outstanding invitation which was accepted. We would welcome the visit if it takes place,” she added.
About the composite dialogue process between Pakistan and India, Tasnim Aslam said Pakistan has stressed its early resumption. She said India was heading towards elections and it was not known if the process could resume before the polls.
The spokesperson confirmed that the Saudi interior minister would visit Pakistan this month, adding dates were being worked through diplomatic channels. She revealed the interior ministries of the two countries were also working on an agreement to be signed on that occasion. She pointed out the two countries had already agreed to re-energise their business council and cooperate in a number of other areas, including energy, infrastructure and investment.
“A number of other projects, especially, in the energy sector, infrastructure and investment are also being discussed. We are upbeat about some concrete achievements as a result of this visit. And we also hope that some high-level visits will also take place. We understand that some agreement is under negotiations between the Saudi and our interior ministries,” the spokesperson added.
Answering another question, the spokesperson clarified that Saudi Arabia was not playing any role in the proposed dialogue between Pakistan and TTP. She said Saudi Arabia, as an important member of the Muslim Ummah and as the custodian of the holiest places of Islam, had a role in the Islamic world. “People generally look to Saudi Arabia for contributing to stability and peace in the Muslim world,” she stated.
“Exactly, what role Saudi Arabia plays is up to them. But obviously, when the Saudi foreign minister came here, there were discussions on the regional situation, Afghanistan and other hot spots in the Muslim world,” she pointed out.
When asked if Pakistan could play a role in improving relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the spokesperson said a new government had come in Iran as result of elections there. “We understand that there are contacts between the two countries and they have denied reports of any rift. Obviously, we would like to see cohesion and greater harmony in the Muslim world,” she asserted.
About political situation in Bangladesh and violence during the recent elections there, the spokesperson said Pakistan was monitoring the developments. She revealed Pakistan Cricket Board was sending a security team to review the situation in BD before sending its team for T-20 tournament.