ISLAMABAD - Reacting to tapping of phone calls of Pakistani citizens by the United States, Pakistan said on Thursday any act that impinged on sovereignty of any country and privacy of its citizens was a matter of concern.
“The issue [of bugging of phone calls] was taken up with the US authorities in June this year. It is in the process of being taken care of as we are still in touch with them,” the Foreign Office spokesperson told the weekly press briefing here.
About talks with India, the Foreign Office said Islamabad hoped that New Delhi would engage in a meaningful dialogue to resolve the outstanding issues. "We expect that the Indian side will engage in a meaningful dialogue with us to resolve all the outstanding issues," it said. Pakistan had also always remained open to a third party mediation, especially on the Kashmir dispute, on which there had been outstanding resolutions of the UN Security Council, it added.
Commenting on the statement of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Foreign Office said the incumbent Pakistani leadership was keen to secure a peaceful neighborhood around the country and well-being of the people of the region that also included peaceful and better ties with India.
The Foreign Office further said Pakistan was fully committed to implementing the decision[s] of the two prime ministers that the DGMOs [military operations director generals] should meet to resolve the issue of ceasefire violations.
According to the FO spokesperson, the DGMOs were already in touch through the hotline. They discussed the matter on October 25 and 29, and concurred that the tension along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary should be normalised, he said. During the sectoral flag meeting of October 29 the Pakistan Rangers and India’s Border Security Force agreed to observe ceasefire and to resolve issues through flag meetings.
The FO spokesperson informed the newsmen that Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz would visit India to participate in the Asia-Europe meeting scheduled for November 10-11.
To a question about the fate of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, the spokesperson said that given the acute energy needs the government was committed to all such options to address the growing energy needs.
Also, Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that Iran had not officially conveyed to Pakistan about its decision of dropping the gas pipeline project.
The minister noted that the gasline project was beneficial for the country’s growing energy needs, saying, "Pakistan has its own interest as it requires gas. We cannot consider dropping this project because it is in our benefit."
Nevertheless, strongly condemning Thursday morning’s drone attacks in Miranshah, North Waziristan, the Foreign Office spokesperson said these strikes were a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity. “There is an across-the-board consensus in Pakistan that these strikes must end.”
Pakistan has consistently maintained that drone strikes are counter-productive, entail loss of innocent civilian lives and have human rights and humanitarian implications. "Such strikes also set dangerous precedents in the inter-state relations", he said, adding that the drone strikes had a negative impact on the mutual desire of Pakistan and the US to forge a cordial and cooperative relationship as well as to ensure peace and stability in the region.
The government, the spokesperson said, had already evolved a national consensus on the matter, and was perusing a strategy whereby the very issue was being taken up with the US bilaterally as well as being raised at the international fora.
The FO spokesperson, to a question regarding the whereabouts of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Baradar, said he was in Pakistan and was free to make a contact or meet with anyone to advance the peace process. “Pakistan has released Mullah Baradar to facilitate the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan,” he said, adding that Islamabad had not received any confirmation about the visit of the Afghan High Peace Council delegation yet.
On the release of Dr Shakeel Afridi, the FO spokesperson said Afridi was going through a legal process in the FATA Tribunal and that only the legal process would determine his fate.
About Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the spokesperson said Pakistan had extended all possible facilitation during the trial process, adding that now the focus was on finding an arrangement for her repatriation, for which the option of Council of Europe Convention was being explored. “We are working on this option.”
To another query regarding regularisation of stay of Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia, the spokesperson said the Pakistani embassy was working hard to have regularise the stay of as many Pakistanis as possible, so that the impact was minimum.