ISLAMABAD - Pakistan on Thursday rejected reports that India wants Pakistan to seek NOC for construction of water reservoirs in AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan including Diamer-Basha Dam.
“Pakistan doesn’t need any NOC from India regarding construction of dams,” Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Ahmed Khan told the weekly press briefing.
Under the Indus Water Treaty, India was however under an obligation to inform Pakistan if it wanted to carry out any water-related project on rivers allocated for Pakistan, he said.
The spokesman said Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf would visit India on Saturday on a private trip to the shrine of saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti in Ajmer Sharif, but said he was unaware about his official engagement, if any.
When his attention was drawn to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s allegations that Pakistan was not doing enough against terrorism, he said Pakistan condemns terrorism and extremism in all its forms and manifestations. It is a common threat and requires a common strategy and cooperation among all countries of the region, he added.
About Mumbai attacks, Moazzam said Pakistan has repeatedly told India to provide evidence that could stand scrutiny in the court of law, as mere statements are not enough. The spokesman said Pakistan wants resolution of all issues with India through dialogue including the recent incident on the Line of Control. He said Pakistan has even gone to the extent of offering investigations under the mechanism of UN.
Answering a question about granting (most favoured nation) MFN status to India, the spokesman said that both the countries have to complete the process at the earliest. He added that the cabinet has approved granting MFN to India and the government was resolute in fulfilling its commitment.
To a question about the groundbreaking ceremony of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, Moazzam said that President Zardari would be visiting Iran on Monday for the groundbreaking of the $7.5 project. It will be Zardari’s second visit to Iran within weeks and officials said a consortium would start work on the pipeline on Pakistani territory on March 11 despite American warnings of possible sanctions. They said Monday’s ceremony will mark the start of work on the 780-kilometre pipeline earmarked for the Pakistani side of the border, which is said to cost some $1.5 billion.
He said Pakistan would go ahead with this project despite opposition from any quarter. “I have seen some media reports (suggesting the US is pressing Pakistan to abandon the project) but I have not seen a demarche from the United States about its concerns related to IP gas pipeline project. We are not in a fix. We are very clear about it that the pipeline is in our national interest. Yes we know about their concerns but hope our friends, including the US, will understand our economic compulsions.” To a question, he said discussions are also going on with Iran about setting up of an oil refinery at Gwadar.
Asked to sum up five-year foreign policy of the present government, the spokesman said the focus has been on improving relations with regional countries including India and Afghanistan. He said it is also pertinent that the government involved the parliament in the formulation of the country’s foreign policy. To another question, he said there was an understanding with the United States for initiation of a case against Raymond Davis for killing two Pakistanis in Lahore but so far no such development was in his knowledge.
Agencies add: Pakistan suffers from a crushing energy crisis, but the United States says it has offered Islamabad alternative solutions to help avoid sanctions.
The spokesman said several heads of state have also been invited to attend the pipeline groundbreaking ceremony. He said Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources is working out details.