ISLAMABAD - Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam Thursday rejected the notion that her office is a stumbling block to Pakistan’s grant of Non-Discriminatory Market Access (NDMA) to India.
“This is not correct that the Foreign Office is opposing it. This is a decision that the government of Pakistan will take after consultation with all the stakeholders,” she said at the weekly press briefing.
The spokesperson made it clear that once India completes certain timelines that have been agreed upon between the two countries on the sidelines of Saarc Business Conclave about the grant of Non-Discriminatory Market Access (NDMA) status, the two sides will exchange status. “This is only possible when the commitments are honoured,” Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said. “Once India completes those actions, the NDMA status would be given by both the countries to each other,” she added.
She said that after the GSP Plus status, there have been positive trends about the trade relations with European Union. Reacting to the EU ambassador’s comments, the spokesperson said Pakistan expects from diplomatic community, including him, to abide by the norms of internationally recognised diplomatic behavior and not to comment on internal matters of Pakistan. She added that Pakistan was implementing 27 international conventions to inculcate a culture of respect for human rights.
Answering a question about the administration of anti-polio vaccination to the children in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the tribal areas, Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said most of them have been given anti-polio vaccine, adding that the federal and provincial governments are determined to eradicate polio from the country. She said Pakistan was giving priority to immunise children against polio as it is linked to Pakistan’s future.
The spokesperson said that Pakistan is well aware of the World Health Organisation’s concerns. She cited the recent visit of the head of WHO to Pakistan and said she held very constructive meetings regarding the issue. Tasnim Aslam added that despite the security concerns, the WHO was keen to help Pakistan in overcoming the problem.
She said a decree, issued at a conference in Jeddah, attended by ulema from across the world, declared polio vaccine as Halal and legitimate. She said polio vaccine, being used in Pakistan, is procured from Indonesia, a Muslim country.
Answering another question about the International Atomic Energy Agency director general’s visit to Pakistan, the spokesperson said Yukiya Amano has expressed complete confidence in the safety and security of nuclear installations of Pakistan.
She said the IAEA director general visited Chashma nuclear Power Plant on Wednesday and was impressed by the in-place security measures. She said Pakistan has longstanding cooperation with the IAEA in the field of safety and its all nuclear facilities are under its safeguards.
Commenting on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, the spokesperson dispelled the impression that Pakistan is not serious about the project. She said Iran is well aware of Pakistan’s stance.
The spokesperson said Pakistan would endeavour to strengthen its ties with all the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in all the fields, particularly in trade and energy, and clarified that the issue that emerged between Saudi Arabia and Qatar at GCC is their internal matter.
On the question of deportation of some Pakistanis from the United Kingdom, she said Pakistan and European Union had signed the Readmission Agreement, under which Pakistan is ready to accept illegal Pakistanis residing in the EU and the UK.
Regarding the expected meeting of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the International Security Summit being held in The Hague this month, the spokesperson said no formal meetings have been scheduled bilaterally so far.
Replying to a question on the Afghan presidential elections, Tasnim Aslam said it is the Kabul government’s decision not to allow their refugees residing in Pakistan to participate in these elections.
She said had the Afghan government requested, the Pakistan would have extended all possible cooperation for polling in Pakistan. Earlier, in her opening remarks, the spokesperson said that Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz held a meeting with UK’s International Development Secretary Justine Greening, Home Secretary Theresa May and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond during his visit to London to review the Enhanced Strategic Dialogue.
She said Secretary Greening appreciated the concrete steps taken by the present Pakistan government in the areas of tax collection and economic reforms. The spokesperson said that the two sides expressed satisfaction over cooperation under the framework of the Enhanced Strategic Dialogue and hoped that the targets set under the framework would be achieved within the given time frame.