ISLAMABAD - Tension with India has increased after violations along the Line of Control (LoC) and it has hampered the efforts to resume the dialogue process, the government informed the national assembly on Friday.
On the persistent demand of the opposition to take the parliament into confidence over vital foreign policy issues, Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz made a policy statement on the state of ties with India, Afghanistan and the US as well as the government stance on Syria crisis.
He said Pakistan decries use of chemical weapons but it respects territorial integrity of Syria and supports peaceful resolution to the issue as per the principles of international law and UN Charter. He said Afghanistan is important for Pakistan and Islamabad has always desired peace there and now they are hoping for a smooth transition in the neighbouring country.
Aziz said the US has been an unreliable partner because it warms up to Pakistan when it “needs us but when their purpose is served, they start giving cold response”. On drone attacks, he said, PM Nawaz during his US visit next month will ask Obama Administration to stop these strikes.
About ties with India, he said Pakistan undertook several steps to defuse the tension. However‚ India has not reciprocated to Pakistan's peaceful overtures. Sharing the figure, he said that in recent LoC violations as many as 11 people including eight army personnel have been martyred and 31 injured.
Aziz mentioned details of dialogue process of 1999 and 2004, saying that it was hampered due to military takeover of 1999 in Pakistan and Mumbai incident of 2008. "Pakistan has started back channel diplomacy for composite dialogue. Both the premiers also contacted twice on phone," he added.
“(But) escalation at Line of Control (LoC) has affected this (dialogue) process as India had been changing stance on the incident on LoC (wherein five Indian soldiers were killed in an ambush) and did not accept Pakistan offers for joint investigation as well as through UNMOGIP," Aziz said. Pakistan had also offered to strengthen the DGMOs contact and abide by the ceasefire accord of 2003.
He regretted the contradictions in India's viewpoint and said India repeatedly claimed that Kashmir is a bilateral issue despite the numerous UN resolutions to settle the issue according to aspirations of Kashmiri people. "Even if Pakistan tried to resolve the issue bilaterally, what was the progress? Is it not responsibility of international community to pay heed to these problems? They need to understand ground realities between the two nuclear powers of the region," he said.
Speaking on Pak-US relations Aziz said, "Our government successfully made US Secretary of State John Kerry to believe that Pak-US relations could not be seen through the Afghan lens." He said the two countries have formed six working groups for better relations and “we expect strategic dialogue next year”. “Our priority of relations with US is trade, not aid."
On drone strikes‚ he said these have resulted in loss of innocent lives and are also against the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan. He said UN Secretary General has also supported our stance. He said PM Nawaz during his US visit will raise this issue and also seek support of other countries. About news of declaration of all mosques as terrorist organisations by New York, Aziz hoped it would be just a rumour. "(But) if it is so, we will definitely protest on it."
He reiterated Pakistan's stance of non-interference and having cordial relations with neighbouring countries. "Afghanistan is important for Pakistan and we always desired peace and smooth transition over there," Aziz remarked. He said Afghanistan is passing through two pronged transition, as he mentioned withdrawal foreign troops and presidential election next year. "These changes will be challenging. If smooth transition is not reached, it will result in civil war which is also not in our benefit."
About Afghan president's visit to Pakistan, he said it has taken bilateral relations to warmth and he mentioned that Pakistan will have role in development projects like Torkham-Jalalabad road, railway track and power project on river Kunar. Pakistan will continue observing the regional situation and playing its role for peace, but regional countries will have to desist from interference in Afghanistan, he added.
About Syria, he said Pakistan believes that US aerial strikes will worsen the situation. "Pakistan stance on Syria is based on principles of international law and UN Charter to respect territorial integrity of Syria.” Any settlement of dispute must be through legal and peaceful means, he added. About reported Russian threat to invade Saudi Arabia if US attacked Syria, the adviser hoped that no such thing would happen.