No Lankan spying for Pakistan, FO rejects Indian claim

| Refutes presence of IS supporters in country

ISLAMABAD - The Foreign Office Thursday rejected the claim of India’s National Investigation Agency that it had arrested a Sri Lankan national allegedly spying for Pakistan.
“This may be the recycling of a month-old report, claiming that some Sri Lankans were being used by Pakistani agencies to spy and incite terrorism inside India,” Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said at a weekly press briefing.
She said, “You must have seen a statement that came from Sri Lanka that no such thing ever happened. I would put this report in the same category.”
When asked whether Islamabad had formally appealed to international community for foreign assistance to tackle the major challenge arising from the recent floods, the spokesperson said, “Not yet.”
However, she quickly added Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had directed Pakistani missions abroad to open accounts so that overseas Pakistanis could participate in flood-relief activities.
On the water dispute between Pakistan and India, the spokesperson said the issue was very important and needed to be resolved by the two countries. “We have the Indus Water Treaty according to which water is distributed between the two countries. As the lower riparian, Pakistan has certain rights,” she commented.  She revealed there were a number of studies that had pointed out the environmental degradation as a result of military activity in Siachen. She further said there had been a number of suggestions and some of them had been taken on board by Pakistan. “We know these issues need to be addressed by Pakistan and India.”
She recalled that Prime Minister Sharif, while responding to his Indian counterpart through a letter, had suggested that the two countries should increase cooperation on environment-related issues, including discussion to resolve the disputes affecting climate of the region.
Answering a question, the spokesperson said, “Pakistan is against terrorism in all its manifestations and our armed forces have been taking action against this menace without any discrimination.”
Commenting on the exchange of letters between PM Nawaz and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, Aslam said, “The PM, in his response to the Indian premier’s letter, underlined the need for cooperation in not only facing the natural calamities, but also the underlying issues that impact our climate and environment.”
The spokesperson strongly denied presence of supporters of the Islamic State (IS), saying no government institution had confirmed the presence of such an entity in Pakistan.
She was asked to comment on statements of some Pakistani clerics that the recent attacks in Karachi showed there were some footprints of IS in Pakistan and that they wanted to target the country after Syria and Iraq. “No government source has confirmed the presence of the Islamic State’s supporters,” Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said.
She reiterated Pakistan’s resolve to fight militants. “Pakistan is fighting terrorism in all its manifestations and our armed forces have been taking action against this menace without any discrimination,” she said. When asked about the reports that Iran had arrested one Pakistani and one Afghani who were travelling to work with IS in the ongoing fight in Syria, the spokesperson said Pakistani embassy in Tehran had contacted the Iranian Foreign Ministry to ascertain the veracity of these media reports and seek any further information they had.
When her attention was drawn towards a Pakistani golf team rescued by the Indian Army in Srinagar, Aslam said, “We first came to know about the golfers when they contacted the High Commission in New Delhi that they had been stranded.” “They are still there and are safe. They are in contact with our high commission and will be evacuated as soon as the means of transportation are available,” she added.
Monitoring Desk adds: Pakistan on Thursday said that it could not agree more with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's ‘no full stop’ in diplomacy remark and noted that the time had come for making a new beginning in bilateral ties, reported Indian media.
"I cannot agree more (with Swaraj) because in diplomacy, you need to keep the doors ajar," Pakistan High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit said. Stating that India is a very important neighbour for Pakistan, Basit said "Unfortunately, we have a chequered history of our relations with India; but the time has come that we walk past the narratives of the past and make a new beginning."
Inaugurating a lifestyle exhibition in New Delhi, 'Aalishan Pakistan', jointly organised by FICCI and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) at Pragati Maidan here, Basit said he often tells his Indian friends that when "our two countries come together, sky is the limit".
"We can benefit from each other and if we were to establish a relationship that is based on mutual respect and mutual benefits, there is no way we cannot really perform miracles," he said.
Swaraj recently indicated that there may be a window for resumption of talks with Pakistan when she said that "there is no full stop in diplomacy, it's always commas and semi-colons. And, after all this, people always move forward. There are no full stops in diplomatic journeys".
Meanwhile, talking about the Kashmir floods, which he described as a terrible disaster, Basit said authorities on both sides were working to overcome the challenge. "I think our two leaders (Pakistan and Indian PMs) have exchanged letters and let's hope that authorities on both sides are working to overcome the challenge," Basit said.
"We have already sent a reply to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Our Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has already sent a reply. That reply itself spoke volumes of Pakistan's interest in working together to overcome this environment of climate change challenges," he added.

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