Pakistan summons envoys’ moot amid tension with US

| Deng Xijun, Tehmina Janjua discuss Afghanistan peace

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has summoned an envoys’ conference immediately after Eid to discuss regional and global issues amid tension with the United States, officials said Monday.

A senior official at the foreign ministry told The Nation that the conference was tentatively scheduled for September 5-7.

“There could be a slight change due to Eid but for the time being we are looking at September 5-7. The (Pakistani) ambassadors from important cities in the world would attend the conference to discuss the national and international issues,” he added.

The official said the envoys’ conference was a regular feature but US President Donald Trump’s anti-Pakistan speech had increased its importance.

“Of course Trump’s speech and the US ties will be discussed. Other regional and global issues would also be on the agenda,” he said.

Trump, in his first formal address to nation as commander-in-chief last week had warned Pakistan: “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations. Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbour criminals and terrorists.”

Trump said military and other aid to Washington’s nuclear-armed ally was at stake, if Pakistan did not clamp down on extremists.

“We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting,” he added.

Pakistan reacted sharply to Trump’s scathing criticism and rejected his claims that Islamabad was sheltering terrorists.

Pakistan’s civil and military leadership reminded Trump of the sacrifices rendered by Pakistan in the war on terror.

Last year, the three-day conference of Pakistani envoys was held in August.

Pakistani envoys in the US, the UN, India, China, Russia, European Union, Afghanistan, Switzerland and Austria had attended that meeting.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Chinese Special Envoy on Afghan Affairs Ambassador Deng Xijun called on Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua.

A foreign ministry statement issued here said: “They discussed regional and international efforts for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.”

Ambassador Xijun reaffirmed China’s continuing and firm support to Pakistan’s commitment and efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Emphasising there was no military solution to the conflict, he underlined the need for a politically-negotiated settlement through an Afghan-led Afghan-owned peace process.

The Chinese special envoy lauded Pakistan’s contribution and sacrifices in the fight against terrorism, the statement said.

In this regard, he said Pakistan’s efforts towards eliminating the scourge of terrorism should be fully recognised by the international community.

Janjua, while underlining the importance of Pakistan-China strategic partnership, emphasised the need of close cooperation and coordination between the two countries for promoting the shared objective of peace and stability in the region.

She expressed satisfaction at the productive deliberations held between the two sides during her recent visit to Beijing from August 21-23, 2017.

“They agreed to strengthen cooperation in the ongoing efforts for facilitating peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan as well as promoting meaningful engagement between the three neighbourly countries,” the statement said.

Separately, Dr Mansoor Ahmed, a post-doctoral fellow at Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard-Kennedy School said Monday that India’s nuclear expansion needed greater international attention as it was an emerging threat for world peace and security, and not just for Pakistan.

Speaking at a conference at Strategic Vision Institute - a local think tank - on “Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty and Global Fissile Material Inventories”, here, Dr Ahmed said India was aiming to become a major global player for which it was exponentially expanding its nuclear capabilities.

“The central pillar of their strategy is their ability to produce larger quantities of unguarded [not covered under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards] fissile material stockpiles. … This is an emerging threat for countries such as China and possibly the United States in the next 10-15 years,” he said.

Dr Ahmed regretted that global focus remained on Pakistan due to the prevailing narrative that it allegedly had the world’s fastest growing nuclear programme.

The Western scholars, he observed, “cherry-pick” information and apply different standards to Pakistan and India, while making such assessments.

In Pakistan’s case, Western analysts, Dr Ahmed said, projected that Pakistan’s entire fissile material had been converted into weapons, whereas the yardstick in case of India was different.

“India outstrips Pakistan in fissile material production exponentially,” he maintained, adding no other non-member of Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty was increasing its fissile material stocks as was the case with India.

“India is actively building capabilities that are far in excess of its immediate requirement for minimum deterrence and it is no coincidence that Indians are changing their stated nuclear posture from counter-value to counter-force capability,” he added.

SVI President Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema questioned Western pressure on Pakistan to allow the start of FMCT negotiations.

He said that the position taken by Pakistan was logical given the way India was expanding its stockpiles.

Cheema pointed out that internationally there were no standard inventories of stockpiles and the various sources available gave divergent information.