Former FO spokesperson Tasneem Aslam says the policy did not benefit the country

ISLAMABAD: Former spokesperson for the Foreign Office Tasneem Aslam claimed on Sunday that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had barred the FO from commenting against India and its spy Kulbhushan Jadhav. The spy is presently in Pakistan’s custody.

“Nawaz Sharif did not want to say anything against India and Jadhav through the Foreign Office,” she claimed during an interview with a YouTube channel being run by an Islamabad-based journalist, Isa Naqvi.

Ms Aslam worked as Foreign Office spokesperson twice — first from 2005 to 2007 during the regime of Gen Pervez Musharraf and then during the last Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government between 2013 and 2017.

Asked if Mr Sharif’s instruction benefited the country, she said: “It did not benefit the country but I do not know whether it benefited his [Nawaz’s] own interests or not.”

Ms Aslam said Mr Sharif had business interests in India and he did not meet leaders of India-held Kashmir’s political party Hurriyat Conferences when he visited India as the prime minister. “Usually, every prime minister of Pakistan meets Hurriyat leaders but Nawaz Sharif did not meet them when he visited India.”

Mr Sharif had visited India in 2014.

Ms Aslam said even in his speech at the United Nations summit Mr Sharif did not talk about India and Jadhav but on the Kashmir issue.

When contacted, PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said the comments by a retired FO official bore no resemblance to reality. “It is a false and biased expression of an individual’s views, based on her personal predilections.”

Recalling efforts made by Mr Sharif to resolve the Kashmir dispute, she said: “The principled manner in which he dealt with the issue of Pakistan’s relations with its eastern neighbour is well documented.”

She said the former prime minister’s address to the UN General Assembly in 2016 contained the most forceful references ever to the issue of Kashmir and the most powerful condemnation of the atrocities and brutalities of the Indian occupation forces.