FO says Pakistan affirms Russia's role for Afghan peace; asks for world's intervention to resolve Kashmir issue

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Russia, during the recent visit of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Islamabad, have agreed to intensify efforts to deepen cooperation in a myriad of sectors, the Foreign Office said on Friday.

"During the delegation-level talks, the two sides agreed on the need to intensify efforts to deepen cooperation in all areas, including economy and trade, energy, counter-terrorism, security and defence, education, and people-to-people exchanges," said FO spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri in the weekly briefing in Islamabad today.

The visiting foreign minister also called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, he added.

"The visit provided both sides an opportunity to review the whole gamut of bilateral relations and share their respective perspectives on key regional and international issues," Chaudhri added.

Underscoring the importance of energy sector cooperation, Foreign Minister Qureshi reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to early commencement of the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline project, he added.

In the regional context, FO spokesperson added, views were exchanged on matters related to South Asia, West Asia, Gulf region, Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific.

"The foreign minister underscored Pakistan’s desire for peace in Afghanistan and its continued support for the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. He also appreciated Russia’s role in the ongoing Afghan peace process."

Chaudhri further said dilating upon the human rights situation in (Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir) IIOJK, FM Qureshi underlined Pakistan’s commitment to the regional peace and security and peaceful resolution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute.

"The Foreign Minister noted with appreciation the close cooperation between Pakistan and Russia at the multilateral fora including the UN and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)."

The two ministers, he maintained, also discussed the potential of Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), of which China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a flagship project.

"During the call on the prime minister, bilateral relations and issues of regional and global importance were discussed."

The spokesperson said, "Prime Minister reiterated the importance Pakistan attaches to its relations with Russia as a key foreign policy priority and expressed satisfaction at the steady growth in bilateral ties."

The premier, he added, underscored his desire for expanding cooperation with Russia, particularly in the areas of trade, energy, industrial modernization, railways, aviation, security and defence sectors.

"He also stressed the importance of a negotiated political settlement in Afghanistan. He appreciated Russia’s support to the Afghan peace process including through the recent meeting of the Extended Troika in Moscow."

"With reference to the situation in IIOJK, the premier shared Pakistan’s perspective on issues of peace and security in South Asia."

The PM reiterated his invitation to President Putin to visit Pakistan, Chaudhri added.

He further said that during the 10th summit of the D-8 hosted by Bangladesh on March 8 in a virtual mode, PM underscored the mobilising of finances and resources to recover robustly from the economic and health crises induced by Covid-19, and actions to expand intra D-8 trade from currently around US$100 billion to US$ 500 billion by 2030,

He also stressed that developing a youth engagement strategy, promoting knowledge-based economies, and making D-8 more relevant to the lives of citizens by promoting food security, and enhancing mutual cooperation.

Earlier, Chaudhri said, FM Qureshi addressed the 19th Council of Ministers meeting of the D-8. He briefed the participants about Pakistan’s commitment to the vision and objectives of the D-8. In another development, Qureshi received the new Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to Pakistan.

Regarding the situation in IIOJK, extra-judicial killings by the forces continued unabated during the past week as well, claiming lives of 10 more Kashmiris in Pulwama and Shopian districts.

The spokesperson said that out of those, seven were martyred only yesterday.

"Pakistan has repeatedly called for independent investigations under international scrutiny, into the extra-judicial killings of all innocent Kashmiris," he added.

"We have also consistently underscored the need for unhindered access to the UN human rights bodies, international human rights organisations and media to assess the human rights situation in IIOJK."

Chaudhri added, "we are also concerned over the continuing military siege, incarceration of Kashmiri leadership, unprecedented restrictions on fundamental freedoms of the Kashmiri people and ongoing efforts to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory, in clear violation of the international law, in particular the 4th Geneva Convention."

The international community, he added, must take cognisance of the human rights violations in IIOJK and play its role in the resolution of the dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions.