ISLAMABAD -  Days after striking down an Iranian unmanned aerial vehicle, Pakistan Thursday said the United States’ drone strikes violated its sovereignty .

Addressing a weekly media briefing here, Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said Pakistan’s position on the US drone strikes was very clear. “These attacks are counterproductive and amount to violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty ,” he contended, skipping to comment upon whether Pakistan would also ever shoot down US drones. The spokesperson said Pakistan attached great importance to its relations with the United States, which were longstanding.

“We believe continued cooperation between the two countries is critical for promoting peace and security in the region and beyond. Pakistan is carrying out operations against terrorists without any discrimination. These operations are driven by national interests. We will not allow our land to be used against any other country,” he said.

On the US financial cuts for Pakistan, Zakaria said the White House last month released President Donald Trump’s budget request which proposed overall reduction in foreign military financing across the board. “As you know, the budget request will undergo vigorous debate and scrutiny by the US Congress, it is, therefore, premature to comment on something that is essentially an internal US process,” he said.

The spokesperson said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi would visit Islamabad on June 24 to discuss the matters pertaining to peace and stability in Afghanistan. “China is an important partner in efforts to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan. Both China and Pakistan are working closely under the initiatives such as Quadrilateral Coordination Group and Heart of Asia Istanbul Process which are aimed at bringing lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he asserted. Zakaria said both the sides would also review state of bilateral relations in the context of regional cooperation for security and development.

To a question on border management with Afghanistan, he said it was an essential component of Pakistan’s counter-terrorism strategy and fencing was among the measures. He added: “We believe that to stem the cross-border movement of terrorists, an effective border management is imperative. Our efforts for border management are aimed at facilitating movement of people, trade and transit, and curbing the movement of terrorists. Moreover, we are undertaking the fencing on our side of the border.”

Zakaria said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during their meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, had also agreed to use the Quadrilateral Coordination Group and bilateral channels to promote peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. He said Pakistan welcomed visits from Afghanistan.

About the Pakistani diplomats who went missing in Afghanistan recently, Zakaria said: “We are in contact with the Kabul government for safe and early recovery of our two diplomatic staffers who were abducted while travelling from Jalalabad to Islamabad. The Afghan government has informed us that they have constituted three special investigation teams to locate and recover them.”

Briefing about the situation in Held Kashmir, Nafees Zakaria said Adviser to PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had written letters to the UN secretary general, the president of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) secretary general to update them about the gross human rights violations in the valley. He said it was responsibility of the United Nations to resolve this longstanding dispute which had been on its agenda since long. Zakaria asserted Pakistan had always welcome mediation offers for the resolution of this internationally-recognised dispute.

On Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat’s statement that they cared about human lives and made sure human rights were not violated, he said: “Such claims should be judged in the light of the situation on the ground. The facts of the matter are that since 1947 Indian occupation forces have killed over a million Kashmiris. Since 1990, killings of innocent Kashmiris exceeded 100,000, while since July 8 last year alone more than 150 Kashmiris have been brutally killed, thousands have been injured, hundreds have been blinded completely or partially, whereabouts of thousands arrested are not known and hundreds of women have been dishonoured.”

“The grave human rights situation in India has raised international concern which is manifested by constant coverage of the atrocities perpetrated by the Indian forces in Kashmir in the international media and social media despite restrictions imposed by the unlawful authorities, debates in foreign parliaments and activities organised by the members of civil society in various countries to condemn India. Statements expressing concerns have been issued by the international forums,” the spokesperson added.

He averred the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) had always supported the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their struggle for their right to self-determination which had been promised to them in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir dispute.

Zakaria said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had offered mediation to resolve outstanding disputes between Pakistan and India soon after assumption of the office, which Pakistan welcomed. “A similar offer was made in March this year by his office. I have seen the statement you are referring to. Kashmir is an internationally-recognised dispute and is outstanding on the UN Security Council agenda. The relevant UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir dispute remain unimplemented, which promise to Kashmiris their right to self-determination in accordance with their wishes and aspirations,” he said and added the UN had a responsibility by virtue of the Security Council resolutions to resolve the issue and call upon India to immediately stop genocide of Kashmiris.

Zakaria stated the European Parliament had passed three resolutions on human rights situation in different countries of the world. “The resolutions typically contain two parts – preamble in which concerns are listed and operative part. The latter part of the resolutions in question does not recommend any action against Pakistan in the present situation. The resolution in fact notes the progress made in the implementation of Pakistan-EU Five-Year Engagement Plan,” he said.

Zakaria said the resolution clearly stated that the EU remained fully committed to continuing its dialogue and engagement with Pakistan.

When asked about the possible death of the two abducted Chinese nationals and the new visa policy for the Chinese nationals, he said: “The Interior Ministry can provide the information about the abducted Chinese couple. The visa policy is obviously about how to ensure and enhance safety and security of Chinese nationals in Pakistan.”

He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had congratulated Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud on his appointment as crown prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.