ISLAMABAD  -   Without naming India, Pakistan on Thursday said that some actors in Afghanistan and the neighbourhood wanted perpetual conflict.

Speaking at a weekly news briefing here, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said that Pakistan – on the request of Afghanistan and the United States – was facilitating direct talks between the Taliban and the US in good faith and in the spirit of shared responsibility.

“There are actors in Afghanistan and the region whose interest is served by perpetual conflict in the country. Such characters have scuttled attempts of peace talks in the past and are trying to undermine the ongoing Afghan peace process,” he said.

Faisal said that while efforts to settle the decades old bloody conflict in Afghanistan were underway, ‘the Afghan people, the US and the Taliban must remain watchful of these detractors and expose them so that their nefarious designs do not undermine the nascent peace initiative’.

He said that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar had been appointed as the chief of the Taliban’s political office in Doha for talks between the US and Taliban and ‘this is producing positive results’.

About reports that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had opposed withdrawal of American Troops from Afghanistan, he said: “This is an internal matter of Afghanistan and the resolution will be reached by the Afghan Taliban and the Afghan government and we are hopeful that they will reach an agreement.”

Faisal urged India to stop playing anti Pakistan rhetoric in its domestic politics and conduct elections on its own internal policies.

The spokesperson said that summoning of Pakistani high Commissioner late last night by Indian Foreign Secretary on the phone call by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to Mir Waiz Umer Farooq was just a political gimmickry and electioneering.

The spokesperson said that Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua also summoned Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad and lodged protest with him over late night summoning of the Pakistani envoy.

“The Foreign Secretary stressed that the status of Jammu and Kashmir is internationally accepted as disputed territory and Pakistan will continue to support Kashmiris in their just struggle for right to self-determination,” he added.

The spokesperson said that as Indian atrocities continue in Occupied Kashmir ‘we urge the international community to call upon India to stop bloodshed in Kashmir’.

Faisal said that Kashmir Solidarity Day on February 5 was also commemorative of 26th year of detention of Dr Qasim Faktu, husband of Aasia Indrabi. He said the detention of both in Indian jails on trumped up charges was gross violation of human rights by India.

To another question, Dr Faisal said that the announcement by Prime Minister Imran Khan about keeping open the Torkham border was a major step to promote bilateral trade and people to people contacts with Afghanistan. He said that Pakistan has always emphasised need for deepening bilateral relations with Afghanistan.

The spokesperson said that with the efforts of Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul and consulate in Qandahar, a Pakistani prisoner Ejaz Shah had been released before 7 months of completion of his sentence and has been handed over to Pakistani authorities by Afghanistan.

Replying to a question regarding use of Afghan soil for terrorist activities, the spokesperson said that India was callously continuing with state sponsored terrorism and it should alleviate Pakistan’s concerns regarding use of Afghan soil for launching terrorist attacks on Pakistani soil instead of levelling farfetched allegations against Islamabad.

Questioned about Director of US Intelligence Daniel Coats’ remarks on Pakistan in the context of terrorism, the spokesperson said: “We have raised the issue with the US side that such controversial statements will be counterproductive and have the potential to adversely affect the peace and stability of the region.”

On reports that Christian woman Aasia Bibi – acquitted by the Supreme Court in a blasphemy case - had left the country, he said the Supreme Court’s verdict was a public document and there is no secrecy surrounding the matter.

“The Supreme Court decision will be implemented. She is still in Pakistan. However, I would like to state that she is a free citizen of Pakistan and there are no restrictions on her movement, as per law,” the spokesperson said.

 To a question on Kartarpur Corridor, he said that Pakistan had nominated a focal person prior to the nomination by the Indian government. “Importantly, Pakistan also gave an invitation to India for holding a dialogue. The Indian nomination was done on Tuesday, 29 January 2019, even though Pakistan had already nominated its focal person on Monday, 28 January 2019. India tried to give the impression that they had not received Pakistan’s letter. This is childish behaviour on the part of the Indian government. However, Pakistan hopes to take the process forward,” he said.

Faisal said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman’s upcoming visit held immense significance for Pakistan.

He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had ordered that the Torkham Border be opened for 24 hours a day. “We have always emphasized the need for expanding economic and trade links, enhancing people-to-people and cultural exchanges and deepening connectivity between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan has taken various measures to facilitate Afghan trade in recent years,” he added.

Pakistan, he said, was the largest market for Afghan exports. Afghanistan’s exports to Pakistan are almost 60% of its total exports. We consume 90% of Afghan fresh fruits and vegetables. Last year as result of Pakistan’s decision to waive off regulatory duties on fresh fruit imports from Afghanistan, a 29% increase in Afghan exports to Pakistan was recorded. Moreover, around 60,000 people commute across Pakistan-Afghanistan border on a daily basis.

“This measure announced by the Prime Minister of keeping the Torkham Border open 24 hours, is a major step to promote bilateral trade and transit of goods between the two countries and also to facilitate enhanced people to people contacts. Pakistan will take more such steps to further solidify economic and trade relations as well as the strong bonds between the peoples of the two countries,” he elaborated.

He said that a Pakistani team was visiting India for water talks. “The inspection tours are obligatory for both sides under the Indus Waters Treaty. The last tour was conducted in 2014. Since then, Pakistan has repeatedly called on the Indian side to arrange the tours of inspection, including during the 115th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission held in August 2018,” he added.

About the extension of Supreme Court’s jurisdiction to Gilgit-Baltistan, Faisal said: “You need to look at the Supreme Court decision in detail. It must be appreciated that Pakistan has empowered the local authorities of former Jammu & Kashmir state – under its control. Conversely, the territories under the Indian occupation live under constant duress and in an environment of oppression.”

To a question, he said: “We have already stated that the presence of Daesh militants along the Pak-Afghan border is a matter of grave concern to us.”