ISLAMABAD  -    Russia on Thursday termed Deputy Interior Minister Igor Zubov’s statement over the Daesh movement in which he named Pakistan as a ‘slip of tongue’, adding that the two countries shared anti-terror views.

Russian Deputy Interior Minister Igor Zubov had this week said that unidentified helicopters transported a large number of Daesh terrorists from ‘Pakistan’ to border with Tajikistan, close to Russia’s southern borders. Pakistan and Tajikistan are separated by Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor region.

“Daesh fighters in massive numbers were transported from Pakistani territory to border with Tajikistan. In that area, perhaps, the militants might stage massive provocations that would result in huge amounts of refugees fleeing the territory. This would have an impact on Russia,” Zubov said.

Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zhakharova, however, said that it was only a ‘slip of tongue’. “Naming Pakistan was a slip of tongue. Pakistan was mentioned instead of Afghanistan,” Maria Zhakharova said in response to a question at a regular news briefing.

She said that Russia and Pakistan had similar views against terrorism and were cooperating to eliminate the menace.

This week, Pakistan and Russia had joined hands for peace in Afghanistan as they supported each other’s ‘regional initiatives.’

During a meeting between Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Russian envoy on Afghanistan Ambassador Zamir Kabulov, the two countries agreed to continue regular consultations on the Afghan peace process and support regional initiatives.

In December, Pakistan had launched a campaign to win over key neighbours on the Afghanistan issue and regional peace. Foreign Minister Qureshi, accompanied by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and senior officials, had gone on a 4-nation tour on December 24 as part of government’s policy of ‘outreach in the neighbourhood’. They visited Afghanistan, Iran, China and Russia from December 24-26.

The visit was part of promoting various initiatives and ideas for regional cooperation, especially in promoting economic and people-to-people linkages, added the ministry statement.

Pakistan later arranged meetings between the Afghan Taliban and the US with an aim to ensure peace in the war-torn country. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other stakeholders were in touch during the meeting.

Last November, Russia had hosted talks on peace and Afghanistan Taliban which among Afghan leaders were also participated China, Iran and Pakistan. There were no significant breakthroughs during the Moscow meeting, which was attended by representatives of 11 countries. But delegates widely acknowledged that the meeting itself was a feat.

Ambassador Kabulov said that Russia and Pakistan were important stakeholders in peace and stability in Afghanistan. He acknowledged Pakistan’s role as a facilitator in the Afghan peace process.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had said that Pakistan greatly valued its relations with Russian Federation. He also expressed government of Pakistan’s desire to forge a long-term, multidimensional partnership and friendship with Russia.

In the recent high-level meetings, both the sides had expressed satisfaction on the upward trajectory of bilateral relations. The first meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev in Shanghai in November 2018 had set the tone to deepen cooperation in all areas. Views were also exchanged to support each other’s position in multilateral forums. It was also decided to maintain close and regular contact for strengthening understanding on important issues.

The two countries agreed in December to continue efforts, including through Moscow Format of Consultations, for supporting reconciliation under an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. Recent developments concerning Afghan peace process were also discussed. It was underlined that being the most important stakeholders, Pakistan and Russia had shared interests and concerns in Afghanistan and had the common goal of supporting all efforts to restore peace and stability in the country.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts in the Afghan settlement and offered Russia’s support to bring stability in the region. He underscored the need to harmonise various regional approaches for developing a regional consensus on various issues.