ISLAMABAD - Pakistan says the Quadrilateral Coordination Group is still functional and it believes politically viable solution is important for Afghan peace.

The Afghan Taliban has so far been reluctant to engage in talks with the QCG, which comprises representatives from four countries –Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the US.

It was primarily being expected from Islamabad that it would use its influence on the militant organisation to woo them but the recent killing of Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a US drone strike in Balochistan is said to have blown the backchannel progress.

At a weekly media briefing, Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria yesterday stressed avoiding use of military force by all sides. “All parties should refrain from violence, since violence begets violence.”

The spokesman said Pakistan had been making consistent efforts for peace in Afghanistan as it was in the interest of two countries as well as the whole region.

Regarding the First Information Report lodged against the US drone strike by the family of the slain driver of Mullah Mansour, he said it was their right and “judiciary is independent to take up the matter according to law.”

Zakaria clarified that the deadline for Afghan refugees to leave for their homeland was June 30, 2016. However, a request from Afghanistan’s concerned ministry had been received in this regard, which was under consideration by the concerned department.

The spokesman said Pakistan was open to dialogue with India as well. The country had always been supportive of the dialogue process to resolve the bilateral issues with India.

“Pakistan is ready for dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues including Kashmir dispute in addition to issues which also include discussion on counter-terrorism,” Zakaria said. He however said the country was aware of Indian conspiracies to create instability in Karachi and Balochistan.

“This is an issue we will raise at every international forum. Several arrests have been made after (detained Indian spy) Kulbhushan Yadhav’s revelations,” he maintained.

Zakaria said instead of blame game, India must come to the table of talks in a positive way. He said Islamabad had deeper concerns over foreign hands in perpetration of terrorist attacks and terrorists financing in Pakistan.

His statement came hours after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent flowers and ‘good wishes’ to PM Nawaz Sharif who is recovering from an open heart surgery in London.

Modi was one of the first leaders to reach out to his Pakistani counterpart following the surgery. The Indian leader’s gesture has been construed as soft diplomacy when relations between the two nations are showing signs of mixed progress. Though Sharif and Modi are believed to share a personal working relationship, this has not yet transpired into boosting the ties between the two nuclear-armed rivals on several fronts. Since Modi’s takeover in 2014, there have been improvements in Pakistan-India ties but there have been many setbacks as well.

To a question regarding Indian Prime Minister’s statement that India will cooperate with Pakistan provided it addressed the issue of terrorism, Zakaria said phenomenon of terrorism had affected Pakistan more than any other country. He added this had been acknowledged by the international community time and again. “As far as we are concerned, we are ready for dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues including Kashmir. We are also open to discuss counter-terrorism,” he said.

In March, Pakistan had detained Indian spy Kulbhushan Yadhav, in the Balochistan province after he had illegally entered the country from Iran. Yadhav was working for India’s intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing. India confirmed the man was a former Indian navy official but denied the man was a spy. In video footage aired by the authorities, Yadhav said he had set up an office in Chabahar in southeast Iran in 2003 and later worked for the Indian agency.

About issues discussed during telephonic call between PM Sharif and Narendra Modi, he said: “It was all about exchanging wishes before the former’s heart surgery.”

The spokesman said Pakistan’s membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group was in the interest of nuclear trading countries as it will further promote non-proliferation objectives.

He said sustainable civil nuclear energy was essential for Pakistan’s future energy security and economic development and a non-discriminatory approach by NSG was imperative to ensure strategic balance in the region.

“Any country’s specific exception will not be beneficial for non-proliferation regime which will affect strategic stability of South Asia and credibility of NSG itself,” he added.

The spokesman said Pakistan’s application for membership of NSG stood on solid grounds of technical experience, capability and well-established commitment to nuclear safety.

He said on NSG membership, Pakistan had a principle support of adoption of non-discriminatory, equitable and criteria-based approach, which was also supported by a large number of NSG participating governments.

He said Pakistan had operated secured and safeguarded nuclear power plants for a period of over 42 years.

About an agreement signed between Japan and India on building six nuclear power plants in Andhra Pradesh, Zakaria said Pakistan’s position was clear that it should not be any discriminatory treatment to a country which was not even party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“This will further add to the reasons behind disturbing the strategic stability in the region,” he said.

On China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the spokesman said the project was of great economic significance for not only Pakistan and China, but for the entire region.

He said CPEC was a flagship project which had six more programmes under the concept of ‘One Belt One Road’.

He said Prime Minister Sharif was recovering in London and expressed gratitude to the several countries sending him good wishes for his health.