ISLAMABAD - The Foreign Office on Thursday said that its relations with the United States were on a positive trajectory.

Speaking at a weekly news briefing here, Foreign Office spokesman Dr Muhammed Faisal said that during Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s interaction with delegates of different countries, he put across Pakistan’s point of view on important issues.

To a question, he said that bringing Afghan Taliban to the table was collective responsibility of all countries.

Questioned about the controversy regarding Qureshi’s interaction with the US President Donald Trump, he said, “President Trump welcomed the Foreign Minister at the reception and they had a brief discussion. It was a very positive development.”

Asked about the fate of Dr Shakil Afridi, who helped the US find Osama Bin Laden, Dr Faisal said that there was no change of policy on Afridi. “There will be no compromise on national interest whether it is the issue of Dr Shakil Afridi or India,” he added.

This week, Pakistan and the United States agreed to move forward as Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi met US National Security Advisor John Bolton and his American counterpart Mike Pompeo.

In the meetings, Qureshi tried to convince the US leaders that Pak-US cooperation was vital for regional peace in South Asia.

There was agreement from the US on the Pak-US cooperation but Washington persisted with its demand of more efforts by Islamabad and “fair play.” The two sides are understood to have discussed the issue of Dr Shakil Afridi, the CIA agent who helped the US find Osama Bin Laden. There was, however, no immediate official word on it.

Qureshi and Pompeo first met in Islamabad early in September, when the US government approached the new Pakistani government to discuss key issues that have strained decades-old ties between the two countries.

In a briefing about his earlier meeting, Pompeo said that following election of Prime Minister Imran Khan in July, the US ‘wanted to get out there at the beginning of his time in an effort to reset the relationship between the two countries’.

Faisal slammed Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat for threatening to carry surgical strikes inside Pakistan, saying nobody would be allowed to challenge the country’s sovereignty.

General Rawat had earlier said that ‘time was ripe’ for ‘surgical strikes’ on terror launch pads across the Line of Control. In 2016, India claimed that it conducted a surgical strike on Pakistani soil; the claim was refuted by Pakistan Army and an Indian soldier was captured.

Faisal said that the chief of a professional army should refrain from making such controversial claims.

Asked about opening of Kartarpur corridor for Sikh pilgrims, he said that nothing could happen if there were no talks between the two countries. He lamented India’s reluctance to dialogue. “Pakistan is ready to talk. They (India) are hesitant,” he added.

He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had responded positively to a letter from his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi but this was followed by openly hostile and belligerent statements from the Indian political and military leadership.

“We heard Indian Army Chief speak about repetition of another so called ‘surgical strikes’ and Indian Defence Minister’s statement about beheading Pakistani soldiers. The contrast between Indian aggrandising aggression and boasts about beheading enemy soldiers, as a matter of pride (and which our professional armed forces find abhorrent and unprofessional even for foes), compared with Pakistan’s desire for peaceful co-existence based on mutual respect is stark evidence of the thinking of both countries,” he said.

In the modern, interconnected world of today, he said that confrontation and conflict were not options and ‘we believe the only forward is through cooperation not confrontation’. Pakistan stands by its consistent principled position of peaceful resolution of all issues, including the Kashmir dispute. It is up to India to respond, he said. Regarding the reported offer by India for a secret meeting of the foreign ministers, Faisal said: “We had offered to have formal meeting between the two foreign ministers, which the Indians agreed and later backed out. I do not know about any secret meeting.”

The spokesperson said that Pakistan held meetings with members of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation countries on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

“They (SAARC members) were willing to come to Islamabad for the meeting but India is creating hurdles in regards to Pakistan hosting the SAARC conference,” Faisal said.

The spokesperson said that International Court of Justice will hear case pertaining to convicted Indian spy Kuldbhushan Jadhav on February 18, adding that Pakistan was completely prepared to contest its case in the ICJ. He said that 18 Kashmiris had been killed during this week by the Indian forces and Pakistan ‘strongly condemned Indian aggression in Kashmir.’

Dr Faisal said that Pakistan was raising the issue of water and controversial projects initiated by India such as Kishanganga and Ratle at all forums.

Regarding China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, he said that both Islamabad and Beijing were on the same page over this project.

Asked about expenses incurred on Pakistani delegation’s visit to the US, he said: “The Foreign Minister is on his way back. We can only have final costs, once the visit is over. We will share the details of expenses incurred on the visit, soon.”

On reports about the issues with several Pakistani envoys in the world capitals, he said: “Our High Commissioner in London has been reprimanded and action is being taken against him.”

He added: “In Bulgaria, there was a report of embezzlement. A special fact-finding officer was sent to investigate the issue. The accountant concerned has accepted responsibility for the embezzlement. On his return, his name has been given to National Accountability Bureau. The Auditor General has been requested to do a special audit of the Mission. Our Ambassador has been called to Pakistan to assist in the investigation”.

Regarding our high commission in South Africa, he said that the case was pending before court. The HC’s travel to Pakistan is in line with relevant rules, he said.

Faisal said in the case in Portugal, misinformation was circulated about Ambassador Leena Salim. “An inquiry was undertaken which exonerated her, after which she was sent to Belarus by the previous government. The case against our Ambassador in Rome is with Ombudsperson. In response to the Ombudsperson’s instructions an internal inquiry is also being undertaken. Regarding out Deputy Head of Mission in Singapore, he has been recalled and an enquiry has been initiated in this regard,” he elaborated.