ISLAMABAD - Pakistan on Thursday said that US President Donald Trump’s letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan seeking help to resolve the Afghanistan issue vindicated Pakistan’s stance.

Speaking at a weekly news briefing here, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Muhammed Faisal said that Pakistan had been saying for long that the Afghan issue could only be solved through negotiations.

“Pakistan has always advocated political settlement to end the war in Afghanistan. It is heartening to know that the US is finally realising the same. I cannot share the details with you at this moment. (US special representative on Afghanistan) Zalmay Khalilzad was in Pakistan for discussions,” he said.

Faisal said that there was also activity in Qatar. “We also remain engaged with the Afghan government regarding the peace process. The point that has to be registered is that all the stakeholders involved in Afghan peace process are now in agreement with our considered position that solution to the Afghan conflict rests in dialogue through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process,” he added.

To a question regarding the suspended Coalition Support Funds’ reimbursements, he said: “it is a separate matter and our position remains constant.”

Faisal did not comment on Taliban delegation’s presence in Pakistan, but said: “We have been saying repeatedly that Pakistan has its limitations regarding Taliban. However, we continue to make all possible efforts in this regard. I will again emphasise that the point to be registered is that all stakeholders now agree with Pakistan’s position that final settlement of the Afghan conflict can only be achieved through dialogue.”

Welcoming the US decision for talks with the Taliban, Dr Faisal reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to play a facilitative role in bringing peace in the neighbouring country. The spokesperson said that peace and stability in Afghanistan remained a shared responsibility.

On demands being made by Americans regarding Afghanistan, he said: “When we negotiate there are no pre-set demands. Both sides give their positions and we try to identify converging areas to move forward. This is diplomacy. It remains our desire that matters may be resolved through dialogue rather than resorting to settlement through gun.”

On Kashmir, he said that it was the core issue between Pakistan and India and the opening of Kartarpur Corridor will have no impact on it. The spokesperson said the Kashmir issue would be resolved according to UN resolutions and aspirations of Kashmiri people.

He said that occupation forces in their cordon and search operations killed 24 Kashmiri men and women in Shopian, Kulgam, Pulwama and Badgam districts of Indian-Occupied Kashmir. He said that India should stop misleading the international community and accept ground realities and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir instead of continuing with its policy of brutal obduracy in the territory.

To a question, the spokesperson said that the Kartarpur Corridor would be completed before the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak Dev next year. He said that the decision of opening of Kartarpur Corridor was made in good faith and to facilitate Sikh community to visit their one of the holiest places.

Regarding a question on Chinese offer for mediation between Pakistan and India on Kashmir, he said: “We have been calling for a dialogue with India on this matter. However, things can only move forward if India sees reason and agrees to it.”

About Karachi Chinese consulate attack, Faisal said that Pakistan had strongly condemned the attack which was successfully foiled by the law enforcement personnel, two of whom embraced martyrdom during the incident.

“Immediate outpouring of sympathy and good wishes for martyrs from Chinese leadership and people underscores the unbreakable bonds of friendship and trust between Pakistan and China,” he added.

Pakistan, he said, had taken additional security measures to beef up security of Chinese diplomatic missions. “We are fully committed to ensure foolproof security of Chinese nationals living in Pakistan as well as all other foreign resident Missions in the country. All necessary measures have been taken to ensure security of foreign resident Missions in Pakistan,” he added.

He said that China had clarified its position on the map of Kashmir and made it clear that their ‘position on Jammu and Kashmir and maps has never changed.’

He said that all steps were being taken to empower Gilgit-Baltistan. “There will be good news for people of Gilgit-Baltistan. We want to empower them and strengthen their role,” he maintained. To a question, he said that Prime Minister Khan’s letter to India Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned forward movement on people-to-people contacts, among other issues.

“Details would have to be finalised. Pakistan desires a peaceful neighbourhood. Once India is ready to come to the dialogue table, these issues can be discussed,” he reiterated.