Pakistan on Thursday refuted Indian allegations that the Inter-Services Intelligence had been backing Sikh militancy in the neighbouring country.

“The statement of the Indian home minister about Pakistan’s premier spy agency is uncalled-for and counterproductive. This can undermine efforts aimed at normalising relations between the two countries,” stated the Foreign Office, asking New Delhi to share the evidence before hurling any charge. “The timing of the statement is not good as the new leadership in Pakistan has expressed its desire to normalise relations with the neighbouring country,” FO spokesperson Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry told the weekly press briefing.

He said Pakistan itself was the victim of terrorism and had rendered matchless sacrifices in the war against terror. “It is the time that we focus on building relations and resolving all the outstanding disputes, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.

The spokesman said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in policy guidelines had emphasised the need for a peaceful neighbourhood and stability for the development and economic well being of the people of the region.

To a query about drone attacks, the spokesperson said these were counterproductive and in violation of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had articulated Pakistan’s position and called for an end to drone attacks. “Our foreign policy is based on national interests and reflects the aspirations of the people of the country,” he added.

About the protest demonstration held near Pakistan Embassy in Kabul, the spokesperson, while expressing concern about the incident, said under the Vienna convention, it was the responsibility of the host country to provide full security to the diplomatic staff.

Asked about the expulsion of certain Pakistanis from Saudi Arabia, Chaudhry said the mission was providing necessary guidance to Pakistani workers, He also said Pakistan had engaged legal counsel at the deportation centres to facilitate the Pakistani workers.Asked about the fate of ambassadors and high commissioners appointed by the previous government on political basis, the spokesman said the ambassadors in the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and Muscat had resigned and relinquished the charges.

About the upcoming visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry to Pakistan, the spokesperson said it was on the cards, but a date had not yet been fixed.

India appoints new High Commissioner to Pakistan

Monitoring Desk adds: TCA Raghavan, currently India’s envoy in Singapore, has been appointed as the High Commissioner to Pakistan, reported, reported ND TV on Thursday.

A 1982-batch IFS officer, Mr Raghavan, who earlier served as Deputy High Commissioner in Islamabad 10 years ago, will replace Sharat Sabharwal, who would be returning this month-end from Islamabad. Mr Sabharwal, who spent more than four years in Islamabad, has attained superannuation last year but was asked to continue by New Delhi till Pakistan elections.

A statement by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said Mr Raghavan is expected to take up his assignment shortly. Prior to appointment as High Commissioner to Singapore, Mr Raghavan was Head of the Division dealing with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran in Ministry of External Affairs.

Apart from his stint as Deputy High Commissioner in Islamabad (2003-2007), his previous overseas postings include United Kingdom (1995-1998), Bhutan (1992-1995) and Kuwait (1983-1986).

This will be the first high profile diplomatic transition in Islamabad after the formation of the new PML-N-led federal government in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has repeatedly extended peace overtures to India, promising to usher a new era of friendly relations with the neighbouring country.

India and Pakistan have witnessed a slump in diplomatic relations since the 2008 Mumbai attacks fracture bilateral ties.