ISLAMABAD - The Foreign Office Thursday expressed its deep concern over the treatment meted out to 67 Kashmiri students by the Indian authorities for celebrating Pakistan’s victory over India in the Asia Cup.

“The cruel treatment meted out to the Kashmiri students for cheering a team in a cricket match is very unfortunate,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam told the weekly press briefing. “If these expelled Kashmiri students wish to come to Pakistan and pursue their studies here, our hearts and our academic institutions are open to them,” she asserted.

On the other hand, the spokesperson expressed her satisfaction over the meeting in Delhi held on Tuesday, saying the discussions were constructive.

She said Pakistan and India reviewed the CBMs related to trade and travel across the LoC, adding India’s action against the detained driver had raised some questions of jurisdiction and jurisprudence. “Pakistani delegation has left these points with India and they said they would come back to us on that,” she added.

The spokesperson said Pakistani side demanded release of the detained driver because without his release the investigations into the allegations levelled against him could not move forward.

On Pak-China defence cooperation, Tasnim Aslam said: “Pakistan and China have longstanding defence cooperation and both the countries as strategic partners collaborate in the defence field and there is no secret about it.”

She was of the view that Pakistan’s defence acquisitions from China should be seen in the regional context. “While we do not want to indulge in an arms race and spend our meager resources on buying arms, at the same time we cannot be completely oblivious of what is happening in the region. We have to keep a level of conventional stability,” she added.

She explained India was currently the largest arms buyer in the world and Pakistan had no intention to do so. “It is, therefore, imperative for us to maintain some level of symmetry to keep peace and stability in this region.”

Answering a question about Pak-Saudi defence cooperation, the spokesperson said Islamabad had longstanding defence cooperation with Riyadh and that revolved around providing training to Said armed forces.

“A number of officers from the Saudi armed forces, as from other countries, both Western and Muslim, come here and get training with our officers. In addition, our officers are also sent to Saudi Arabia to impart training to its soldiers. This is where our cooperation is at the moment,” she added.

She said Pakistan would be interested in selling its JF-17 Thunder, Mashaks and other training aircraft to Saudi Arabia, but there are certain international guidelines that have to be followed in this regard.

Replying to a question regarding differences among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members, she said Pakistan enjoyed good relations with all those states.

Commenting upon the kidnapped Iranian guards, she said Pakistan still had not been able to ascertain if they were actually brought into Pakistani territory, adding Islamabad was in contact with the Iranian authorities in this regard.

Answering another question regarding reconciliation process in Afghanistan, she reiterated Pakistan’s support for Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation and peace process, hoping peace talks would resume after the presidential elections in Afghanistan.

“We will give whatever assistance Afghanistan wants from us and whatever we can possibly do. Behind the scene, we are not involved,” she added.

She also hoped there would be no civil war after the withdrawal of the foreign troops from that country,” adding in case of civil war, Pakistan would face repercussions. “Pakistan is in contact with Afghan authorities on the issues of border securities and effective management of the Western borders.

To a question regarding the Ukraine situation, the spokesperson said talks and diplomacy would be the only option to resolve the dispute. She hoped the issue would be resolved through peaceful means.


Monitoring Desk adds: The government in Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on Thursday dropped the sedition charges against the Kashmiri students for cheering Pakistan team during the India-Pakistan Asia Cup match on Sunday. This comes after the Indian Home Ministry sought a report from the state government, and Held Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah spoke to Uttar Pradesh counterpart Akhilesh Yadav on the incident, reported Indian media.

The students against whom the charges were framed have denied of any wrongdoing. “We have committed no crime. We were cheering for Pakistan because they were playing well at that time,” said Ajaz, expelled student from the Swami Vivekanand Subharti University

“We are labelled as terrorists. Do we have no career? We appeal to government to save our future,” said another expelled student Muteeb.

It was only after Centre’s intervention and scathing criticism that forced the Uttar Pradesh government to take a late-night U-turn and withdrew the sedition charges.