ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Thursday categorically rejected any conditionality for dialogue with India, saying talks are necessary for peace in South Asia for economic development and welfare of the people.

“Dialogue between Pakistan and India is not a favour that one country does to the other,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said in response to Indian Defence Minister Arun Jaitley’s statement that Pakistan should decide whether it wants to talk to the Hurriyat leaders or India.

In her weekly press briefing, Tasnim Aslam said that the Kashmiri are not Indian separatists; they are people in occupied territory struggling for their right to self-determination that has been recognised by the United Nations through its resolutions, adding that Pakistan is a party to the dispute.

To a question, the spokesperson said Pakistan does not want to stop trade between India and Afghanistan through its territory, adding that Afghanistan is a landlocked country and Pakistan had given it access to the international waters. She said India can use Karachi port for trade with Afghanistan.

She said it is for the Afghan people and the government to take decision from where they want to get aid. She said Pakistan wants that Afghan soil should not be used to destabilise Pakistan. She said Pakistan has adopted the policy of non-interference in Afghanistan.

The spokesperson said Pakistan had evacuated 3,400 stranded Pakistanis from Libya through 13 special chartered flights and provided transport facility to those who could not travel on their own.

On the issue of death penalties being given to leaders of Jamat-e-Islami in Bangladesh, the spokesperson said it is an internal issue of Bangladesh. She said Pakistan did not want to interfere in the internal issues of any country.

Commenting on the report of US Defence Department, the spokesperson said Pakistan took serious exception to comments contained in that report sent to the Congress under the title ‘Progress Towards Security and Stability in Afghanistan’.

“US ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson was conveyed Pakistan’s sentiments on this report,” she said.

The spokesperson recalled that while noting Pakistan’s cooperation with the US in areas of mutual interests, the recently released report also carries unsubstantiated allegations of the existence of terrorist ‘sanctuaries’ or that proxy forces are operating from here against Afghanistan and India.

She said Pakistan’s protest over these unwarranted comments was conveyed by Adviser to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Mr Sartaj Aziz to US Ambassador Richard Olson at the Foreign Ministry the other day (Wednesday).

The spokesperson said such allegations are of particular concern at this point when the Pakistan government has launched comprehensive operations against militants in North Waziristan. The military operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ has been broadly welcomed internationally, including in the US, she added.

She said the operation has successfully eliminated terrorist hideouts and is directed against all militants, without any distinction. “We therefore hope that the issues will be seen in their correct perspective,” she added.

Commenting on the recent developments in Palestine, the spokesperson said Pakistan strongly condemned the closure of Al-Aqsa Mosque and urged the international community to play its due role for the opening of the mosque and ensure that Palestinians should be given their due rights.