ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Thursday said it had shared objectives with the United States in the region.

Addressing a weekly news briefing here, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohamed Faisal said Pakistan had a relationship with the US which was based on trust and mutual respect.

“Peace and stability in Afghanistan is a shared objective for both Pakistan and the US. Pakistan has always extended maximum possible cooperation that could help achieve our shared objectives. Peace in Afghanistan can be secured through an Afghan-led and Afghan owned peace process that offers incentives for all the Afghan stakeholders,” he added.

Faisal said Pakistan took respite in the fact that it was the only country in the region to successfully check and turn the corner in its fight against terrorism by conducting indiscriminate and comprehensive counter-terrorism operations.

“Today, we can state with conviction that our law enforcing agencies continue to squeeze the space for individual militants and that there is no organised presence of terrorist groups within our territory,” he said.

The spokesperson added: “On our part, we are committed to supporting all efforts leading to a lasting peace in the region, including the Afghan government’s offer of peace talks made during the recent Kabul process meeting.  We will continue to support all efforts to this end.”

He said the US visit by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua was part of “our continued engagement with Washington and is reflective of our desire to find common ground for working together with the US side and the effort to achieve our objective in Afghanistan - peace and stability.”

The meeting that the Foreign Secretary will be having with her American interlocutors will provide an opportunity to exchange views in this regard, he added.

Faisal said Pakistan had welcomed and supported President Ashraf Ghani’s vision of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and offer of peace talks with the Taliban.

Pakistan, he said, constructively participated in the second Kabul Process meeting in pursuance of its policy to be a part of all multilateral forums geared towards bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Faisal said Pakistan appreciated Uzbekistan’s initiative to convene a Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan. “We support Uzbekistan in its endeavour to contribute towards bringing lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. In our view, Afghanistan’s neighbours should play an active role in the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. We believe that a regional solution would be the most suitable to settle the conflict in Afghanistan. As a matter of state policy, we have been participating in all international initiatives on Afghanistan. We will participate at the highest possible level in the Ministerial Conference in Tashkent on March 26-27, 2017,” he elaborated.

He said in Pakistan’s view, long term stability in Afghanistan was crucial for all the neighbouring countries for securing peace, security and economic development. “The presence of ISIS and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan poses a threat to all countries in the region and, therefore, is a matter of paramount importance and interest for all these countries vis a vis Afghanistan,” he said.

Pakistan, he said, had been the largest trading partner of Afghanistan for a long time. “However, only recently we have slipped to the second position. Pakistan still remains the largest market for Afghan exports. Geographic proximity and the Afghan consumers’ confidence on Pakistani products are the principal strengths through which we can recapture our lost share in Afghan market,” he said.

Regarding Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, he said, Pakistan and Iran enjoyed close cordial and good neighbourly relations. “The two are cooperating in various fields. We have not received any official communication regarding claims of damages on IP Gas Pipeline project from the Iranian side,” he said. 

Faisal said the upcoming visit of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif Khonsari to Pakistan will definitely improve the economic and trade ties between the two countries.

On violations by India along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, the spokesperson said it was imperative that New Delhi realised the importance of dialogue and resolution of disputes through diplomatic means. 

“Any suspension of dialogue is unwanted. Pakistan wants all issues with India to be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue. We have extended all humanitarian gestures to India that can help de-escalate the situation,” he said.

He condemned the Indian aggression and state terrorism in held Kashmir.

“Continuing Indian atrocities against innocent Kashmiris in Kashmir have made a mockery of the Human Rights Charter. Resultantly, since July 2016, scores of innocent Kashmiris have been killed while hundreds are injured,” he said.

Faisal said the international community cannot stay silent on the human rights violations if it wished the Human Rights Charter to stay meaningful and credible.

Regarding Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Keshav Gokhale’s visit to Pakistan, he said: “No proposal has been received from India about any such visit so far.”

Asked about Pakistan’s official stance on the ongoing Syrian crisis particularly the humanitarian issue in Eastern Ghouta region, he said an elderly Pakistani couple required assistance in Eastern Ghouta. “As a result of our efforts we were able to ensure their safe passage from the area, for which we are grateful to all concerned,” he added.

On the crisis in Ghouta, only recently, the UN Security Council had adopted a unanimous resolution (2401) on the situation in Syria addressing the humanitarian aspects, he recalled, adding Pakistan supported the UNSC resolution 2401.

Faisal said the Organisation of Islamic Conference Foreign Ministers Conference was expected in May this year and “these issues will certainly come under discussion under relevant agenda item.”

Regarding dual nationals, he said, the Foreign office can never be reluctant in submitting the list to the Supreme Court. “In fact, we have already submitted it. The Supreme Court has now desired to get the list of spouses and family members of the officers as well, which will also be submitted soon,” he said.

Earlier, the spokesperson gave a roundup of the diplomatic activities over the week.