ISLAMABAD     -   Pakistan yesterday said that India was pushing the region into an arms race as the two nuclear-armed nations go through a new wave of tension over the Kashmir issue.

Speaking at his weekly news briefing here, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal urged the world community to stop the South Asian region from falling into an arms race.

Commenting on the induction of Rafale fighter jets by India, he said Pakistan’s position “remains unchanged regarding the regional arms race. Pakistan does not engage in any arms race in the region.”

He said that Pakistan, was focusing on human development, education, health, infrastructure and other social sectors”. However, if push comes to shove, Pakistan is fully capable of defending itself as manifested on February 27, 2019,” he added.

Voicing concerns over the indefinite curfew and blatant human rights violations in Occupied Kashmir, the spokesperson said Pakistan demands lifting of all sorts of restrictions and stoppage of human rights violations in the held valley.

He said that Pakistan stands by the oppressed Kashmiri people. “We are trying to raise the plight of Kashmiri people at every avenue,” Faisal said.

Dr Faisal said that despite Indian efforts to cover up its brutalities in occupied Kashmir, the plight of the Kashmiri people was being recognized across the world.

He pointed out that three US presidential candidates have added their voice in censuring India on the appalling humanitarian situation in the valley.

He said that Pakistan will definitely support any United Nations’ intervention to resolve the Kashmir issue.

About the Kartarpur corridor, Dr Faisal said a formal invitation had been extended to former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to attend the opening ceremony of the corridor.

He said that work on Kartarpur corridor was continuing with full speed and it will be completed on time. He said the opening of the corridor will be held on time as committed by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

To a question, the spokesperson said that Pakistan was working on the dates of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit to be held in Islamabad. He said the dates will be shared when finalized.

Dr Faisal that said China supported Pakistan’s position on the Kashmir issue. “Pakistan briefed the Chinese side on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, including its concerns, position, and current urgent issues. The Chinese side responded that it was paying close attention to the current situation in Kashmir and reiterated that the Kashmir issue is a dispute left from history, and should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements. China opposes any unilateral actions that complicate the situation,” he said citing Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Beijing.

The spokesperson said that there was possibility of Prime Minister Imran Khan paying a visit to Saudi Arabia and Iran.

About the Syrian conflict, Dr Faisal said that Pakistan appreciated Turkey’s role in finding a viable political solution to the conflict. He said “we also commend Turkey’s humanitarian efforts of graciously hosting over 3.5 million Syrian refugees on its soil.”

He said that Pakistan also recognizes Turkey’s legitimate security concerns in the region. He said Pakistan continues to support the territorial integrity of Syria and hoped that a political solution to the conflict will be reached at the earliest that takes into account the concerns of all the regional stakeholders.

To a question regarding US sanctions on China over the alleged human rights violations against the Chinese Muslims, the spokesperson said, “This pertains to an internal matter of China.”

Asked about hoisting of Afghan flag in Afghan Market in Peshawar, Faisal said that the case for legal possession of the Afghan Market in Peshawar was between a private Pakistani claimant and the Afghan National Bank.

“The Supreme Court has decided in favor of the private claimant. It is a purely legal matter and action has been taken following Court’s Order. As regards any undiplomatic actions, appropriate steps would be taken,” he added.

Asked about - Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ex-wife Reham Khan’s interview to Indian channels, supporting New Delhi’s stance, Faisal said: “We do not expect any positivity from India. Those who stand with them can do so but we are firmly grounded with our country and nation and will continue to do so.”