ISLAMABAD - Eight rounds of bilateral consultations between Pakistan and Russia will be held in Islamabad on April 25 with main focus on strategic issues including disarmament, non-proliferation, arms control issues and strategic stability in South Asia.

We attach high importance to our relations with Russia”, Foreign Office Spokesperson Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry said in his weekly press briefing on Thursday, adding that situation in Afghanistan was not part of these consultations.

The spokesman said: “Pakistan is not a part of any scoring game on its nuclear programme and it is only for deterrence purposes. Pakistan, as a responsible nuclear weapon state, attaches high importance to the objectives of disarmament and non-proliferation, which can be advanced by ensuring equal security for all states.

He noted that Pakistan strictly abides by the concept of credible minimum deterrence.  “We have also instituted robust command and control structures, comprehensive export controls and effective regulatory regimes”, he added.

The spokesman said that during Chemical Weapons Convention in Hague, Pakistan had reiterated its commitment to the Chemical Weapons Convention and highlighted the steps taken by Pakistan in preventing any misuse of toxic chemicals and promoting peaceful uses of chemistry. “We adopted the stance that all nations and countries should be de-weaponised without any discrimination".

When his attention was drawn towards maltreatment of overseas Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia, the spokesperson said that Pakistan took up the matter with the Saudi Authorities and the Pakistan counsel general visited the deportation camps and jails. Pakistan has also written a letter to Saudi King saying that Pakistanis are contributing to Saudi economy, he added.

Saudi Arabia has given a three months grace period to Pakistanis living in Saudi Arabia to regularise their status, he said, adding that Pakistan Embassy there was in touch with Saudi Authorities to protect the interests of our people.

We are heartened to note the announcement made by the Saudi government that it has given a three month grace period to all Pakistanis to fulfil their legal requirements. We do hope that we will be able to facilitate and protect the interests of Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia”, the spokesperson added. 

Answering a question about travel advisory issued by the US State Department for its citizens‚ the spokesman said that Pakistan security situation got improved to a great deal and a number of visitors and investors were coming to the country.

Regarding European Union election observers’ decision of not travelling to Fata and Balochistan‚ he said it was their own decision.

The spokesperson said that besides the EU election observer mission, Pakistan had received requests from National Democratic Institute and Commonwealth Secretariat, adding that some countries including the United Kingdom, Turkey, United States, Malaysia, Australia, Mauritius, Japan and Maldives had also approached Islamabad to send their election observers.

The requests are being processed under the established SOPs. Pakistan’s leadership and authorities concerned were determined to facilitate the holding of free, fair and transparent elections”, he said.

The spokesperson noted that the government had decided to welcome foreign election observers to witness the transparency of the electoral process. He said that the Interior Ministry would issue travel advisory to the observers. “According to the established procedure, the Ministry of Interior will give the foreign election observers security briefing”, the spokesperson added.

On Pak-Afghanistan relations, he admitted that there were challenges‚ but Pakistan and Afghan leadership were trying to resolve the issues. “Peaceful‚ stable and prosperous Afghanistan is in the interest of Pakistan.

On India’s concern about handing over of Gwadar Port to China, the spokesman said: “Pak-China relations are sources of strength and stability in the region and both the countries are time-tested friends.” He maintained growing Pak-Sino ties should not be a matter of concern for any country, adding that Gwadar Port is a bilateral matter.

On Pak-India ties, the spokesman said: “We have shown degree of responsibility and restraint on incidents of violations on the Line of Control and hostile statements by India.

 Regarding current status of Pakistan-US relations, he said: “We have regular contacts with the US at all levels and relationship is being advanced on the basis of mutual respect, dignity and mutuality of benefits.” He hoped that the new elected leadership in Pakistan would take the progress of Pak-US relations’ forward.

He said that Pakistan has shown concerns over the current tensions between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and South Korea and reiterated its longstanding call for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

Pakistan shares the concern of international community on the recent tension and deteriorating situation in Korean Peninsula,” the spokesperson said.