ISLAMABAD - Pakistan yesterday said the United States sale of an integrated air defence weapons systems (IADWS) to India was disturbing as it would destabilise the already volatile region.

Speaking at a weekly news briefing here, Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said the advance notice issued by US Defence Security Cooperation Agency, notifying State Department’s approval of Foreign Military Sale to India of an IADWS was not a good omen for the region as it would disturb the strategic balance.

“Sale of such sophisticated weapons system to India at this time is particularly disturbing as it would further destabilise the already volatile region. The US decision would disturb the strategic balance in South Asia with serious security implications for Pakistan and the region,” she said.

The International community, she said, was fully aware of India’s aggressive policy designs against Pakistan and threatening statements of Indian political and military leaders.

“South Asia cannot afford an arms race and conflict. It is, therefore, incumbent upon international community to prevent further destabilisation of the region,” the spokesperson added. She said the defence relations between the US and India were contributing to destabilisation of peace and security in South Asia.

To a question about Pakistan’s expectations from getting out of Financial Action Task Force grey list, the spokesperson said: “We are hopeful and our partners in the international community are willing to support the country on this issue.”

Aisha Farooqui continued US President Donald Trump had offered mediation on the Kashmir dispute on several occasions.

“We hope to see those offers being translated into practical actions. We hope that the dispute of Kashmir will be raised during President Trump’s visit to India. Non resolution of this dispute is one of the most destabilising factors for peace and security in the region,” she added.

Aisha Farooqui maintained Pakistan was in regular contact with China on coronavirus issue. “Four of our four students who had been infected and had been under exemplary Chinese medical attention, they have recovered and have been discharged from the hospital,” she said.

Under Prime Minister Imran Khan’s directive, she said, the Foreign Office and “our Missions in China have doubled up efforts to make sure that all our students are taken care of and their welfare and their needs are addressed in close consultation with the Chinese authorities. The Chinese government has taken care of our students and our nationals as their own.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, she said, was in Pakistan accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising Cabinet members, senior officials and businessmen.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Erdogan will co-chair the 6th Session of the Pakistan-Turkey High Level Strategic Cooperation Council in the joint cabinet format (on February 14). At the conclusion of the session, a Joint Declaration will be signed. A number of important agreements are also expected to be concluded,” she elaborated.

Pakistan and Turkey, she said, had a unique and abiding relationship characterised by mutual support and exceptional mutual trust and understanding.

“The two countries have always been each other’s steadfast partners. Turkey supports the cause of self-determination for the people of Occupied Kashmir. Pakistan stands by Turkey on the question of Cyprus,” she remarked.

Aisha Farooqui said from February 16-19, the Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres will be visiting Pakistan. “During the visit, the Secretary-General will call on the president and the prime minister. He will also meet Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi at the Foreign Office. The Secretary-General’s other engagements included interactions with parliamentarians, media and the youth. He will deliver special talk on sustainable development, climate change and peacekeeping,” she added.

The next day, on February 17, she said, the secretary general will participate in the international Conference on 40 years of Hosting Afghan Refugees in Pakistan.

The conference will be attended by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, as well as ministers and senior officials from around 20 countries, who have been supporting the Afghan refugees across the globe, she said. “The secretary general will also pay a visit to Lahore and travel to the Gurdwara Kartarpur Saheb,” she added.

The UN secretary general’s participation in the International Conference, she said, is a “recognition of Pakistan’s exemplary compassion, generosity and resolve in hosting Afghan refugees for the past four decades and our efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan.”

Pakistan, Aisha Farooqui said, was an ardent supporter of the United Nations and has contributed significantly to the realisation of UNs’ objectives of peace and security and sustainable development in the world.

She said the international conference was taking place at an important juncture when efforts at consolidating peace in Afghanistan were making progress.

“Pakistan is confident that the conference will reinforce international efforts as agreed to in the UN Global Compact on Refugees and Global Refugee Forum to bring about a renewed focus on the Afghan refugees,” Aisha Farooqui said.

She said on the 193rd day of lockdown in Kashmir, people remained deprived of their fundamental freedoms. “Their right to liberty, health, education and food as well as continued restrictions on their freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion are being denied,” she regretted.

Aisha Farooqui regretted the Indian government had turned the occupied Kashmir into the world’s largest open prison and remains the most heavily militarized zone in the world.

“There had been a consistent pattern in Indian government resorting to some provocation or distraction around important international events. For a long time, we have also been warning the international community about the possibility of some false flag operation by India,” the spokesperson added.

She feared Pakistan was concerned about the possibility of India seeking to create some distraction during forthcoming high-profile visits to the region, including President Erdogan and UN chief’s visit to Pakistan and President Trump’s trip to India.

“Such provocations are obviously designed to divert global attention from India’s state-terrorism in Kashmir as well as from Pakistan’s ongoing successful efforts in the counter-terrorism arena and with respect to fulfilment of our obligations under the FATF regime,” she concluded.