ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Friday said it will continue to extend full support to Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation process as peace and stability in Afghanistan is vital for it.

Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam in a weekly briefing said Pakistan always supported Afghan reconciliation and was ready to facilitate the process.

When her attention was drawn towards reports of fresh talks between Afghan Taliban and the United States in Qatar, she said, “Our point is very clear that peace and stability in Afghanistan is important for Pakistan. We do believe that Afghanistan government should lead the reconciliation process.”

Tasneem said Pakistan’s foreign secretary visited Afghanistan and discussed the issue of repatriation of Afghan refugees. Under an agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, all Afghan refugees had to be sent back to their country by the end of this year. She said an Afghan delegation will soon visit Pakistan to discuss this issue.

The spokesperson welcoming decision of Indian government to send their foreign secretary to Pakistan said Pakistan has never hesitated to hold negotiations with India. She said when the two foreign secretaries will meet they will discuss all the issues. She said all outstanding issues between Pakistan and India should be resolved through dialogue.

Recently, Indian Prime Minister Nerandra Modi had made a telephone call to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif telling him that Indian foreign secretary would like to visit Pakistan as part of his visits to all Saarc countries for beefing up ties with the neighbouring states. PM Nawaz told him that Islamabad would warmly welcome the Indian top official, rekindling hopes the two nuclear neighbours wanted a thaw in their icy relations.

The Foreign Office spokesperson said that Pakistan never stayed away to engage with India to discuss all the issues and disputes. To a question she however said the dates and agenda for foreign secretary level talks between India and Pakistan had not been yet finalised.

Responding to a question about the visit of General (r) Durrani to India, the spokesperson said there are many options being utilised for Track-II diplomacy but added that these could not be a substitute for formal dialogue between the two counties.

To a question about the Samjohta Express incident, the spokesperson said that India has not shared the investigation. She said despite highest level assurance by the leadership of India the investigation has not been shared with Pakistan at any level. She said no progress has been made even at the level of investigation of the incident and urged India to complete the probe and punish the culprits.

Regarding boat incident, the spokesperson said that Pakistan conducted its own investigation into the issue and the authorities confirmed that no boat from Pakistan was found missing at that time.

A few days ago a video surfaced showing India Coast Guard DIG BK Loshali bragging that he had ordered his force’s patrol vessel ICGS Rajratan to “blow off” the suspicious Pakistani fishing boat on the intervening night of December 31-January 1. This contradicted the sequence of events given out by the Indian defence ministry and Coast Guard soon after the incident. A red-faced government was then forced to launch a damage-control exercise on Wednesday.

Responding to a query about the reservations of European Parliament delegation regarding death penalty, the spokesperson said, “EU had its own position on it and Pakistan has its own position.” She said the death sentence was being given only in the cases of terrorism adding “we are not violating any international law.” She explained that Military Courts have been established to conduct trial of the terrorists and these courts had been established through an act of parliament. The spokesperson said Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar is on official visit to United States to attend a conference on counter-terrorism.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had approved the lifting of a moratorium on the death penalty after a Taliban attack in Peshawar killed 148 people, including more than 130 schoolchildren. In the wake of the lifting of the six-year-long moratorium, around 12 death-row prisoners were executed some of whom were convicted for involvement in an attack on former military ruler Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf.