ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Thursday said it wanted to forget the controversy over the telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Imran Khan and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ahead of the US top diplomat’s visit to Islamabad on September 5.

Speaking at a news briefing here, Foreign Office Spokesman Mohammed Faisal said Pakistan had decided not to take further the issue of telephonic conversation between Imran Khan and Mike Pompeo.

“We would want the episode to end. Politically we need to move on,” he said when asked about the report in The Nation that the US had shared the transcript of the telephonic conversation.

On Pompeo’s visit, he said: “Discussions with the US Secretary of State, on the other hand will focus on all issues of mutual interest.”

He said Pakistan’s believed view, the financial matters, especially any prospective decision regarding multilateral financial institutions, was an entirely different subject.

To a question about possible meeting between Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, he said: “In the wake of recent overtures by both Pakistan and India to lessen the ever-widening gulf between the two neighbours, some future steps are under consideration.”

He said the Informal Session of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Council of Ministers take place every year on the sidelines of the UNGA Session in New York. “So, this year too the informal session will be held,” he added.

Faisal said the Kartarpura Corridor can be one of the moves to improve Pak-India ties, however, it cannot be considered in isolation.

He said Pakistan-India relations were a complex conundrum. “There are no easy solutions to the difficult problems facing both the countries.  Any move for peace will definitely ensure tranquility on the Line of Control and the Worming Boundary and resolution of all outstanding issues, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.  The road would be difficult, but I can assure you that we, both India and Pakistan, have to take this journey,” the spokesperson said.

He said recently, the militaries of Pakistan and India took part in a mega anti-terror drill of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Russia aimed at expanding cooperation among the member countries.

“The Joint Exercise titled ‘Peace Mission 2018’ was conducted by the Central Military Commission of Russia at Chebarkul, in the Ural Mountains of Russia from 22-29 Aug 2018 within the SCO framework. The exercise was aimed at enhancing tactical level cooperation among member countries for countering terrorism. Around 3,000 soldiers from China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, India and Pakistan took part in the joint military drills,” he elaborated.

Faisal said the exercise was part of the routine joint military exercises conducted under the aegis of SCO to strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation among the Member States.

“As a member of this important organisation, Pakistan is open to collaborate with all other Member States in the area of counter-terrorism. Pakistan believes that cooperation amongst member states will further boost SCO’s vision of regional peace, stability and development within the ambit of the organization and beyond,” he said.

On anti-terror efforts, Faisal said the latest twenty second report of the Monitoring Team of the United Nations Security Council 1267 Sanctions Committee lauded Pakistan’s counter terrorism efforts by acknowledging that extensive counter-terrorist operations have led to a reduction in the terrorism in the country.

Earlier, in February 2018, he said, the Monitoring Team in its 21st Report had also noted with appreciation that Pakistani military operations have “denied space for ISIL to establish an organizational structure in the area.”

He said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was in Islamabad for talks with the Pakistani counterpart and meetings with other leaders.

He said Chabahar and Gwadar ports were both complementary projects. “We are considering the Iranian invitation to become part of the Chabahar port and we want to move forward together.  The presence of India has nothing to do with Pakistan and benefit us,” he maintained.

About the upcoming visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, he said: “Both sides will exchange views on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor being one of the important components of the bilateral relations will also be discussed. Pakistan and China are iron brothers.”

 In response to statement by Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry spokesperson Najib Danish accusing Pakistan’s military establishment of supporting Taliban, he said, “These are mere accusations without any solid proof and contribute to muddling up of bilateral relations.”

To a question about blasphemous cartoon contest in the Netherlands, the Foreign Office spokesperson said Pakistan has taken up the issue with the government of Netherlands and conveyed the concerns of Pakistan about it. He said strong protest was also lodged with the Netherlands’ Charge d Affairs in Pakistan. He said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will also highlight the issue at the upcoming UN General Assembly session.

Faisal said the matter had been taken up at the level of Organization of Islamic Cooperation and several other fora for raising a forceful voice over this emotional subject. Faisal said no decision had been taken so far on expelling the Dutch ambassador over the issue of blasphemous sketches contest.

About changes in foreign policy, the spokesperson said that special emphasizes was expected to be given on Pakistani diaspora to benefit both Pakistan and the overseas Pakistanis.

Earlier, Faisal gave a round-up of the diplomatic activities after Qureshi took over as the Foreign Minister. He condemned the Indian excesses in held Kashmir.



Forget Imran-Pompeo call controversy: FO