ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Mumtaz Zehra Baloch said Thursday that reports of the arrest of Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto are “false” and “contrary to facts”.
At a weekly press briefing, the spokesperson of the FO commented that a question over this was not expected from any “serious” journalist.
She was asked to comment on it following certain social media reports claiming that Bilawal had been arrested in New York during his visit.
To a question about the number of foreign visits by the FM after assuming office, she shared a list of the countries as — Saudi Arabia (twice), United Arab Emirates (twice), United States (thrice), China (twice), Switzerland, Iran, Uzbekistan (twice), Cambodia, Uzbekistan, Germany, Egypt, Indonesia and Singapore.
‘Pakistan in constant touch with Afghanistan over resurgence in terrorism’
Pakistan is in constant touch with the interim government of Afghanistan regarding the resurgence of terrorist incidents and cross-border violence, Baloch said during the briefing.
“We have agreed to continue established institutional mechanism with Afghanistan to prevent such incidents,” she said, in response to a question on the clashes between the security forces of Pakistan and Afghanistan in the Chaman-Spin Boldak area.
The spokesperson said Pakistan had reiterated to the Afghan authorities that the protection of civilians was the responsibility of both sides.
“Pakistan remains committed to maintaining its fraternal relations with Afghanistan and ensuring that peace is maintained,” she said.
She mentioned that Pakistan continued to engage with international players, including neighbouring Afghanistan to ensure that the terrorism emanating from Afghan soil could not affect it.
She hoped that the Afghan authorities would work towards fulfilling the commitments made to Pakistan to not allow their territory to be used against its neighbour.
China’s leverage to counter TTP
Asked if Pakistan was using China’s leverage to counter Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the backdrop of the country’s engagement with Afghanistan, Baloch said Pakistan and China were close strategic partners.
“We consult each other on all matters of interest including counter-terrorism and on the situation in Afghanistan,” she said.
In response to the delay in disbursement of salaries to Pakistan’s missions abroad, the spokesperson said the process had been restored that faced suspension due to a “very complicated” issue pertaining to the Ministry of Finance, the State Bank, and international channels. “Soon all the missions will have theie requisite funds,” she said.
Asked about the update on the status of Indian serving Navy Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav who is serving a death sentence in Pakistan, she said, “There is no change in the status.”
‘India masqueraded itself as a victim of terrorism’
The FO spokesperson said last week, the Indian delegation once again politicised an international forum to project its agenda to target and malign Pakistan.
For the last several years, India politicised the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) process to prevent Pakistan’s exit from the grey list and is following a similar agenda at the UN Security Council, she added.
“For a country that has a grandiose vision about itself and its place in the world, India has been unable to act as a responsible member of the international community that can assume new privileges that it aspires,” she said.
Baloch said India masqueraded itself as a victim of terrorism, yet it is itself a perpetrator of repression in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and a sponsor and financier of terrorist groups in South Asia, including Pakistan.
“We are concerned about the rise of extremist nationalism in India and its expansionist designs for the region. We still await condemnation from the Indian leadership on the recent call for violence and assassination by a BJP leader from Bhagpat,” she said.
With additional input from APP