Pakistan is part of Saudi led 34-country alliance against terrorism: FO
He stated this while giving a weekly briefing at the Foreign Office in Islamabad today.
He said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are close friends and they cooperate with each other in diverse fields. He said Pakistan supported regional and international efforts for elimination of terrorism.
The spokesman said sacrifices of the martyred students of APS Peshawar would not be allowed to go in waste as the nation is more united today.
To a question, Mr. Khalilullah said Pakistan wants meaningful dialogue with India to solve all bilateral issues.
What is 34-nation alliance against terrorism?
Saudi Arabia announced on December 15 the formation of a military coalition of 34 countries to fight “terrorism” in the Islamic world, in the latest sign of a more assertive foreign policy by the kingdom.
The alliance was announced by Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also defence minister, on the same day that peace talks between the Yemeni government and Iran-backed rebels began in Switzerland, accompanied by a shaky ceasefire.
The prince told a rare news conference that the Riyadh-based coalition will “be a partner in the worldwide fight against this scourge” of terrorism in the Islamic world.
The coalition will fight “any terrorist organisation that appears”, Mohammed said when asked if it would concentrate only on the Islamic State (IS) group of Sunni extremists in Syria and Iraq.
Below is full text of FO briefing:
At the outset, let me set the record right in respect of a news item published in the Dawn of yesterday, 16 December 2015, which quoted the Foreign Secretary as saying that Pakistan was “surprised” by its inclusion in the 34-Nation Alliance against terrorism, announced by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
We reject the remarks attributed to the Foreign Secretary as incorrect and misleading. Mr. Baqir Sajjad Syed had misquoted the Foreign Secretary. We do not know why. Let me clarify that, in response to questions during his informal interaction with journalists on 15 December 2015, the Foreign Secretary had merely said that “we are ascertaining details” about the announcement made by Saudi Arabia concerning the alliance. As guided by him, I had also given the same response to the reporters who contacted me. As you are aware, we issued a formal response later in the day welcoming the formation of the alliance against terrorism.
I wish to emphasize that we respect views and analysis of all correspondents. However, we expect that they will not be mixed with facts to mislead the readers, particularly about Pakistan’s relations with important countries. Ethics are important in every profession. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be conveying its concerns to the management of Dawn newspaper about the misleading report by Mr. Baqir Sajjad Syed.
First Anniversary of the Terrorist Attack on APS Peshawar
As you are aware, the first anniversary of the horrific terrorist attack on the Army Public School Peshawar was observed yesterday. The leadership, officers and staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and their families join the nation in paying tribute to the Martyrs of APS Peshawar who lost their precious lives in the cowardly terrorist attack a year ago. We share the pain and grief of the parents, brothers and sisters of the Martyrs and respect and appreciate the courage with which they have borne their irreparable loss.
The sacrifices of APS Peshawar Martyrs have not gone in vain. The nation today is united more than ever before in its resolve to eliminate the menace of terrorism and extremism from the soil of Pakistan, once for all. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to apprise the international community of the sacrifices given by the people of Pakistan while combating terrorism, in order to make the world a safer and a better place.
The Floor is now Open for Questions
My question refers to your statement on Saudi Alliance. In very careful remarks you said that Pakistan welcomes the formation of the 34 countries’ alliance. Does this welcome mean that Pakistan has formally joined or that Pakistan was consulted? Please also let us know since how long Pakistan has been in negotiations? Whether these negotiations were open or secret and why Pakistan was surprised that it has been included in this alliance?
How can a country welcome any coalition without having any information since we have said that we are still waiting for details?
Syria, Iraq and Iran have not been included in this alliance. The question is Pakistan also has friendly relations with Iran. What if Iran takes it as some sort of antagonism against it?
Since it is going to be a military alliance, do we know whether our army is actually going to participate in this alliance and if something happens anywhere in the world in the name of terrorism would Pakistan send its army? What is the arrangement of this alliance?
Our press release issued yesterday is self-explanatory. Pakistan has consistently supported all regional and international efforts to combat terrorism and extremism. It is in this context that we have welcomed this alliance against terrorism. We are seeking additional information to decide the extent of our participation in various activities of this alliance.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy close brotherly relations and have been cooperating with each other in various fields including in fight against terrorism. We maintain close contact with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia bilaterally and within the framework of OIC and have been exchanging ideas on how to deal with the increasing threats posed by terrorists and extremist mindset to the region.
It is for each country to respond to various developments that are taking place at the regional and international level. I will not comment on why some countries are not included in the 34-Nation alliance against terrorism.
In response to the question of Mr. Essa Naqvi, I wish to draw your attention to our press release, which clearly states that further details are awaited to decide the extent of Pakistan’s participation in various activities of the alliance against terrorism.
Was Pakistan consulted before inclusion in this alliance?
I have already responded to this question.
My question is regarding the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue with India that was recently announced on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia Conference. What does this change in the name of the dialogue process suggest? How is it different from the Composite Dialogue?
All the elements that were part of the Composite Dialogue are included in the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue that was announced on 09 December 2015, in Islamabad. What is important is to have a dialogue between the two countries, which is uninterrupted and result-oriented.
Whenever Pakistan-India dialogue is about to take place some elements try to sabotage this process, like the response in the Indian Parliament on the speech of the Indian External Affairs Minister. Can you comment on what happened in the Indian Parliament? Do you think that the process which is going to start next month will be affected by such elements?
As you are aware, our Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs also made a statement on Pakistan-India relations in our Parliament.
I cannot comment on what happened in the Indian Parliament. It is their internal matter. You must attach significance to the fact that the statement issued on 9 December 2015 in Islamabad was a Joint Statement. It is important to make sustained efforts to realize the shared vision of the leadership of the two countries of a peaceful and stable South Asia.
After the participation of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in the Heart of Asia Conference in Islamabad, what feedback is coming from Kabul on the extent of the anti-Pakistan sentiments, whether it has died down?
As you know, several bilateral meetings were held on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia Conference which were very successful. Meetings also took place at the trilateral and quadrilateral levels. The leadership of Afghanistan was here and able to meet with our leadership and discuss bilateral issues in order to further enhance our relations and cooperation. As you know, Pakistan attaches great importance to peace and stability in Afghanistan. We have been supporting Afghanistan and the peace process. The interests of both countries are best served by enhancing cooperation, rather than getting involved in a blame game.
Have you started to act in the capacity of facilitator for Afghan reconciliation? Have contacts been established by Pakistani authorities with Afghan Taliban? And when is an outcome expected in the matter?
Important trilateral and quadrilateral meetings held on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia Conference were helpful in reaching a broad consensus on resuming the peace talks and the way forward. All four countries will be working together to chalk out the way forward.
The Islamic Military Alliance that has been welcomed by Pakistan does not include Iran, Iraq and Syria. How do you see the prospects of the alliance in the absence of such important countries?
I can only comment on Pakistan’s position. Our statement makes it clear in the very beginning that Pakistan supports all efforts made at regional and international levels because terrorism is a global issue. The 34-Nation alliance has been formed to combat terrorism. That is why we welcomed it. I do not want to comment on why some countries are not part of the alliance.