Pakistan opposed to arms race in South Asia: FO

Islamabad – Taking note of the recent Indo-Russia defence deal, Pakistan on Thursday said it was opposed to any arms race in South Asia and had been proposing measures for promoting restraint in both the nuclear and conventional domains.

This came during the weekly press briefing from Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal, he said “However, we cannot remain oblivious to these developments and are firmly committed to maintaining credible minimum deterrence through taking any measures, as necessary. Let me assure you that Pakistan is fully confident of its ability to do so.”

He was responding to the conclusion of multibillion-dollar air defence deal signed between Russia and India during the recent visit of Russian President Viladmir Putin to New Delhi. The defence pact also drew reaction from the United States, which warned India of the possible implications of striking such a deal with Russia.

The spokesperson said countries which were providing weapons to India should make sure that their assistance does not disturb the balance of power in the region.

Answering a question, Faisal said that Pakistan has not shied away from talks with India and was open to discuss all issues including Jammu and Kashmir, Sir Creek, Siachen and terrorism.

On China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the spokesperson made it clear that Pakistan was not reviewing the multibillion-dollar project.

“There is no plan to review the CPEC projects. The alleged statement of the prime minister was out of context and a press release has been issued clarifying the position,” he added.

He also said that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia held discussions about the possibility of Riyadh investing in projects in Pakistan under CPEC. However, the details had not been worked out as yet, he added.

“It is worth mentioning that both Pakistan and China are open to third party or country investments in some projects of CPEC including SEZs. Besides Saudi Arabia, other countries are also welcome to invest in SEZs under CPEC.”

On the Pak-US relations, Faisal said that engagements with Washington had increased ever the since the assumption of present government.

About recently held talks with US special representative Zalmay Khalilzad, the spokesperson said Pakistan conveyed to the US side that it would take all possible steps in good faith to facilitate the political settlement in Afghanistan.

“However, it remains a shared responsibility. The role of the US, Afghan government and other regional players is also important,” he said. Answering another question, the spokesperson denied there was any ban on the international non -governmental organisations in Pakistan.

"Monitoring Desk"

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