In weekly press briefing, Foreign Office spokesman reiterates warnings of Delhi committing ‘grave human rights abuses’ in India-held Kashmir
Welcoming U.S. efforts to jump-start the Afghanistan peace process and expedite a political settlement between Kabul and the Taliban, Pakistan on Thursday stressed that it had continuously maintained that there is no military solution to the conflict.
In his weekly press briefing, Foreign Office spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri emphasized that Pakistan had played a positive role in facilitating the U.S.-Taliban Peace Agreement and subsequent intra-Afghan negotiations. Noting that it was important for all Afghan stakeholders to continue negotiations and pursue an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, he said all sides must work together for an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement.
To a question, he said Pakistan supported the regional approach to resolving the Afghan conflict and had no issues with India participating—as has been proposed by the U.S. However, he added, India has not been a “constructive partner” for peace in Afghanistan.
To another question, the spokesman reiterated that India was trying to alter the demographic makeup of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, adding that 3.28 million fake domicile certificates had already been issued to non-Kashmiris for their permanent settlement in the disputed region. Branding all such efforts as “illegal,” he said they must be immediately reversed.
Chaudhri also reiterated that India was committing “grave human rights violations” in Jammu and Kashmir, but noted that the international community and global bodies, including the United Nations, were highlighting the issue.
The Foreign Office spokesman said the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation was an important regional forum, and Pakistan was committed to its functioning. He said Islamabad believes that all artificial obstacles preventing the “long overdue” SAARC summit from proceeding should be removed. To a question, he said India was procuring arms beyond its security needs, posing a serious threat to regional peace and stability.
To a question about the whereabouts of retired military officer Muhammad Habib Zahir, who went missing in Nepal in 2017, Chaudhri claimed he had been “abducted” from Lumbini, Nepal, a mere 5 kilometers from the Indian border. He said Nepal, on Pakistan’s request, had constituted a special team to look into the incident but there has been no progress in the matter so far.
The spokesman alleged that there was “strong evidence” that Indian agencies were involved in Zahir’s abduction, adding that Indian nationals had reportedly received the retired official at Lumbini, made his hotel reservations, and booked his tickets. He said the website that had contacted Zahir was also operated from India.
Citing Indian media reports and tweets from Indian personnel, Chaudhri said they corroborated Islamabad’s view that he was in Indian custody. He said Islamabad had repeatedly called upon Delhi to help it locate Zahir, but had yet to receive any positive response. Terming the abduction a sharp contravention to international law, especially human rights and humanitarian law, the spokesman said it was a “grave” matter that should be taken up by the international community, including human rights organizations.
He vowed that Pakistan would continue to make all out efforts to locate and bring back Zahir.