Press Statement by the Foreign Secretary 27 April 2016
As you are aware, yesterday I visited New Delhi to attend the Senior Officials' Meeting of the Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process.
2. Pakistan is an active member of the Heart of Asia process, which has emerged as an effective platform to discuss regional cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours and regional countries and international partners to bring lasting peace and stability to Afghanistan. Pakistan successfully hosted the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia in Islamabad on 9 December 2015. The Conference unanimously adopted a forward looking Islamabad Declaration emphasizing closer regional and international cooperation for long term peace and stability in Afghanistan.
3. You may recall that the Islamabad Conference was well-attended. There were several important meetings on the sidelines of the Conference. Afghanistan, Pakistan, the US and China also established a Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) to facilitate the "Afghan-owned" and "Afghan-led" reconciliation process. The QCG members remain engaged in efforts to facilitate direct peace talks between Afghan Government and Taliban.
4. At the New Delhi Senior Officials' Meeting held yesterday, we highlighted the positive role being played by Pakistan in efforts for bringing long term peace and stability to Afghanistan. We reaffirmed our firm commitment to continued close engagement with the Government of Afghanistan. We expressed grave concern over continued violence in Afghanistan claiming innocent lives, particularly the 19 April attack in Kabul. Reiterating that politically negotiated settlement remains a viable option for lasting peace in Afghanistan, we emphasized the need of continued efforts by all the members of the QCG for early direct peace talks under the principle of shared commitment.
5. We also highlighted Pakistan's desire for promoting regional cooperation and connectivity with Afghanistan and Central Asia through projects like TAPI, CASA 1000, Railroad networks etc., which would help bring shared prosperity to our region.
6. On the sidelines of the Senior Officials' Meeting, we also held bilateral meetings with other leading delegations including Afghanistan, China, and the US to project Pakistan's perspective and efforts regarding promoting long term peace and stability in Afghanistan.
7. During my visit, I also met the head of delegation of the host country, Foreign Secretary of India, Dr. S. Jaishankar on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia, Senior Officials Meeting. We discussed bilateral relations and issues of mutual concern in a cordial environment. In line with our Prime Minister's vision of a peaceful neighborhood, I underscored the need for a structured, sustained and result-oriented comprehensive dialogue process between the two countries. However, the uninterruptible dialogue process would require commitment from both sides. I affirmed to my Indian counterpart that Pakistan believes that a sustained and structured engagement is imperative for resolving the outstanding issues.
8. During the meeting, I highlighted Pakistan's commitment to resolve all outstanding issues between the two countries including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. I emphasized that the Jammu and Kashmir dispute remained the core issue and it was vital to find a just solution to this long standing issue, as per the UN Security Council resolutions and wishes of the Kashmiri people.
9. Availing this opportunity and in the light of the confession statement by apprehended RAW officer, Kulbushan Jadev, I conveyed to the Indian side Pakistan's deep concern on the illegal entry into Pakistan by a RAW officer and his involvement in subversive activities in Karachi and Balochistan towards destabilizing Pakistan. Unfortunately, such acts undermine efforts to normalize relations between the two countries.
10. I also reiterated Pakistan's call for fair investigation and trial of the Samjhauta Express Terrorist Attack, which resulted in the death of more than 42 innocent Pakistanis. I expressed our concern over recent news items regarding efforts being made to exonerate some of the individuals who were responsible for the attack.
11. The Indian Foreign Secretary raised the Pathankot incident. In response, I informed him that the JIT had visited India from 27 March to 1 April 2016. On the basis of information received from the Indian side, the JIT is currently engaged in further investigations.
12. In addition, both sides discussed humanitarian issues, including the issue of release of all fishermen as well as prisoners who have completed their sentences. The two sides also stressed the need to facilitate the people to people exchanges including religious tourism.
13. Both sides agreed on the need to carry forward the relationship in keeping with the vision of the leadership.