Pakistan said on Thursday that it attached importance to its longstanding relationship with the US which is “critical” for promoting peace and security in the region even as it opposed America’s unilateral drone strikes on its territory. Ignoring a question on media reports that the Trump administration might toughen its policy towards Islamabad, Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria highlighted the importance of Pakistan’s ties with the US, saying the relationship encompasses cooperation in various fields.
“We firmly believe that continued close cooperation between our two countries is critical for promoting peace and security in the region and beyond,” he said. He also said that counter-terrorism operations were driven by Pakistan’s national interests and are directed against all terrorists without discrimination and distinction.
“It remains our firm resolve not to let our soil be used against any country. We are determined to that,” he said. Talking about the possible increase in US drone strikes, Zakaria said that such strikes were against sovereignty of Pakistan and are “unacceptable”.
To a question on border fencing with Afghanistan, he said border management was an essential component of Pakistan’s counter-terrorism strategy and fencing is one of its measures. “We believe that to stem the cross-border movement of terrorists, effective border management is imperative. Our efforts of border management are aimed at facilitating movement of people, trade and transit and curb the movement of terrorists,” he said.
Zakaria also dismissed the reported criticism of the Afghan government over the fencing, saying “we are undertaking the fencing on our side of the border”. He said Pakistan was in contact with Afghanistan for the safe and early recovery of the two diplomatic staffers who were abducted while they were travelling from Jalalabad to Islamabad.
“The Afghan government has informed us that they have constituted three special investigation teams to locate and recover the missing officials. We hope and pray that the missing officials would be safely recovered at an early date,” he said.
Zakaria also confirmed that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will be visiting Pakistan over the weekend to discuss “all issues of mutual interest including the regional situation”. He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had congratulated Mohammad Bin Salman on his appointment as a Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.