FO dismisses reports of Saudi, UAE ministers saying Kashmir dispute ‘not an ummah issue’

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal on Thursday dismissed media reports that claimed that the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministers, on their recent trip to Pakistan, had told the government that Kashmir was “not a Muslim ummah related issue” and insisted that both officials had “expressed solidarity with Pakistan and support for the Kashmir cause”.

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Dr Faisal made the remarks in response to a question at the weekly media briefing at the Foreign Office. He deemed media reports regarding alleged statements by the ministers of UAE and Saudi Arabia as “speculation”.

The UAE foreign minister and Saudi state minister for foreign affairs had visited Pakistan last week and held meetings with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. The ongoing tensions in occupied Kashmir — following New Delhi’s decision to revoke the region’s special status — was one of the major issues discussed in all meetings.

The lockdown in occupied Kashmir imposed by the Indian government had entered its 40th day and reiterated Pakistan’s position that the matter should be resolved according to the resolutions passed by the United Nations, said the FO spokesperson.

When asked about United States President Donald Trump’s recent reiteration of the offer to mediate between Islamabad and New Delhi, Dr Faisal said that India was “not ready”.

When asked about United States President Donald Trump’s recent reiteration of the offer to mediate between Islamabad and New Delhi, Dr Faisal said that India was “not ready”.

“We have always been ready for bilateral dialogue as well [as mediation] and we made many attempts [to hold talks]. We have always maintained that every issue can be solved through dialogue. Now let’s see what happens,” he said.

“Jammu and Kashmir’s struggle is a […] process. It is not an event. This process is ongoing and is moving forward,” he said.

“Tomorrow, the prime minister is going to Azad Kashmir and has a policy statement for the people there. There are many [other] steps under consideration and we will inform you as they unfold. Right now, nothing is final.”

He also clarified that “no background dialogue between India and Pakistan” was underway.

Responding to questions regarding the suspension of Afghanistan peace talks, Dr Faisal said that Pakistan had always supported a process that is “led and owned by Afghans”.

“Pakistan learned about the cancellation of the meeting between US President Trump and Taliban leaders at Camp David. Pakistan wants all sides to exercise restraint and refrain from violence,” said Dr Faisal.

“Pakistan has always maintained that the only solution to the Afghan conflict lies in a politically negotiated settlement led and owned by Afghans themselves. We are hopeful that the peace talks between the United Stated and Afghan Taliban will be resumed at the earliest,” he added.

Last week, President Trump had announced that a meeting between himself, Afghan Taliban leaders were supposed to take place at Camp David and that he had called off following an attack — owned by the militants — in which a US soldier was killed.

The announcement had put into jeopardy an agreement reached “in principle” between US envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and Afghan Taliban leaders after about nine rounds of talks.

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