ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office said on Thursday that it supported the Ummah’s unity and had no sectarian or racial considerations in relations with countries in the Muslim world.
Responding to reports in international media that Saudi Arabia was trying to unify Sunni states against the self-styled Islamic State’s threat and Iran, Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said: “Pakistan always stood for the unity of the Muslim Ummah. We do not look at Muslim Ummah through sectarian, racial or ethnic prism.”
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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s three-day visit to Saudi Arabia on the invitation of King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud took place as part of hectic diplomatic outreach by the Kingdom in the face of evolving regional situation, which also saw Egyptian and Turkish presidents visiting Saudi Arabia.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had, during Prime Minister Sharif’s meeting with King Salman, agreed on Wednesday on security cooperation.
No details have been shared about the nature of security cooperation the two countries are envisioning. The existing security cooperation is about training, joint military drills, and operational preparedness.
Media reports have suggested that Saudi Arabia is asking Pakistan to increase troops’ deployment in the Kingdom.
Speaking about cooperation with Saudi Arabia against IS, Ms Aslam said: “Terrorism is a menace that no country can fight alone. We cooperate with other countries and also need cooperation of all countries. The prime minister met the king yesterday. They underscored the close and brotherly relations between two countries. They also identified a number of fields for enhanced bilateral cooperation, including energy, trade, investment, security and of course, counter-terrorism efforts.”
Regarding reports about the US slowing down its withdrawal from Afghanistan, Ms Aslam confirmed the perception that Pakistan supported the idea and said: “We have been suggesting a responsible drawdown.”
US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter had, after his visit to Kabul, hinted at the likely extension in the timetable for withdrawal of remaining 10,000 US troops from Afghanistan. The US had originally planned to complete the withdrawal by the end of 2016.
Pakistan Ambassador to the US Jalil Abbass Jilani had earlier said that slowing down US troops’ withdrawal would be viewed positively by Pakistan.
The spokesperson said that it was for the Afghan government to decide how long it required foreign troops to stay in Afghanistan and the nature of security cooperation with them.
AFGHAN DIPLOMATS: The spokesperson regretted detention of two Afghan Consulate officials in Peshawar as inadvertent.
Kabul had strongly reacted to the brief detention of the officials by the KP police, who were later described as diplomats.
Explaining the incident, Ms Aslam said: “On 26 February 2015, during a regular security check at an apartment building in Peshawar, some people were taken to police station to ascertain their credentials. It turned out that two employees of the Afghan Consulate in Peshawar, who were not registered with the police as tenants, were among them. Once diplomatic credentials of the Consulate’s employees were established, they were immediately released.”
She said the incident was inadvertent.
“Nevertheless, all concerned have been advised to be careful in dealing with diplomats to avoid any future recurrence. The diplomats are also advised to inform the local authorities about their location to obviate the possibility of such incidents,” she added.
REKI: The spokesperson said that Iran had only sought consular access to arrested Iranian national Abdul Salam Reki, who is suspected of links with Jundallah.
“We have just received a request from the Iranian Consulate in Quetta for consular access to Reki and not for his extradition,” she said.
Reki is said to be a cousin of Jundallah leader Abdul Malik Reki, in whose capture in 2011 Pakistani law-enforcement agencies are believed to have cooperated with Iran.
Iranian news agency Fars quoted Iranian Gen Masoud Rezvani as saying that Tehran had asked Islamabad to hand over Abdul Salam Reki to Iran.