FO dismisses claims of US setting up 'regional drone hub' in Pakistan

It was not on agenda and it was not discussed, therefore, there is no need for speculation, says FO spokesperson

Mariana Baabar
Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Baloch addressing the weekly briefing. — Facebook/Foreign Office
Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Baloch addressing the weekly briefing. — Facebook/Foreign Office 

  • Pakistan very "encouraged" by dialogue on counterterrorism with US.
  • FO confirms CJP Bandial skipping SCO meeting in India.
  • Says CJP skipping moot due to unavoidable commitments on scheduled dates.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday dismissed the claims that it had shown a willingness to the United States for allowing a “regional drone hub” on its soil as part of its continuing dialogue on counterterrorism.

“There was no discussion on the topic (regional drone hub). It was not on the agenda and it was not discussed and, therefore, there is no need for speculation in that matter,” said Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Baloch said during the weekly media briefing.

Instead, she explained, Pakistan was very encouraged by the recent dialogue on counterterrorism with the US.

“It was a good opportunity for the two sides to discuss counterterrorism issues, as the challenge of terrorism is a challenge for the entire world. The topics that we covered included cooperation at multilateral forums, cyber security, countering violent extremism. Of course, the discussion was also held on capacity-building matters, especially in anti-money laundering. As you know, Pakistan has already developed a very robust mechanism following the FATF process to curb money laundering and financial flows to terrorist organisations,” she said.

The spokesperson underlined that Islamabad and Washington were old friends and their engagement with each other on all matters was based on the interest of both countries.

The spokesperson was also asked about the Indian reports of Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial skipping an SCO meeting in New Delhi.

“Due to his unavoidable commitments on the scheduled meeting dates, the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan will not be able to participate in the SCO Meeting of the Chief Justices of the Supreme Courts scheduled from 10-12 March 202. He has accordingly conveyed his regrets to his Indian counterpart who is the current chair/host of the meeting,” clarified Baloch.

When asked about the future SCO meetings and whether Pakistan would attend, she said, “I would like to say that Pakistan considers Shanghai Cooperation Organisation to be an important organisation, where Pakistan regularly participates and we will continue to participate in all activities and constructively contribute to its outcomes. Now, regarding the in-person participation that you have asked about, at this stage we do not have final decisions.”

To queries on a US intelligence report submitted in the US Congressional hearing which said that it apprehends increased tension between India and Pakistan and India and China with the possibility of a conflict between them, the spokeswoman said Pakistan had consistently advocated peace and dialogue in South Asia.

“Our foreign policy is based on building partnerships for peace, friendship and prosperity in the region and beyond. We desire friendly ties with all our neighbors. We have also advocated a constructive engagement and a result-oriented dialogue with India on all outstanding issues including the core dispute of Jammu and Kashmir. Unfortunately, India’s unabated hostility and retrogressive steps have vitiated the regional environment and impeded the prospects for peace and cooperation,” she said.

Upcoming Pakistan-US dialogue

Meanwhile, two important dialogues will be held between Pakistan and the United States next week.

These include the Energy Security Dialogue and the Climate and Environment Working Group. The Energy Security Dialogue is scheduled for March 15. The US Department of State’s Bureau of Energy Resources Assistant Secretary Geoffery Pyatt will lead the US delegation.

Secretary power and secretary petroleum will lead the Pakistan side.

The Climate and Environment Working Group meeting is scheduled for March 16. The US Department of State’s Oceans and International Environment and Scientific Affairs (OEC) Monica Madina Assistant Secretary will lead the US delegation. The two sides will discuss Pakistan’s climate priorities and energy transition, water management, climate-smart agriculture, biodiversity and protected national areas, air quality, and solid waste management.