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Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s plan to visit India next week to attend Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting is intact despite irresponsible statements emanating from New Delhi, the Foreign Office spokesperson said on Friday. “Foreign minister plans to travel to Goa on May 4 to attend the meeting of SCO Council of Foreign Ministers. Our decision to participate reflects our engagement with SCO in a positive and constructive spirit. We expect other SCO member states to demonstrate a similarly constructive approach,” Ms Mumtaz Zahra Baloch told journalists at a press briefing. She was responding to a question about the possibility of reconsidering the decision after Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s accusation that Pakistan was behind a terrorist attack in occupied Kashmir. About statements of Indian officials including the former RAW chief, Ms Baloch stressed that Pakistan was itself a victim of terrorism. “We have suffered as a result of terrorism for the last several decades. In this context, we have presented to the international community undeniable evidence of Indian involvement in terrorist incidents inside Pakistani territory. We reject any insinuations that link Pakistan to terrorist incidents anywhere, including by Indian authorities, as these comments are unwarranted and have no basis,” she said. The FO spokesperson recalled that in the announcement of the visit of Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to Goa, it had been made very clear that this visit was taking place in the context of a mandatory meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. “Pakistan is an active member of SCO, and we believe Pakistan’s voice must be heard in the meeting of the foreign ministers of SCO. I reiterate that this visit is taking place in the context of SCO and any other noise that accompanies the visit of the foreign minister must be ignored, because that’s just noise and it has no bearing on the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and its proceedings,” she added. Ms Baloch said that such negative statements and negative developments cannot dissuade Pakistan from playing its part in an organisation of which it was an equal member and to which Pakistan was strongly committed. “We hope that all members of SCO would see the positive spirit with which Pakistan is participating in this meeting,” she said. Answering another question about chances of good relations between Pakistan and India, she said Pakistan has had a consistent position, adding that Pakistan wishes to have peace in the region and it would like to have peace and amity with all its neighbours, including India. She said that Pakistan believed that following the events of 2019 and India’s belligerent posture in the region the situation for peace and dialogue had been compromised. “We now expect India to take steps to create an environment which facilitates peace and dialogue, including on outstanding disputes, especially the core dispute of Jammu and Kashmir,” she said. About the army chief’s visit to China, she said that this was an important visit and it will contribute to further strengthening of decades-old, robust defence ties between Pakistan and China. In reply to a question, she said that both Saudi Arabia and Iran were important partners and friends of Pakistan and Pakistan was very encouraged with the dialogue that was taking place between them. “Now that the two countries have established a direct contact, we encourage them to continue to engage with each other for further normalisation of bilateral relations and for the regional peace and stability,” she noted. About reports accusing Pakistan of supplying ammunition to Ukraine, she reiterated that Pakistan maintains a policy of strict neutrality in the dispute between Ukraine and Russia and in that context does not provide any ammunition to them. She, however, pointed out that in the past, Pakistan had strong defence ties with Ukraine. She said that Pakistan’s defence exports were always accompanied with strict end-user requirements and hoped that those requirements would be fully respected by recipients.

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