Aman ki Asha has improved Pak-India ties: foreign secretary

Aman ki Asha has improved Pak-India ties: foreign secretary

By Tahir Khalil & Muhammad Anis

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani on Thursday rejected Senator Babar Ghauri’s statement it was rumoured in the media that ‘Aman ki Asha’ programme was being run with foreign aid. He was speaking during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Jilani said the Foreign Affairs Ministry had taken a principled stance that talks with India should be encouraged at every level, be it through ‘Aman ki Asha’. He said ‘Aman ki Asha’ had served to improve Pak-India relations. He said the Foreign Affairs Ministry had no proof of foreign aid in the running of ‘Aman ki Asha’, adding that the opinion of the ministry was the opinion of the government.

The committee asked the government to raise concern at an appropriate international forum over the statement of an Indian official that the Indian government was behind the Mumbai attacks.

The committee met at the Parliament House with Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel in the chair. The committee was given a detailed briefing on different issues including the statement of an Indian official that Indian government was behind attacks on parliament and in Mumbai.

Adeel also asked Jilani about further update on talks with the Taliban. Jilani said Pakistan supported peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan and will continue to play a facilitating role to persuade the Afghan factions, including the Taliban, for talks.

Some members also sought the latest development about involvement of Hindu extremist groups in Samjhota Express bombings.Adeel asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to explain its position in this regard, as the issues were extremely important.

Jilani informed the committee about the development reported in the press about the terror attacks. He said Indian Home Ministry’s Under Secretary RBS Mani had accused senior Indian Police Officer Verma of telling him that the attacks were launched by the incumbent Indian government with the objective of strengthening counter-terror legislations.

Jilani said the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi had approached the Indian government to ascertain the veracity of these reports and according to the preliminary response the Indian government says Verma has denied these statements.

Jilani pointed out that this was not the first time that such revelation by an Indian official came out, as same confessions by Indians surfaced in the past; however, the process of getting full information was still going on.

Regarding Samjhota Express bombings, Jilani said the investigation report of the incident had not been shared so far. He further said steps were being taken to revive the composite dialogue process and dates were being finalised in this regard.

Adeel said the issues need to be highlighted at appropriate forums.Senator Sehar Kamran noted that he could not ignore the development because it was very serious and questioned how concerns were shared with the international community. She also underscored the need for a border security mechanism between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The committee expressed displeasure at delay in issuance of verbal note to former parliamentarians. Senator Haji Adeel termed the response of Foreign Office unsatisfactory and directed it to avoid delay in issuance of verbal note to former parliamentarians.

Senators Farhatullah Babar, Abdul Ghafoor Haidri, Jehangir Badar and others also expressed their point of view on the issues pertaining to Pakistan-India and Pakistan-Afghanistan relations.

Senators Farhatullah Babar, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidri, Dr. Jehangir Badar, Sehar Kamran, Mustafa Kamal, Babar Ghauri, Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other attended the meeting.

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