US not setting up ‘regional drone hub’ in Pakistan: FO

US not setting up ‘regional drone hub’ in Pakistan: FO

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. (Daily Times)

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