ISLAMABAD: Pakistan called on Thursday for regional cooperation against the threat posed by the self-styled Islamic State.
“We have to cooperate to deal with it. There has to be better coordination, more intelligence sharing to curb terrorism and to deny space to organisation like IS,” FO spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said at the weekly media briefing.
The spokesperson’s comments follow last week’s bomb attack in Jalalabad (Afghanistan) that was initially claimed by a group affiliated to IS (also known as Daesh). Although there are doubts about the authenticity of the claim, US military and intelligence officials have been warning that Daesh was trying to establish its footprint in the war-ravaged country and was undertaking recruitment activities.
FO spokesperson says govt trying to intensify engagement with Iran
Ms Aslam said Daesh was “a concern for all countries in the region”, including Iran, Afghanistan, Russia and Pakistan.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his visit to Tehran on Sunday, too had warned of Daesh threat as “a serious danger and different form of terrorism”. He had called for cooperation against the terrorist outfit, saying “without greater cooperation a macabre phenomenon such as Daesh cannot be contained”.
During Mr Ghani’s visit, Afghanistan and Iran agreed to work together against Daesh.
The FO spokesperson said: “These people (Daesh) have set a new bar for cruelty and terrorism.”
Referring to a statement of Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif that Daesh would not be able to make inroads into the country; Ms Aslam said Pakistan was on alert against the threat, though there is still no concrete indication of the group’s presence here.
“We are deeply concerned about this phenomenon,” she added.
IRAN: Answering a question about ties with Iran, she said the government was seeking to intensify political engagement with Tehran, besides boosting bilateral trade.
“Iran is a friendly and brotherly country. …There have been frequent exchanges of visits between the two countries,” the spokesperson said as Commerce Minister Khurram Dastagir struck a $5 billion trade deal with Iran during his visit to the neighbouring country for the seventh Pakistan-Iran Joint Trade Committee.
Speaking about an incident earlier this month in which eight Iranian border guards were killed in an alleged cross-border terrorist attack, she said: “We will not like such incidents, terrorists or miscreants inspired attacks to undermine our relations.”
She reiterated Pakistan’s offer to cooperate in the investigations by Iran into the attack.
“We are willing and ready to help Iran in any investigations and in any matter in which we can be helpful but for that we will need specific information and intelligence sharing,” she said, adding that so far Tehran had not shared any information about the attack.
Ms Aslam recalled that Pakistan and Iran had developed a new mechanism to ensure better coordination between security forces, which the two had started to implement now.
BOAT: The spokesperson said Pakistan’s high commission in Delhi had sought details from the Indian authorities about the boat and its crew that had allegedly been caught smuggling narcotics.
“Our mission in New Delhi has approached the Indian authorities to seek details of the boat (ownership, registration) and the arrested crew. So far no information has been shared with us. Drug trafficking is a very serious matter. Curbing it requires cooperation among countries,” she said.
Indian authorities had on Tuesday claimed to have seized 200kg of heroin from a Pakistani boat heading towards the Indian province of Gujarat and arrested eight members of its crew.
The Pakistani government has initiated an inquiry into the incident.
“The Director General of Pakistan Maritime Security Agency has been asked to ascertain the facts,” she said.
Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2015