Austria, March 29 (TNS): Fourth round of Bilateral Political Consultations between Pakistan and Austria was held in Vienna on Friday. Additional Secretary (Europe) Zaheer A. Janjua led the Pakistani delegation, while the Austrian delegation was headed by Ms. Gabriele Méon-Tschürtz, Head of Asia Division of the Federal Ministry of Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Austria.
The two sides reviewed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations and identified areas for further cooperation in political, economic, trade, investment, education and cultural fields. The Additional Secretary highlighted the progress made by Pakistan in strengthening democracy and human rights as well as its emerging economy and future prospects of growth. He invited Austrian companies to benefit from Pakistan’s investor friendly policies, particularly in the areas of energy, information and communication technology, oil and gas, water and waste management, tourism and agriculture.
Zaheer A. Janjua briefed the Austrian side on the situation in South Asia, notably the Indian aggression and Pakistan’s measured response. Pakistan also took several steps to de-escalate the situation, including release of the captured Indian pilot as a gesture of peace, reactivation of hotline between Directors Generals Military Operations, return of Pakistan’s High Commissioner to New Delhi and convening of the meeting in connection with opening of Kartarpur Corridor. He added that Pakistan had renewed its offer of dialogue to India to address all outstanding issues. The Austrian side appreciated the steps that Pakistan had taken to diffuse and de-escalate the situation.
In the context of deteriorating situation and gross violations of human rights in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the Additional Secretary urged Austria to speak out against such abuses which had been documented in various international reports, including that of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Additional Secretary also briefed on Pakistan’s efforts aimed at peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, including talks between the US and the Taliban. Reiterating that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict, he emphasized that a politically negotiated settlement, led and owned by the Afghans, was the only viable way forward. The Austrian side expressed support for Pakistan’s constructive role in the Afghan peace process.
The two sides expressed satisfaction at cooperation between them at the international fora, including the UN and the European Union, and agreed to continue supporting each other.
The next round of Pakistan-Austria Bilateral Political Consultations would be held in Islamabad next year at mutually convenient dates.