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Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 08 March 2018

(2018-03-08) Opening Remarks


Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum


First, let me give a brief round-up of the activities on the foreign policy front:

The Indian Deputy High Commissioner, Mr. J.P. Singh was summoned to the Foreign Office over the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control using heavy automatic weapons and rockets on 01 & 02 March 2018 resulting in the shahadat of two innocent civilians namely Zafar Iqbal s/o Noor Muhammad and 70 years old elderly man Mr. Muhammad Nazir s/o Mangta, while injuring three others. Despite calls for restraint, India continues to indulge in ceasefire violations. In 2018, the Indian forces have carried out more than 415 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, resulting in the shahadat of 20 innocent civilians and injuries to 71 others.

In Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, Indian brutalities and gross human rights violations continue unabated and with impunity. The Indian occupation forces killed eight Kashmiri youths including Gowhar Ahmad Lone (21) a research scholar, Suhail Ahmad Wagay (22,) Mohammad Shahid Khan (20), Shahnawaz Wagay (22), Amir Ahmed Malik a history student at Kashmir University and Ashiq Ahmad in Shopian, Pulwama and Hajin areas. We strongly condemn these brutal killings of innocent Kashmiris. We also condemn the detention, yet again, of Mr. Yasin Malik, Chairman JKLF for leading a peaceful protest on the fateful killings of innocent people in Jammu & Kashmir last week. The miseries of the people in the Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir have increased with every passing day. We strongly condemn the inhumane and brutal treatment meted out to innocent and defenseless Kashmiris, both within the occupied land or in detention. We urge the international community to call upon India to account for its crimes against humanity in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

The Secretary General of the OIC, Mr. Yousef A. Al Othaimeen, during a High Level Segment of the 37th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva has expressed deep concern over the Human Rights violations in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. He reminded that Kashmiris are questioning the international community's conscience, since they continue to suffer from the longest foreign occupation and face the denial of the fundamental right to self-determination. The Secretary General also said that the OIC calls for the peaceful settlement of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

The Foreign Minister, after consulting with all the stakeholders, has approved the following humanitarian proposals, which had been received from the Indian side, regarding the civilian prisoners incarcerated in both the countries:

1. Exchange of three categories of prisoners, women, mentally challenged or with special needs and those above 70 years of age.
2. Revival of the Judicial Committee mechanism.
3. Facilitating the visit of medical experts (from both sides) to meet and examine the mentally challenged prisoners for their repatriation.


Additionally, the Foreign Minister has also extended two more humanitarian proposals which are given below:

a) Exchange of prisoners above 60 years of age.
b) Exchange of child prisoners, below 18 years of age.


The Foreign Minister expressed the hope that India would positively reciprocate Pakistan's proposals, in the spirit that they have been made. He also stated that it was his desire that through such initiatives, Pakistan and India would embark on the road to a comprehensive dialogue, and make a conscious effort to de-escalate the extremely vitiated current environment and the situation on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary.

Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi visited Nepal on 5-6 March 2018, in line with Pakistan's policy of proactive engagement with the regional countries. During the visit, the Prime Minister called on the President of Nepal H.E Bidya Devi Bhandari and held a meeting with his Nepalese counterpart, K.P. Sharma Oli. During his meetings, all issues of bilateral importance were discussed and it was agreed to enhance cooperation in political, economic, education and cultural fields.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi stated that Pakistan is committed to the SAARC process and urged the leaders of Nepal to play their role for early convening of the SAARC Summit in Islamabad. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi informed the Nepalese leadership about the continuing atrocities being committed by the Indian Army in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir against innocent Kashmiris. This visit reflects the warmth and cordiality existing between the two countries. They also highlighted the importance of SAARC.

Multiple posters against Indian atrocities in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, are on display at central square 'La Chaise', in front of Palais des Nations, Geneva. The posters call for attention of the UN and the global community seeking their support for the struggle of Kashmiris to secure the right to self-determination, while highlighting the brutal use of pellets by Indian security forces in occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

The 12th Meeting of Pakistan-Russia Consultative Group on Strategic Stability was held on 02 March, 2018 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad. The two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on the regional and global developments, including with respect to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. The two sides expressed high degree of satisfaction over their close coordination, cooperation and consultations at various international fora. Both sides agreed on the need to further capitalize on the positive trajectory of the overall bilateral relations by exploring avenues for mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation. Pakistan-Russia Consultative Group on Strategic Stability is a platform for structured dialogue between the two sides and has been meeting since 2003.

The inaugural session of Pakistan-Denmark Bilateral Political Consultations was held in Copenhagen on 2 March 2018. The two sides reviewed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations and identified opportunities and possibilities for further strengthening cooperation, especially in the spheres of trade, economy, investment, agriculture, clean and renewable energy, waste and water management. It was decided that the 2nd round of BPC would be held in Islamabad at mutually convenient dates in 2019.

The 10th Round of Bilateral Political Consultations between Pakistan and Switzerland was held in Berne on 26-27 February 2018. The two sides reviewed all aspects of bilateral relations, including political, economic, trade, investment and cooperation in the fields of education, science and technology, agriculture and defence.

Seven unidentified dead bodies of Pakistanis, tragically killed in the Libyan boat incident, were brought to Pakistan last week. They were stored at PIMS Hospital in Islamabad for necessary DNA verification. NADRA proactively identified the particulars of these 06 Pakistanis, which were handed over to their next of kin subsequently. The verification process of the remaining 01 Pakistani is underway. So far, 20 bodies of Pakistanis have been repatriated from Libya. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in coordination and close cooperation with Overseas Pakistanis Foundation, NADRA and PIMS, has been able to complete this task successfully. The expenditure of repatriation including storage charges of the deceased has been borne by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while ambulances were arranged by the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation for sending these to their home towns.

An elderly Pakistani couple, Mr. Fazak Akram & Sughra Bibi, required our assistance in Eastern Ghouta in Syria. As a result of our efforts, we were able to ensure their safe passage from the area, for which we are grateful to all concerned. They have now reached Pakistan. We do not have information on other Pakistanis in the area. In case there are any, we will also extend all possible help to them.

Foreign Minister in his message on the International Women Day 08 March 2018 has said that it is an occasion to celebrate the progress made in empowering women and reaffirming our collective resolve to redouble efforts in advancing the cause of women. Pakistan fully supports this year's theme, "Press for Progress" and its underlying sub-themes. These are essential for raising awareness about continued challenges faced by women in everyday life and the earnest need to overcome them. Pakistan is proud to have made significant advances in empowering women politically, economically and socially, including through legislative, policy, institutional and administrative measures. Gender remains a cross cutting theme in all our policies and projects at federal and provincial levels. Even as much progress has been made, we are mindful of the challenges that exist. We are determined to continue to work towards a more enabling environment for implementation and enforcement of laws, rules and policies. Our vision remains in sync with the guidance from the Father of Nation, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah who said, "I have always maintained that no nation can ever be worthy of its existence that cannot take its women along with the men."


Now the Floor is open for Questions

Question

Recently, the Supreme Court has asked the Establishment Division to provide the names of dual national civil servants. Reportedly, Foreign Office has been reluctant to give the names of dual national officers. Will you provide the list to the Supreme Court and what is your position?

Secondly, reportedly, Pakistan is negotiating with Iran not to move to the Arbitration Court for seeking damages of IP gas pipeline. Can you confirm and what is the status of the Iran-Pakistan gaspipeline? (Rashida Sial - Abb Tak)


Answer

Regarding dual nationals, the Foreign office can never be reluctant in submitting the list. In fact, we have already submitted it. However, I was told yesterday, that the Supreme Court has now desired to get the list of spouses and family members of the officers as well, which will also be submitted soon.

Regarding Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, Pakistan and Iran enjoy close cordial and good neighborly relations. The two are engaged on cooperation in various fields. We have not received any official communication regarding claims of damages on IP Gas Pipeline project from the Iranian side. You may check with the line Ministry for further information.


Question

Reportedly, Pakistan was denied access to documents shared at Kabul Process meeting. Can you confirm? This is believed to be a deliberate move by Afghanistan, India and some other countries to link Pakistan with the Taliban attacks in the documents that were kept secret from Pakistan. Your comments please!

Secondly, reportedly, during the Kabul Process Conference, Afghanistan has extended an offer of joint intelligence and security investigation with Russia, Iran and Pakistan to stem the rising influence of Daesh in Afghanistan. Please share the specifics of this agreement? (Mateen Haider - Freelance Journalist)


Answer Regarding your first question, Pakistan constructively participated in the 2nd Kabul Process meeting in pursuance of its policy to be a part of all multilateral forums geared towards bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The Afghan side had shared the draft outcome declaration of the 2nd Kabul process a week before the conference for our views and inputs. Our proposed suggestions were appropriately incorporated in the KP-II declaration. However, a day before KP-II, Kabul also shared with us two documents i.e. a. Offering Peace, b. Concept paper on Regional Counter-terrorism and Counter-narcotics Cooperation. We proposed some amendments in both the documents, which were accepted by the Afghan side. KP-II Declaration was adopted unanimously.

Regarding the second question, during the KP-II conference, delegates from various countries including Pakistan raised their concerns about growing presence of Daesh in Afghanistan and its implications for security and stability of Afghanistan and its neighbors. Russia and Iran also raised questions about the reports of Daesh fighters being deployed through unmarked helicopters. They sought answers to their questions from Afghanistan and the forces that control its airspace. The Afghan authorities, while assuring their commitment to fight all terrorist groups, including Daesh, offered to conduct joint investigations regarding Daesh's deployment through unmarked helicopters. However, no formal agreement was signed in this regard.


Question

The Foreign Office summoned the Indian Deputy High Commissioner many times but to no avail. What other options does Pakistan have to control the situation regarding the ceasefire violations? (Syed Mohsin Raza - Asas Group of Publications)


Answer

It is imperative that India realizes the importance of dialogue and resolution of disputes through diplomatic means. As you are well aware, any suspension of dialogue is unwanted. Pakistan wants all issues with India to be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue. We have extended all humanitarian gestures to India that can help de-escalate the situation.


Question

What is Pakistan's official stance on the ongoing Syrian crisis, particularly the humanitarian issue in Eastern Ghouta region, from where harrowing pictures of the victims have emerged? Moreover, what efforts has Pakistan taken to rescue and facilitate Pakistanis, if any, in the affected areas?

Secondly, reportedly, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has expressed concern over unusually high annual requirements of ephedrine and other sedative drugs in Pakistan. What efforts have Pakistani authorities taken to curb import of unnecessary drugs? (Salman Hashmi - Forensic Eye)


Answer

Regarding ephedrine, the Ministry of Narcotics Control is the line Ministry to deal with the issue and may be contacted for response.

On situation in Eastern Ghouta, while we refrain from commenting on the internal situation of other countries, I can inform you that an elderly Pakistani couple required our assistance in Eastern Ghouta. As a result of our efforts we were able to ensure their safe passage from the area, for which we are grateful to all concerned. We will act in accordance with the wishes of the couple regarding repatriation to Pakistan. We do not have information on other Pakistanis in the area. In case there are any, we will also extend all possible help to them.

We support a peaceful and political solution to end the crisis to ensure security and stability in the region, including respect for the territorial integrity of Syria. We are concerned at the humanitarian situation and urge all sides to enable provision of humanitarian and medical assistance to the innocent men, women and children and to take urgent measures for their safety and security.


Question

The Pentagon has recently reminded Islamabad that war against terrorism in the South Asian region has reached an inflection point and that it should use this opportunity to defeat terrorists. What are your comments on the statement prior to the important visit of our Foreign Secretary to the US?

Secondly, it is being reported that the Uni-ted States has assured Pakistan that it does not want to sever bilateral ties with Pakistan, while Islamabad has extended its "wholehearted support" to the US-backed Afghan offer of peace talks with the Taliban. Do you confirm? After the recent visit of Foreign Secretary to US, can we expect some improvement in the bilateral relations of the two countries? (Shoukat Piracha - Aaj TV)


Supplementary Question

Reportedly, Taliban has refused to accept President Ashraf Ghani's offer of conclusive talks, calling it a political gimmick and have accelerated their attacks in Afghanistan. Please comment in the light of efforts made by Afghan government and the attitude of the Taliban in Afghanistan! (ShabbirWaghra - PTV World)


Answer

Regarding your first question, we take respite in the fact that Pakistan is the only country in the region to successfully check and turn the corner in its fight against terrorism by conducting indiscriminate and comprehensive counter-terrorism operations. Today, we can state with conviction that our law enforcing agencies continue to squeeze the space for individual militants and that there is no organized presence of terrorist groups within our territory.

On your second question, we want to have a relationship with the US which is based on trust and mutual respect. Peace and stability in Afghanistan is a shared objective for both Pakistan and the United States. Pakistan has always extended maximum possible cooperation that could help in achieving our shared objectives. Peace in Afghanistan can be secured through an Afghan led and Afghan owned peace process that offers incentives for all the Afghan stakeholders. On our part, we are committed to supporting all efforts leading to a lasting peace in the region including the Afghan government's offer of peace talks made during the recent Kabul process meeting. We will continue to support all efforts to this end.

The visit of the Foreign Secretary is part of our continued engagement with the US, and is reflective of our desire to find common ground for working together with the US side and the effort to achieve our objective in Afghanistan i.e. peace and stability. The meeting that the Foreign Secretary will be having with her American interlocutors will provide an opportunity to exchange views in this regard.

Regarding Mr. Waghra's question, Pakistan has welcomed and supported President Ghani's vision of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and offer of peace talks with the Taliban. Pakistan maintains that the only viable solution to the Afghan conflict is a peace and reconciliation process owned and led by the Afghans themselves. We call upon all sides to avail this opportunity to bring an end to the sufferings of the innocent Afghan people and join peace and reconciliation process for bringing lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.


Question

Reportedly, NATO Air Force Commander in Afghanistan has said that US is ready to exchange intelligence data on Afghanistan with Pakistan, Iran and Russia to engage these actors for creating long term stability in Afghanistan. Do you confirm this intelligence sharing? How significant will it be for peace in Afghanistan?

Secondly, reportedly, an International Conference on peace and security in Afghanistan is going to be held in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent later this month. Who will represent Pakistan in the Conference? (Essa Naqvi - Duniya TV)


Answer

On your second question first, as a neighbor, Pakistan appreciates Uzbekistan's initiative to convene a Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan. We support Uzbekistan in its endeavor to contribute towards bringing lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. In our view, Afghanistan's neighbors should play an active role in the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. We believe that a regional solution would be the most suitable to settle the conflict in Afghanistan. As a matter of state policy, we have been participating in all international initiatives on Afghanistan. We will participate at the highest possible level in the Ministerial Conference in Tashkent on 26-27 March 2017.

On your first question, I have not seen this report. However, in our view long term stability in Afghanistan is crucial for all the neighbouring countries for securing peace, security and economic development. The presence of ISIS and other terrorists groups in Afghanistan poses a threat to all the countries in the region and, therefore, is a matter of paramount importance and interest for all these countries vis a vis Afghanistan.


Question

Reportedly, the Indian human rights violations have been raised during a conference at the British Parliament, organized by All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), who have demanded that India shall abide by international norms and end bloodshed of Kashmiris. How effective are such efforts to raise the issue of Kashmir at the international level? Your comments on the conference please!

Secondly, the Indian occupation forces in IoK have martyred six Kashmiris during last week. The Indian authorities have suspended internet services over the deteriorating situation. Thousands of Kashmiris continue to demonstrate in the streets for the realization of the right to self-determination. They have also apprehended Mr. Yasin Malik for an umpteenth time! Your comments please! (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal- Kashmir Post)


Answer

The examples you quote reflect the bleak manifestation of Indian state terrorism in IoK, which innocent Kashmiris are forced to bear day in day out. Continuing Indian atrocities against innocent Kashmiris in IoK have made a mockery of the Human Rights Charter. Resultantly, since July 2016, scores of innocent Kashmiris have embraced shahadat while hundreds are injured.

The Indian occupation forces kill with impunity, use draconian laws, block the channels of communication, including suspension of internet services, to ensure continued imposition of the new iron curtain between IoK and the world.

It is time for the international community to break its silence, put political and economic expedience behind and keep its promise to the Kashmiris by ensuring an expedited resolution of the J&K dispute in line with the UNSC resolutions.

Indian atrocities and barbarism are well established. They have been documented and criticized by reputable international organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The Jammu & Kashmir dispute remains unresolved despite the passage of more than 7 decades due to the Indian belligerence. Continuing human rights violations, committed by the Indian occupation forces, with impunity, raise questions about the implementation of the Human Rights Charter. The innocent Kashmiris, including young girls and children, continue to pay a colossal price in life and blood for more than three generations even as we speak.

The condemnation by the London conference is a step in the right direction, but more is definitely required. The international community cannot stay silent on the human rights violations, if it wishes the Human Rights Charter to stay meaningful and credible. India must be urged to put an immediate halt to the bloodshed in IoK and for an expeditious resolution of the J&K dispute in line with the UNSC Resolutions.


Question

Indian media has reported that Indian Foreign Secretary may visit Pakistan in the upcoming days. Can you confirm these media reports?

Secondly, reportedly, EU has threatened Pakistan that if it does not make any positive progress in the Asia Bibi's case, it will review the GSP plus status of Pakistan. Can you confirm this development? (Asghar Ali Mubarak - Daily Mail Islamabad)


Answer

Regarding Indian Foreign Secretary's visit, no proposal has been received from India about any such visit so far.

Regarding GSP plus, there is no such statement from the EU.


Question

What is Pakistan's official stance on the ongoing Syrian crisis, particularly the humanitarian issue in Eastern Ghouta region, from where harrowing pictures of the victims have emerged? Moreover, what efforts has Pakistan taken to rescue and facilitate Pakistanis, if any, in the affected areas? What is Pakistan's position on voting in United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) concerning Humanitarian crisis in Eastern Ghouta? (Fakhar Rahman - SAMMA TV)


Supplementary Question

What is the role of OIC on the prevailing situation in Syria, especially when Muslims are suffering the most all over the world and also in Syria? (Khawaja Nayaar Iqbal - Kashmir Post)


Answer

On crisis in Ghouta, only recently, the UN Security Council had adopted a unanimous resolution (2401) on the situation in Syria addressing the humanitarian aspects. The resolution presented in the Human Rights Council eroded the international unity on the Syrian situation. Several countries, including from the Arab world, and other regions abstained. Four countries voted against the resolution.

Pakistan supports the UNSC resolution 2401 and hopes that all relevant parties will fully implement it. Given the nature of humanitarian crisis, it is essential to preserve global unity and solidarity in order to ameliorate the continued suffering of the Syrian people.

Regarding OIC, I won't be able to comment on behalf the OIC. However, we actively participate and take up our collective issues in the OIC Meetings. The OIC Foreign Ministers Conference is expected in May this year and these issues will certainly come under discussion under relevant agenda item.


Question

Can you share details regarding Iranian Foreign Minister's visit to Pakistan? Do you think that the visit will improve the economic ties between the two countries? (Asghar - IRNA News Agency)


Answer

It will definitely improve the economic and trade ties between the two countries. However, I will share the details in due course.


Question

What are your comments on the disturbing situation in Sri Lanka where Muslim minority is under real threat?

Secondly, Pakistan is celebrating the Women Day and Foreign Minister has also issued his message in this regard. If we look at the history of Pakistan, women are suffering from Fatima Jinnah to Asma Jahangir. There were strong sentiments that Asma Jahangir may be buried with state funeral but it was not possible. UN Secretary General also paid homage to her. What are Foreign Office comments on this? (Abid Khursheed - ATV)


Answer

On your first question, this is an internal matter of Sri Lanka, I would not comment.

Regarding the International Women's Day, speaking on behalf of the Foreign Office, the institution I represent, I am proud to announce that women are serving in leading positions here. Our Foreign Secretary is a woman. Pakistan's women Ambassadors are currently serving in Vienna, New York, Brussels, Oslo etc. There is a long list of women serving in Pakistan's Foreign office.


Question

The Foreign Office summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner time and again but to no effect. Why has Foreign Office not summoned Indian High Commissioner, especially when situation is getting worse? (Asghar)


Answer

We do summon the High Commissioner to the Foreign Office when required.


Question

In the FATF Session, it has been reported that Pakistan's reporting mechanism in terms of financing of terrorism has already been examined. We are supposed to submit a report within a week. Have we submitted our report in the FATF? (Shahid Maitla - ARY News)


Answer

You may check the details regarding FATF from Ministry of Finance.

Question

There are reports that fifty Chinese women, who married to men belonging to Gilgit Baltistan are detained in China. What role can Foreign Office play in this regard?

Why has Gilgit Baltistan been neglected in the Foreign Minister's humanitarian proposal, where the people have been waiting to meet their loved ones since long?

Third, there is a report of BBC on human rights violations in Saudi Arabia. It is reported that Pakistan's Embassy officials do not visit Saudi jails to give consular access to detained Pakistanis regularly. What are your comments on this report? (Fida Hussain - Radio News Network)


Answer

On your first question, I will check and get back to you.

On your second question, there are numerous issues between India and Pakistan. This is a purely humanitarian proposal. We desire that the process should continue and other issues will be included.

On your last question, as you are aware, we enjoy close, cordial and historical relations with the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi authorities have always extended full cooperation to us regarding detained Pakistanis. The rights of all prisoners are secured, and the Government of Saudi Arabia ensures facilitation of inmates as per international laws regarding living facilities, quality food, consular assistance and presence in court on dates of hearings. Our Embassy in Riyadh and our Consulate General in Jeddah, working with the Saudi authorities, extend all possible assistance to them. These include:

i) Consular access to the detainees, to inquire about their welfare and extend all possible assistance to them.
ii) Visits to deportation centers to issue Emergency Travel Documents to those who do not possess passports for travelling to Pakistan.
iii) Average 1500-1600 emergency travel documents per month are being issued.
iv) Clemency request from the relatives of the prisoners are forwarded to the Royal Court.
v) Facilitate the departure of those awaiting deportation.
vi) Working with the authorities to waive off penalties.
vii) Providing Arabic-Urdu translation facility during court hearings
viii) Visiting courts and meeting with authorities to expedite cases and facilitating repatriation of prisoners who have completed their sentences.
ix) Average 5000-6000 Machine Readable Passports have been issued every month.
x) Average 300-350 visas have been issued every month.
xi) About 3000-3200 people are being facilitated monthly regarding attestation and other services.


Question

Our Ambassador to United States, Mr. Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry has reached superannuation. Will he be granted extension or any decision has been taken on the appointment of Ambassador in the United States?

Recently, Prime Minister visited Nepal. Did any discussions take place on revival of SAARC Process? Do you foresee any breakthrough this in the near future? (Rashida Sial - Abb Tak)


Supplementary Question

It is reported that Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry is in Islamabad and waiting for his extension as Ambassador to the US. Would you confirm that whether he is in Washington or Islamabad? (Mateen Haider - Freelance Journalist)


Answer

This is an administrative matter. I don't have details regarding Ambassador Aizaz Chaudhry.

The Prime Minister had cordial meeting with the Prime Minister of Nepal. The SAARC Secretary General called upon the Prime Minister. Nepal is very positive about SAARC, however, until India changes its attitude, the progress is difficult, as decisions in SAARC are made through consensus.


Question

Foreign Secretary is on a visit to US. She will discuss the prevailing situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan's grey listing in FATF. I want to ask that whether she will discuss the matter of US stance on CPEC and Pak-India relations, especially when India is committing ceasefire violations along the LoC? (Auon Sherazi - Such TV)


Answer

I will only be able to comment on Foreign Secretary's visit to the US after her arrival back to Pakistan.


Question

Reportedly, India has stepped up attempts to squeeze the market for Pakistani products in Afghanistan through a number of incentives offered to the Afghan traders. What steps Pakistan has taken to increase its trade with Afghanistan?

Second, a key trade route between Afghanistan and Pakistan is set to reopen in a couple of days after four years of closure. How will this affect bilateral trade between the two countries? Please share more details in this regard! (Amjad Ali - PTV)


Answer

On your second question, deepening trade relations and facilitating Afghan transit trade through Pakistani ports are major priorities of Pakistan. We have been exploring the possibilities of opening new crossing points and upgrading the existing ones with an aim to increase their capacity and making them more efficient. Last year we had opened a crossing point for transit trade at Kharlachi, Kurram Agency and now, the Government has decided to reopen Ghulam Khan Crossing Point near Bannu, which remained closed for sometime due to security concerns. With these efforts we are hopeful that the trade between the two countries would increase and the traders of the two countries would be facilitated.

On your first question, Pakistan has been the largest trading partner of Afghanistan for a long time. However, only recently we have slipped to the second position. Pakistan still remains the largest market for Afghan exports. Geographic proximity and the Afghan consumers' confidence on Pakistani products are the principal strengths through which we can recapture our lost share in Afghan market. We are engaged with Afghan government and the members of the business community in both the countries to explore ways to further expand our trade relations and extend necessary facilitation to the traders of the two countries.


Question

What is the purpose of Iranian Foreign Minister's visit to Pakistan? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal - Daily Kashmir Post)


Answer

Pakistan and Iran remain actively engaged in enhancing cooperation in all areas of mutual interest. Iranian Foreign Minister's visit is part of the regular bilateral political consultations held between both sides.


Question

Supreme Court has ordered Ministry of Interior to bring back Mr. Hussain Haqqani to Pakistan. There are reports that MoI has written to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in this regard. What is the update on the matter and has any contact been made with the Interpol? (Naveed Akbar - Daily Dunya)


Answer

The subject is being dealt with the Ministry of Interior. Foreign Office will provide all possible assistance in the matter.