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Record of Press Briefing by Spokesperson on Thursday, 4 October 2018

(2018-10-04) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]

Assalaam-o-Alaikum,

The last two weeks have been very busy and active on the foreign policy front.

Prime Minister, Imran Khan called the President-elect of Maldives, Mr. Ibrahim Mohammed Solih, to felicitate him on his victory in the recent Presidential elections. The Maldivian President-elect thanked the Prime Minister for the telephone call and also congratulated him on assumption of the office of Prime Minister of Pakistan. He also invited the Prime Minister to visit Maldives at a mutually convenient date.

The German Chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel telephoned Prime Minister Imran Khan to congratulate him on his election as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. She emphasized the importance of deepening bilateral relations and invited the Prime Minister to visit Germany at his earliest convenience, which he accepted.

Mr. Khaled Nasser Abdullah Al Roudhan, Minister of Commerce & Industry of Kuwait who visited Pakistan from 26-28 September 2018, to co-chair 4th round of Pakistan-Kuwait Joint Ministerial Commission, paid a courtesy call on the Prime Minister Imran during which he conveyed the best wishes of the Emir of Kuwait.

Now on to the activities at the UNGA - As you are aware, the Foreign Minister led the Pakistan delegation to the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. In his address to the UN General Assembly, the Foreign Minister stressed that the Government is keen to pursue a policy of partnership for peace, security and prosperity in our immediate neighbourhood and beyond. Pakistan seeks a peaceful environment to promote our development agenda, both at the national and regional levels. However, Pakistan will brook no compromise on the interests of the nation, the sovereignty of the state or the security of its people and will engage with its neighbourhood and the world on the basis of equality and respect. The Foreign Minister also stressed that the unresolved Jammu and Kashmir dispute, pending on the agenda of the UN Security Council for over seventy years, is a blot on the conscience of humanity, and hinders the realization of durable peace between Pakistan and India. The just settlement of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute, in line with the UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people, is essential for lasting peace in the region. The Foreign Minister also underscored the need for a new consensus on peace, security and development, which can and should be developed. A new paradigm for universal peace and prosperity is both desirable and achievable. Pakistan will be a willing and able partner of the international community in this worthwhile pursuit.

The Foreign Minister also participated in the Informal Meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers of Economic Cooperation Organization and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation held on the sidelines of the UNGA.

The Foreign Minister also met his Japanese, Nepali and Swiss counterparts H.E. Taro Konoand, H.E. Pardeep Kumar Gyawali and H.E. Ignazio Cassis, respectively, on the sidelines of the UNGA Session. During the visit, the Foreign Minister met with the State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China, Wang Yi. The Foreign Minister also held a bilateral meeting with his Qatari counterpart H.E. Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani. Moreover, the Foreign Minister participated in the High-Level Event on Action for Peacekeeping (A4P), hosted by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and also addressed a distinguished gathering of business leaders, thinktank analysts and media persons, convened by Atlantic Council in New York.

Congressman Joe Wilson, a Republican Member of the House of Representatives from South Carolina, called on Foreign Minister in NewYork.

The FM also met President World Bank, Jim Yong Kim to discuss the World Bank's role in implementation of the Indus Waters Treaty, as its custodian. He highlighted Pakistan's position on the Kishenganga and Ratle Hydroelectric projects in a forceful and emphatic manner.

The cancellation of the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan, which was to be held on the sidelines of UNGA in New York, by India on flimsy pretexts, was disappointing. Pakistan has always desired peaceful and good-neighbourly relations with India, on the basis of sovereign equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit.

During his visit to Washington DC, the Foreign Minister met the US National Security Adviser and discussed Pakistan-US bilateral relations and the regional situation in South Asia, including the efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution to the Afghan situation. Both sides agreed that continued Pakistan-US cooperation will be in the interest of regional peace and security in South Asia.

The Foreign Minister also met the US Secretary of State and highlighted the development-focused and people-centric agenda of the Government, which was contingent on peace and security in Pakistan's neighborhood. Secretary Pompeo said the United States looked forward to working with the new Government of Pakistan in implementing its reform agenda. He appreciated Pakistan's support for political reconciliation in Afghanistan and its efforts for peace in the neighborhood. Both leaders agreed to remain engaged with a view to achieving their shared bilateral and regional objectives. The Foreign Minister also met Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Cory Booker, Senator Jack Reed, Senator Jim Risch and Senator Tom Cotton. He also received the Chairperson of Exxon Mobil LNG and spoke at the US Institute of Peace, on Pakistan's foreign policy.

Now some highlights from Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, where Indian atrocities against innocent Kashmiris have intensified.

The Indian occupation forces in last two weeks, on the pretext of the increasingly frequent cordon and search operations, killed eighteen (18) Kashmiris including Mohammad Saleem Malik, Rifat Jan Rathore, Amir Aziz Usman, Bilal Ahmad, Muhammad Umar, Muhammad Siddiq, Parvez Ahmed Tedwa, Abdul Majeed Mir, Sehraz Ahmad Bhat, Erfan Ahmad Dar and Aasif Ahmad Malik in Srinagar, Kulgam, Bandipore, Kupwara, Sopore and Budgam areas of IOK. Indian occupation forces also reportedly used chemical weapons against Kashmiris during a recent cordon and search operation in Bandipora district. Use of chemical weapons is a felony against humanity.

The recent pictures and videos on social media of the Indian brutalities unleashed on innocent Kashmiris continues to be a stark reminder of the real brutal and inhuman face of India and its occupation forces in IOK.

Pakistan condemns the Indian attempts to suppress the Kashmiris in IOK, including establishment of Indian occupation force camps in populated areas and continuing gross human rights violations, including destruction of property, harassment of inmates and the continuing daily violent operations in Pulwama, Shopian, Islamabad, Kulgam, Kupwara, Bandipore, Baramulla and Srinagar districts of IOK.

We are also concerned at the deteriorating health of senior Hurriyet leaders including Shabbir Ahmad Shah, Masarat Alam Bhatt, Syeda Aasiya Andrabi, Nahida Nasreen, Fahmida Sofi, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Mohammad Aiyaz Akbar, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Peer Saifullah, Mehrajudin Kalwal, Farooq Ahmad Dar, Ghulam Muhammad Khan Sopori, Maulana Sarjan Barkati, Shabbir Ahmad Dar, Mushtaq-ul-Islam and hundreds of Hurriyet leaders and activists languishing in the notorious Indian Tihar Jail in New Delhi and other jails and interrogation centers in IOK. We urge the international community, especially the champions of human rights, to urge India to immediately halt the human rights atrocities in IOK.

Pakistan has been elected for a two-year term for the period 2018-2022, to the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency at the 62nd Session of the Agency's General Conference in Vienna.

Now the floor is open for questions and answers.

Question

Reportedly, America has decided to quit itself from the operational part of Vienna Convention. What would be the impact and repercussions of this decision? Secondly, International Court of Justice has fixed the date for hearing Commander Kalbushan Jadav's case. Is Pakistan prepared to defend the case? (Syed Mohsin Raza - Sach TV)

Answer

We are fully prepared to defend the case of Commander Kalbhushan Jadav in the Internatinal Court of Justice, next year.

Regarding your question on Vienna Convention, let me get updates on this and I will revert to you during the next briefing.

Question

As you said, that India initially agreed to the proposal of Pakistan for negotiations. Does that mean that Pakistan is trying to convince India to agree to Pakistan's proposal of negotiating all outstanding issues? Regarding Pak-US relations, Pakistan should also convince the US to negotiate for better settlement of all misunderstandings. Secondly, Pakistan Army Chief, in a positive gesture, gave a green signal for opening of Kartarpur Corridor and the Sikh International Organization has written a letter to the Foreign Office. So, did you receive the letter and what are your comments on this? (Zahid Farooq Malik, Daily Metro Watch)

Answer

We cannot force any country to negotiate. You would remember that PM Modi had written the first letter, to which PM Khan had responded. Later, India first agreed and in less than twenty four hours, withdrew its agreement. The only way forward, that is known to Pakistan, is through dialogue, which should be uniterrupted and uniterruptible.

Regarding your question on Kartarpur Corridor, please note that dialogue is the vital element for resolving all such issues. In teh absence of any dialogue, nothing can move forward.

Regarding your question on a letter from Sikh International Organization, yes, we did receive the letter but as I said earlier, in the absence of any dialogue or negotiations, no matter can be resolved. We have formally announced that we are ready for a dialogue with India to settle all our disputes, but as you know it takes two hands to clap.

Question

Recently, there was a statement by the Indian Army Chief that there can be a military based action in Pakistan. What are your comments on this? Secondly, the meeting between Foreign Minister and US Secretary of State took place in New York recently. What issues were discussed in this meeting and did both sides figure out the common ground for improving the bilateral relations. (Ms. Rashida Sial - Abb Tak)

Answer

The relations are moving in a positive direction. Both the Foreign Minister and the US Secretary of State met twice in a month which indicates that the things are moving in the right direction. As you know, the Foreign Minister is on his way back to Pakistan, so he will inform you about the details of his meetings soon.

As I mentioned earlier, the Prime Minister of Pakistan had responded positively to a letter from his Indian countarpart. This has been followed by openly hostile, belligerent statements from the Indian political and military leadership. We heard the Indian Army Chief speak about repetition of another so called 'surgical strike' and the Indian Defence Minister's statement about beheading Pakistani soldiers. The contrast between Indian aggrandizing aggression and boasts about beheading enemy soldiers, as a matter of pride (and which our professional armed forces find abhorrent and unprofessional even for foes), compared with Pakistan's desire for peaceful co-existence based on mutual respect is stark evidence of the thinking of both countries. In the modern, interconnected world of today confrontation and conflict are not options and we believe the only forward is through cooperation not confrontation. Pakistan stands by its consistent principled position of peaceful resolution of all issues, including the J&K dispute. It is up to India to respond.

Question

When Mike Pompeo visited Pakistan last month, the Foreign Minister in his Press Conference stated that US wants Pakistan to play a constructive role for peace in Afghanistan. Has Pakistan highlighted the Indian intransigence during Pompeo-Qureshi meeting? Secondly, during the Foreign Minister's address at the Informal Meeting of SAARC Council of Ministers, he highlighted the need for having SAARC Summit in Pakistan. As we know India does not want to convene SAARC Summit at the moment but my question is what are the reactions of other Member States of SAARC on holding the SAARC Summit in Pakistan? (Mr. Mazhar Iqbal - Public TV)

Answer

Regarding SAARC Summit, the remaining Member States, except India, are positive on the holding of SAARC Summit in Pakistan. Our Press Release issued earlier was very clear on this issue. As you know, India is not ready for the SAARC Summit and there should be consensus of all member states of SAARC for holding the Summit. Since there is no consensus, chances of early holding of the SAARC Summit are not very bright.

We have clearly brought to the notice of USA and the international community that we are ready for negotiations with India and for this reason our Prime Minister wrote a detailed letter to his Indian counterpart. You must have seen the letter, as it appeared in public domain. Pakistan has clearly mentioned its desire to hold talks for resolving Jammu and Kashmir, Sir Creek and Siachen, people to people contacts and terrorism as well. In the same letter, the Prime Minister has also proposed the early holding of the SAARC Summit and Council of Ministers. The letter gives a comprehensive roadmap. So, one can easily judge Pakistan's Foreign Policy and the dialogue centered approach.

Question

The Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad intends to lead delegation to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia, as an effort to bring Taliban to the negotiation table. What are your comments and when is he coming to Pakistan? (Mr. Jaleel, VoA)

Answer

Pakistan fully supports the policy of negotiations with Taliban. It is a shared responsibility to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table and no single country can be expected to undertake this task unilaterally. Pakistan remains open to working with all partners to create an enabling environment for initiating peace talks.

Question

Reportedly, during the meeting with US officials in New York, the Foreign Minister has compromised Pakistan's position on the possible exchange of Dr. Shakeel Afridi with Aafia Siddiqui? Your comments please! (Rabia Peer, VoA Radio)

Answer

There is no change in our position in the case of Dr. Shakeel Afridi.

Question

Reportedly, on the issue of reconciliation in Afghanistan and the direct talks between US and Taliban, Pakistan is engaged with the Afghan Government under APAPPS. Is there any provision under the APAPPS to involve Taliban in negotiations as well? Secondly, Pakistan and Afghanistan are currently engaged under the auspices of APAPPS. It may also be in Pakistan's interest to engage with the Taliban for regional peace and stability, as the US is doing. Do you think this will affect the APAPPS process? (Mr. Shaukat Mehmood Paracha - Aaj News)

Answer

As I said earlier, it is a shared responsibility to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table and no one country should be expected to undertake this task unilaterally. You are aware that after concluding the Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) on May 14, 2018 in Islamabad, the two sides held the inaugural session in Kabul on July 22. Holding of the inaugural session just two days prior to the elections in Pakistan signifies the importance Pakistan attaches to its relations with Afghanistan. Since then, multiple engagements have taken place under this framework. We are currently working with our Afghan colleagues to finalize the dates for the next meeting, which is to be held in Islamabad, to review the progress under various Working Groups constituted under the mechanism.

Question

The recent visit of the Foreign Minister is considered successful, but a controversy has been reported that the Foreign Minister shook hands with the US President Donald Trump and afterwards while giving interview to media the Foreign Minister has stated that he had a meeting with President Trump, in which he discussed many issues. Your comments please? (Mr. Aon Sherazi - Such TV)

Answer

President Trump welcomed the Foreign Minister at the reception and they had a brief discussion. It was a very positive development.

Question

Reportedly, there are news in the international media about a possible swap of Dr. Shakeel Afridi with Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, whereas, you are saying that there is no change in government's position on Dr. Shakeel Afridi case. Secondly, the Indian media has claimed that India wanted to have a secret meeting with the Foreign Minister of Pakistan. Thirdly, Indian troops have fired shots at the helicopter carrying the Prime Minister of AJK. Is it true? How is Pakistan analyzing the ongoing tense situation between the two countries and on the LOC (Mr. Adnan Haider - Channel 5)

Answer

We had offered to have formal meeting between the two Foreign Ministers however, which the Indians agreed and later backed out. I do not know about any secret meeting. Regarding the incident involving the AJK Prime Minister, the Prime Minister of AJK has already spoken on the incident.

Question

There are reports that Saudi Arabia is planning to join the CPEC? Has any decision been taken to include Saudi Arabia in the CPEC? Recently, the Saudi Arabian delegation is visiting Pakistan. Would you like to share some details? (Tariq Mehmood - Hum TV)

Supplementary Question

There are reports that Saudi Arabia is planning to join the CPEC? Was the Chinese side taken into confidence before involving a third party? (Mr. Ali Hussain - Business Recorder)

Answer

We are totally in touch with the Chinese side, however, this subject pertains to the Planning Division. You may please consult with the Planning Division accordingly. I will also check details and will revert.

Question

Would you please share the details of expenses incurred on the recent visit of Foreign Minister to New York. Secondly, Pakistan is demanding an inquiry against the human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir while Pakistan has voted against the Resolution on Yemen Crisis. How would you like to comment? (Anwar Abbas, Waqat News)

Answer

I will check on the Resolution and revert.

Regarding you question on expenses, as I informed you earlier, the Foreign Minister is on his way back. We can only have the final costs, once the visit is over. We will share the details of expenses incurred on the visit, soon.

Question

Before the Foreign Minister's visit to United States, Pak-US relations were at the lowest. Do you think that after the recent visit the relations have come to normalcy? Secondly, a summary for the appointment of Ms. Naghmana Alamgir Hashmi as Pakistan's High Commissioner to London in place of Sahibzada Ahmed Khan has been moved to the Prime Minister. Would you like to give us some details? (Mr. Mateen Haider - DAWN News)

Supplementary Question

Reportedly, Foreign Secretary is battling to protect a number of officers close to her and involved in different cases. You must have seen the whatsapp messages making the rounds, or I can read it out. Would you like to share some details? (Mr. Shamim - Online News Agency)

Answer

The visit has taken place in a positive environment and we are moving in a positive direction.

Pertaining to your second question I would like to share with you the following details:

Our High Commissioner in London has been reprimanded and action is being taken against him.

In Bulgaria, there was a report of embezzlement. A Special Fact-Finding officer was sent to investigate the issue. The Accountant concerned has accepted responsibility for the embezzlement. On his return, his name has been given to NAB. The Auditor General has been requested to do a special audit of the Mission. Our Ambassador has been called to Pakistan to assist in the investigation.

Regarding our HC in South Africa, the case is subjudice. The HC's travel to Pakistan is in line with relevant rules.

Regarding your query about the case in Portugal, misinformation was circulated about Ambassador Leena. An inquiry was undertaken which exonerated her, after which she was sent to Belarus by the previous government.

The case against our Ambassador in Rome is with the Ombudsperson. In response to the Ombudsperson's instructions an internal inquiry is also being undertaken.

Regarding out Deputy Head of Mission in Singapore, he has been recalled and an enquiry has been initiated in this regard.

Question

There are reports that Saudi Arabia is planning to join the CPEC? Has any decision been taken to include Saudi Arabia in the CPEC? Secondly, a high-ranking officer was involved in stealing the valuables of one of the members of visiting Kuwaiti delegation. Can you please comment? (Mr. Naveed Akbar - Dunya News)

Answer

We are completely in touch with the Chinese side regarding CPEC, however, this subject pertains to the Planning Division. You may please consult them.

Regarding you second question, I would like to refer you to the concerned institution where this incident took place.

Question

The Foreign Minister attended a meeting of the Atlantic Council, where water issues are normally raised. Has the Foreign Minister taken up the water issues between India and Pakistan? (Mr. Shahid Rehman - Kodo News)

Answer

We have been raising the water issues between Pakistan and India effectively. The Foreign Minister discussed the Kishanganga and Ratle Hydroelectric Projects in his meeting with the President of World Bank and at all other forums, appropriately.

Question

Regarding the CPEC, it was said earlier that it would be regional project and China, India, Iran and Afghanistan would be included in this. How do you see this arrangement keeping in view the fact that there are some countries in the region which are not at good terms with each other? Secondly, Saudi Arabia is exporting oil to us on deferred payment basis which always comes with a political "price." What has been offered to Saudi Arabia from us side? (Mr. Rashid Chaudhary - Channel 24)

Answer

As I told you earlier, the subject pertains to the Planning Division. You may please consult with the Planning Division accordingly.

We have brotherly relations with Saudi Arabia and there is no issue of "price" between brothers. I have no information if we are getting oil on deferred payment from Saudi Arabia, so far.

Question

During the SAARC Council of Ministers' meeting in New York, reportedly, Ms. Sushma Swaraj walked out of the meeting without waiting for the speech of the Pakistani Foreign Minister. Do you think that ongoing crisis in Indo-Pak relations is affecting the regional cooperation? (Khawaja Nayyer Iqbal, Kashmir Post)

Answer

Pakistan believes in peaceful resolution of issues and maintains that the only way forward to solve any dispute is through dialogue. Regrettably, Indian intransigence and obstinacy holds hostage, not only relations between Pakistan and India but regional development and prosperity. I personally was present in that meeting. Our Foreign Minister was the first to arrive and left at the end of the meeting. After the meeting, he also addressed the media including the Indian media. Ms. Sushma Swaraj came late and left immediately after her speech.

Question

During the 73rd session of the UNGA, the Foreign Minister in his speech highlighted that India is backing terror attacks across Pakistan, in order to destabilize Pakistan. The Indian side, while rebutting this, claimed that Pakistan is sending terrorists to India. What are your comments? (Mr. Anas Malick - WION News)

Answer

Pakistan has always expressed its readiness for peaceful settlement of all the outstanding issues between Pakistan and India, through dialogue. If India is not ready to come to the table, we do not have any other way forward to find a solution to our problems. It takes two to tango.

Question

It is being reported that the names of Ms. Naghmana Alamgir Hashmi, Mrs. Zaheer Janjua and Mr. Jauhar Saleem are being considered for the position of Pakistan High Commissioner in London and Sahibzada Ahmed Khan will be transferred from London. Please share the details. Secondly, we have received a letter from India, earlier this year, regarding Mumbai attacks. What action has so far been taken by Pakistan? (Ms. Rashid Sial - Abb Tak)

Answer

I have already responded to the query regarding Pakistan High Commissioner in London. Regarding your second question, subject pertains to the Ministry of Interior.

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