Media Briefing|

(2013-07-05)

[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]

Opening Statement
As you are aware at the invitation of Chinese Premier, Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif is visiting China. He has held meetings with the Chinese leadership and heads of investment and financial houses. We have issue a Joint Statement on “Common Vision for Deepening Pakistan-China Strategic Cooperative Partnership in the New Era”. Following agreements/MoUs have been signed during visit of the Prime Minister to China:

1. MoU on Pak-China economic Corridor between Ministry of Planning and Development and National Development and Reform Commission of China.

2. Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation.

3. Letter for Exchange on Anti-Polio Equipment Grant.

4. Letter of exchange for two bilateral training courses for Pakistan officials on Textile management and flood Relief.

5. MoU on Exchanges and Cooperation between Communist Party of China and PML (N).

6. MoU on Cooperation between China Centre for contemporary World Studies and the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad.

7. Agreement on Construction of Pak-China Cross Border Cable System (Fiber Optic) between SCO and Huawei.

8. MoU between ZTE and Punjab Government on Solar Energy.

Now the floor is open for questions.

Question
As you mentioned that Prime Minister of Pakistan is on his first visit to China and they have signed 08 major agreements but two major challenges of Pakistan are terrorism and drones issue. How China as a brother country would help Pakistan in tackling these issues?

What is the official stance of Pakistan regarding the developments in Egypt?

Answer
In the field of counter terrorism, there is close cooperation between Pakistan and China. A joint working group meets regularly. The two sides are satisfied at the level of bilateral cooperation in this field. On the issues of drone strikes, the present government has clearly articulated our policy. The drone strikes violate our sovereignty and international law, and are counter-productive. The government has taken up this matter in clear terms with the government of the United States.

Pakistan and Egypt enjoy close friendly relations based on strong bonds of fraternity, mutual respect and aspirations of the people of the two countries. We are closely following the events in Egypt and hope that the Egyptian nation is able to deal with its affairs in a manner that ensures democracy, political stability, and development of their country and prosperity and well being of its people.

Question
Does Pakistan consider the coup in Egypt as the illegitimate, unconstitutional and in controversial to the aspiration of the people of Egypt?

Secondly, we have seen that Turkey has issued a very strong and clear statement. What is the Pakistan’s stand point on the issue of military takeover in Egypt?

Answer
As I just stated, relations between Pakistan and Egypt are based on bonds of fraternity, mutual respect and aspirations of the people of the two countries. Pakistan pursues a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. Being a democratic society, we do however stress that the values of democracy and aspirations of the people should be upheld.

Question
In today’s newspaper there is a report regarding closing of 22 missions abroad? Would you like to update us on that?

Answer
The Prime Minister has directed that all government expenditure should be reduced. We have also been asked to prepare proposals to cut down the expenditure up to 30%. In compliance with the directive of the Prime Minister, the Foreign Ministry has formulated some austerity proposals. The Prime Minister will take a final decision on this matter.

Question
There are reports that five Afghan detainees have been released from Bagram prison. Could you brief us that who were they and under what section of law they were detained there and under what agreements they have been released?

Answer
I don’t have information on what you are reporting as the release of detainees from Bagram prison. I need to consult with my colleagues.

Question
There are some media reports that Indian Border Security Forces are facilitating some of the militant groups to enter Pakistan from Sindh border. They are also involved in smuggling across the border. What are your comments and what measures Pakistan has taken to secure its border?

Answer
I have not seen the media reports that you are referring to. However, I can say that Pakistan and India have a policy for managing the border thorough a mechanism in which Pakistan Rangers and Indian Border Security Force maintain a close contact. The Rangers and BSF hold biannual meetings and also establish contacts as and when needed. It is the policy of government of Pakistan to have good neighborly relations with India. We hope that this desire will be reciprocated.

Question
Pakistan and China have agreed to construct a railway line. Is the railway link is included in the MoU which is signed in Beijing?

Answer
The concept of North-South economic corridor has been agreed in the MoU. It is a long term plan, which requires detailed work. Some mechanisms have been created to hold further discussions, like a ministerial level joint cooperation committee, a joint working group and expert groups.

Question
Recently Foreign Office has issued two reactions regarding the Afghan statements. Apart from these reactions can you please add some details that how Pakistan is looking at these statements as these are coming quite often now?

Answer
Negative statements from Afghanistan vitiate the atmosphere. In our recent statements, we have categorically stated that Pakistan does not “control” any Afghan elements, nor have we given any “ideas” about internal affairs of Afghanistan. Pakistan is sincere in its efforts to see peace and stability return to Afghanistan. We consider that the best route to a peaceful Afghanistan is through a robust reconciliation process. Pakistan is willing to extend every possible help to further the peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. We do hope that our sincerity will be appreciated and reciprocated.

Question
Has Mr. Shahryar Khan being appointed as a special representative of Prime Minister for track-II diplomacy with India?

Answer
The Prime Minister has given Ambassador Shahryar Khan the responsibility of conducting track-II diplomacy in order to improve our ties with India. Ambassador Shahryar is in India today and is meeting the Indian leadership. Track-II diplomacy has been a part of the overall peace process between Pakistan and India, and complements the bilateral efforts for peace.

Question
In your press release referring to the comments by Afghan Army Chief, Foreign Office has said that such comments reflect insincerity on part of some elements of Afghan government. Such statements have been coming from Afghan President, Deputy Foreign Minister and Army Chief. Do we mean to say that these leaders are insincere with Afghan peace process?

Answer
We do not wish to name any names. We feel that the sincerity that Pakistan has been showing, particularly in the past few months, ought to be reciprocated and appreciated. The sentence that you referring to in our statement, reflects that particular thought.

Question
Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan has said that drone strikes could lead to direct confrontation or standoff between Pakistan and US. Do you share this perspective?

Secondly, how many people are handling the Foreign Policy of Pakistan? We have Interior Minister, Special Assistant to Prime Minister, Advisor to Prime Minister and Ch. Ahsan Iqbal looking after China policy. What are your comments?

Answer
The policy of the Government on drone strikes has been clearly articulated by the Prime Minister of Pakistan. We have taken up this matter with US and will raise it in the forthcoming contacts as well.

As for your second question, the Prime Minister retains the portfolio of Foreign Affairs. He has appointed an Advisor to the Prime Minister on national security and foreign affairs who is of the Federal Minister rank. There is also a Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Mr. Tariq Fatemi who holds the rank of Minister of State. He is currently accompanying the Prime Minister on China visit. The Foreign Office leadership is discharging its responsibilities as a well cohered team.

Question
What are the expected dates of John Kerry’s visit to Pakistan, and what is the agenda of his visit?

Secondly, the deadline has been increased for illegal Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia. Are there more efforts going on by the Pakistani Mission to give them opportunities to stay there?

Answer
US Secretary of State, John Kerry, is expected to visit Pakistan towards the end of this month. Final dates are being worked out. As for agenda, the governments of both countries are in touch with each other to finalize the agenda.

As for your second question, we have welcomed the extension of the deadline by HH the King of Saudi Arabia. It provides a welcome opportunity to Overseas Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia to correct their resident status. However, with this extension we have not lowered our efforts. In fact, our efforts would intensify, and we hope that by November we will be in a position where the least number of Pakistanis will be affected.

Question
In last month there have been a number of suicide attacks in Karachi, Quetta and KPK. There are number of incidents where proofs of foreign involvement have been found. Do state intelligence agencies share the information with Foreign Office and has Foreign Office taken up these matters with the respective countries?

Answer
On internal matters, I will refer you to Ministry of Interior. I may however add that for any terrorist incident in the country, investigations are carried out, and if it involves any foreign element the Foreign Office takes appropriate action.

Question
Some months back UN General Assembly passed a resolution against the death penalty which was opposed by Pakistan. Now the Amnesty International as shown reservations on fulfilling capital punishment across Pakistan. How do you see these reservations and will it affect the GSP plus status for Pakistan?

Answer
The death penalty has been a subject of international debate for quite sometime and you are aware that as yet there is no consensus at the international level on abolishing the death penalty. Pakistan pursues its policies as per our Constitution and national laws. We had imposed a moratorium on death penalty for quite some time with some exceptions. Our leadership will take a decision on this important matter. For more details, I will refer to you to Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights.

Question
What is the role of Germany in Afghanistan as we have seen the role played by US and KSA? How Pakistan is collaborating with Germany on the issues in Afghanistan? Is there any proposal or role being formulated by Pakistan and Germany?

Answer
Many nations, including Germany, are engaged in the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan. German Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Koch has paid a number of visits to Pakistan for discussions. Such discussions contribute to efforts aimed at bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan.

Question
My question is regarding moratorium. Is Pakistan ready to pay the price of not getting the GSP Plus status by quitting this moratorium?

Answer
We are aware of the policy of European Union on abolition of death penalty. The EU view has been voiced at different international forums. We respect the view of the European Union. However, Pakistan pursues its own policy on death penalty in the light of our own Constitution and national laws. As for GSP Plus, I will not draw the kind of linkages that you are referring to. Pakistan has applied for GSP plus and we hold strong credentials to qualify. Pakistan believes that greater market access to European Union will help the government of Pakistan to create economic opportunities for the people of Pakistan.

Question
There are reports that the next visit of the Prime Minister would be to Saudi Arabia? In the past we have seen that KSA gave oil to Pakistan. Do you see this practice would continue in future?

Answer
I do not have any information on visit of the Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia.

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