(2013-05-09)

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

Opening Statement
A Pakistani UN Peacekeeper was martyred in action while performing his duties in the strife-torn eastern Congo. Pakistan is saddened to hear the news and sympathizes with the family of the Peacekeeper, who laid down his life safeguarding global peace and security. We are issuing a press release on this incident.

As you are aware, this morning, we learnt with a deep sense of grief that Pakistani Prisoner Sanaullah expired in a hospital in Chandigarh, India. He succumbed to the brutal injuries inflicted upon him during an attack in a jail in the Indian Occupied Kashmir.

The Government of Pakistan has offered its deep condolences to the family of Sanaullah. Two members of his family were in Chandigarh. The Indian authorities have told us that the dead body will be returned to us after post mortem. We have made arrangements to bring the mortal remains back to Pakistan by a special plane.

Question
India always claims itself as custodian of democracy and human rights. Sarabjeet was convicted in Pakistani Court, was made hero in India and in reaction Sanaullah was killed there. What is Pakistan’s point of view on it?

Israel is bombing in Syria and killing number of innocent people. How Pakistan reacts to it?

Answer
Sarabjit committed an act of terrorism in Pakistan and was convicted by our courts. To us, Sarabjit was a terrorist. As for Sanaullah, he was brutally attacked in the jail immediately after the death of Sarabjit. He succumbed to these injuries. In this regard, the Government of Pakistan has conveyed its concerns to the Government of India.

As for your question on Syria, Pakistan has always condemned such bombardments which kill innocent people. We align our position to the statement issued by the OIC in this regard.

Question
How many Pakistani prisoners are in Indian jail? Recently Pakistani High Commissioner to India has handed over a letter to Indian side indicating 47 Pakistani prisoners have completed their sentences. If it is so, what is the response of India?

Answer
The issue of Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails is a serious matter. According to estimates, there are 500 to 600 Pakistani prisoners in the Indian jails that include both fishermen and civil prisoners. There are a number of mechanisms in place like Judicial Committee on prisoners. We are doing all within our means to make sure that the Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails are treated humanely. We are particularly concerned about continued detention of those Pakistani prisoners who have completed their sentence. According to available information, at least 47 Pakistani prisoners who have completed their sentences are languishing in Indian jails. We are pursuing these issues with Government of India at every level.

Question
This year is going worse in respect of Indo-Pak relations, as the incidents of LoC and Sarabjet-Sanaullah are evident. Recently former Indian Foreign Secretary has also given a statement on Indian nuclear programme. According to the Times of India, this statement has concurrence of Indian policy makers. As India is also developing missile defense system, do you think our short range missile system is enough to meet security challenges?

Answer
We are examining the statement that you are referring to. We would check the veracity of this claim made by the Times Of India that the statement has concurrence of the highest level of Indian policy makers. If true, this has serious implications. We intend to discuss these important matters with the Indian Government.

Pakistan considers the ongoing Indian efforts to build Ballistic Missile Defence as a destabilizing development. We have consistently drawn the attention of the Indian Government to this issue during the composite dialogue process. Missile Defence can never be completely fool proof, but gives a false sense of security to the possessor.

As for Pakistan’s development of short-range missiles, these address three major concerns emanating from India: One, the rising conventional asymmetry in view of ever escalating defence budgets by India; Two, offensive doctrines postulated by India in the nuclear overhang; and Three, development of ballistic missile defence. Pakistan’s Nasr missile as well as pursuit of cruise missiles should be seen in this context.

Here, I must also stress that Pakistan’s nuclear and missile program is for our defense, and to deter aggression, and is intended to maintain credible minimum deterrence.

Question
Foreign Office has issued a travel advisory for Pakistanis who intend to visit India. What steps has the government of India taken to provide safety and security to the Pakistani zaireen?

The murder of two people has brought two countries on verge of talking about missile. Do you think it suits to the two responsible nuclear states?

Answer
Over 600 Zaireen are scheduled to visit Ajmer Sharif for the annual Urs this month. The Zaireen are currently waiting for their visas. We are requesting the Government of India to ensure that necessary arrangements are in place to provide full security to the Zaireen. We have also requested the Government of India to provide full protection to all Pakistani visitors to India.

Regarding your second question, Government of Pakistan has affirmed time and again that composite dialogue process should be invigorated and made full use. There is a broad political consensus in Pakistan to have normal relations with India. We hope that India would respond positively to our positive approach on the peace and dialogue process with India.

Question
Recently Afghan President Karzai has touched upon Durand Line issue and escalated the situation once again. Despite all efforts from Islamabad, the tone and tenor of the Afghan government is not positive, why is it so? Is a Durand Line real issue between the two countries?
Why is there so much anti Pakistan statements and activity in Afghanistan?
President Karzai has said today that US has asked for nine bases in Afghanistan including one in Jalalabad, from these bases US would be flying drones on Pakistan. How would you respond to this?

Answer
Bulk of the statements coming from Afghanistan relate to the issue of posts. As you are aware we have protested with the Government of Afghanistan over the repetition of unprovoked firing from Afghan side on our Gursal post. As in the past, Pakistan security forces exercised maximum restraint and communicated first to the Afghan side about repetition of this serious violation through military channels. Pakistan feels that repetition of unprovoked firing is adversely affecting our efforts aimed at better border management, which we believe is in our shared interest of checking cross border infiltration.

On Durand line, we have made it clear that the international border between Afghanistan and Pakistan was a settled issue. We find the talk on Durand line a distraction from the other more pressing priorities like achieving peace and stability in the region.

Regarding question on the reports on Airbases in Afghanistan, I have not seen that report. I am not in position to comment on it.

Question
When will the body of Sanaullah be repatriated to Pakistan and there are certain reports that it will be reaching by airplane at 1530 PST. Is there a delay on account of postmortem or incomplete documentation from Jammu?

Does Pakistan reiterate government of India to make a focused discussion on the condition of Pakistani prisoners?

Answer
We have made arrangements for airlifting Sanaullah’s mortal remains. At this point in time, we are waiting for the flight clearance from Indian side. As soon as, we receive the flight clearance our plane will go and bring back the dead body. On the focused discussions, we are of the view that the existing mechanisms should be used to discuss this issue on priority.

Question
India has shown its willingness in the IP Gas project and initiated its parleys with the Iranian government. Is India approached Pakistan, as Pakistan is a big stakeholder in that project?

Answer
As and when we are contacted by Iran or India on this issue, we would examine the matter and respond.

Question
You talk about many mechanisms between Pakistan and India about the prisoners. One of the mechanisms is the judicial committee on prisoners. For how long this committee has not met. Is there anything that Pakistan may propose the visit of this judicial committee to Pakistan?

Answer
Judicial committee is in existence. The Committee was here in Pakistan last month and it visited India last fall. The process is continuing.

Question
Is the arrival of foreign observers in Pakistan completed? If so then would you like to tell us the name of the countries or organizations? Is there any observer coming from Indian?

Answer
We have started receiving foreign election observers in Pakistan. As I indicated in previous briefings, a total of 355 foreign election observers would observe elections, hailing from 12 countries and 3 organizations (European Union, National Democratic Institute and Commonwealth). European Union observer mission has already sent out its team to various parts of the country. Other observers are trickling in. We have not received any request from Indian government to observe elections.

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