2015-05-07) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.]

Opening Remarks

The briefing started with introduction of the new Spokesperson Mr. Qazi Khalillulah by the outgoing Spokesperson Ms. Tasnim Aslam. Mr. Qazi started the briefing with the following opening remarks:

It is a matter of great honour for me to be appointed as Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I am grateful to the leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for reposing their confidence in me. I understand that it is an important assignment. However, I count on your cooperation. By working closely together, we will continue to disseminate information about Pakistan’s Foreign Policy and promote its understandings. Let me avail this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to Madam Tasnim Aslam who did an excellent job as Spokesperson. I am grateful for her guidance.

Now the Floor is open for Questions

Question

Elections are being held in the UK today. It is their internal matter but we live in a global village and we have security cooperation with UK, we have strategic dialogue with them and they are our partner. What is Pakistan expecting from the results of these elections? (Shaukat Paracha- AAJ TV)

Answer

Pakistan and the United Kingdom enjoy very close relations. As you very rightly mentioned, elections are an internal affair. However, we want to extend our best wishes to them. Our cooperation is not dependent on a particular party forming the Government. We have longstanding relationship with UK and we are confident that we will have very close cooperation with the new Government.

Question

You must have seen the statement from Corps Commanders in which it was said that RAW was patronizing terrorism in Pakistan. Has Foreign office taken up the matter with the Indian High Commission or with the Indian Ministry of External Affairs? (Baqir Sajjad-Dawn Newspaper)

Answer

We have been taking up the issue of Indian involvement in various parts of Pakistan from time to time, particularly when we have talks with them. I would like to recall that after the visit of Indian Foreign Secretary to Pakistan in March, the Foreign Secretary had briefed the media about the Indian involvement in FATA and Baluchistan.

Question

Can you elaborate whether the matter of RAW patronizing terrorism in Pakistan will be taken up at bilateral level or multilateral level? (Abid Khurshed-ATV)

Answer

As I just explained, we avail every possible opportunity to convey our concerns to the Indian side and I just gave an example.

Question

India, Russia and some other countries are pressurizing Pakistan on Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who was recently released by the court. Now, India has turned to the UN, so international pressure is coming. What is your position on it?

Secondly, the Australian Foreign Minister was here. We always hear about counter-terrorism which signifies the military side of the issue. What about the counter-insurgency signifying the civilian forces’ cooperation, for example, the police and other civil forces need training as well. Your comments please. (Imdad Hussain- Online)

Answer

My Predecessor had answered questions relating to Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi during her recent briefings. The Sanctions Committee required international travel ban, arms embargo and freezing of assets. All these measures have been taken and are highlighted during our interaction with our international partners.

As regards your second question, I think the Australian Foreign Minister and Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs had explained in detail the kind of cooperation that both countries enjoy and we have counter terrorism cooperation with many other countries as well. There are many forms of such cooperation. For example, intelligence sharing is one form of this kind of cooperation.

Question

My question is that few days ago, Indian envoy in the UN has written a letter to Security Council. He raised many issues regarding the release of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. Don’t you think that it is an internal matter of Pakistan?

Secondly, two days ago, BJP government in response to a question in Lok Sabha said officially in writing that the Indian government had no information of the whereabouts of Dawood Ibrahim. So, this is admission after 22 years, as India kept on saying that he lives in Pakistan. Now for the first time, Indian government has officially admitted that they do not know about the whereabouts of Dawood Ibrahim. So I need your comments on this. (Shafique Ahmed- Times Now)

Answer

I have already responded to the first part of your question that we have taken measures required by the Sanctions Committee.

As to your second question, I think it also contains the answer. We have been saying that whereabouts of Dawood Ibrahim were not known to Pakistan. And, finally, it has been admitted by the side which has been accusing Pakistan on this issue.

Question

Pakistani visitors on Wahga-Attari border are being administered second dose of polio drops by Indian authorities. They are not accepting Pakistani certificates carried by visitors which declare that the polio drops have already been administered. The question is whether Pakistan has taken up this matter with the India? (Syed Mohsin Raza- Such TV)

Answer

Thank you for drawing my attention to it. I will find out the factual position and share the information with you.

Question

It seems that Afghanistan peace process has now finally started. Let me ask whether any Pakistani official was present during Doha talks. Secondly, how and in which way Pakistan is facilitating the peace process between the Kabul government and Afghan Taliban? (Mudassir Hussain-Khyber News)

Answer

We attach importance to peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. We stand for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process. Pakistan has been supporting peace efforts. We will continue to support these efforts to the extent we can.

Question

What is the current status of the Pakistanis detained in Italy? (Anwer Abbas-Waqt Tv)

Answer

Our Embassy in Rome is in touch with the local authorities. Our Ambassador has also personally taken up the matter with the Italian authorities and we are waiting for their response.

Question

Today former President Zardari and former Prime Minister Gillani are in Kabul. I just want to check with you whether this visit has been coordinated by Foreign Office. If so, can you share the agenda with us? (Qasim Nauman- Wall Street Journal)

Answer

We encourage contacts between Pakistan and Afghanistan at all levels because we believe that such contacts are helpful in promoting our bilateral relations.

Question

There are reports that in Dubai during the last week Independent Monitoring Board has extended travel restrictions on Pakistan due to not eliminating polio virus from Pakistan. Is it true? (Naveed Siddique – SAMMA TV)

Answer

I have not seen these reports. I will find out. You know that we take this issue very seriously. We have also been administering polio drops to those who visit abroad and I will give you my personal example. About two months ago, I had to travel abroad and at the airport polio drops were administered and a certificate to this effect was given to me.

Question

My question is whether the visit of Prime Minister to Afghanistan is in this month or later? What would be the agenda of this visit because there are reports that it is follow-up of Doha round of talks? (Fayyaz Chaudhry-APP)

Answer

As per practice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announces the dates of the visit of our leaders a day or two prior to the visit. Pakistan and Afghanistan enjoy very close, cordial and brotherly relations. High-level exchanges between the two countries take place frequently. The objective of the visit always is to further promote bilateral relationship and understanding and explore new avenues of cooperation.

Question

Just one hour ago, tribal elders had a meeting in Saudi Embassy in which they announced that they are ready to send 50000 fighters. Of course the response of Foreign Office on this will be announced after sometime. My question is that whether any individual can announce such things and whether Pakistan’s national policy allows this? (Majid Jarar- News One)

Answer

Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia are brotherly, cordial and deep rooted. We share same values. I am not aware of the meeting you have referred to. We conduct our relations with Saudi Arabia through frequent exchange of visits and discuss all issues of mutual interest during such meetings. Pakistan’s policy on Yemen is well-known.

Question

The debate in Afghan Parliament during the last few days was very critical of Pakistan because of the spring offensive by Taliban. The goodwill that was generated after the election of President Ashraf Ghani is dissipating. What can Pakistan do to recover that? (Baqir Sajjad-Dawn Newspaper)

Answer

I have talked about Pakistan-Afghanistan relations already couple of times during this briefing. We have close relations with Afghanistan and Pakistan will do all it can to promote peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan that is Afghan-owned and Afghan-led. Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has a vision of peace in the region and peace with neighboring countries. In the light of that vision we make all possible efforts to promote our cooperation with Afghanistan that is mutually beneficial. We will continue with this policy.

Question

What is the status of Pakistan-India trade at Wahga-Attari border? Afghanistan has expressed concerns over the trade at the Wahga-Attari border since it also wants transit for trade with India. (Abid Khursheed- ATV)

Answer

We have transit trade agreement with Afghanistan and we are abiding by that.

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