(2017-12-14) Opening Remarks
Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum, Ladies & Gentlemen!
We strongly condemn the terrorist attack on an army vehicle in North Waziristan Agency on 12 December, 2017 resulting in the Shahadat of Second Lieutenant Abdul Moeed and Sepoy Basharat. Pakistan’s sacrifices in the fight against terrorism continue unabated. Our hearts go out to the bereaved families. We shall not stop in our endeavours to root our terrorism from Pakistan, no matter what the cost.
Now, a brief round-up of the activities on the foreign policy front:
The Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi participated in the Extraordinary OIC Summit on Al-Quds Al-Sharif held on 13 December, 2017 at Istanbul. The summit was preceded by the Council of Foreign Ministers Meeting which was attended by Foreign Minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif.
The summit declaration states that the OIC member states recognize Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital “under occupation” and urge the U.S. to withdraw from the peace process. The leaders “reject and condemn in the strongest terms the unilateral decision by the President of the United States recognizing al-Quds [Jerusalem] as the so-called capital of Israel, the occupying power; reject it as null and void legally, and consider it an attack on the historical, legal, natural and national rights of the Palestinian people, a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts, an impetus for extremism and terrorism, and a threat to international peace and security.”
The OIC member states “declare East Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Palestine and invite all countries to recognize the state of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital.” The statement also declare that the OIC “holds the U.S. administration fully liable for all the consequences of not retracting from this illegal decision and regard it as an announcement of the U.S. administration’s withdrawal from its role as a sponsor of peace and its realization among all stakeholders and an encouragement of Israel, the occupying power, to continue its policy of colonialism, settlement, apartheid and ethnic cleansing it has been practicing in the occupied Palestinian territory since 1967, and in the city of al-Quds with the Noble Sanctuary at its core.”
The National Assembly and Senate of Pakistan, on 11 December 2017, unanimously passed Resolutions, strongly condemning the decision of the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and demanded that the US immediately revisits its decision, as soon as possible, in order to avoid the potentially grave repercussions in the region and beyond and to play its role to de-escalate the situation on the ground on the basis of International Law, International Humanitarian Law and the previous agreements and obligations.
The Indian Deputy High Commissioner Mr. J.P. Singh was summoned to the Foreign Office over unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces on 7 December 2017 in the Chirikot Sector, Chaffar Village while a funeral prayer was being offered, resulting in the shahadat of 2 civilians (Mr Shaukat and Mr Iqbal residents of Chaffar village), and injuries to 4 others. Despite calls for restraint, India continues to indulge in ceasefire violations. In 2017 to date, the Indian forces have carried out more than 1300 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, resulting in the shahadats of 54 innocent civilians and injuries to 174 others, as compared to 382 ceasefire violations in 2016.
The deliberate targeting of civilians, now even at funerals, is indeed deplorable and contrary to human dignity and international human rights and humanitarian laws. The ceasefire violations by India are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation.
The brutalities being perpetrated by the Indian occupation forces against the innocent Kashmiris continue in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Violent, armed, illegal operations and fake encounters, causing martyrdom to 4 Kashmiris, including a 23-year woman Misra Bano in Handwara area of Kupwara district remain a daily routine. Over a dozen other defenceless Kashmiris were injured after the Indian forces used brute force, bullets and pellets on peaceful protesters. We also condemn the continued house detention of Hurriyat Leadership including Syed Ali Gilani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Mohammad Yasin Malik, Shabbir Ahmad Shah, MassratAlam Bhat, Assiya Andrabi and Fehmeeda Sofi.
The Foreign Minister in his message on the Human Rights Day on 10 December 2017 reiterated Pakistan’s strong commitment to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as needs. He said that Pakistan has demonstrated its resolve by enacting wide ranging legislations, establishing strong institutional machinery and putting in place robust policy measures in the field of human rights. Pakistan’s constitution serves as the anchor and guarantor of all fundamental freedoms and human rights.
The Foreign Secretary received the delegations of the French National Assembly and Senate, led by Mr. Jean-Bernard Sempastous and Mr. Pascal Allizard. Foreign Secretary said that Pakistan considered France an important political, economic and security partner, bilaterally as well as within the context of the European Union. She briefed the parliamentarians on the improved security situation in the country and particularly conducive environment for trade and investment. She added that the Friendship Groups play a key role in bringing the two countries closer.
The UN General Assembly re-elected Pakistan as a member of the UN Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) for a three-year term starting on 1st January 2018. Pakistan was nominated for the membership of the Committee by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) against one of the four seats reserved for the Asia Pacific Group. Pakistan’s election to the Committee is an endorsement of country’s pro-active role and engagement with the UN system. The Committee is the main subsidiary organ of the UN General Assembly and ECOSOC for planning, programming and coordination.
The UN General Assembly adopted, by consensus, a resolution tabled by Pakistan and the Philippines on the Promotion of Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, Understanding and Cooperation for Peace. Pakistan has been successfully steering this resolution in the General Assembly for the last thirteen years, and has led the efforts to promote dialogue among all religions, cultures and nationalities. The resolution is aimed at highlighting the importance of intercultural and interreligious dialogue as a critical tool to achieve peace and stability in the world, and also focus on its contribution towards the realization of the goal of sustainable and inclusive development. In today’s world, where forces of bigotry, extremism and intolerance are on rise, Pakistan continues to undertake persistent efforts to strengthen the mechanisms for the promotion of genuine and constructive dialogue to further the cause of peaceful coexistence, acceptance and respect for all.
The 3rd Round of the Pakistan-Bulgaria Bilateral Political Consultations was held in Sofia on 7-8 December 2017. The two sides reviewed the whole spectrum of bilateral relations and identified opportunities and possibilities for further cooperation, especially in the spheres of trade and economy, investment, culture, education, science & technology, defence, parliamentary exchanges and people-to-people contacts.
Lastly, we congratulate Ms. Samar Khan, a Pakistani cyclist who has become the first women to scale Africa’s highest Mountain Kilimanjaro on a bicycle.
Now the Floor is open for Questions
Reportedly, India has successfully test fired the surface-to-air missile on 05 December 2017. The Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) said as a result of this test, India has achieved the capability of making any type of Surface to Air Missile. How do you see the Indian aggressive mindset and the resultant strategic imbalance in the region?
Also, reportedly, China has halted the release of funds for three projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Can you share the details? Also, what reasons have been cited for halting the funding for these projects?
Thirdly, is there any update or details regarding the visit of Commander Kulbhushan Jhadev’s wife and mother? If you allow Indian diplomat to accompany them, is it that Pakistan is granting consular access to Jhadev? (Essa Naqvi – Dunya News)
On the reply submitted on Commander Kulbhushan Jhadev’s case at ICJ, can we have the details of the counter-memorial, and what specific points were given to ICJ? (Anwar Abbas – Waqt News)
Regarding the meeting between Commander Kulbhsuhan Jhadev and his wife and mother, would you divulge any details about where the meeting will be held or what arrangements the Government of Pakistan is making? When you say that an official of Indian embassy will accompany them, will he be allowed to sit in the meetings? (Shaukat Paracha – Aaj News)
Earlier at ICJ, Pakistan had a plea that according to Vienna Convention 1963, consular access can only be granted to legitimate citizens of any country or State. As Essa Naqvi pointed out, having an Indian diplomat in the meetings amounts to granting consular access to Commander Kulbushan Jhadev or not, or is it still on humanitarian grounds? (Faisal Raza Khan – 92 News)
On Commander Kulbhushan Jhadev, just before coming here, we have received a reply from the Indian side, that they would be sending Commander Jhadev’s wife and mother on 25 December 2017. The details and modalities of the meeting will now be worked out. I will keep you updated on it.
Pakistan submitted the Counter-Memorial to ICJ yesterday, at 3:00 PM The Hague local time. The extensive and detailed legal arguments prepared by the Counsel for Pakistan, Barrister Khawar Qureshi Queen’s Counsel (QC), were filed at the ICJ in accordance with the Court timetable. The Counter Memorial is a comprehensive and robust document that covers all legal aspects of the case. We are fully confident that the ICJ will have regard to legal principles, as well as its existing case law, to reject the claims made by India for “acquittal or release”.
CPEC is a mega project entailing several rail, road, infrastructure and energy projects. The magnitude of the projects is unprecedented. Several ministries and provincial departments are stakeholders from our side, while from the Chinese side several SoEs, companies and ministries are involved in various projects.
These projects are steered by Pakistan-China JCC. The 7th JCC meeting was held in Islamabad on 21st November. It reviewed the work of Joint Working Groups, progress of the projects and approved new ones. The funding for CPEC projects is approved and disbursed as per the agreed principles between the governments, ministries and companies of the two countries. Details may be obtained from the concerned line Ministries. More specifically, we have not received any information from the Chinese side regarding halting funding for any project.
Regarding your question on India’s surface to air missile, Indian arms buildup has pushed the region in a vicious arms race. Its hegemonic designs are a cause of serious concern not only to Pakistan but also to the entire region. Indian thirst for becoming a regional hegemon is casting a dark shadow on South Asia. The Pakistan forces are ready to defend our borders against any threat.
Reportedly, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has alleged that Pakistan has interfered in the Gujarat elections. We have seen your tweet in this regard. Can you please elaborate on how India uses electoral debate to malign Pakistan for its own vested ends?
Secondly, OIC has often been criticized for being an ineffective organization, which has failed to take up various causes of the Muslim Ummah forcefully. What is Pakistan’s stance on the OIC? (Khawaja Nayaar Iqbal – Daily Kashmir Post)
As you told us about the declaration of OIC, is there anything new in the Final Communique of OIC Special Summit? Was there any agreement on sanctions against Israel or US? (Kausar Lodhi – Prime News)
What is the outcome of the OIC Summit and Foreign Minister’s meeting held in Turkey recently? (Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)
In the last press briefing you said that in the light of the Declaration of the OIC Summit, Pakistan would take the next course of action, including whether or not to summon US Ambassador to the Foreign Office. Is there anything new on it now? (Bashir Chaudhry – Channel 24)
In which capacity did Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif visit Turkey as part of Prime Minister’s delegation for the OIC Summit? (Abid Khursheed – ATV)
Regarding Khawaja sb’s first question, Pakistan strongly rejects such baseless and irresponsible allegations. Pakistan, as a responsible member of the international community, observes a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. However, India not only interferes in our internal affairs by promoting terrorism in our country, but also levels such unfounded allegations, in an attempt to divert the attention of the world from their internal issues, such as growing intolerance and religious extremism. I reiterate, that India should stop dragging Pakistan into its electoral debates. Elections should be won on own strength and performance, rather than fabricating conspiracies.
On OIC, I have already given the extracts of the Final Communique in my opening remarks. Whatever has been decided during the OIC Summit, Pakistan will fully implement it.
On CM Shahbaz Sharif’s visit to Turkey, I will check details.
Prime Minister of Pakistan has visited Turkey to attend the Special Session of the OIC following US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Please share the salient features of the outcome document?
Secondly, on the sidelines of the trilateral meeting at New Delhi, Russia has urged India ‘to find a way’ to work with Beijing on its One Belt One Road Project. What is Pakistan’s reaction to India’s possible inclusion into OBOR or CPEC? (Saad Umar – Roze News)
On your second question, OBOR is a multi country project envisioned by President Xi Jinping to create a shared future for the humanity. Over 60 countries and 100 organizations are engaged with BRI in various forms. It is aimed at enhancing development cooperation for win-win outcomes. CPEC is the flagship project of BRI, and has immense potential for enhancing regional connectivity and cooperation. CPEC is a bilateral project between Pakistan and China. We have received requests from many third countries for participation in CPEC. We are in the process of formulating a comprehensive policy for inclusion of third countries in CPEC in consultation with China. Modalities are being worked out in this regard.
On OIC Summit, I have already given the extracts of the Final Communique.
You mentioned about India’s surface to air missile test. I am aware that there are some exceptions to the notification of these tests but since it was a ballistic missile test, was it covered by prior notification to Pakistan? (Shahid-ur-Rahman – Kyodo)
Let me check the details.
Reportedly, Pakistan has agreed to extend the stay of Afghan refugees by one more year. Can you confirm this report? What is the rationale behind it?
Secondly, reportedly, French and Algerian fighters have joined the ranks of Islamic State (IS) in Afghanistan. The fighters are heading to Afghanistan after being driven from Syria and Iraq. How do you see the increasing foothold of IS in Afghanistan, and its impact on the region? (Shaukat Paracha – Aaj News)
In the wake of the rise of ISIS in Afghanistan, and its spillover effect into Pakistan, Chinese Embassy has issued a travel advisory, cautioning its citizens. If Pakistan also witnesses a rising influence of Daesh due to its large presence in Afghanistan, how we can further secure our borders? (Rashida Sial – Abb Tak)
Regarding presence of terrorist groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan has repeatedly expressed its grave concerns about the presence and growing terrorist activities of Daesh in Afghanistan. We are especially alarmed at Daesh’s presence in Afghan provinces bordering Pakistan. Deash is also present in Afghan provinces bordering China, Iran and the Central Asian Republics. The latest report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) is an eye opener in this regard. More than 43% of Afghan territory is either out of Kabul’s control or is contested. Such ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan have been instrumental in attracting terrorist groups from all over the world. Presence of such terrorist groups not only poses threat to the security and stability of Afghanistan but also undermines the security of its neighbours and the region as a whole. We expect that Afghanistan and Resolute Support Mission (RSM) will take action to bring the ungoverned and contested territories under control and prevent such groups from exploiting these spaces.
On Afghan refugees, Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees for almost four decades with dignity and honor. During this time, they were extended amenities at par with Pakistani citizens. The validity of current POR (Proof of Residence) cards is due to expire on December 31, 2017. The Government is contemplating options to extend the validity of the POR cards. So far no decision has been made. When it is decided, it shall be shared with the media.
On Ms. Rashida Sial’s question, Pakistan and China enjoy excellent bilateral relations. CPEC is the economic manifestation of this all weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership. Pakistan attaches highest importance to the security of Chinese institutions and interests for which a fifteen thousand (15000) strong Special Security Division has been created. Taskforces have been created at Federal and Provincial levels to continuously monitor and ensure foolproof security for Chinese working in Pakistan. We take security matters very seriously and have excellent coordination with our Chinese brothers/counterparts on the issue. I would also like to draw your attention to the recent statement by Chinese Embassy on Twitter appreciating Pakistan’s efforts in this regard.
As you said that the National Assembly and the Senate have also passed the resolutions rejecting US decision on Jerusalem. Was the US Ambassador summoned to register a protest in this regard? (Shahzad Mirza – Royal News)
We have conveyed our reaction to the US officials in Islamabad, including the Resolutions of the National Assembly and the Senate on the issue of Jerusalem. We have been assured that our sentiments and concerns would be conveyed to Washington.
Trump has recently signed a defence bill that includes 700 million dollars reimbursement to Pakistan that includes CSF. What is your comment on this? (Ishtiaq Ahmad – Voice of America)
In the context of Coalition Support Fund, we have already given our view point in the briefings in the last two weeks. We welcome the signing of the defence bill. It may be reiterated that Coalition Support Fund is a reimbursement and not assistance.
Keeping in view the deteriorating relations between US and Pakistan in the wake of Trump’s Afghanistan and South Asia policy, and now the Jerusalem episode, is there a policy on our part to lessen our dependence on US weapons and move towards indigenization or China? (Raza Khan)
As I have mentioned before, we are trying to find common ground between Pakistan and the US for a cooperative way forward, which is beneficial for both the countries. That does not prevent us from exploring all other options on the table, which are in the best interest of our national security. As recent as two weeks ago, the US Defence Secretary, General Mattis was also quoted to have said that both Pakistan and the US are working towards finding common ground for identifying the way forward in our bilateral relations.
Reportedly, India has refused to host the Asia Cup in September 2018 over Pakistan’s participation. This is not the first time that India is using sports, and many other forums, to foment its belligerent attitude. In your view, what does all this say about India, the so-called largest democracy of the world? (Mateen Haider – Bol News)
I have also seen the media reports and will revert with more information.
We believe that sports provide a platform for healthy activities and promoting friendship among the nations. Unfortunately, India does not believe in this. Earlier, visas of Pakistani Junior squash players were refused by India. Cricket between the two nations remains in doldrums. If this trend continues, it will further hamper the people to people contact which will benefit no one.
Reportedly, Pakistan has formally shared proposals with Afghanistan for joint working groups that will enable both neighbours to address each other’s concerns on all key issues. Can you confirm and please share details! (Khalid Mahmood – Express)
You may recall that the COAS, accompanied by the Foreign Secretary and the DG (ISI) visited Kabul on October 01, 2017. During their meeting with President Ghani, the two sides agreed to a have comprehensive bilateral engagement agenda. In the follow-up, a proposal; “Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Solidarity” (APAPS) was shared with Afghanistan on 25 November 2017, for constructive and meaningful bilateral engagement through the working groups in the areas of political, economic, military, intelligence, and refugee issues.
President Ashraf Ghani during his statement at the 7th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process held in Baku on 1st December 2017, said that Afghanistan had received a paper that would provide the basis of a dialogue. A formal reply from Government of Afghanistan is awaited.
In the same context an Afghan Military delegation headed by their DGMO visited Pakistan on 30 November – 1st December 2017. During that meeting, the two sides agreed to place Liaison Officers (LOs) at each other’s Army Headquarters and also establish Ground Coordination Centers (GCCs).
You said that Pakistan and US are trying to find out common grounds to improve the relations. Can you please tell us what kind of common grounds will they be, particularly vis-a-vis Afghanistan, especially when peace in Afghanistan is crucial for Pakistan and Pakistan has approached regional countries for a lasting solution of Afghanistan? (Fakhar-ur-Rahman – SAMAA TV)
I do not have specific details in this regard. Finding common ground in inter-state relations is a continuous and complex process. Pakistan and the US are constantly engaged in finding common ground, and the process is ongoing. This is what was also conveyed by US Secretary of Defence during his recent visit to Pakistan.
We will be observing the Dhaka Fall on 16 December 2017. In view of Pakistan’s tense relations with Bangladesh, what is the current status of our bilateral relations – cordial, normal or adverse? (Zarghoon Shah – Geo News)
Pakistan wants to develop its relationship with Bangladesh on the basis of the Tripartite Agreement of 1974. We believe that this Agreement needs to honoured and upheld in its letter and spirit, and the bilateral relationship between both countries should move forward in the same vein. We are keen on having a forward looking relationship with Bangladesh.
On Human Rights day, Turkey has conducted air strikes on Northern Iraq and 40,000 people have died during the Turkish air strikes in the last 10 years. Your comments please! (Salman Hashmi – Forensic Eye)
We do not comment on the bilateral relations between two countries.
Indian companies are expected to begin work on CASA-1000 project in Afghanistan. Can you share more details of the project?
Secondly, GSP review is ahead, some of the Spanish along with European Union Parliamentarians have written letters to the Heads of European Union, not to grant another year of GSP plus Status to Pakistan. How do you see this development? (Faisal Raza Khan – 92 News)
As far as information on CASA-1000 is concerned, Central Asia-South Asia Regional Electricity Market (CASAREM) was envisaged in October 2006 when the first intergovernmental MoU was signed. The agreement was signed in August 2008 in Islamabad and Phase-I was titled “Central Asia-South Asia (CASA)-1000” under which summer surplus electricity from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan was to be exported to Pakistan (1,000 MW) and Afghanistan (300 MW).
CASA-1000 will have a 1,307-km long transmission line from Kyrgyz Republic to Pakistan through Tajikistan and Afghanistan. In April 2015, Master Agreement and Power Purchase Agreement were signed in Istanbul, Turkey.
The launching ceremony of CASA-1000 project was held on 12 May 2016, which was attended by the former Prime Minister of Pakistan besides Afghan Chief Executive, the then Kyrgyz Prime Minister and President of Tajikistan.
Pakistan is committed to early realization of CASA-1000 project. Import of 1000 MW of electricity would help mitigate electricity deficit in Pakistan and strengthen energy security. Its timely completion will also pave the way for realization of energy corridor between energy-rich Central Asia and energy-deficient South Asia and will create win-win situation for the partner countries and the region.
For the technical details of the project along with timelines of completion, you may refer to the Ministry of Energy.
On your second question, I will get back to you with further details.
Reportedly, HBL Bank has asked Iranian diplomats to close their accounts citing the reason of international sanctions on Iran. Your comment on this please! (Anwar Abbas – Waqt News)
I will have to ascertain details and then get back to you.
Some sections of Russian media have reported that unidentified helicopters are transferring IS terrorists into Afghanistan, thus increasing the foothold of Daesh in that region. How does Pakistan comment on this, and are we concerned about the rise of Daesh and other terrorist elements in Afghanistan? (Essa Naqvi – Dunya News)
We do not comment on media reports. However, we have repeatedly raised our concerns regarding the expanding foothold of Daesh inside Afghanistan, as it is a threat to regional peace and security. Many countries in this region have expressed concern on the rise of Daesh in Afghanistan.
You were recently in Kathmandu to attend SAARC Program Summit Committee Meeting. What was the agenda and outcome of the meeting? Is there any future of the SAARC Summit in your view, which India had scuttled last year? (Naveed Akbar – Daily Dunya)
The 54th meeting of the SAARC programming committee was held in Katmandu, from 12-13 December, 2017. The meeting went well. The Programming Committee is a Director General/Joint Secretary-level charter body of the SAARC which, in addition to acting as a preparatory body to the SAARC standing committee, rationalizes the inter-sectoral priority of SAARC programmes / activities, reviews the progress/implementation of the approved activities/programmes, scrutinizes the budget and approves calendar of activities for the next year for the SAARC, its regional centers and the specialized bodies.
Pakistan is one of the founding members of the SAARC and remains committed to regional cooperation under its umbrella. Pakistan continues to play an active role in the grouping, and pursuing a policy of constructive engagement in the context of SAARC and its activities. Pakistan also looks forward to hosting the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad so that the SAARC objectives could be pursued vigorously.
Last modified: November 22, 2019
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