Media Briefing|

(2014-10-23)

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

Opening Remarks
Just a clarification, The Daily News of today carries a report that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is indifferent to a fellow officer. It’s about our Consul General in Herat. The fact is that Mr. Marwat was found unconscious. Since then, there have been efforts to provide him the best possible medical facilities. Afghanistan did not have the kind of medical facilities that were required. The doctors, under whose care he was, said that he could only be evacuated in an air ambulance. Since Pakistan does not have an air ambulance, we checked with ISAF and ICRC and then finally we hired an air ambulance from the UAE. But as his condition required him to be put on a ventilator and they did not have it, they backed out and we had to start the process all over again. Yesterday, the air craft was sent with a medical team for his evacuation with all the facilities. He should have arrived here yesterday but because of the weather condition, the aircraft could not take off. He is now in Islamabad at the PIMS Hospital and is being provided all the medical facilities.

The floor is now open for Questions

Question
Acting Interior Minister of Afghanistan delivered a speech in India where he said that Taliban are getting weapons and training from Pakistan. Your comments please? (Khalid Azeem, SAMAA TV)

Answer
Our position is very clear. We have repeatedly clarified that we do not support one group or the other inside Afghanistan. We have started with the new government of Afghanistan on a very positive note. There have been exchanges. The Advisor was there recently; you saw the Press Release. He had very good discussions with the Afghan President, the Chief Executive, the Foreign Minister and the National Security Advisor. Both sides emphasized the need for transforming this relationship into a partnership. We look at our relationship with Afghanistan through the prism of greater engagement, greater connectivity, more economic collaboration. You know that recently the agreement on CASA-1000 was also signed. So, there are lots of positives in this relationship and we focus on them.

As for Taliban, we are taking action, a comprehensive action.

Question
The Nepalese Foreign Minister is here and a short while ago he met with the Prime Minister. Would you like to tell us what are the dates of the next SAARC Summit and is Pakistan participating at the level of the Prime Minister?

Secondly, if Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif proceeds to attend this Summit, is there any chance of a meeting between him and his Indian counterpart on the sidelines?(Mateen Haider, Dawn News)

Answer
Yes, the Nepalese Foreign Minister is here. It is a tradition that whenever there is a SAARC Summit, the Foreign Minister of the host country delivers invitations personally. The Summit is on the 26th and 27th of November. It will be preceded by the Council of Ministers meeting and the senior officials meeting. The Prime Minister is likely to attend.

As regards bilateral meetings, I do not have readout at the moment about what meetings will take place.

Question
The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister was here. We received a press release from your side but what precisely have been the observations of the Russian side especially on the consistent violation of ceasefire on our eastern border and on operation Zarb-e-Azb? (Shaukat Paracha, AAJ TV)

Answer
We have in place, a regular consultative process with the Russian Federation known as Strategic Dialogue. The dialogue reviews the bilateral relations across the board. It also includes exchange of views on regional and international issues of mutual interest. Pakistan and the Russian Federation have convergence of views on many issues. In the Human Rights Council and in UN, we coordinate and cooperate on many issues. We are part of a likeminded group in Geneva. Bilaterally, there is a desire on both sides to strengthen our relationship. We have many forums and some of them are likely to take place in the near future. We have a Joint Economic Commission. We are interested in greater Russian investment in Pakistan.

The Russian Naval fleet had been here. They made a port call. These are new openings that are taking place. There is a desire on both sides to give impetus to this relationship. It is a relationship that is on upward trajectory.

Question
Recently ,there have been targeted attacks on cameramen and journalists in Pakistan. What is your stance?

Secondly, India is consistently accusing Pakistan of violating the ceasefire on the line of control. How do you see this? (Syed Musharaf Kazmi, Daily Masawat)

Answer
Your second question first. Our position on the violations across the Line of Control and the Working Boundary is very clear. The Advisor has, in recent statements summed up our position. We have also issued statements. First, we condemn this escalation by India. We give a measured response and we do it carefully because on the other side of the Line of Control and the Working Boundary there is Indian Occupied Kashmir and Kashmiris are our own brothers and sisters. We want no harm to them. We have sustained losses in terms of civilian casualties and damage to their property and livestock. We have brought this to the notice of the International Community and to the United Nations. The Advisor addressed a letter to the UN Secretary General which has been circulated as a UN Security Council document. Our Missions abroad have also briefed the host governments about Indian aggression and escalation. We have seen a number of statements expressing concern over this situation. On the Working Boundary, there is an agreement between Pakistan and India since 2010 that within 500 meters of Working Boundary, no new constructions will take place. But what we have seen this morning and over the last many days is that, under this fire, the Indians have been trying to make new contructions.

For your first question, naturally, we cannot condone violence against any individual. We condemn attacks on media. I don’t know which precise attacks you are referring to. About the precise measures about the safety of camera crew and journalists, the Ministry of Information may be better placed to give you information. We interact with media and we have an affinity. We would like to see all of you safe and sound and working in a healthy, safe and secure environment.

Question
We have been issuing statements on almost daily basis against India for violating the ceasefire. Now we are facing almost a similar situation with Iran. Don’t you think, on the Foreign Policy level, some ingredients are missing which hamper our effective engagement with India especially in the absence of Composite Dialogue with India? (Syed Mohsin Raza, SUCH TV)

Answer
I do not agree with you that it is the same kind of tension. With India, we have some fundamental disputes which need resolutions. Our policy is that we should engage and resume dialogue on all those outstanding issues. With Iran, we have very strong relationship. Our bonds are of culture, religion and civilization. You have to understand that we have a border with Iran which is long and not always manned. There is a desire on both sides to facilitate trade through this border and facilitate movement of people. Sometimes, some incidents happen and as you would see from the meeting yesterday between the IG FC and his Iranian counterpart in Tehran, both sides are committed to find a solution to this issue, to better monitor the movement and to better manage the border. The conversation that took place yesterday and the conversations that we are going to have next week when the Foreign Secretary’s counterpart visits Pakistan for bilateral consultations, would reaffirm the commitment of both countries to resolve these minor irritants and strengthen this relationship.

Question
You rightly said that the Information Ministry will be rightly placed to inform us of the steps taken for the security of the Journalists but we have a perception that Pakistan is not fulfilling its obligations under the International commitments like the Universal Declaration on Human Rights or ICCPR by not actively prosecuting the killers. I want your take on that? (Baqir Sajjad, Dawn News)

Answer
Yes, we have obligations under the two Covenants on human rights and a number of other conventions that Pakistan is a party to. We ratified and acceded to these conventions precisely because of the fundamental commitment that Pakistan has as a country to protecting and promoting the rights of its citizens. Before our international obligations, every State has the responsibility to protect its citizens and to promote their fundamental rights. This is enshrined in our constitution, the religion that the majority of Pakistanis follow and indeed in all other religions. We are going through a phase where we have witnessed violence. More than 55 thousand Pakistanis have been martyred but there is a resolve in this country, in our institutions and among our people that we will not accept violence whether it is against minorities, any professional group or any section of society.

Question
When is the Chinese President expected to visit Pakistan? Can you share the dates? (Shamim, Daily Khabrain)

Answer
The decision in principle to re-schedule this visit which was postponed at the earliest is there. We are as keen as you to see the dates finalized.

Visits are scheduled keeping in view the domestic and foreign commitments. We have to find dates that are convenient to both sides.

Question
Advisor Sartaj Aziz recently visited Afghanistan and extended a formal invitation on behalf of the Prime Minister to the Afghan President. I am curious to find out if any dates have been finalized?

Also, we know that Pakistan and Afghanistan are working on a mechanism for better border management which is an urgent need between the two countries. By when is that mechanism planned to be finalized and can we have a similar mechanism put in place with Iran? (Waqas Rafiq, Capital TV)

Answer
We hope that this visit will not be in the too distant future. Before that, there may be a number of other visits.

As regards the Pakistani proposals on border management, the Afghan leadership has assured that they are giving it very serious consideration and some meetings may take place to take that process forward. With Iran, we have a border management commission. There may be some fine tuning like identifying focal points who are able to get in touch immediately in case of any movement across the border.

Question:
There are media reports that India is pressurizing US not to support Diamer –Bhasha Dam in Pakistan. What is Foreign Office’s stance on this issue? (Hamza farooq-ARY)

Answer
Well, diamer-bhasha dam is one of the major energy projects that Pakistan intends to build and negotiations with World Bank are underway.

Question
Since India has not allowed UNMOGIP to visit LoC and to file its report which was mandatory. The UNMOGIP personnel are stationed both at India and Pakistan. Do we plan to take this issue to the world court of justice? During a briefing given by Syed Tariq Fatemi to the diplomats of Islamabad there was a talk of taking UNMOGIP’s issue to the world court of justice. (Zarghoon Shah-Geo TV)

Answer
First and foremost, it is the responsibility of the United Nations to ensure that its peacekeepers and observers are effective. Naturally, it is one of the subjects being discussed.

Question
There are reports in media that PM Nawaz Sharif is going to China. Is any such proposal under discussion? (Asif Farooqi, BBC Urdu)

Answer
As I said in the last briefing, there is likelihood that Prime Minster will attend the APEC-Dialogue to which he has been invited.

Question
Probably, on 10th of December Malala Yousafzai will be awarded Nobel peace prize. She had announced that she will invite the Prime Minister on this ceremony. Has any such invitation been formally received or any proposal of Prime Minister’s participation in this ceremony is under discussion? (Asif Farooqi, BBC Urdu)

Answer
I am not aware of any formal invitation but Malala Yusafzai is a Pakistani and she has made us very proud by bringing Nobel Peace award. We appreciate her commitment to education.

Question
Yesterday, it has been told by Water and Power Minister in Senate that long-pending agreements between Pakistan and China which should have been signed during Chinese president’s visit to Pakistan would be signed very soon. Is the visit of Chinese President in the pipeline? (Shabeer Waghra- PTV world)

Answer
I have already answered this question.

Question
Of course Malala made Pakistan proud by getting the Nobel peace prize. But we would like your comments on the violent reaction shown by Taliban .They have said that Malala will never be allowed to return to Pakistan. How do you comment on this? (Mateen Haider, Dawn News)

Answer
Pakistan belongs to Pakistanis and not to any extremist and terrorist outfit. Pakistanis who are abroad can travel to Pakistan any time they like.

Question
You talked about the Advisor‘s visit to Kabul. When Advisor to the PM came back he said that afghan leadership has shared a vision of bilateral relationship. What’s their perspective? What do they think about their relationship with Pakistan?(Shaukat Paracha, AAJ TV)

Answer
Our statement, issued after the conclusion of Advisor’s visit, refers to that. It’s about transforming this partnership and making it more beneficial for both sides. It included people to people contacts, training programs, scholarships and building connectivity. So, all these ideas and proposals that have been on the table are in a way coming together. The Afghan leadership has indicated that Afghanistan is very keen to make it work.

On reconciliation, as we always say it has to be Afghanistan driven, Afghanistan owned and led process.
Pakistan stands ready to extend whatever assistance it can give to Afghanistan in this process because stable, inclusive, peaceful, prosperous Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s interest.
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