Media Briefing|

(2016-03-24) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.]

Opening Remarks

Assalaam Alaikum Distinguished friends!

Firstly, the deadly terrorist attacks in Brussels, which claimed numerous precious lives and wounded hundreds, has been forcefully condemned by Pakistan as well as the entire International Community. It was a dastardly and inhuman act. We sympathise with the bereaved families, pray for the speedy recovery of those injured and express solidarity with the people and the Government of Belgium.

Yesterday, Pakistanis, our friends and well-wishers celebrated the auspicious Pakistan Day across the country and all over the world with full zeal and fervour. Our heartiest congratulations to everyone.

Pakistani Community abroad is a great source of strength and pride for us. State of California Senate, last week, adopted a Resolution to acknowledge significant contributions and achievements of Pakistani – Americans and declared 23rd March 2016 as ‘Pakistani American Day’. California’s economy is 8th largest in the world, which signifies that State’s importance.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to visit Washington to attend the 4th Security Summit on 31st March.

It is worth mentioning that Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller, in a congressional hearing of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, praised “Pakistan’s centre of Excellence for ensuring maintenance of high standards of nuclear safety and security, thereby serving not just Pakistan’s national interests but also regional. Pakistan is at much advanced stage compared to the other nuclear capable countries in that region.”

We appreciate the International Community’s recognition of Pakistan’s success in fighting Tuberculosis.

Now the Floor is open for Questions

Question

Could you give us details of the Pakistanis stranded in Moscow? (Ali Hussain – Business Recorder)

Answer

As I have received many questions on the issue, I would like to give details for everyone’ information.

At 08:30 PM our Ambassador in Moscow had received a call when he was in the middle of a Pakistan Day Reception. He immediately contacted the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and also sent a Russian speaking officer to the airport. Although the officer remained there till midnight, he was not given access to the Pakistani passengers stranded there. The Officer was again sent in the morning to make further efforts seeking access to the passengers so that the Embassy could assist the Pakistanis there as well as find details as to why the passengers were being held at the airport. The Embassy is in constant contact with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We are also going to take up this issue with the Russian Embassy in Islamabad. 48 stranded passengers had been repatriated to Pakistan from another airport in Russia and the remaining 84 passengers at the other will be repatriated soon. We are still awaiting details as to what happened and why these Pakistanis are being repatriated.

Question

We did receive a statement from your office regarding Iranian President’s visit to Pakistan. Could I know the specific agenda of the talks? Would the Iran-Saudi Arabia dispute be discussed during the talks as well as other proposals to resolve differences between Islamic countries? (Shaukat Paracha – Aaj TV)

Answer

Like you said, a curtain raiser on visit has already been issued. At the invitation of the Prime Minister, Dr. Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, will pay an official visit to Pakistan from 25-26 March 2016.

The visit of President Rouhani is part of regular high-level exchanges between the two friendly countries.

The visit is taking place after the lifting of sanctions on Iran. This provides an opportunity for both countries to further strengthen economic relations and cooperate in the field of energy, as well as connectivity.

The leadership will exchange views on the entire gamut of bilateral relations. Regional and international issues of mutual interest and common concern would also be discussed.

Question

We have received reports that some Pakistanis are stranded at a Turkey airport as well and they had also been deported from Russia. Do you have any information about that?

My second question is related to the visit of Iranian President, who is he going to meet other than the President and Prime Minister? (Khushbakhat Abbas – SAMAA TV)

Answer

Regarding the first part of your question, I don’t know if it is different from the passengers repatriated from Russia. As for those stranded at Russian Airport, we are still ascertaining the details.

Regarding the visit of the Iranian President, I have to check on details of his meetings, although such occasions afford opportunity calls on the dignitary, keeping in view his convenience.

Question

Do you know why these Pakistanis were being repatriated and what they were doing in Russia?

My second question is: the Pakistan has received accolades from various countries regarding its success in counter terrorism. Is Pakistan sharing its expertise with other countries? (Fakhar-ur-Rehman – Turkish News Agency)

Answer

Regarding your first question, we are still ascertaining the details. Like I said, an Embassy officer is at the airport right now. Once we have access to the stranded Pakistanis, we will be able to give a more specific answer.

As to your second question, Pakistan has waged a valiant struggle against the menace of terrorism and achieved immense successes. We also cooperate with the International Community in the common fight against terrorism.

Question

Nuclear Security Summit is going to be held on 31st of March 2016. Is this Summit different from other disarmament conferences? (Shah Nawaz Mughal – Pakistan Today)

Answer

We have already issued a detailed statement on this. The Foreign Secretary gave a comprehensive briefing on nuclear related issues at the ISSI. Kindly consult Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

Nevertheless, as to your question, our participation in the Nuclear Security Summit process at the level of the Prime Minister manifests the importance attached to nuclear security by Pakistan and is a reflection of our confidence in our national nuclear security arrangements.

Through our active participation in the Summit’s preparatory process, we have ensured that the Summit outcomes are consistent with Pakistan’s national interests. Our constructive engagement in the process has helped in highlighting Pakistan’s strong national command and control system, rigorous regulatory regime and comprehensive export controls which have been appreciated at the international level. Pakistan is offering training to other states at its Center for Nuclear Excellence in the field of nuclear security.

The Summit outcome documents uphold the principle that nuclear security within a state is a national responsibility. Participating states are unanimous about the competence and primacy of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the field of nuclear security. They have agreed that there is no need to create new, parallel mechanisms or institutions for nuclear security.

The Nuclear Security Summit exclusively focuses on the security of civilian nuclear materials and facilities with a view to ensuring that nuclear material does not fall into wrong hands. It does not deal with the issue of nuclear disarmament, for which the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva is the most appropriate forum. So I hope this answers your question whether this Summit is different from usual disarmament processes.

Question

I want your comments on the statement given by Shahid Afridi that a lot of Kashmiris had come to see the Pakistan-Newzealand match and the statement of the BCCI on this.

My second question relates to Hurriyat leaders participating in the 23rd March function at the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi. Your comments. (Fayyaz Raja – Channel 24)

Answer

Regarding your first question, I have not seen the statement yet and we don’t comment on media reports.

As far as your question about Hurriyat leaders, our position is very clear on this. The Kashmir dispute is a longstanding item on the UN agenda. There are numerous UN Security Council resolutions, which declare that the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir would be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations.

Our High Commissioner’s meetings with the Hurriyat leadership is a longstanding practice.

Question

The festival of Holi is being celebrated by our Hindu brothers in Pakistan and other countries. I would like your comments on this. (Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)

Answer

I would like to say Holi Mubarak to all Pakistani Hindus, who are celebrating this festival today. A majority of them reside in Sindh province and I think it is a provincial holiday for them today. I would like to underline that since many years we have been observing August 11 as a Minorities’ Day. Recognizing the rights of minorities is fundamental to Pakistan’s identity as well as policy. Their rights are duly protected. There are quotas for our minority citizens in the Legislative Assemblies.

Question

In India Occupied Kashmir, Pakistani flag were hoisted by Dukhtaran-e-Millat. In reaction to that, an FIR has been registered against Aasia Andrabi. How do you see this repression by Indian authorities in occupied Kashmir?

My second question is that we have not heard anything about the revival of the stalled Afghan peace talks and fresh dates for the QCG process. Your comments on that. (Muddasir Hussain – Khayber News)

Supplementary Question

US and Pakistan have expressed concerned over the stalling of the peace process due to violence as well as political divide in Afghanistan. What are the prospects of peace in case of violence and what will be Pakistan’s response? (Amjad Ali – PTV)

Answer

Regarding the QCG process, if you remember, a very Comprehensive Joint Statement was issued after the fourth round. It was a joint statement adopted by all QCG members. In all meetings of the QCG, it has been reiterated that all four QCG members would make joint efforts to bring the parties to the negotiation table.

It was also agreed that the fifth QCG meeting would be held after the first round of talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban/other groups.

Your question relates to a high level meeting where this issue was raised. There is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. A negotiated political settlement is the best way forward. An inclusive, Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process remains indispensible for sustainable peace and cessation of violence. Pakistan has a vital stake in peace, stability and development in Afghanistan. The efforts of QCG members to bring the groups to the talks with the Government are continuing.

Regarding the Pakistani flag hoisting in Kashmir, as I already mentioned that Kashmir is an outstanding issue on the UNSC agenda and is yet to be resolved. The basic purpose of the UN Security Council resolutions is to allow the people of Kashmir their right of self-determination under a plebiscite that is to be organized under the auspices of the UN. As for the raising of Pakistani Flag in IOK, which you referred, is a reflection of what Kashmiris want.

Question

Prime Minister is going to attend Nuclear Summit in USA. Indian prime Minister will also be present there. Whether any preparation is being made by both Foreign Offices for their formal meeting? (Naveed Akbar – Daily Dunya)

Answer

Such occasions afford opportunities for world leaders to meet bilaterally on the sidelines. However, until now, we don’t have any such proposal on the table. There is still time before the Summit begins – if any such proposal comes in the meantime we will inform you.

Question

My question is regarding President Rouhani’s visit to Pakistan. Any number of pacts being signed during the visit, would you like to share the details of these pacts? (Kamran Haider – Bloomberg)

Answer

This visit is taking place at a very important juncture of the time when sanctions on Iran have been lifted. During the sanctions period the economic relations between the two countries have suffered. There are agreements which are pending processing and finalization and progress was once very slow on them because of the reasons I have mentioned. I am not aware of how many and which agreements are going to be signed, but as I mentioned, the main agenda would be economic cooperation. Leadership on both sides is keen to add economic content to the bilateral relations. So, if there are agreements that have been finalized, those would be signed.

Question

Joint investigation team is going to India on 27th March 2016. What would be its schedule? How much access they will be granted? (Saad Umer – Weekly Pakistani)

Answer

The announcement was made when Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Mr. Sartaj Aziz met the Indian External Affairs Minister in Nepal. I don’t have details of its modalities.

Question

48 hours have passed since Pakistanis have been stranded on the Russian airport. You have no details about the reasons behind it. During the tragedy of Mena, Iran and India were provided the details in time. Why Russia has also not yet provided us details in this regard? Will you also investigate this matter that why we have such weak diplomacy? (Zahid Hussain Shelwani – ARY News)

Answer

I think I have shared above all details that I have.

I will repeat that your basic concern that the Embassy has not taken any action – I think your reference to weak diplomacy is also in this regard. I don’t know the definition of weak and strong diplomacy in your opinion. Relationships between two countries have many aspects. One very important thing in it that every sovereign country has its own rules and every visitor must respect them. If there is any violation it will be come forward. If there is no violation then I have already told you that our Embassy is in constant touch with the authorities over there. We will also take up this issue with the Russian Embassy over here.

Question

How does Pakistan view rising tension in South China Sea particularly between United States and China? Do you think this rising tension will affect CPEC project between China and Pakistan since it is ambitious program between the two countries? (Shaukat Paracha – Aaj TV)

Answer

I have stated our principled position regarding South China Sea on a number of occasions. Pakistan advocates that maintenance of peace and security is the collective responsibility of all parties to the South China Sea. Matters of sovereignty and territorial disputes should be resolved through peaceful means without resorting to use of force.

Pakistan urges all parties to exercise restraint with a view to creating a positive climate for the eventual resolution of all contentious issues with due respect to universally recognized principles of international law and maintain freedom of navigation and over-flight in the South China Sea.

Question

Pakistan, especially Foreign Office, has been denying the presence of Daesh in Pakistan. Recently people have been arrested in Karachi. Previously, people were also arrested from Lahore as well. Police Chiefs of Karachi and Lahore have admitted the presence of Daesh in Pakistan. Now, what is your stance on it? (Bashir Chaudhry – Channel 24)

Answer

Our position on this still remains the same that there is no organized presence of Daesh in Pakistan.

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