[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]
Today, I would like to begin with our response to the drone strike that has taken place yesterday.
“The Government of Pakistan strongly condemns the US drone strike that took place near Miranshah in North Waziristan around midnight. These strikes are a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. There is an across the board consensus in Pakistan that these drone strikes must end.
The Government of Pakistan has been raising its concern over the drone strikes with the U.S. Administration and at the United Nations. The Prime Minister during his recent visit to the US had raised the issue with President Obama and other senior US leaders. The UN General Assembly in its resolution on 18 December 2013 entitled “Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism”, called on states using drone strikes as a counter-terrorism measure to comply with their obligations under international law, the UN Charter, human rights law and international humanitarian law.
It has been consistently maintained that drone strikes are counter-productive, entail loss of innocent civilian lives and have human rights and humanitarian implications. Such strikes also set dangerous precedents in the inter-state relations.
These drone strikes have a negative impact on the Government’s efforts to bring peace and stability in Pakistan and the region.”
The floor is now open for Questions
A media campaign has been seen criticizing Pakistan’s nuclear collaboration with China. What are the facts if you could enlighten please?
Pakistan-China nuclear cooperation is exclusively for peaceful purposes and is fully covered under IAEA safeguards. It is in conformity with international commitments of both parties. The cooperation between Pakistan and China in civilian nuclear programs helps Pakistan in overcoming shortages of electricity and it serves the interest of the Pakistan as you are aware that nuclear energy is a part of our energy mix.
I would point out here that Pakistan has 40 years of experience in maintaining and safeguarding its civilian nuclear power plants. They have been operated with safety and security. Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA), an autonomous regulatory body regulates the safety and security of civilian nuclear materials and facilities. It works closely with IAEA and benefits from the recommendations and guidance it receives from the agency. Pakistan is party to the convention on nuclear safety as well as the two international conventions of early notification and assistance. We realize that the expansion of nuclear power calls for a higher level of responsibility. We are cognizant of our responsibilities and are fully committed to ensuring safety and security of these power plants that we acquire for nuclear energy. We fully abide by the safeguards of IAEA and I would recall that the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also made a statement recently. Obviously we understand that there is campaign and it is spearheaded by those who are themselves responsible for spreading nuclear technology outside the NPT and IAEA mandates.
Despite all our efforts to highlight the counter-productivity and illegitimacy of the drone strikes, what forces the US to carry them on inside Pakistani territory?
Secondly, during high level consultations between Pakistan and US, would you like to enlighten us what other options or mechanisms are discussed from both sides in order to stop the drone strikes or find an alternative. We believe that militants are already there.
Well, militants are in many other places not just in tribal areas in Pakistan. Generally the concept is that any technology is not worthy of use if in the process of killing five militants kills one innocent human being. That is the cost of the technology. What drives the US to follow this policy? I think this question should be addressed to them. As far as we are concerned, we have already shared with you the steps that are being taken to build international consensus against the drone strikes and which very much exists now. It is becoming stronger by the day to prevent or bring about a change in this policy.
The Indian External Affairs Minister has given a very positive statement that talks with Pakistan are the only option. What is your response on this?
Secondly, there are many reports regarding the verdict on Kishanganga Dam. Indian and Pakistan authorities are giving contradictory versions of the verdict. What is the real picture?
Off course we would welcome the statement made by the Indian Minister of External Affairs. It has been our policy all along and this policy has been backed by practical steps by the successive governments in Pakistan that dialogue is the only way forward to resolve the outstanding issues between our two countries. We believe that dialogue and resolution of issues is the only way to create durable peace in this region.
As regards your second question, I think it is not the question of claiming victory. I would not say that it was victory for Pakistan or India. A verdict has been given. There was a verdict earlier as well and some clarifications were sought by both Pakistan and India. The arbitration court has now given its final verdict. Though the Indus Commissioner has held a separate press conference on this verdict and I am sure that he would be better placed to respond to your queries on technical aspects. Nevertheless, I would share with you some excerpts of the verdict:
“The verdict of 20th December upheld its earlier decision prohibiting depletion below dead storage level as a general principle on run of the river projects. It quantified minimum flow in Kishanganga Neelam River at 9 cubic meters. The minimum flow requirements could be reviewed through a request by either party, seven years after diversion of flows through permanent Indus commissions”
This is essentially the main point but we have to now implement it in letter and spirit. In seven years we will see how things work out. I won’t subscribe to this attitude of claiming victory or loss on every issue.
Can you please share the number of Pakistani prisoners who have completed the term but are still in India? Similarly, the number of Indian prisoners in Pakistan who might have completed their terms.
Secondly, what change is expected in Pakistan’s Foreign Policy towards the US after the drawdown of US forces in 2014?
First the latter, Pakistan and United States have a relationship which is not just about Afghanistan or the US presence in Afghanistan. Our relationship will continue. We have bilateral collaboration in economic, energy and other sectors. As discussed last week, there are big energy projects which are on the table for discussion. We have defense collaboration, training programs and exchange of students with the US.
In Afghanistan, we don’t know as yet what would be the shape of US presence and what kind of collaboration Pakistan –US would have. It depends upon the events in Afghanistan and what kind of presence US would have after 2014.
On your second question, I don’t have exact figures. But I know that many Pakistani prisoners are in India who after the completion of sentence in their primary cases are again put in jail and served separate sentences on other grounds. Normally the process is that if somebody has committed two or three crimes or violations of the law, the sentences are simultaneous but in this case, after completion of one term, they are again sentenced. That’s why people are languishing in Indian jails for long times. This is a humanitarian issue on both sides because nobody should be punished for a crime longer than what he deserves. We have a commission and we regularly talk about it. We are trying to resolve it .I will give you the exact figures at next briefing.
It reminds me also of a question in the last briefing on Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia where I had promised that I would get back. I can tell you that this issue relates to Burmese Muslims. Pakistani and Saudi authorities are in touch. Saudi government has corrected the status of a large number of people who were there. They have also constituted a committee to look into the matter. Our mission is in touch with Saudi authorities and we hope that this issue will be resolved soon.
This is follow-up to DGMO’s meeting, how do you see the dialogue process going forward?
Secondly, there are reports that a power agreement is in the offing between India and Pakistan. Do you have details on that?
Thirdly, is there any hope of the resumption of composite dialogue shortly?
Obviously this meeting is a very positive step forward. It was agreed between the two Prime Ministers in New York that the DGs MO will meet. Subsequently, Pakistan’s DG MO invited his Indian counterpart and they had a meeting in cordial atmosphere. They agreed on the need to maintain peace and tranquility on the Line of Control (LoC) and to stay in touch with each other so that incidents and situations are not allowed to blow up and they are controlled at the local level. As regards your second question, I don’t have the details probably I will have to check from ministry of water and power.
The state minister for commerce is going to India for the SAARC meeting. The DGs MO have already met. Is this a slow re-start of composite dialogue or only the talks between India and Pakistan?
This meeting is essentially on the side lines of SAARC meeting. The two commerce ministers would be meeting to review the roadmap that was agreed upon by the two commerce secretaries in September 2012. There were certain actions required to be taken by both sides by December 2012 for trade liberalization. The process was disrupted when the composite dialogue got stalled. At this meeting, they would be reviewing what has been done and would chalk out a roadmap for the future.
There was a news item that India and Pakistan agreed on joint-patrolling along the LoC to stops the illegal movements. Can you define this Illegal movement with respect to Kashmiris living on both sides of LoC?
Pakistan and India agreed on a mechanism for travel between the two parts of Kashmir. There are crossing points and the bus service .We do not consider movement of Kashmiris as illegal. But there are smugglers and drug traffickers. Trans-national crimes is an issue and states have to work together to stop that.
When Prime Minister Nawaz Sahrif inaugurated ground breaking ceremony of coastal nuclear plant, he said Pakistan has plans to produce 40,000 mega watts of energy. How do you think Pakistan’s plans for energy would go along with its requests for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)?
The Prime Minister was talking about energy and not just nuclear energy. We have an energy mix which includes nuclear, hydel, renewable resources, wind energy, solar, coal etc. As regards the nuclear energy, you know that it is part of our energy mix and obviously we have plans to acquire more of it. As discussed earlier, we are collaborating with China under IAEA safeguards to meet our energy requirements and that will continue.
As for NSG and other forums, we are engaged in dialogue with them.
In yesterday’s drone attack, are you aware of any high value target that was killed?
Secondly, since this is the last briefing of the year, how would you describe Pakistan’s foreign policy and its achievements and how do you view Pakistan’s foreign policy guidelines to tackle the issue of drones specifically those cases where Pakistan was helped in dealing with high level targets?
Using a method which is fundamentally flawed and illegal even for a positive purpose cannot be justified. Therefore, this is not our policy that if some high value target is killed, we would show leniency against such attacks. We are very clear on that .Our foreign policy is not just on drones or our relations with one country. It is a wide spectrum. We have our national interests and we are working on many tracks with the international community to expand our relations and to promote economic development in Pakistan. That is very high on the agenda. We do not see the foreign policy or what we seek to achieve from it through the narrow prism of any single issue.
After the successful passage of a resolution against the drone strikes in the UN General Assembly, what is the next step?
Well , we have repeatedly said that our next step will be tabling a resolution at the Human Rights Council forum in Geneva.
Last modified: November 22, 2019
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