(2017-11-30) Opening Remarks
Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum Ladies & Gentlemen!
We shall start with an update on this week’s foreign policy front.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is visiting Russia (Sochi) to participate in the 16th Meeting of the Council of the Heads of Government (CHG) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), on the invitation of Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Mr. D.A. Medvedev.
The 7th Ministerial Conference of Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process is being held in Baku, Azerbaijan on 30 November – 01 December 2017. Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif is leading the Pakistan delegation to participate in the Conference.
Pakistan is an active member of the HoA-IP. We have constructively participated in all seven Ministerial Conferences of HoA-IP, and hosted fifth Ministerial Conference in Islamabad in December 2015.
The Foreign Minister will make a statement on behalf of Pakistan in the Ministerial segment of the conference on 1St December 2017.
The Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has expressed deep anguish at the gross violations of human rights in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir, which continue unabated. India continues with its malicious attempts to mislead the global community by seeking to portray the legitimate and indigenous struggle of the Kashmiri people as “terrorism.” The Foreign Minister condemned in the strongest possible terms the repeated arrests and incarceration of the top Kashmiri leaders, who have remained in the vanguard of the Jammu & Kashmiri struggle for the realization of the legitimate right to self-determination.
The attack on Kashmiri political detainees, including Syed Shahid Yusuf, Ahtisham, Shazad Ahmed and over a dozen other political prisoners was carried out by the jail administration and Tamil Nadu Police deputed in India’s infamous Tihar jail Dehli. The incident is completely unjustifiable, extremely serious. The ghastly act has endangered the lives of all Kashmiri political prisoners.
The Indian occupation forces in Kupwara, Bandipore, Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam, Islamabad and Kupwara districts continue to terrorize the innocent Kashmiri people inter alia by illegal house searches at all times. Pakistan condemns and calls upon the world human rights defenders to stand up for Kashmiris in IOK.
Dr. Mazen M. A. Shamiya, Assistant Minister of State of Palestine for Asia, Africa and Australia visited Islamabad on 27-28 November 2017. During his visit, Dr. Mazen Shamiya called on Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and also held a meeting with the Special Secretary (ME, ECO & CARs), Mr. Aitzaz Ahmed, in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The sixth round of the Pakistan-EU Political Counter-Terrorism dialogue was held on 23 November 2017 in Islamabad in the framework of the EU-Pakistan Five-Year Engagement Plan. Both sides held in-depth discussions and exchanged perspectives on a wide range of counter terrorism issues in a cordial and constructive manner. Reaffirming that terrorism continued to pose a threat to states and societies across the globe, both sides reiterated their resolve to jointly combat it in all its forms and manifestations.
The 3rd Round of Pakistan-EU Dialogue on Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy was held in Islamabad on 22 November 2017. The Pakistan side was led by Ambassador Tasnim Aslam, Special Secretary (UN&EC). Ambassador Jacek Bylica, Special Envoy for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation at the European External Action Service, led the EU side. The entire range of issues related to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation as well as matters pertaining to the regional and global security situation came under discussion. The Dialogue is part of the Pakistan-EU Engagement Plan and provides both sides with a useful platform for exchange of views and perspectives in this important area.
Pakistan has recently been elected to various bodies within the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) during the 39th Session of the General Conference held in Paris in November 2017. Pakistan’s election to the UNESCO bodies demonstrates not only the strong credentials that Pakistan enjoys within the multilateral arena but is a reflection of the confidence of the international community in Pakistan’s constructive leadership role within UNESCO.
A diplomatic reception and photo and cultural exhibition of ECO Member Countries was held at the Foreign Ministry on 28 November 2017 to celebrate ECO Day 2017. ECO Day is celebrated on the date of the adoption of the “Protocol amending the Treaty of Izmir” signed on 28th November 1992 at the “Extraordinary Meeting of the ECO Council of Ministers” in Islamabad. The Embassies of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan participated in the event. The display reflected the common historical and cultural identity of ECO Member Countries.
The Government of Pakistan condemns in the strongest terms the heinous terrorist attack against innocent worshippers at Al Rawdah mosque in the North Sinai region of Egypt, leading to 305 reported deaths and 127 injured. The people of Pakistan are deeply grieved at this senseless and barbaric act and stand in full solidarity with their Egyptian brethren in this moment of anguish and tragedy. The President,Mr. Mamnoon Hussain has written a letter to the President of Egypt expressing deep condolences at this deadly terrorist attack and extending support and heartfelt sympathies to the people and government of Egypt on this tragedy.
Now the Floor is open for Questions
Reportedly, the Foreign Secretary was called by the ATC yesterday for the Mumbai Trial. Can you please update in this regard?
My second question pertains to the rising tensions between North Korea and the US. It has been reported that the US leadership has threatened that if North Korea does not mend ways, it will have to face serious consequences. What role can Pakistan play in this regard? (Khawaja Nayaar Iqbal – Daily Kashmir Post)
There has been much hue and cry in the Indian media for the past nine years on lack of progress from the Pakistani side on the Mumbai attacks case of 2008. However, from the Pakistani side, we hear that it is India that is not cooperating. Please clarify the position? (Abid Khursheed – ATV)
Answer Regarding Khawaja sb’s first question, the Foreign Secretary went to the ATC yesterday and informed the court that the decision of the court to convey the names of the Indian witnesses required for testifying in this case was being considered by the Ministry of Interior.
On your question on North Korea, a Press Release has been issued in this regard.Pakistan expresses deep concern over the reported launch of a ballistic missile by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on 29 November, 2017.
Such launches constitute violation of the UN Security Council resolutions. These steps also undermine the goals of peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, the North-East Asia region and beyond.
Pakistan continues to call upon the DPRK to comply with its obligations under the Security Council resolutions and to refrain from actions that could lead to escalation of tensions.
In order to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, it is vital for all relevant parties to pursue the path of dialogue and diplomacy, to reduce tensions and work towards achieving a comprehensive solution.
Regarding Mr. Abid Khursheed’s question, the case is being dealt with by the Ministry of Interior. You may refer your query to them.
What is Pakistan’s reaction on the increasing cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Israel?
Secondly, now that Pakistan has become a part of Saudi led military alliance, has Iran conveyed any reaction, or made any official contact with Pakistan in this regard? (Rashida Sial – Abb Tal)
Is there any plan to interact with Iranian leadership to convey Pakistan’s view point on joining Saudi-led Military Alliance? (Kausar Lodhi – Prime News)
Regarding Ms. Sial’s first question, we do not comment on bilateral relations.
On the second part, this was the first meeting of the Defense Ministers of Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) since its inception on 16th December 2015. The participants discussed ways to boost cooperation for combating terrorism through intelligence sharing, capacity building, joint exercises and media campaign. We highlighted Pakistan’s successful counterterrorism operations and the comprehensive National Action Plan. We reiterated our willingness to share our experience with other countries in countering the menace of international terrorism.
The Defense Minister said that Pakistan is ready to share its experience and capabilities in all four main domains of counter-terrorism i.e. intellectual, information, counter-financing of terrorism and military, through the forum of the IMCTC, which aimed at enhancing the ability of its member states to counter the scourge of terrorism and extremism, upon their request.
Reaffirming Pakistan’s historical and fraternal relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Defense Minister assured Saudi Arabia and the participating countries, of its support and cooperation within the mutually agreed framework of the IMCTC.
On Iran, we remain in close contact with the Iranian leadership at all levels. The latest contact was when the Chief of Army Staff visited Iran on 06 November 2017 and had detailed consultations.
What specific role has Pakistan been given in the Saudi-led Military Alliance?
Secondly, how would Pakistan convince the countries not part of the Saudi-led Alliance that it will not go against their interests in the region? (Ali Hussain – Business Recorder)
I have already responded to the question on the Saudi-led Alliance.
Hardly a day goes by, when we don’t witness harsh statements against Pakistan emanating from Afghanistan. The recent example is the statement by Mr. Hamid Karzai, who has alleged that Pakistan is the hub to terrorism. We are also aware that US Defence Secretary is visiting Pakistan soon, has Pakistan taken any steps to convey the US or the world about the fact that Pakistan is for peace and not terrorism? (Syed Mohsin Raza – Asas Group of Publications)
We have already talked about this in our earlier statements. Pakistan did not agree with the US policy on South Asia which was announced in August this year. There was a difference in understanding and perceptions on both sides. Thereafter, a dialogue started, by a meeting between the Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and the US Vice President Mike Pence on the sidelines of the UNGA this year, which was immediately followed by a meeting between Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Thomas A. Shannon, again on the sidelines of the UNGA. Soon thereafter, the Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif met the US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson and others in Washington. Later, Ms. Lisa Curtis and Ms. Alice Wells came to Pakistan twice, followed by the visit of the US Secretary of State to Pakistan. And now, as you mentioned, the US Defence Secretary Mr. James Mattis will be visiting Pakistan soon to continue the interaction. This clearly indicates that dialogue between both the countries to bridge gap in perceptions is ongoing. We are trying to find common grounds and move forward in our bilateral relationship with the US in a positive and cooperative manner.
Reportedly, Turkish police has rescued 57 Pakistani migrants who had been chained up in Istanbul by smugglers trying to extort ransom. Has Pakistan’s Mission in Ankara contacted Turkish authorities in this regard? Please share details!
Secondly, the South Korean Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Cho Hyun said that the South Korean Government has given “enough warning” to companies who have shown interest in investing in Azad Jammu & Kashmir to refrain from doing so. How do you see this statement? (Saad Umar – Roze News)
On your first question, our Consulate in Istanbul has informed that the Turkish authorities have recovered 57 Pakistani illegal immigrants from the human traffickers in Istanbul. The Turkish police have also arrested 3 human traffickers within the same group in this operation. Our Consulate is in touch with the Turkish authorities, who have been requested to properly look after the recovered Pakistanis. They will be repatriated to Pakistan after completion of formalities. Details of the recovered Pakistanis shall be shared by our Consulate as soon as they are received from the Turkish side.
We urge caution against individuals and groups that are involved in human trafficking and advice people to protect themselves from the human traffickers who only bring anguish both for themselves and their families. We continue to hear reports of the inhuman treatment meted out to individuals being trafficked and the fake promises made to them.
On your second question, we do not have any official information in this regard. This appears to be Indian propaganda. The reality is that in addition to various international organizations, a number of public and private entities from various countries are working with Pakistan on development projects in Azad Jammu & Kashmir. These projects aim to improve the lives of the people of the area.
Recently, we have witnesses that Indian forces are using chemical weapons in IoK, as a result of which many have died. Do we have a plan to take up this issue on all international forums including the UN?
Secondly, it has been reported twice that thieves have stolen a large sum of money from Pakistani diplomatic staffer Mr. Gulzar Ali’s home at Istanbul. Have we pushed the Turkish authorities to seek this money at the earliest because certainly this is very hard earned money? (Shahid Maitla – ARY News)
We have noted with serious concern the media reports that you have referred to. Such reports need to be verified. The Indian policy of denying access to any independent observers raises legitimate concerns. Should these reports find credence, this use would constitute a breach of Indian international obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention. Similar reports had emerged a few months before. We call for independent investigations into such reports, including through OPCW.
Regarding your second question, I will ascertain details and then revert back.
What is Pakistan’s foreign policy towards Syria, now that it is gripped with multiple disasters?(Salman Hashmi – Forensic Eye)
Pakistan’s position on Syria is based on neutrality, impartiality and respect for Syrian independence, unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Pakistan supports all efforts employed at facilitating a peaceful Syrian-led and inclusive solution that meets the aspirations of the Syrian people through a comprehensive political dialogue.
Reportedly, India successfully launched the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile from a Sukhoi-30 warplane for the first time against a target in the Bay of Bengal. In your view, how will this impact the strategic balance in the region?
Secondly, according to the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) the production of opium in Afghanistan has increased by 87 per cent in 2017, as compared to the year 2016. With this illegal drug trade directly funneling into terrorist networks, in your view how will it impact the prospects of peace in Afghanistan?(Tariq Mahmood – SAMAA TV)
On your first question, this latest launch of the cruise missile is part of the ongoing build-up and induction of sophisticated weaponry and delivery systems by India. Pakistan has consistently raised serious concerns about these developments as they negatively impact regional security and stability. This launch is yet another manifestation of the Indian negative trends.
For its part, Pakistan continues to stress the need for a meaningful dialogue for confidence building, avoidance of arms race and promotion of strategic stability in South Asia. Pakistan’s proposal for a Strategic Restraint Regime for South Asia remains on the table.
It is no surprise that India chose to exercise “strategic restraint” on its missile development prior to its application for MTCR membership. The recent growth of missile tests by India after its MTCR membership, clearly demonstrates its policy of duplicity i.e. paying lip service to the goals of non-proliferation while developing conventional and non-conventional capabilities that not only undermine regional security but are inconsistent with non-proliferation norms as well.
On your second question, we have consistently raised our serious concerns about the increase in cultivation and production of opium in Afghanistan. We are especially concerned about the links between narco-trade and terrorism, as narco-trafficking is considered to be one of the major sources of terror financing in Afghanistan. The issue of opium cultivation and drug production poses a serious threat to the socio-economic development, security and stability not only of Afghanistan, but also in the surrounding region.
The Afghanistan Government and Resolute Support Mission need to take urgent steps for eradication, law enforcement, provision of alternative livelihoods, and public information campaigns to end this menace, consistent with the International Conventions.
US and India have shown their concern over the release of Hafiz Saeed and Indian media is propagating that it will increase the instability in the Indian occupied Kashmir. How do you respond to these concerns and allegations? (Mateen Haider – Bol News)
Hafiz Saeed was only in protective custody under Maintenance of Public Order (MPO). We have sought details from M/o Interior which is the line Ministry in the case and will revert as soon as we hear anything.
General Nicholson has once again alleged that there is presence of Taliban in Pakistan. Your comments please!(Shahzad Mirza – Royal News)
Pakistan and US are actively engaged in discussing the situation in Afghanistan with a view to arriving at a better understanding of each other’s positions and to devise the way forward, to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Reportedly, Resolute Support Commander General John Nicholson said that thousands of new U.S and NATO soldiers should be deployed in Afghanistan. The Afghan Government has welcomed General Nicholson’s call. What is Pakistan’s stance in this regard as turmoil in Afghanistan continues for the last almost 17 years? (Amjad Ali – PTV News)
Our stance on the course of action for peace and stability in Afghanistan has been consistent and clear. In our opinion the only viable and durable solution to the Afghan conflict can be achieved through an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led political process.
Reportedly, an Afghan military delegation is arriving in Pakistan tomorrow. What is the significance of this visit before US Defence Secretary’s visit to Pakistan?(Naveed Akbar – Daily Dunya)
Please contact ISPR for further details.
Please update us on the request of Kulbhushan Jhadev’s mother for meeting him? (Khalid Mahmood – Express TV)
Indian Government has requested a diplomat from Indian High Commission in Pakistan shall be allowed to accompany mother and wife of Kulbhushan Jhadev during their meeting. Last time, you told us that his mother’s request is under consideration. Can you update on this and will Pakistan permit Indian diplomat accompanying them? (Asghar Ali Mubarak – Daily Mail Islamabad)
The Indian response has been received and is being considered. Commander Jadhav, the serving Indian naval officer was convicted after he confessed to his involvement in espionage, subversive and terrorist activities against Pakistan resulting in the loss of many precious lives and damage to property.
Some US Congressmen have recently hinted that if Pakistan does not align it’s polices with US or the differences persists, the US may consider economic sanctions and arms embargo against Pakistan.Your comments please!
Secondly, Foreign Minister is currently in Baku for the Heart of Asia Conference and the Trilateral Meeting between Pakistan, Turkey and Azerbaijan. Since this is an new initiative by Turkey, what is the significance of this initiative? (Faisal Raza Khan – 92 News)
On the Trilateral Meeting, I will get back to you with more details. On the US, I have already explained in detail that efforts are underway to find common ground between both sides, and dialogue is ongoing in this regard.
Reportedly, the Prime Minister of Pakistan during his visit to Saudi Arabia on 27-28 November 2017 assured Saudi Arabia of Pakistan’s support in its efforts for maintaining peace and stability. Please share details and outcome of his visit?(Essa Naqvi – Dunya News)
The two countries enjoy cordial relations and such high-level contacts are a regular feature of our close and fraternal bilateral relations. Both sides reviewed the current level of bilateral cooperation and discussed ways of further enhancing their relations. They also exchanged views on regional and international issues.
Is Pakistan now aware of the ToRs of the Saudi-led alliance? (Anwar Abbas – Waqt News)
Prime Minister is currently in Russia for the SCO Head of Governments meeting. Is there any meeting planned on the sidelines with his Indian counterpart? (Rashida Sial – AbbTak)
There is no planned meeting on the sidelines of the Summit.
On Saudi-led Military Alliance, I have already responded in detail.
There are reports that many Pakistani laborers in Saudi Arabia are unemployed, and their Iqamas are also expired soon. Our Embassy is not doing much to facilitate them. How has Foreign Office taken up this matter with the authorities in Saudi Arabia, and has it instructed our Embassy to help in the matter? (Auon Sherazi – Such TV)
The efforts made by our Missions in Saudi Arabia to facilitate Pakistani laborers are already on record. However, for this particular case, we have requested our Mission for a detailed report.
What is Pakistan’s position on drone attacks, as it has been reported that a US drone strike in Khurram Agency killed three militants? (Ali Hussain – Business Recorder)
The said press report is yet to be confirmed. We are checking with the relevant quarters. However, Pakistan in principle has condemned the condemn drone attacks as they counter-productive and violate the sovereignty of Pakistan.
Reportedly, in Chaubora, a Tehsil of Layyah District and in some parts of Jhang and Bhakar and Thal, Qatari prince has been given the permit to hunt houbara bustard, a rare animal. How will this help in improving bilateral relations of Pakistan and Qatar? (Essa Naqvi – Dunya News)
I have no information on this.
Last modified: November 22, 2019
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