(2015-12-31) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.]
There are no Opening Remarks
The Floor is open for Questions
Time is drawing close for Pakistan-India Foreign Secretary level dialogue in the mid of January. Has any date been finalized between the two countries and what could be on top of the agenda of the talks? (Mateen Haider – Dawn News)
The meeting of the Foreign Secretaries of Pakistan and India will be held in Islamabad in mid January. Exact date of the meeting and further details will be announced in due course. As far as agenda is concerned, the Foreign Secretaries will work out the modalities and schedule of the meetings of various segments under the Dialogue, in accordance with the Joint Statement of 09 December 2015.
The year 2015 is about to end. How do you see it? Whether 2016 would be a good year in the context of Pakistan-India relations? (Khawaja Nayaar Iqbal – Kashmir Post)
First of all, let me say that the Foreign Secretary gave a resume of Pakistan’s foreign policy priorities in 2015 and outlook for the next year in an interview to PTV World yesterday. It was telecast again today at 3 pm. However, let me just highlight few achievements during the year.
* Under the vision and guidance of the Prime Minister, Pakistan was able to significantly enhance its relations with all neighboring countries.
* Non-interference in internal affairs of other countries, support for peaceful resolution of conflicts, support for counter terrorism efforts all levels, emphasis on peace, stability, connectivity and development remained the hallmark of our foreign policy.
* Agreements signed on investment of US$ 46 billion for China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor Projects have no parallel in the history of Pakistan.
* SCO decided to give membership to Pakistan.
* We were able to host the first round of direct peace talks between Afghan Government and Afghan Taliban in July this year.
* The Heart of Asia Conference was a resounding success. Delegations of 44 countries including Afghan President and Foreign Ministers of China, Iran, Turkey, India, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Latvia participated in the Conference. It signified confidence of the international community in Pakistan, its leadership and policies
* Pakistan and India agreed to a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue.
* High-level exchange of visits took place with many countries during the year:
* President of China, President and Prime Minister of Turkey, Emir of Qatar, President and Prime Minister of Belarus, President of Tajikistan, President of Afghanistan and Prime Minister of India visited Pakistan.
* President of Pakistan visited China, Turkey and Azerbaijan.
* Prime Minister visited Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Turkey, United States, China, UK, Russia, France, Belarus, Malta, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. He also attended the UN General Assembly Session in New York.
In 2016, Pakistan will continue the momentum generated by its foreign policy in 2015 to further enhance Pakistan’s national interests and promote peace and stability in the region.
As for the second part of your question, you know that on 09 December 2015 both countries decided on Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue. The first meeting of Foreign Secretaries of the two countries in this context will be held in mid January 2016, to work out the modalities and schedule of the meetings of various segments under the Dialogue. You know that the Indian Prime Minister also visited Pakistan a few days ago. Both were very positive steps. The dialogue process would be helpful in resolving outstanding disputes peacefully and enhancing bilateral cooperation.
When is the quadrilateral dialogue among representatives of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and US going to take place? What is its agenda? When are the peace talks between Afghan authorities and Afghan Taliban expected to take place? And what are the developments on this after the Army Chief’s visit to Afghanistan? (Naveed Akbar – Dunya Newspaper)
A few days back, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Mr. Sartaj Aziz said that there will be a steering committee meeting but yesterday he said that there will be coordination committee meeting. There was also news that there will be a meeting on 15 January 2016 in Kabul while Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Mr. Sartaj Aziz said that there will be a meeting of Coordination Committee before 15 January 2016 in Islamabad. Can you kindly explain this? (Ali Hussain – Business Recorder)
There are reports that the initial meeting to set mechanism for the talks between the Afghan Government and Afghan Taliban is going to be held soon and Afghan National Security Advisor is also expected to be in Pakistan in the first or second week of January. Your comments please. (Essa Naqvi – Dunya TV)
A short while ago, Reuters ran a story which said that Pakistan and Afghanistan have developed serious differences over this meeting and that the meeting may not take place in Islamabad and may take place in Kabul. Can you clarify? (Mateen Haider – Dawn News)
Consultations are underway to host the first meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Committee in Islamabad in the second week of January. Exact date is being worked out in consultation with Afghanistan, China and the US. The level, composition and agenda of the meeting are also being worked out through consultations.
Hopefully you have seen the reports from Indian media which suggest that they have arrested some of their servicemen who had connection with ISI. Secondly, there are reports from both Turkey and US which suggest that both countries have arrested Pakistani citizens in connection with terrorism. What are the updates in this regard? (Mudassar Hussain – Khyber News)
We are aware of such media reports coming from India, but officially we have not been conveyed any information in this regard. As you are aware, allegations against ISI have been made in the past as well but have not been proved. We have always rejected them.
With regard to your second question, we have seen the media reports and are trying to ascertain the facts through our concerned Missions.
Pakistan has decided to join the 34 member alliance led by Saudi Arabia. What are the technical details and do you confirm that Pakistan has decided to review its decision to join or not to join it? (Syed Mohsin Raza – Such TV)
This question has been asked a number of times. We have said before that Pakistan has joined the Coalition against terrorism. The extent of our participation will be decided in the light of additional information that we have sought from Saudi Arabia. Our position remains the same.
What is the stance of Foreign Office on the new construction being made by India on the Line of Control? (Syed Musharraf Kazmi – Business Plus TV)
All issues of concern to Pakistan will be discussed as part of the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue, which includes a segment on Peace and Security.
Despite continuous denial by Pakistan regarding the presence of Daesh in the country, around 20 people have left for Syria to join Daesh. Meanwhile, 9 people were arrested in connection with Daesh. Your comments please. (Riaz – Mishal Radio)
We have seen media reports that certain elements trying to associate themselves with Daesh have been arrested and investigations are going on. I am certainly not in a position to comment on who has left Pakistan and for what purpose. You may wish to contact Ministry of Interior in this regard.
In the context of presence of Daesh in Pakistan, we have consistently made several points. Firstly, there is no footprint of Daesh in Pakistan. Secondly, we will not tolerate even the shadow of Daesh in Pakistan. Thirdly, we have alerted our security agencies to the threat posed by Daesh. They will take appropriate action, if required.
The Prime Minister said yesterday that India and Pakistan cannot stay in a state of enmity forever. What steps do you think are needed for India and Pakistan to become friendly states? Secondly, following Army Chief’s visit to Afghanistan there was a statement that talks would be conducted with those groups which are in favour of coming to negotiation table and the quadrilateral meeting will decide about what to do with those who do not want to hold negotiations. Can you elaborate on this? (Fakkhar Rehman – Turkish News Agency)
What the Prime Minister said reflects the policy that is being pursued by the leadership of Pakistan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The two countries need to resolve all outstanding disputes peacefully through dialogue. In this regard, the decision to have Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue is very important. The first meeting of Foreign Secretaries under the Dialogue is going take place in mid January to work out a schedule of meetings for various segments in accordance with the Joint Statement issued on 09 December 2015.
As to your second question, let me say that the purpose of the quadrilateral process is to develop consensus on all aspects of the reconciliation process, so that we can take the peace process forward in a meaningful manner.
Following the recall of a Pakistani diplomat from Dhaka what are the prospects of bilateral relations between the two countries? Was the issue taken up with the High Commissioner of Bangladesh? (Zarghoon Shah – Geo TV)
You would recall that a statement was issued by the Ministry on the withdrawal of a Pakistani diplomat from Dhaka on 24 December 2015, which mentioned that the High Commissioner of Bangladesh was summoned twice to register our concern over harassment of our diplomat who was later withdrawn to Pakistan. The people of Pakistan and Bangladesh are very close to each other. They have strong bonds of friendship and share common history. We, therefore, have been urging the Government of Bangladesh to demonstrate the spirit of reconciliation and forward looking approach enshrined in the 1974 Tripartite Agreement.
The new Iranian Ambassador presented his credentials to the President. What are the prospects of Pakistan-Iran relations in the coming days? Secondly, recently there have been some reports that a special message of the Russian President was conveyed by Indian Prime Minister to Prime Minister of Pakistan during his visit to Lahore. What are your comments? (Sheeraz Asghar – IRNA)
Pakistan and Iran enjoy friendly relations. We welcomed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreed between Iran and P5+1 on Iran’s nuclear program. We have been saying that lifting of sanctions on Iran would provide both sides opportunities to enhance bilateral cooperation.
As to the second part of your question, I would like to draw your attention to the press conference that was held by the Foreign Secretary after departure of the Indian Prime Minister from Lahore. He had said very clearly that it was a goodwill visit. The two sides had decided to carry forward the dialogue process for the larger good of the peoples of the two countries and work together to establish good neighbourly relations.
We have been hearing about the quadrilateral talks. Have the Taliban also been approached?
Let me clarify that the meeting, which is going to take place next month among the representatives of Pakistan, Afghanistan, US and China, is restricted to the participants of the quadrilateral mechanism.
Last modified: November 22, 2019
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