Media Briefing|

(2013-10-03)

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

I would like to begin by giving an overview of the Prime Minister’s visit to UN General Assembly this month. The Prime Minister had a very productive visit to New York to participate in the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly. Notable components of his program included:

· Address to the UN General Assembly on 27th September.
· Address to three Summit level meetings: Sustainable Development; Millennium Development Goals; and Nuclear Disarmament.
· 19 bilateral meetings.
· Three Pakistan-specific events on Energy, Education, and Investment.
· Address to the Pakistani community.
· Interactions with media: WSJ, NYT, CNN, NDTV and Geo.
· Meeting with the Indian Prime Minister on 29th September.

The Prime Minister’s address to the UN General Assembly on 27th September was well received by the international community. The key messages that the Prime Minister sent through his speech and other interactions in New York included: strengthening of the democratic process in Pakistan; Pakistan’s quest for peace with Afghanistan and India; Pakistan’s position on drone strikes; the issue of Jammu and Kashmir; Investments in social sector rather than arms race in South Asia; Priorities of the present government, especially with regard to economic revival and energy issues; UN Security Council reform; and Pakistan’s role in the United Nations, particularly UN Peacekeeping operations.

Now the floor is open for questions:-

Question
During Prime Minister’s visit to New York, what international response did we get on the Prime Minister’s mentioning of US drone strikes?

Answer
Pursuant to the recommendation of the All Parties Conference, the Prime Minister raised the issue of drone strikes in his speech at the UN General Assembly. The issue was also raised in the UN Security Council and Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council. The objective is to build international public opinion against the use of armed drone strikes. A number of countries share our perspective. The UN Secretary General as well as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have also termed the drone strikes as contrary to International Humanitarian Law.

Question
The Prime Minister talked about new beginning during his meeting with the Indian Prime Minister. What is this new beginning when the Indian Prime Minister uses extremely negative tone towards Pakistan i.e. Pakistan is an epicenter of terrorism and Kashmir is an integral part of India. Why are we so apologetic while the other side speaks so harshly?

Secondly, what are the dates for the Prime Minister’s visit to the US? What are the details and the agenda? Apart from the meeting with President Obama, has any other meetings been lined up?

Answer
As for your first question, Terrorism is a matter of as much concern for Pakistan as for India, if not more. Pakistan is in fact a victim of terrorism. Pakistan wants to work together with the international community to defeat this menace. Our policy has been positively appreciated. As for Kashmir, Pakistan is pursuing a firm and principled position on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir which was articulated and projected by the Prime Minister in his speech to the UN General Assembly. We believe that dispute of Jammu and Kashmir must be resolved through peaceful means based on the UN Security Council resolutions and in keeping with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. We do not agree that Kashmir is integral part of India. It is an outstanding dispute that needs to be resolved.
On your question about Prime Minister’s visit to the US, 23 October has been identified for a meeting with President Obama. The program and agenda of the visit is being worked out.

Question
My question is about the terrorist attacks in Pakistan, Taliban are denying that they are not doing it. Do you think any foreign hand is involved in these attacks?

Secondly, the Taliban have said that they are not going to start the negotiations unless the government stops the drone strikes. Do you think that the government will pressurize the US to at least suspend these drone strikes?

Answer
As for your first question, the talks with TTP are an internal matter. Therefore, I will not comment on this. I will comment on its external dimension. Each terrorist incident requires thorough investigation. The possibility of foreign hand cannot be ruled out. It is for the law enforcement authorities to find out the facts.

On the drone strikes, our position has been very clear. We believe that the drone strikes are counter-productive. They fan militancy and have human rights and humanitarian implications. We have taken up this matter bilaterally with the US.

Question
My question is about the meeting between the Indian and the Pakistani Prime Ministers, what has been the take away for Pakistan from this visit?

Answer
The take away is that the two countries got engaged at the highest level. All major issues of mutual interest were discussed, including Kashmir, Sir Creek, Siachen, water issues, trade, and the issue of terrorism. One take away of immediate interest was that the two Prime Ministers agreed to stabilize the situation on the Line of Control. To that end, the DGMOs of the two countries were directed to discuss the matter and ensure that the ceasefire is respected. We hope that this would lead to further engagement between the two governments for the resumption of composite dialogue.
Question
During the Prime Minister’s visit to New York, a number of terrorist incidents took place in Pakistan. In which meeting of the Prime Minister the issue of terrorism, particularly in reference to the recent incidents, was discussed?

Secondly, when did the Prime Minister use the world “Dehati Aurat” for Mr. Manmohan Singh?

Thirdly, you said that the meeting between the two Prime Ministers was very positive but yesterday Indian Army claimed that a group of militants entered the IHK from across the border. How can we say that the meeting was positive?

Answer
On your first question, we all are saddened at the attack on Church and the later terrorist incidents in Peshawar. The Prime Minister spoke about the Church incident in his speech to the UN General Assembly reaffirming his commitment to protect the rights of the minorities and other vulnerable groups in the country. There is also a clear appreciation in the international community of the enormity of the challenges that Pakistan faces, terrorism being the biggest of all. There is a broad acknowledgement of the sacrifices that we have made in this struggle. This appreciation was clearly reflected in interactions of the world leaders with the Prime Minister. In our victory against terrorism, our region and the world at large have huge stakes.

On the other element that you raised, the Prime Minister did not say those words.

On the allegation about intrusions across the LoC, this is an incorrect and baseless allegation.

Question
How did Nawaz Sharif respond to Manmohan Singh’s statement that Pakistan is an epicenter of terrorism? Was it discussed?

Secondly, a Pakistani delegation is going to Iran to finalize the IP pipeline deal? Please clarify.
Answer
On the issue of terrorism, we have said many times that terrorism is as much a matter of concern to Pakistan as to India or to any other country. Pakistan is not an epicenter of terrorism; in fact we are the victim of terrorism.

On IP pipeline, the Ministry of Petroleum deals with the matter. But I can say that given the acute energy crisis that we face, this government has kept all options open, including the IP gas pipeline.

Question
Yesterday Police claimed that they have recovered Indian made arms and ammunitions from terrorists. It is like that we are already claiming that India is involved in internal affairs of Pakistan. So, will you raise this issue with the Indian authorities?

Answer
When the talks between the two countries resume, certainly all aspects relating to terrorism will be raised and discussed.

Question
Pakistan and India are ready to hold meetings of the Director Generals Military Operations and then the meetings at diplomatic level. So which meeting is going to take place at the earliest?

Answer
Work has been initiated and the dates are being worked out.

Question
During the previous government President Zardari also raised the issue of drone attacks in UN General Assembly and the present government is also taking the similar steps. Do you think drone attacks will stop by such steps?

Secondly, with the coming of present government cross border firing at the LoC has started. India is claiming that Mujahedin are coming to India from Pakistan. Pakistan has also raised the issue of Indian involvement in Baluchistan. Has Pakistan given any evidence?

Answer
The present government has taken up the matter of drone strikes in a forceful and effective manner. We have done it bilaterally with the US and have also taken it to the United Nations. Many countries have similar point of view. UN Secretary General and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have both called the drone strikes against international law. I may add here that drone strikes are not a matter of only our concern. There could be serious implications of drone strikes for inter-state relations in the future. International public opinion is steadily building up against the use of drone strikes.

On the issue of cross border firing at the LoC, both countries have agreed to ask the DG MOs of the two countries to discuss this matter on priority with a view to ensuring the respect for LoC ceasefire.

Question
Will the new Ambassador to US be appointed before the Prime Minister’s visit to the US? If yes which names are under consideration?

Answer
The appointment of new Ambassador to the US is the prerogative of the Prime Minister and he will take the decision on this matter.

Question
It was reported by Pakistani government that Mullah Baradar has been released but Taliban are still claiming that he is under Pakistani detention and he has been shifted to some other place. Your comments please.

Answer
We have released Mullah Baradar. He is free and it is our hope that his release will facilitate reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

Question
What Pakistan is doing more in terms of raising the issue of drone strikes? We have seen the same statements since last decade. Is there any consideration to have one voice with Yemen, Somalia and Sudan, who are facing the same issue, in the UN Security Council?

Secondly, there are ample reports by the intelligence agencies to the Ministry of Interior about the involvement of foreign hand in the affairs of Pakistan. A letter has also been written by the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to raise this issue with the related countries. How do you see that?

Thirdly, Afghanistan has raised the issue that Mullah Baradar has been released but has not been handed over to Afghan authorities. Is he working in between the lines? You comments please.

Answer
On drones, our policy is very clear. But the difference this time is that there is a strategy in place. International public opinion against the use of drone strikes is steadily rising. Pakistan is also taking it up with the US government bilaterally at different levels of our interactions.

On your question regarding possible involvement of foreign hand, terrorists respect no boundaries, no religion and no culture. The possibility of the involvement of foreign hand cannot, therefore, be ruled out. The international community must join hands in a cooperative manner to defeat terrorism.

As for your question regarding Mullah Baradar, we have been in touch with the Afghan government on this matter. He has been released to participate in the reconciliation process.

Question
You said that the possibility of the involvement of foreign hand cannot be ruled out. How do you see the timings of terrorist attack on Church in Pakistan as it happened on 22 September, when the world leaders were meeting in the New York?

Answer
The timing was unfortunate. Our law enforcement authorities are investigating the incident.

Question
My question is about the strategic agreement between the US and the Afghanistan, how does Pakistan look at that agreement?
Answer
As a matter of policy, Pakistan does not comment on the matters between country A and country B. Pakistan wishes to see peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Question
I have a similar question, there in hindrance in this agreement between the US and Afghanistan because the US wants rights to carry out operations against Pakistan after 2014. How is this between the US and Afghanistan only? Your comments please.

Answer
The question you posed should be asked from the government of Afghanistan. The rest of your question is speculative. I will not answer a speculative question.

Question
We have seen a war of words and gestures between the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and India. The Prime Minister of India leveled a clear allegation about the state sponsored terrorism by Pakistan followed by his statement on Pakistan calling it an epicenter of terrorism. Why didn’t the Prime Minister of Pakistan respond to this statement as it should have been done?

Answer
Prime Minister of Pakistan’s speech has voiced our position on all key issues, including terrorism, in clear terms. Pakistan is waging a valiant struggle to defeat terrorism. And this fact is well appreciated by the international community. We further believe that instead of blame game, it is better to work together to fight terrorism.

Question
Pakistan has been supporting the Doha talks and Afghan reconciliation process. But Pakistan itself will not be able to hold talks with Taliban within its boundaries if the drone strikes continue. Does this mean that the US does not want these talks to be successful in Pakistan and it is not supporting the dialogue process with Taliban in Pakistan?

Answer
Pakistan wishes to see peace and stability in Afghanistan. To that end we are supporting the Afghan-led reconciliation process. As for your question relating to what the US wants or does not want, this should be addressed to the US government.

******

Close Search Window