June 17, 2021| Media Briefing|
Assalam-o-Alaikum and welcome to the Weekly Press Briefing of the Foreign Office.
Let me begin with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s ongoing visit to Turkey to participate in the Antalya Diplomacy Forum.
During his visit, the Foreign Minister will also participate in a panel discussion on ‘Regional Cooperation in Asia’ along with other Foreign Ministers from the region.
The Foreign Minister will highlight Pakistan’s vision for regional cooperation, economic development and connectivity.
On the sidelines, the Foreign Minister will hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts and key regional and international partners.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had a telephonic conversation with his British counterpart, Boris Johnson.
The two leaders exchanged views on the current trajectory of bilateral relations, Afghan Peace Process, Covid-19 pandemic and climate change.
They agreed to continue to work together to further strengthen relations and advance the common objective of regional and global peace and security.
Pakistan and the United Kingdom enjoy close cooperative relations underpinned by shared objectives and commonality of interests.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi held a telephonic conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.
During the call, the two Foreign Ministers exchanged views on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.
The two sides underscored the importance of enhanced economic cooperation, particularly in the energy sector including the Pakistan Stream Gas pipeline.
Foreign Minister also received a telephone call from his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.
During the call, the two Foreign Ministers reaffirmed longstanding and fraternal ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Among other issues, the Saudi Foreign Minister apprised Foreign Minister Qureshi about the challenges of organizing Hajj in 2021 and the policy measures taken by the Kingdom.
The Fourth China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue was held on 3rd June 2021 in a virtual mode at the level of Foreign Ministers.
The three sides underlined the importance of a peaceful resolution of the Afghan conflict, through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
While acknowledging Pakistan’s role in hosting millions of Afghan refugees for four decades, both China and Afghanistan emphasized the need for a time-bound and well-resourced return of Afghan refugees.
The three sides also reaffirmed the resolve to deepen cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and other regional mechanisms.
The “2021 Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP)” was launched on 9 June at a joint event hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations.
The Humanitarian Response Plan seeks to:
• highlight the humanitarian needs;
• share the efforts undertaken by the Government of Pakistan to handle these challenges in collaboration with the UN and other partners; and
• set out a well-coordinated and inclusive Plan of Action to respond to the needs of the people.
In his keynote address, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi underlined that the Humanitarian Response Plan is intended to strengthen Pakistan’s capacity in the prevention, preparedness and response to disasters through the provision of relief services by building cross-institutional and stakeholder linkages.
On 5 June, Pakistan joined the international community in celebrating the “World Environment Day 2021”, as its global host.
This year’s World Environment Day carried special significance as it also witnessed the formal launch of the “United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030”.
As one of the top ten most climate vulnerable countries, Pakistan highly values the global efforts to combat climate change, halt and reverse biodiversity loss, eliminate pollution, and restore ecosystems.
Pakistan is already in the midst of one of the world’s most ambitious efforts to expand and restore its forests, having already planted a billion trees as part of its 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Project.
I am happy to share that this week, Pakistan was elected as Regular Member of the Governing Body (GB) of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
The Governing Body is the premier policy and decision-making body of the ILO, composed of 56 Regular Members (28 Governments, 14 Employers and 14 Workers).
Pakistan has previously been a Regular Member of this executive arm of the ILO for six terms since joining the organization in 1947.
This election result illustrates the trust reposed by the international community in Pakistan’s strong leadership credentials.
I am also happy to share that Pakistan has established diplomatic relations with the Republic of Kiribati.
We look forward to working with the island nation of Kiribati in promoting mutual cooperation through bilateral exchanges and collaboration at multilateral fora.
Pakistan Navy undertook Passage Exercise with the Naval Force of the United States in Karachi.
The exercise was aimed at fostering inter-operability and furthering the commitment of both the countries to build cooperative partnerships in meeting emergent maritime challenges.
The tragic incident in Canada last week in which four members of a Pakistan-origin family lost their lives was yet another manifestation of the systematic rise in Islamophobia.
Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family and friends of the victims of this heinous act of terrorism.
Events like these further reinforce the imperative for the international community to work together for interfaith harmony and peaceful coexistence.
In a telephone call following the incident, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Canadian counterpart Marc Garneau agreed to work together on countering Islamophobia through coordinated efforts at various international fora.
Foreign Minister Qureshi, particularly appreciated the support extended by the Canadian Prime Minister, the Parliament of Canada, civil society, media and the people of Canada at this hour of grief.
Coming to the situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK).
I wish to reiterate our deep concern over the recent reports indicating Indian machinations for further division, bifurcation and demographic changes in the IIOJK to perpetuate its illegal occupation.
We call upon the international community, including the United Nations, international human rights and humanitarian organizations, global media and world parliaments to take immediate cognizance of the situation.
IIOJK is an internationally recognized disputed territory.
India’s unilateral and illegal actions in IIOJK remain in violation of international law and numerous United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions.
To apprise the UN leadership of Pakistan’s grave concerns on these developments, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has addressed a letter to the President of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the United Nations Secretary General.
The Foreign Minister has been regularly addressing letters to the Security Council and the UN Secretary General to:
• keep the UN fully informed of the grave situation in the territory occupied by India; and to
• remind the Security Council of its responsibility for peaceful and just settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions.
We once again call upon India to:
• halt and revisit its unlawful and destabilizing actions;
• ensure full compliance with the UN Security Council resolutions; and
• refrain from any further steps that might imperil the regional peace and security.
For its part, Pakistan will continue to resolutely oppose Indian attempts to change the demographic structure and status of IIOJK as a disputed territory.
We remain firm in our commitment to provide all possible support to the people of IIOJK in their just struggle for the realization of their inalienable right to self-determination.
I thank you and am happy to take questions on these or other foreign policy related developments.
Question: In response to a media query on Pakistan’s official remarks on seizure of unauthorized uranium in India, Indian Ministry of External Affairs said on 10 June 2021 that it was Pakistan’s attempt to “malign India”. How do you comment? (Zulqarnain Haider, ARY)
Supplementary Question: Such incidents show that India’s nuclear program is not in safe hands. Does Pakistan plan to take up this issue with the international community for effective corrective measures? (Asghar Ali Mubarak, The Daily Mail)
Supplementary Question: Do you think India, by using such incidents, is planning yet another false-flag operation? (Khawaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)
Supplementary Question: According to the report by a Swedish think tank, the number of nuclear weapons of both India and Pakistan has increased. How do you comment? (Ghulam Abbas Jaffer, Media Today)
Supplementary Question: Had such incidents of unauthorized uranium sale occurred in Pakistan, the entire international community would have been condemning us. Why is Pakistan, despite being a member of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), not taking up this issue? (Mateen Haider, G News)
Answer: The incident took place in India and was reported by its own media. The charges were also framed by the Indian Police.
I, therefore, wonder as to what made the Indian Ministry of External Affairs’ Spokesperson believe that it depicted Pakistan’s desperation to malign India.
Let me reiterate what I stated earlier that we are concerned at repeated incidents of attempted illegal sale of Uranium in India.
These incidents point to lax controls, poor regulatory and enforcement mechanisms, as well as possible existence of a black market for nuclear materials inside India.
Instead of resorting to baseless and usual anti-Pakistan rhetoric, India must thoroughly investigate the matter in a credible and transparent manner.
To comply with its international obligations, India must also take verifiable measures for strengthening the security of its nuclear materials.
Question: I have two questions.
Firstly, the recently concluded G-7 Summit in the UK announced an infrastructure plan, allegedly aiming to rival China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). How do you comment on the development?
Secondly, the recently concluded North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit has indicated towards polarization among the world. In addition, after the Summit, the Turkish president said that his country is floating a proposal to take care of the security of Kabul airport along with Pakistan and Hungary. Your comments please? (Essa Naqvi, Freelancer)
Supplementary Question: Regarding ensuring security of the Kabul airport, it’s also been floated that Americans will establish an airbase in Quetta. Your comments please? (Sardar Amir Hussain, Royal News)
Answer: As for the proposed infrastructure project, we believe that all such initiatives should promote peace, development and security through constructive engagement and cooperation.
Regarding proposal of security of Kabul airport, I’m not aware of any such consideration by Pakistan. However, we remain committed to play our due role in the Afghan Peace Process.
Question: Pakistan has completed 26 out of 27 action items given by Financial Action Task Force (FATF). What are Pakistan’s expectations from the upcoming FATF plenary? Is there any hope of Pakistan’s removal from the Grey List? (Hassan Riaz, JNN)
Answer: The FATF Plenary meeting, scheduled in the last week of June 2021, will review the progress made by Pakistan under the FATF Action Plan and subsequently announce its decision.
As you are aware, Pakistan has made significant strides during implementation of the Action Plan through concerted national efforts.
The tremendous progress made by Pakistan leading toward the conclusion of the Action Plan has been acknowledged by FATF as well as larger international community.
Without prejudging the outcome of the upcoming plenary meeting, we would like to reaffirm our commitment to further strengthen our AML/CFT regime to align it with international standards and fulfill our international obligations in this regard.
Question: I have two questions.
Firstly, with regards to the Kulbhushan Jadhav case, we have recently seen a lot of chatter within Pakistan’s National Assembly that reconciliation or a way out is being given to Commander Jadhav, in lieu of the recent legislation. How do you comment?
Secondly, we saw a report in a Swiss magazine alleging Pakistani diplomats in Geneva exploiting Filipino workers. Would you like to respond? (Anas Mallick, The Correspondent)
Answer: As for your first question, Pakistan abides by all its international obligations, and this applies to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) judgment in case of Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav. The legislative measures taken by Pakistan are only aimed at giving full effect to the judgment of the ICJ. The legislation or its purpose should not be, in any way, misconstrued.
As for your question regarding reconciliation with India, we have consistently maintained that Pakistan wants peaceful relations with all its neighbors including India.
However, for normalization of relations with India, resolution of the longstanding disputes, particularly the core issue of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is critical.
Unfortunately, India through its illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 and continuing gross and systematic human rights violations in the occupied territory has vitiated the environment. The onus is on India to create an enabling environment for a meaningful engagement.
Regarding your second question, our Mission in Geneva has already responded to the baseless allegations made by certain sections in the media. I will be happy to share with you the detailed statement issued by our Mission in this regard.
Question: Can you please confirm the details of the anticipated visit of Saudi Crown Prince to Pakistan? (Anwar Abbas, Bol News)
Answer: High-level exchanges between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are a regular feature of our bilateral relations. Prime Minister Imran Khan had earlier extended an invitation to the Saudi Crown Prince to visit Pakistan which he had accepted. The diplomatic channels on both sides remain closely engaged on the high-level exchanges and other aspects of this important relationship.
Question: I have two questions. Firstly, is there any progress on UAE visa ban for Pakistanis?
Secondly, Foreign Office is playing a lead role in the Government’s economic diplomacy initiative. However, you would be aware that Pakistanis are not being able to travel to Saudi Arabia, UAE and other countries because of the lack of access to the vaccines approved by these countries. Is Foreign Office taking any actions in this regard? (Naveed Siddique, Dawn TV)
Answer: As for the UAE visas, the UAE Government suspended entry of passengers from Pakistan and some other South Asian countries on the basis of Covid-19 numbers on 13 May 2021.
We have shared the latest information about Covid-19 numbers with the UAE Government. We hope that the UAE will review its COVID related advisory for all Pakistanis soon. Currently, Pakistanis having diplomatic and official visas and UAE Golden visas can travel to the UAE.
As for your second question, Pakistan has taken up the issue of vaccines which are mandatory for travel to Saudi Arabia with the Saudi side.
We have proposed inclusion of some of the Chinese vaccines used in Pakistan in the list of vaccines approved by the Saudi authorities.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is actively pursuing this matter.
Question: You would have seen the media reports stating that CIA chief visited Pakistan; however it was not disclosed to the public and media. Can you please confirm? Can you confirm and share details? (Rashida Siyal, Abb Tak TV)
Answer: I cannot comment on speculative media reports.
Question: Security situation in Afghanistan is worsening. What role would Pakistan be playing in reducing violence in Afghanistan, particularly in the wake of withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan? (Mateen Haider, G News)
Answer: Pakistan has been consistently calling for a responsible and orderly withdrawal of the foreign troops from Afghanistan so that there is no security vacuum in the country that can be exploited by spoilers.
We have repeatedly underscored that the withdrawal of foreign troops must coincide with the overall progress achieved in the peace process.
Pakistan has also been calling for reduction in violence, leading to a ceasefire.
I wish to reiterate that due to Pakistan’s facilitative role, the Peace Process has reached an important stage. We remain committed to peace in Afghanistan and will continue playing our role sincerely.
It is, however, important that the Afghan leaders seize this historic opportunity and workout an inclusive, broad based and comprehensive political settlement for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Question: I have two questions. Firstly, it has been reported that the CIA chief has recently visited Pakistan and Prime Minister Imran Khan refused to meet him. Can you accept or deny these reports?
Secondly, it was reported that Pakistan refused to work with the Afghan National Security Advisor and now their Vice President because of anti-Pakistan statements? Who are the people in the Afghan administration that you consider to be anti-Pakistan? (Aijaz Ahmed, GNN)
Answer: As for your question on Afghanistan, the Foreign Minister has shared Pakistan’s perspective on the issue. I do not have anything further to add.
As for your other question, I have already responded to that.
Question: You would be aware that the Foreign Embassies in Pakistan are charging very high visa fee and attestation charges for Pakistani citizens? Pakistani citizens are also facing visa issues. Is there any stipulated mechanism to take up these issues with foreign Embassies? (Khalid Mehmood, GNN)
Answer: Issuance of visas is the sovereign right of any country. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs remains engaged with the diplomatic Missions in Islamabad on various aspects of consular services provide by these Missions including issuance of visas to Pakistan nationals.
Last modified: June 17, 2021
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