December 3, 2015| Media Briefing|
(2015-12-03) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.]
The Floor is open for Questions
I have three brief questions. Recently, there has been a spate of negative stories about the Foreign Office. These include a story about PFOWA. Now there is a story about Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani, our Ambassador in Washington. What is your position?
My second question is: Indian Ambassador in Kabul has commented on the meeting held in Paris between the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Reacting to statements issued by Pakistan after meeting between our Prime Minister and Afghan President in Paris, he said that “mere statements are of no help to Afghan peace talks”. How do you view Ambassador of a third country commenting on Pak-Afghan relations?
My third question is: What exactly was discussed between the leaders of Pakistan and India in the Paris meeting, particularly regarding the forthcoming visit of Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj to Pakistan? (Shaukat Paracha – Aaj TV)
Let me start with your third question. As you know, Prime Minister himself has spoken to the media on a couple of occasions about the unscheduled meeting in Paris with Prime Minister of India. It has already been carried by the media. I would not add anything to that. We are awaiting confirmation of participation from the Indian side in the Heart of Asia Conference.
As to your second question, we have noted the statement of the Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan. It is against the diplomatic norms for an Ambassador to try to undermine relations of his host country with a third country. We expect all regional countries to support efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
With regard to your first question, I believe you are referring to Mr. Khawar Ghuman’s story, carried by Dawn of 30 November 2015, on “Ambassador drawing pension benefits despite audit paras”, which is unfortunately baseless and misleading. Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani, a Foreign Service of Pakistan officer, retired in Grade-22 after a distinguished career in the service of Pakistan spanning over 37 years including as Foreign Secretary. He is presently serving as our Ambassador to the United States in Washington DC.
Like all other civil servants, Ambassador Jilani duly completed all the required formalities after retirement in obtaining requisite clearances and certificates before drawing his pension benefits. One such requirement indeed was the settlement of all outstanding audit paras, which was strictly complied with in Ambassador Jilani’s case. Any suggestion or insinuation otherwise including the claim that Ambassador Jilani “received all his benefits without having cleared the audit objections” is completely unfounded and scandalous and is categorically denied.
Interestingly, the news story also contradicts itself by quoting sources in the same report that claim that Ambassador Jilani did get the requisite clearance leading to payment of all his retirement related dues.
It needs to be appreciated that all the procedural requirements pertaining to retirement of officials in the Foreign Service of Pakistan are duly observed as a standard practice and without exception by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
How will the Heart of Asia Conference contribute to stabilizing Afghanistan when it has been noted that the previous sessions of the conference have not been useful?
My second question is, what is the agenda of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting to be held in China on 14-15 December 2015?
Let me share some information about the theme and agenda of the Heart of Asia Conference. It will give you an idea as to how it would be helpful to Afghanistan.
The theme of the Conference is “Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process: Enhanced Cooperation for Countering Security Threats and Promoting Connectivity in the Heart of Asia Region.”
The agenda of the Conference is aimed at cementing regional ties through a set of Confidence Building Measures. The process is aimed at expanding coordination between Afghanistan and its neighbours and regional partners in facing common threats, including terrorism, narcotics, poverty and extremism.
Information about the SCO meeting and its agenda will be shared with the media in due course.
According to recent Indian media reports, Delhi Police have busted an alleged Pakistani spy network of ISI that includes an Indian Occupied Kashmir resident Kafaitullah Khan who allegedly has connections with an official of Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi. Do you confirm these allegations? Can you share the name of the official? Your comments please. (Naveed Akbar – Daily Dunya)
We have seen media reports. Indian authorities have not approached us in this regard. We reject allegations against the High Commission and our premier intelligence agency. They are baseless and unfounded. Such allegations leveled against our intelligence agency in the past have proved to be false.
Recent media reports suggest that Mulla Akhtar Mansoor, current Chief of Tahreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan, has been injured during fighting. Your comments please.
Secondly, can you confirm the number of countries participating in the Heart of Asia Conference and whether Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has accepted invitation to participate or not? (Zarghoon Shah – Geo TV)
We have seen the media reports. We are not aware of this incident. However, we have noted that Taliban spokesperson has denied that any such firefight took place.
As to participation in the Heart of Asia Conference, so far, Foreign Ministers of China, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Iran and Afghanistan from the participating countries have confirmed participation. However, confirmation list is being updated on a daily basis. We will share necessary information with you closer to the event dates.
The programme envisages inauguration of the Conference jointly by the Prime Minister of Pakistan and President of Afghanistan. However, confirmation of Afghan President’s visit is still awaited.
After the recent meeting between the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and India in Paris, does the Government think that bilateral dialogue will be resumed? (Khawaja Nayyer Iqbal- Kashmir Post)
We have to wait and see. Pakistan has always emphasized the need for a sustained and result oriented dialogue to discuss all issues, resolve outstanding disputes including Kashmir and promote bilateral cooperation with India.
The daily “Hindu” has reported that Indian National Security Advisor Mr. Ajit Doval met Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit two weeks prior to the chance meeting in Paris between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Can you confirm?
Secondly, my access to Spokesman’s Twitter account appears to have been blocked. How can the Spokesman do this? (Murtaza Solangi – Capital TV)
I will not comment on the Indian media reports. The brief unscheduled meeting between the two Prime Ministers in Paris was telecast by media as it was taking place. Indian Ministry for External Affairs has also given its views about the nature of the meeting.
I am not aware of the meeting of our High Commissioner in New Delhi that you have referred to. However, in general, meeting between a diplomat, especially Head of Mission, and a dignitary of the host country is not an extraordinary event.
With regard to your second question, let me say that there is no point in blocking anyone’s access to information, as what the Spokesperson conveys through briefings, emails and Twitter is meant for the media. You are, therefore, most welcome to visit my office after the briefing. We can look into this issue and resolve it.
The British Parliament has given its approval for attacks on Daesh. Will Pakistan participate in it? What is Pakistan’s strategy? ? (Sheeba Mehr – Daily SAMAA)
We have said on a number of occasions that Daesh is a terrorist outfit. There is no footprint of Daesh in Pakistan. We will take necessary action if its presence is detected in Pakistan. It is our commitment to eliminate terrorism from our country. Action against terrorists has been taken successfully under operation Zarb-e-Azb and National Action Plan. We have also been extending cooperation to the international community in eliminating terrorism. This includes exchange of intelligence. We support coordinated action against terrorists.
There was an attack on presidential guards in Tunisia. Has Pakistan condemned the attack?
The people and Government of Pakistan strongly condemn deadly suicide terrorist attack on a bus carrying Presidential Guards in Tunis on 24 November 2015, that resulted in the loss of fourteen precious lives of the security personnel and injuries to many others.
We stand by our brotherly people and government of Tunisia in their hour of grief and convey our deepest condolences to the bereaved families. We pray for the speedy recovery of the injured.
Pakistan reiterates its condemnation of terrorism in all forms and manifestations.
After the Afghan President’s announcement that he is coming to Pakistan, what are the expectations of Ministry of Foreign Affairs as far as roadmap for reconciliation process or resumption of Afghan peace process with Pakistan’s facilitation is concerned? (Maqbool Malik – The Nation)
We have talked about roadmap for reconciliation process in Afghanistan in our recent press releases. Although programme of the Heart of Asia Conference envisages inauguration jointly by the Prime Minister of Pakistan and Afghan President, confirmation of Afghan President’s visit is still awaited. When Afghan dignitaries are here, obviously there will be discussion on all important issues including the peace process in Afghanistan. As you are aware, Pakistan is committed to facilitating an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process.
About 5000-6000 Pakistanis are being held in the Shamesi jail in Jeddah. They are being held on various charges. Many of them have legal documents. However, they are not being freed. Do you have any information about the large number of Pakistanis in Shamesi jail near Jeddah? (Zarghoon Shah – Geo TV)
We have taken note of your question and would seek necessary details through our Embassy in Riyadh and Consulate General in Jeddah.
However, let me share with you the latest figures that we have obtained from our Embassy. There are 2308 Pakistanis serving their sentences in jails in Saudi Arabia. In addition, 2340 Pakistanis are awaiting deportation in various detention centers in the Kingdom. The latter group is mostly composed of Hajj/Umra visa violators.
In the latest attack in America in which reportedly 14 persons have been killed, a person by the name of Syed Farooq has also been killed. His brother-in-law has distanced himself from Syed Farooq in a press conference. There is speculation that this incident has a link with the case of Ms. Aafia Siddiqui. Has the US taken up this matter with Islamabad? (Hamid Raza Kazmi – Such TV)
The US has not approached Pakistan regarding this matter.
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