(2018-04-26) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.]
Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum Ladies & Gentlemen!
It has been an active week on the foreign policy front. Let me give you a brief account:
Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif visited Beijing to attend the meeting of Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) from 23-24 April, 2018. The Council of Foreign Ministers discussed issues related to peace and security at the international and regional levels and promotion of cooperation between the member states. Foreign Minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif met President Xi on the sidelines of the SCO FM.
He also held a meeting with Mr. Wang Qishan, Vice President of the People’s Republic of China. The Foreign Minister congratulated the Vice President on his recent election to the office and expressed his confidence that the Vice President would continue to play his role in further strengthening the strong and time-tested bilateral relations between Pakistan and China.
A meeting was held between Foreign Minister of Pakistan Khawaja Muhammad Asif and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi of the People’s Republic of China on 23 April 2018 at Beijing. In the meeting, the two sides exchanged in-depth views on all matters of mutual concern. The Foreign Minister appreciated the vibrant role of Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the region, as a significantly vital forum for regional cooperation.
Foreign Minister also appreciated the Chinese initiative for Pakistan-China-Afghanistan Foreign Ministers’ Trilateral Mechanism for enhancing cooperation with Afghanistan. He also apprised him of the grave situation prevailing in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who is visiting Russia, met with Colonel General Oleg Salyukov, Commander Russian Federation Ground Forces at Kremlin Palace. The Russian Ground Forces Commander acknowledged achievements of Pakistan Army in the fight against terrorism and contributions for regional peace and stability. Russian Ground Forces Commander said that Pakistan is a geo-strategically important country and Russia is keen to expand its existing bilateral military to military cooperation.
Indian occupation forces continued the atrocities in IoK and martyred four innocent Kashmiris including Mr. Ashfaq Ahmad Khan and Mr. Abid Bashir Bhat, a second year student in Tral area of Pulwama district during the past week. Political Vendetta is at its peak against Kashmiri leaders. Even women leaders and activists are being arrested on the ground that they protested alongwith the students against the rape and murder of a Muslim minor girl at Kathua. Those who held processions in favour of rapists are free but those who protested against the rape-murder are being incarcerated. We urge the international community to play its role and call upon India to account for its crimes against Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir.
We note with concern the acquittals by the Indian courts in the Mecca Masjid blast. The gradual acquittal of accused of Samjhota terrorist attack, including the mastermind Swami Aseemanand, makes a travesty of the Indian judicial system. We have regularly lodged our concern with India regarding the lack of progress in the Samjhota terrorist attacks, in which more than 42 innocent Pakistanis lost their lives, despite a lapse of more than a decade.
India is quick to indulge in pointless blame game, labeling everything as terrorism, for political point-scoring, often without substance or evidence but that quickness does not extend to ensuring justice for the real victims, who lost their lives even after 11 years. India is making a complete mockery of its justice system, especially while dealing with Saffron terrorism and terrorist acts committed under the garb of Hindutva and Hindu fundamentalism.
Pakistan strongly condemns the heinous and reprehensible suicide attacks that targeted the innocent civilians at voter registration centres in Kabul and Baghlan provinces in Afghanistanon 22 April 2018. We are grieved at the loss of precious innocent lives in this brutal act of terrorism. We express our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the bereaved families and pray for the speedy recovery of the injured. Pakistan reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and expresses solidarity with the government and people of Afghanistan in this hour of grief and sorrow.
The 6th round of Pakistan-Japan Security Dialogue (Politico-Military Dialogue) was held in Tokyo on 20 April, 2018. During the dialogue, it was agreed that both sides enjoyed cordial relations, having the potential for further enhancing the bilateral relationship. The two sides exchanged views on the evolving security situation in their respective regions as well as the multilateral security scenario. He also briefed the Japanese side on the situation in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir and highlighted the human rights violations by the Indian occupation forces in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. The Additional Secretary also briefed the Japanese side on Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts. The Pakistan Japan high-level economic policy dialogue is also taking place in Islamabad today.
Pakistan strongly condemns the deadly and tragic attack in Toronto this Monday which resulted in loss of ten innocent lives and injuries to fourteen other. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of victims, and we wish full recovery of the injured.
Today, at 0835 hours, Indian Army resorted to unprovoked firing of heavy automatic weapon, mortars and Anti-Tank Guided Missiles, in Thub and Banchiran Sub-Sectors of Padhar and targeted village Bramla. Consequently, two civilians embraced shahadat once a Mortar round hit their house and two others got injured, while they were harvesting in the fields. Their details are as follows:
1. Nazir (r/o vill Bramla) – Shaheed
2. Rafiq (r/o vill Bramla) – Shaheed
3. Saddam – Injured
4. Mother of Mr. Saddam – Injured
Now the Floor is open for Questions
Reportedly, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said that India would not be the first to open fire at a neighbouring country, but if the opponent opens fire, it won’t be able to count bullets fired back by India. How do you see this statement in the context of unprovoked ceasefire violations by Indian occupation forces at LoC? (Asghar Ali Mubarak – Daily Mail Islamabad)
The unprecedented Indian ceasefire violations continue from 2017. In 2018 Twenty three (23) innocent civilians have embraced shahadat and more than 100 others have been injured in over 1000 ceasefire violations. The villages and populated areas are continuously being targeted by the Indian occupation forces. India has deliberately escalated tensions at the LoC and the Working Boundary in order to try to divert the international community’s attention from the grave situation in IoK. In this backdrop the Indian statement is ironically too far from reality and the factual position on the ground to have any credibility. Indian hegemonic and aggressive designs are an open secret.
We have always stressed the need to allow UN-mandated UNMOGIP unfettered access, for it to monitor and report on Ceasefire violations. However, India only marginally allows UNMOGIP officials to work, to hide its own aggressive designs on the LoC and WB. The international community must warn India against use of such provocative language and its strident attitude towards all its neighbors.
India should walk the talk and refrain from provocative statements. Our armed forces practice restraint but have the capacity and are ever vigilant to give a befitting response to any threat to the motherland.
Could you please share details of when Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif will be back, and what will be the consequences if he is disqualified?
Second, now that Chief of Army Staff is in Russia, do you think that Pakistan will be able to court the Russian lobby after the American lobby is no more effective with regard to ceasefire violations by India? (Zahid Farooq Malik – Daily Metro)
Regarding your first question, the Foreign Minister is present in Pakistan. We await the court decision in this regard.
On your second question, Pakistan’s relations with Russia are constantly improving as is evident from recent visits by Foreign Minister, Chief of Army Staff and National Security Adviser to Russia. Our relations with Russia are growing steadily in all fields and are independent of our bilateral ties with any other country. Pakistan also enjoys historic and friendly relations with the United States.
Ambassador Alice Wells has visited Pakistan during this week. What is the outcome of her visit? Please share the agenda of her discussions with Pakistani authorities?
Reportedly, during Ambassador Alice Wells visit to Islamabad, both countries stood by their stance regarding the movement of diplomats. This means that there is no breakthrough in the matter. Can you confirm?
Was there any discussions about the issue of Colonel Joseph during Ambassador Alice Wells visit? (Shaukat Paracha – Aaj TV)
The US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs was in Pakistan earlier this week. She called on the Foreign Secretary on 23 April 2018. Both sides reviewed the state of play in the bilateral relationship as well as the regional security issues, particularly Afghanistan. Reiterating Pakistan’s stance for a politically negotiated settlement, owned and led by the Afghans, Pakistan reaffirmed its constructive participation in all regional and bilateral mechanisms aimed at pursuing a peaceful solution to the Afghan conflict. Matters related to Afghan refugees, rise in drug/poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, and the use of Afghan soil to launch terrorist attacks in Pakistan were also raised. Ambassador Wells was also briefed on the atrocities and human rights violations being committed by the Indian forces in the Indian Occupied Kashmir resulting in hundreds of casualties. Ambassador Wells appreciated the recent successful visit of the Prime Minister to Kabul and the progress being made on APAPPS and it was agreed to continue regular bilateral discussions at all levels to achieve the common objectives of peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.
On your second question, the issue did come under discussion and both sides agreed to resolve the issue amicably.
Regarding your third question, Ambassador Wells expressed condolences for the victim of this tragic accident. Both sides agreed that the matter will be resolved as per applicable laws.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit China to hold meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping as efforts at rapprochement gather pace following a testing year in ties between the two countries. As a strategic partner of China, how does Pakistan see this visit?
Second, a Russian delegation, led by Vice Governor of Saint Petersburg is due to visit Pakistan soon, as Moscow plans on purchasing banks, laying down railway lines and enhancing their interest in telecom sector in Pakistan. Do you confirm? (Shabbir Waghra – PTV World)
Pakistan and China friendship is all weather and time-tested. The strategic partnership between Pakistan and China is based on mutual trust and convergence of interests on bilateral, regional and international issues. Pakistan-China relations are not aimed against any country. We fully endorse Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s recent statement that ”China-Pakistan all weather strategic partnership is not only valuable treasure of the two countries, but also stands as an example for building new type international relations. These bilateral relations remain a priority in the foreign policy of both countries. We resolutely support each other’s core and major interests; strengthen collaboration on international and regional affairs to build China-Pakistan community of common destiny”.
Pakistan and China continue to engage regularly on all matters of mutual interest. Recently, at the sidelines of the CFM of the SCO, the Foreign Minister met the Chinese President, Vice President and State Councilor and Foreign Minister in Beijing.
On your second question, Vice Governor of Saint Petersburg, Mr. Sergej Movchav, accompanied by a business delegation is visiting Karachi from 24-26 April 2018. The visit is taking place in response to the visit of the Governor Sindh to Saint Petersburg in October 2017. During the visit, the Vice Governor of Saint Petersburg will meet the Governor Sindh, the Chief Minister Sindh and attend a business forum.
The two sides will also sign a roadmap for cooperation under the framework of agreement signed between the provincial government of Sindh and Saint Petersburg in October 2017. The delegation, which includes representatives of Russian universities, economic youth and strategic planning departments and Russian companies in pharmaceutical, industrial textile, energy, oil and gas sectors, will met their business counterparts and explore possibilities for enhancing cooperation in relevant fields. The visit of Vice Governor will contribute towards promoting trade, economic and education linkages between the two countries.
Please update us on the inquiry of Pakistani High Commission to Australia!
Second, it has been reported through diplomatic sources, that Ambassador Alice Wells has once again raised the issue of presence of Haqqani network in Pakistan’s tribal areas during her visit to Islamabad. Can you confirm? (Mateen Haider – Freelance Journalist)
Our High Commissioner in Australia is on her way back to Pakistan after completion of her tenure. I will update you further in due course.
I have already discussed details of Ambassador Alice Wells’ visit.
What is the status of Colonel Joseph with regard to putting his name under ECL, and whether it contradicts Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations? (Ali Hussain – Business Recorder)
Please contact Ministry of Interior for details.
In its latest report of Economic Survey to be released soon, Pakistan has admitted to the loss of USD 103 billion the country incurred in the war against terrorism. In return, however, we only received acrimony and bad faith from the international community. In your view, was it a wise decision to join this unwanted fight, wherein we lost hundreds of thousands of lives, and received a heavy blow to our economic fabric? (Syed Mohsin Raza – Asas Group of Publications)
Let me emphasize that Pakistan is not carrying out counter-terrorism activities at the behest or call of the international community. Instead, it is our own resolve and deep recognition at all levels, that the menace of terrorism and extremism must be rooted out of our soil. The effective implementation of National Action Plan, unanimously passed, and the gains of counter-terrorism operations by our valiant military are already evident, and have also earned respect and recognition from the international community. Due to this, peace and stability has returned to our territory. In short, it is in Pakistan’s own interest to wipe out terrorism and extremism from all quarters and walks of life so that patience and tolerance, the hallmarks of our region, may be reinstated soon.
Reportedy, a Joint Jirga of the tribal elders from Pakistan and Afghanistan was held in the Kurram Agency recently and both sides have agreed on ceasefire along the Pak-Afghan border. Can you confirm? Please share details!
Second, Taliban Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid is reported to have warned that Taliban will launch ”spring offensive” very soon. How do you see this statement in the context of peace and stability in Afghanistan? (Essa Naqvi – Dunya News)
On April 15th, our troops came under fire in Kurram Agency from Afghan border forces and tribesmen. On hearing the news of border clashes, people of Kurram Agency also rushed to the border to support our forces. To tackle the situation, in addition to a flag meeting, a Jirga comprising the tribal elders from the two sides was also convened. It helped defuse tensions and settle the situation amicably. However, matters related to border coordination, fencing and movement of people and goods are being dealt through official channels between the two countries.
On your second question, Pakistan has always maintained that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. The only viable way forward, in our view, is a politically negotiated settlement through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. During the Prime Minister’s visit to Kabul on 6 April 2018, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani had also agreed that there was no military solution to the ongoing conflict and that the political solution was the best way forward. Both the leaders had called on Taliban to respond positively to the peace offer made by Afghan government and join the peace process without further delay.
During the past seventeen years, the pursuit of a military option has only added to the sufferings and miseries of the Afghan people. We, therefore, urge all sides to focus on resolving the internal Afghan dispute through dialogue.
Is Pakistan taking a jibe at the Indian judicial system, since you had mentioned in the opening statement with regard to the Mecca blasts that this shows the travesty of Indian judicial system? Isn’t it equivalent to commenting in their internal matters?
Second, it is reported that Prime Ministers of Pakistan and India shook hands or had a brief meeting during the recently concluded CHOGM meet in London. Can you confirm? (Anas Malick – Republic TV)
There is no confirmation of any hand-shake or a formal meeting.
Regarding your first question, you are well aware that the acquitted in Mecca Masjid blast case, Col. Purohit and Swami Aseemanand, are both masterminds of the deadly Samjhauta Express terrorist attacks of 2007, in which more than 42 innocent Pakistani citizens lost their lives. They are associated with Saffron terrorism. It is ironic that the outcome of Samjhauta Express terrorist attack case is pending since 11 years, while the two accused had themselves confessed to their crime. Their acquittal in another case is a cause of major concern for Pakistan and the families of the victims of the Samjhauta terrorist attack, who are still awaiting justice.
Reportedly, Iranian Foreign Minister has warned that Iran is ready to “vigorously” resume nuclear enrichment if the United States scraps the 2015 nuclear deal. How do you see this development? (Tariq Mahmood – SAMAA TV)
JCPOA is a multilateral Agreement, which Pakistan supported as a matter of principle. According to IAEA, Iran has complied with the provisions of the Agreement. We hope that all the parties to the Agreement would uphold it.
India has recently concluded its 13-day Air Force exercises yesterday. How does Pakistan see these exercises as a sign of military preparedness by India? Are you worried? (Auon Sherazi – Such TV)
Alhamdulillah, Pakistan’s brave people and military are ready to ward off any aggression with resilience and equal force. In fact, it is the international community that should be concerned about the aggressive force posture, security doctrines and rapidly expanding nuclear and conventional capabilities in our neighborhood. We have always called upon the international community to refrain from discriminatory policies and exceptionalism, which is detrimental to strategic stability in the region and the global non-proliferation regime.
Some sections in UK, US and Europe had initiated anti-Pakistan propaganda some time ago. Is there any update on that? (Zahid Mishwani – ARY News)
We took up the matter of anti-Pakistan propaganda with all concerned countries effectively. These activities were funded by private groups.
My first question pertains to Syria. UK Government has been blamed for providing military equipment that has directly fueled the Syrian war. Recently, our Prime Minister was in UK and he also met the Queen of England. Was there any discussion on Syria?
Second, NSAs of Pakistan and Russia recently met in Moscow. Can you confirm and please share the details of the meeting? (Salman Hashmi – Forensic Eye)
Our position on Syria is very clear and remains unchanged. The CHOGM meeting in London had no connection with situation in Syria.
On your second question, National Security Advisor Lt. Gen (R) Naseer Khan Janjua is visiting Russia to attend the 9th International Security Conference of High Ranking Officials being held in Sochi on 24-26 April 2018. The National Security Advisor is accompanied by an inter-ministerial delegation. NSA would be meeting security officials of Russia as well as other participating countries. He will brief the participants on our counter terrorism efforts and situation of security and stability in the region.
You mentioned last time that India had submitted its reply in ICJ and the Foreign Office had received a copy of that reply. Could you please share details of this? Also, what would now be Pakistan’s modus operandi, and whether we will go fully prepared to ICJ this time? (Daily Ausaf)
The details are confidential and cannot be disclosed. Yes, there is an inter-ministerial mechanism, led by Attorney General of Pakistan, who is currently preparing a detailed counter-reply. Our response will be submitted to ICJ in July.
Financial Times has reported that Pakistan has shifted its reliance from the US to China for high-tech weapons, a move confirmed by the downward trend in Washington’s ties with Islamabad and America’s growing closeness with India. What are your comments on the report? (Faisal Raza Khan – 92 News)
Pakistan and China enjoy multifaceted strategic partnership. Both countries cooperate with each other in all spheres of bilateral relationship. We have robust political, strategic, economic and defence relationship.
Defence relations including procurements are very important facet of our bilateral relations; however, our relations with China are not at the cost of relations with any other country including the US.
Reportedly, in a significant development ahead of diplomatic engagement with South Korea and the United States, North Korea has stated that its quest for nuclear weapons is “complete” and it “no longer needs” to test its weapon capability. How does Pakistan see this development? (Mateen Haider – Freelance Journalist)
What is Pakistan’s viewpoint on this historic meet between North and South Korean Presidents after a long standoff since 1953? (Salman Hashmi – Forensic Eye)
Pakistan wishes peace and stability for the Korean peninsula. We hope that all stakeholders will be able to find a negotiated solution to the issue. Pakistan has consistently supported the objective of nuclear weapons free Korean peninsula in line with the mutual agreement between all the stakeholders.
Any step towards normalization of the situation in the Korean Peninsula would be for the benefit of the entire region and would contribute towards global peace. In this context we appreciate the efforts made by the countries of the region, especially China.
India and Pakistan are going to undertake military exercises along with China and other countries. What is your take on this? (Zahid Farooq Malik – Daily Metro)
What is your comment on the recent Aman-Mission 2018 military exercises going to take place soon? (Mona Khan – Geo News)
This is under the ambit of SCO. I will share more details with you later.
Last modified: November 22, 2019
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