Media Briefing|

(2017-01-26) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.]

Opening Remarks

Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim! Assalaam Alaikum!

It is with deep sense of grief and sorrow I mention the horrific bomb blast in Parachinar last Sunday in which 26 of our innocent Pakistani brethren lost their lives. We offer our heartfelt condolences and sympathize with the bereaved families. We pray for the departed souls.

As you may be aware, 25th Jan reminded us all the massacre of more than 25 innocent defenceless Kashmiris in Hundwara, IOK in 1990. The horrific massacre was committed by the Indian occupation forces just three days after they massacred more than 50 Kashmiris in Gawkadal on 21st Jan. 1990. On both the occasions the Indian forces had unleashed terror on peaceful protesters. The perpetrators of the two massacres that I mentioned are yet to face justice while victims’ families have been suffering from the unforgettable and unbearable pain for 27 years. The two massacres were among one and a half dozen massacres that Indian occupation forces have committed since 1990. Kashmiris hope that International Community will make India pay for their crimes against humanity. Currently, the situation in IOK is getting worse. The killing, arbitrary arrests and fake encounters of Kashmiris continue and their fundamental rights are being denied constantly. International Community must act to hold India accountable for their crimes against humanity.

As I had mentioned last week, at the end of an extensive 3-hour long debate on Kashmir in the House of Commons, UK, the House resolved that the “it notes the escalation in violence and breaches of international human rights on the Indian side of the Line of Control in Kashmir; calls on the Government to raise the matter at the United Nations; and further calls on the Government to encourage Pakistan and India to commence peace negotiations to establish a long-term solution on the future governance of Kashmir based on the right of the Kashmiri people to determine their own future in accordance with the provisions of UN Security Council resolutions.”

The Civil Society members are holding many more events across Pakistan, Europe and North America on the human rights violations in IOK and Kashmir dispute.

I also wish to inform you with satisfaction that as a result of our extensive diplomatic efforts, Dr. Sania Nishter, our candidate for the post of DG WHO, is now among the three finalists.

Lastly, I am reminded of the painful episode of those Pakistani young men who were lured by unscrupulous agents and faced untold hardship when they were kidnapped for ransom. We and their families owe our gratitude to the Turkish authorities whose timely action helped rescue them and safely reunite them with their loved ones in Pakistan. I am sure that this episode has raised general awareness among our youngsters and their families. It is absolutely essential for our youngsters to exercise extreme caution and avoid getting trapped by such elements who defraud them and place their lives in danger in foreign lands.

Now the Floor is open for Questions


Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai after returning from India has urged President Trump to take action against safe havens of terrorists in Pakistan. He declared President Obama’s Afghan policy a failure. Your comments please!

Secondly, please clarify about the news report in Daily Times regarding Prime Minister’s engagements at Davos for the World Economic Forum.

Lastly, according to media reports, total number of Pakistanis arrested on terror charges in Saudi Arabia increased to 69. Are you aware of this matter? (Essa Naqvi – Dunya News)


Pakistan’s track record in the fighting terrorism stands above all other countries. Our operations against terrorism including Zarb-e-Azb have led to elimination of terrorists groups and stabilization of Pak-Afghan border area. We hope that Afghan forces take care of terrorist groups having refuge in various provinces of Afghanistan. Afghan leaders should focus their attention on enhancing cooperation with Pakistan in counter-terrorism.

All recent independent assessments on the situation in Afghanistan suggest that the factors responsible for the deteriorating security situation are internal to Afghanistan. In my previous media briefings, I have repeatedly given reference to many reports in this regard. You may like to refer to UN’s Study of 2014, General Nicholson’s assessment of Afghanistan, published on 05 December 2016 and US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, SIGAR’s reports that have amply identified that risks and obstacles in the way to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan remain internal. Therefore, mere rhetoric of blaming others to hide their failures in Afghanistan will not solve the problem.

On your second question, the Daily Times published a baseless and fabricated story, which was rebutted. Please refer to Ministry’s website regarding Pakistani Government’s response on the news report by Daily Times, where we have also posted WEF’s official reply to the news item.

[Rebuttal (2017-01-26)

With reference to news report published in Daily Times regarding Prime Minister’s engagements at Davos and the claim that PM was barred from speaking at Davos. Government spokesperson has strongly rebutted the news and has said that Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was officially invited by Executive Chairman Professor Klaus Schwab to the World Economic Forum (WEF) conference in Davos and the PM held meeting with the Executive Chairman WEF where Pakistan’s economic growth and investment potential were acknowledged.

The Prime Minister held several meetings at WEF with world leaders and top executives from leading international companies including CEO of VimpelCom, Procter & Gamble, Mr. Jack Ma, President of Swiss Confederation, Prime Ministers of Sweden, Norway and Sri Lanka for publicizing Pakistan’s investment friendly environment and the tremendous investment opportunities Pakistan offers. PM also held meetings with Bill Gates on polio eradication from Pakistan and a group of top executives from leading Telecom companies.

PM also held meeting with UN Secretary General and effectively used the World Economic Forum to high light the Kashmir cause.

Spokesperson stated that PM held highly productive meetings at Davos and the news about barring the PM from any forum is not correct and is based on fictitious information.

WEF’s writes to Daily Times

Taking note of the Daily Times’ baseless news item, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has also sent a letter to the daily The Times, which is as follows:

“The Forum is happy to confirm that Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, the Hon. Prime Minister of Pakistan, participated in the Annual Meeting 2017 in Davos-Klosters from 17-20 January.

The Prime Minister was invited by the World Economic Forum and his agenda was prepared in consultation with his office, keeping in mind their objectives and key priorities. This schedule included several meetings with key leaders from business and politics.

As the sixth largest country in the world, Pakistan is an important global player and the World Economic Forum looks forward to engaging the country in its system initiatives and projects through public-private cooperation.”] Following is the link.


As to your third query, we are in constant contact with the Saudi authorities in this matter. Pakistan extends all cooperation in the context of counter-terrorism to other countries. We condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.


Please tell us the exact number of Pakistanis currently arrested in Saudi Arabia?

My second question pertains to Pakistani High Commissioner in Bangladesh, who was summoned in the Bangladeshi Foreign Office yesterday regarding security concerns to Bangladeshi High Commission offices in Pakistan. (Obaid Malik – BBC Urdu Islamabad)

Supplementary Question

You have informed us that a number of Pakistanis have been arrested in Saudi Arabia. Can you please elaborate on the charges under which they have been arrested in Saudi Arabia? (Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)


With regards to your question on Pakistanis currently arrested in Saudi jails, I would like to refer you to the figures given by the Ministry to the Parliament, recently. Nevertheless, I will check.

To your second question, let me give you some details of the incident. On 24th January Bangladeshi Dy. High Commission in Karachi reported that a cracker had been thrown in their compound and that the Chancery officials were harassed by it. Local police, along with the bomb disposal squad, immediately arrived at the venue after the incident was reported. It came to be known that the object was a simple cracker, the source of which entering the premises was not clear, that extinguished of 10-15 seconds of its eruption. On our part, we have fulfilled all our responsibilities, including that of beefing up the security at the Chancery as well as the residence of Dy. High Commissioner.

On Mr. Fida Hussain’s question, as I said before we are in touch with Saudi Authorities. For specific details, you may contact Ministry of Interior.


Can you share further development in the case of Kulbushan Yadav?

Secondly, an Indian court has reportedly awarded death sentences to four Muslims, including two Pakistanis and one Kashmiri, in fake cases and without any tangible proof. The arrested were not even allowed to hire any lawyer. What efforts Pakistan has made, including seeking consular access, to safeguard the interests of its nationals, and that of the Kashmiri youth?

Can you please tell us regarding the fate of two Pakistani children currently held in India in connection with the Uri attack? (Tariq Mahmood – SAMAA TV)


As to your first question, the investigations are ongoing. Kulbushan has given considerable information during the investigations. Dossiers have been given to UN Secretary General, containing details of Indian involvement in subversive activities and terrorism in Pakistan. We are also in touch with the Indian government in connection with the information provided by Mr. Yadav.

Regarding your second query, our High Commission remains in contact with Indian authorities and Pakistani prisoners, and provides them with all possible legal assistance. In case you require specific details, I can revert after getting details.

On the question of two boys taken into custody in the aftermath of Uri attack, many versions came to the fore from the Indian side. One version stated that they were aged 19 and 21, and were charged for assisting perpetrators. Another version, again from the Indian side, said that they were under age, between 13 and 14 years old and that they were innocent.

As soon as we came to know of their arrest, Pakistani High Commission established contact with the Indian government. First consular access was provided to them on 29 November 2016. On their first meeting with the children, our consular officer facilitated a phone call of these children to their families. Thereafter, all formalities regarding ascertaining of their national status, were undertaken for which M/o Interior is involved. Our High Commission is in touch in connection with the concerned authorities for their repatriation.


My question pertains to the recent meeting between Adviser Sartaj Aziz and Britain’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Mr. Dominic Jermey. UK is desirous to play the role of facilitator between Pakistan and Afghanistan as is reflected in the meeting. The Adviser stated that Pakistan was ready to engage with Afghanistan. Did the Ambassador make any demands from Pakistan in this context? (Naveed Akbar – Dunya Newspaper)


I don’t have exact details of the meeting, as I was not present there. However, we have issued a press release containing details. However, let me reiterate our position on Afghanistan. Pakistan is committed to peace and stability in Afghanistan. We have played a role of the facilitator, whenever requested. We also believe that blame game serves no purpose and bear no constructive results. The only way forward for the two countries is to work together and cooperate for the mutual benefit of both. We have seen that in the past fifteen years military solution has not resolved the Afghan problem. We, therefore, urge all parties to engage in negotiations. Pakistan supports an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process.

Many countries are undertaking efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan. Heart of Asia Conference and other initiatives are a manifestation. In all such efforts Pakistan has sincerely contributed and will play its role. We believe that peace and stability in Afghanistan is crucial for regional peace and is also in the interest of Pakistan. We remain committed to peace in Afghanistan and willing to extend cooperation.


In Parachinar terrorist attack involvement of RAW-NDS nexus is suspected. Prior to this attack, Police had arrested RAW agents in Gilgit-Baltistan, involved in sabotaging CPEC and generating ill feelings about Pakistan in the public. Do you see these two incidents related in any way? (Khawaja Nayaar Iqbal – Kashmir Post)


We are aware of the reports you mentioned that a number of terrorists were apprehended in Gilgit-Baltistan, who were identified as agents of Indian Intelligence Agency, RAW. They were arrested on the charge of undertaking subversive activities to sabotage CPEC. The law enforcing agencies of Pakistan are investigating the unfortunate and condemnable Parachinar terrorist attack. You may seek details from the Ministry of the Interior.


According to media reports, Afghan Taliban has urged new US President Donald Trump to review US policies towards Afghanistan. Your comments please! (Rabia Pir – VOA/DAWAA Radio)


Pakistan continues to emphasize that a politically negotiated settlement is the most viable solution for Afghanistan. Use of force for past 15 years has not brought peace to Afghanistan. Therefore, the focus should be on pursuing peace through Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process. Pakistan has been facilitating the peace process in Afghanistan in the past. We will continue to make our contribution towards this process in every possible manner, when requested. We would urge the Afghan Government to refrain from blame game, and I am saying this again at the cost of repetition, as blame game serves no purpose. The two countries need to cooperate with each other to counter the menace of terrorism.


UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has commended Pakistan for hosting millions of Afghan refugees for decades. Can you please share the efforts undertaken by Pakistan for early repatriation of Afghan refugees in collaboration with UNHCR and what is its deadline? (Amjad Ali – PTV News)


The Prime Minister has instructed that the Afghan refugees will not be repatriated forcibly and they should return to their homeland voluntarily and honorably. The Government of Pakistan has evolved a plan of action for smooth repatriation of refugees. The stay of registered refugees has been extended till 31 December 2017.


Can you please share the agenda of upcoming ECO Summit in Islamabad? (Kausar Lodhi – Prime News)


I have replied to a similar question in my last press briefing also. As soon as I have more information available regarding the ECO Summit, I will share it.


Recently, Pakistan has asked the UK government to reconsider its decision to give a clean chit to Altaf Hussain in money laundering cases. What is the Foreign Office’s take on this? (Tariq Sial – Daily Times)


The Ministry of Interior is dealing with this matter. You may approach them for details.


After assuming the charge in White House, President Trump has imposed restrictions on the entry of the nationals of some Muslim countries citing Islamic terrorism as reason. He has also passed an order for the construction of wall alongside the Mexican border. What are Pakistan’s expectations and apprehensions? How do you predict the issue of safe havens, Shakeel Afridi, Pakistan’s stance on NSG and other matters will play their role in our future ties with the new administration? Recently, he also had very good conversation with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Do you think this is a way forward for the normalization of relations between Pakistan and India? (Abid Khursheed – ATV)


Your question has numerous aspects. You have asked several questions in one statement. However, I believe that two aspects of your question, Mr. Trump’s statement on radical Islamic terrorism, and his concern for tensions between India and Pakistan warrant comments.

First, in the context of assigning terrorism to one religion, we have always maintained that terrorists have no religion, faith, cast, creed, color or ethnicity. Irrespective of who we are, we all need to work together as one people to rid ourselves of the scourge of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. I have said earlier that terrorism is a global phenomenon and requires global cooperation to fight this menace.

Regarding the second part of your question, President Trump did speak with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif initially, and you are aware of its details. The crux of the conversation was that he has considerable goodwill towards Pakistan. We are looking forward to working with the new administration. We have a long-standing relationship with the United States. We have a comprehensive dialogue mechanism in place, called Strategic Dialogue, at the Ministerial level, which held its meeting last year, and has been regularly holding meetings since 2013. This dialogue covers diverse areas including economic cooperation, security, defense cooperation, strategic, education, scientific research, etc. We hope that in the coming years, we would have further strengthening of this relationship.

As regard Pakistan and India, the core issue between the two countries is Kashmir. This is also the main matter of concern to the world community. I have seen a number of statements/ articles in the international media reflecting on the situation in Kashmir, Indian atrocities in IoK and apprehension from regional security perspective. Indian belligerence and its hostile posture towards Pakistan is endangering peace in the region. This is how the international community has perceived the relationship between Pakistan and India. We have always welcomed the offers to play the role of a mediator to resolve the issue of Kashmir and other contentious issues between Pakistan and India.


How many terrorists were arrested in Gilgit-Baltistan and do you confirm whether they were arrested or you just referred to the media reports. (Amjad Ali – PTV)


It was the media reports I was referring to. The real issue is not about the number of terrorists arrested, but that of Indian involvement in terrorist activities and terror financing in Pakistan. A numbers of terrorists have been arrested on the basis of Kulbhushan Yadav’s confession. On the basis of his revelations, we have also submitted a dossier to the United Nations Secretary General, detailing Indian involvement in perpetrating and financing terrorism inside Pakistan. This is what the real issue is.

I can’t remember the exact number of terrorists arrested as I have seen the media reports a few days back. I will reiterate that the real issue at hand is Indian involvement in terrorism in Pakistan and internal affairs. I will refer to the activities of the Indian High Commission officials that we had shared, recently, in this regard.


UAE and India have recently signed agreements worth $75 billion and 14 MoUs between the two countries. Should we take it as a failure of Pakistani diplomatic channels? (Muhammad Waseem – Khyber News)


We do not comment on the bilateral relations of two sovereign countries. Pakistan’s partnership with various countries across the world remains robust and longstanding. We have traditionally very cordial and cooperative relations with UAE and other Muslim countries. It may not be appropriate to view relationships between sovereign countries at the expense of their relations with other countries.

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