November 6, 2014| Media Briefing|
(2014-11-06)[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif will lead the Pakistan Delegation at the “Dialogue on Strengthening Connectivity Partnership” being held in Beijing on 8 November 2014.The Dialogue has been organized by China prior to the 22nd Session of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.
Beijing is the host of the 2014 APEC Summit. The Dialogue is a Chinese initiative to invite non-APEC countries to discuss the vital regional subject of connectivity. It is a welcome opportunity for countries like Pakistan to put across their point of view to a large audience at this important forum. An agenda item of the APEC Summit is the subject of strengthening connectivity and infrastructure development among the Asia Pacific countries.
Pakistan hopes that the leaders attending the Dialogue will demonstrate vision, share experiences and wisdom, and work together to advance the Asia-Pacific connectivity.
The Prime Minister’s participation in the Dialogue underlines the importance Pakistan attaches to our bilateral relations with China and to the subject of connectivity in terms of infrastructure development and promotion of trade and investment.
The Prime Minister will have bilateral meetings with the Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. A number of Agreements/MoUs will also be signed during the visit.
I also want to update you on the evacuation of Pakistanis in Libya. We have been informing you about the evacuation of Pakistanis who were stranded in Libya and wanted to be evacuated. In the first phase, our mission helped and facilitated the evacuation of those Pakistanis who were able to travel on their own. Most of them travelled through Algeria and some through Tunisia. Subsequently, we were left with a sizeable number of those Pakistanis who could not afford to travel of their own. The Government allocated a sizeable amount for special chartered flights to evacuate to these people. The final 13th flight arrived here day before yesterday and with that the operation has terminated. In total more than 3,300 people have been evacuated by special flights of Air Libya and some PIA flights. There was a gap in between because of the Hajj flights. We, therefore, relied mostly on Libyan Air flights.
The floor is now open for Questions
The Indian Defence Minister Arun Jaitley has stated that either talk to separatists or India. What is your reaction on this?
Secondly, whether the agreements with China that you mentioned in opening statement are same which were supposed to be signed during the postponed visit of Chinese President. (Shaukat paracha- AAJ TV)
Yes, some of the Agreements/MoUs would be from that cluster, basically the purpose is that projects particularly energy projects which are very urgent- which we need to complete the earliest. If the underlying question is whether this is a substitute visit for the Chinese President to Pakistan, then the answer is no. That visit is very much on track. We do not have dates but discussions between the two countries are continuing.
As for your first question, as we have been stating the dialogue between Pakistan and India is not a favor that one country does to the other. Dialogue between Pakistan and India is a necessity for peace in this region so that South Asia also focuses on economic development and welfare of the people. We do not accept any conditionality. Kashmiris are not Indian separatists they are people in occupied territory struggling for their right to self-determination that has been recognized by the United Nations resolutions. Pakistan is a party to the dispute. So this contention is not acceptable.
The Bangladesh government has awarded sentences to Jamaat-e-Islami leaders. What is your position on that? (Khwaja Nayyer Iqbal, Kashmir Post)
This question was raised at the last briefing as well as earlier this year. Our response is the same. Bangladesh is a fellow Muslim country. Pakistan and Bangladesh history goes back to pre-independence. The people of Bangladesh and people of Pakistan struggled together for independence. As a fellow Muslim country and a fellow SAARC country, we wish the best for the people of Bangladesh. We have repeatedly said that while we do not comment on the internal developments in other countries, at the same time we are monitoring the reports and we have noted the comments by the other countries and by human rights organizations about the these trials.
On the one hand India is creating serious situation on the line of control and on the other hand it has requested for a land route for exporting wheat to Afghanistan, your comments please. (Shamim, Daily Khabrian)
As you know that Afghanistan is a land locked country and we have provided Afghanistan access. We do not stop trade. Karachi port is available to India. I am not aware of this specific wheat case. I will check and get back to you.
The Afghan President is expected to visit Pakistan soon. Any dates finalized for this visit because Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff is also visiting Kabul and meeting with military and civil leadership? (Mateen Haider, Daily Dawn)
We make formal announcement before the visit. Yes I can confirm that the visit will take place but I cannot give you the exact dates right now. We will make the formal announcement at appropriate time. As for Army Chief’s visit to Afghanistan you will have a read out by ISPR by this evening.
You talked about some agreements with China. Can you share details of those agreements? (Kamran Haider, Bloomberg)
I cannot give you the exact titles. They may mostly relate to energy sector.
What is the basic agenda of the Chief of Army Staff’s visit to Afghanistan and how critical it is in the context of his visit to the US and Afghan President’s visit to Pakistan? (Nosheen Yousuf, Geo TV)
This is a part of our continuous engagement with Afghanistan at various levels. The Adviser visited Afghanistan and met with Afghan leadership. During that visit, a vision for Pakistan-Afghanistan relations was discussed. It had security contours as well, economic cooperation, people to people contact and enhancing political engagements as well as engagements between security officials of the two countries. We also shared with you that Pakistan had presented a proposal to Afghanistan on how to better manage the international border between the two countries. Afghanistan has indicated its readiness to pursue negotiations on that. Naturally, all these aspects would be covered and better coordination between the security forces would be discussed.
What exactly happened in the meeting yesterday with the American Ambassador? Which operative parts of the Pentagon report published couple of days back does the Foreign Office find problematic? And the Foreign Office’s conventional concerns about the lack of cooperation from the Afghanistan security forces, hideouts and safe heavens on the other side of the border and especially the parts about India, at the time when Army Chief is heading to Washington. Does it concern the Foreign Office? (Wajahat khan, NBC News)
Well, our press release yesterday specifically highlighted the portions that we found were utterly baseless, unsubstantiated and which we cannot accept. They related to questions about links with non-state actors and also in a way questioning Pakistan’s commitment at a time when we are amidst a comprehensive law enforcement operation against terrorists in Zarb-e Azb and we have repeatedly said that we are not making any distinction among terrorists in this operation.
At the time of when operation Zarb-e-Azb began, the Afghans and the Americans were asked to take corresponding action on other side of the border, who may flee. You would have seen the briefings by DG ISPR, confirming the unfortunate fact that we did not receive cooperation which we expected and which would have been in the interest of making safe not only Pakistan but also Afghanistan. In this background, these baseless allegations in report to US Congress are unacceptable to Pakistan.
We do not object to any countries presence in Afghanistan per se, we have very clearly articulated our policy that we want all countries close and far to contribute to reconstruction, economic development and stability in Afghanistan. We pursue a policy of non interference and strict neutrality in Afghanistan. We believe it is for Afghans to decide how they want to proceed on reconciliation and other matters. But we have also said that Afghan soil should not be used against Pakistan.
Has the Prime Minister of India conveyed his condolence on Wagha border incident through official channel or made a phone call on that? (Essa Naqvi, Duniya)
Ambassador of the United States to Pakistan Mr. Richard Olson has also condemned the Wagha incident and offered assistance for the investigation. Is Pakistan considering the offer by the United States? (Mateen Haider, Dawn News)
We have seen a statement attributed to the Indian Prime Minister, condemning the terrorist attack. Our authorities are investigating this incident and are in a better position to decide whether we need outside assistance or not.
What is Pakistan’s stand on recent attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque in Palestine? (Abbas, Russian TV)
We condemn this violence against peaceful people who were praying and we condemn desecration of the holy place.
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