Media Briefing, Press Releases|


[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]

Thanks for joining us for the Weekly Briefing.


I will begin my briefing today with an update on the situation on the evacuation of Pakistani nationals from Sudan.

This morning an aircraft carrying 149 Pakistani nationals evacuated from Sudan arrived in Karachi. Two other flights carrying around 200 Pakistanis are expected to arrive later today. One of them originated from Port Sudan and the other from Jeddah to bring back Pakistanis who had earlier been evacuated there.

The evacuation of Pakistanis from a difficult security situation in Sudan has been made possible as a result of a robust inter-agency process led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Our evacuation plan has been implemented in phases: In the first phase of the operation, over 800 Pakistanis were transported from Khartoum to Port Sudan, which was relatively safe. The second phase of the evacuation operation consisted of transporting Pakistani nationals from Port Sudan to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, or directly to Pakistan.

Today’s flights, operating from Port Sudan via Jeddah, mark the first part of this second phase. Additional flights are planned. Meanwhile, evacuation from Port Sudan to Jeddah continues including on ferries operated by the Saudi Government. Some passengers will also be transferred onboard a Chinese ship from Port Sudan to Jeddah.

We remain engaged with friendly countries in the region and are especially grateful to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for facilitating this process by providing transport by ferry from Port Sudan to Jeddah and also hosting Pakistani nationals until their repatriation to Pakistan.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to lead the inter-agency process in coordinating this operation. Ambassador Meer Bahrose Regi’s team in Khartoum and Port Sudan have worked tirelessly to facilitate this process and will continue to provide relief to Pakistanis who remain in Sudan until their evacuation to Pakistan. Our Consulate General Jeddah will continue to coordinate with Saudi authorities and extend assistance to Pakistanis during transit through Jeddah.

In Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), the human rights violations continue unabated.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Indian authorities prevented Kashmiris from attending the congregational Eid prayers at Srinagar’s historic Jamia Masjid. Earlier, the occupation authorities had imposed curbs and restrictions on the freedom of religion during the holy month of Ramzan as well. We urge the Indian authorities to bring an end to the restrictions imposed on Kashmiris that prevent them from freely practicing their religion.

Last week, around 40 individuals, including women, were arbitrarily arrested in the so-called cordon-and-search operations. The Indian authorities also attached the properties of two pro-freedom Kashmiris, Syed Shakeel Yousuf and Syed Shahid Yousuf who remain in arbitrary detention. The NGO office of another detainee and a prominent human rights defender, Khurram Pervez, was raided in Budgam.

We are gravely concerned over these developments. These acts reflect a consistent Indian strategy to suppress the fundamental freedoms in the occupied territory and terrorize the local population.

Pakistan will continue to raise its voice against these grave and systematic human rights violations in IIOJK. We will also continue to extend political, diplomatic and moral support to our Kashmiri brothers and sisters for the just and peaceful settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions.

Now an upcoming visit announcement:

Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif will undertake a visit to the United Kingdom to attend the coronation of His Majesty King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla on 6 May 2023.

In London, the Prime Minister will participate in an event for Commonwealth leaders on 5th May 2023. He is also expected to hold bilateral meetings with leaders participating in these celebrations.

Pakistan and the UK have a long history of relations strongly anchored in the dynamic Pakistani-British community. We see the British monarch and the royal family as friends of Pakistan and its people and look forward to further strengthening of ties between Pakistan and the United Kingdom.

I thank you.


Question: ​Is Pakistan providing ammunition to Ukraine?

Secondly, former RAW Chief has accused Pakistan of having a hand in the recent attack in Kashmir. What do you have to say about these two things? (Saher Baloch, BBC Urdu)

Supplementary Question:​Indian top diplomat Jaishankar has commented in Panama and again accused Pakistan of supporting alleged terrorism in India and that until and unless Pakistan changes policy there is no scope of any talks. How do you see comments of Indian Foreign Minister, when Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is set to visit India to take part in the SCO conference. (Jaleel Akhtar, VOA)

Answer:​ I will first respond to the questions raised by Ms. Baloch. Regarding the reports that you have mentioned about supply of ammunition to Ukraine, I would reiterate what we have said in the past from this podium. Pakistan maintains a policy of strict neutrality in the dispute between Ukraine and Russia and in that context, do not provide any ammunition to them. However, we must realize that in the past, Pakistan has had strong defence ties with Ukraine. We have also said and I reiterate again, that Pakistan’s defense exports are always accompanied with strict end user requirements and we hope those end user requirements would be fully respected by recipients.

Regarding the questions about statements of Indian officials – Pakistan is a victim of terrorism. We have suffered as a result of terrorism for the last several decades. In this context, we have presented to the international community undeniable evidence of Indian involvement in terrorist incidents inside Pakistani territory. We reject any insinuations that link Pakistan to terrorist incidents anywhere, including by Indian authorities, as these comments are unwarranted and have no basis.

Question:​ A question was previously asked by Miss Baloch about Pakistan’s involvement in terrorism in India. We arrested Indian navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav six to seven years ago. Please elaborate his status and why was he arrested? (Sohail Rana, Baadban TV, Post international)

Answer:​ Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav was the mastermind of espionage and terrorist activities inside Pakistan. His activities are a testimony of India’s irrefutable involvement in terrorism inside Pakistan.

Question:​ Earlier you said that the remarks of Indian External Affairs Minister are unwarranted. So, in this hostile environment, with which thinking and with which mind our Foreign Minister would be visiting India? There are reports also, which suggests that Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Jaishankar won’t even shake hands. So, what is the purpose of visiting India? Is there any proposal under consideration to drop this visit, keeping in view India’s highly irresponsible statements against Pakistan and a hostile attitude?​(Mateen Haider, GNN)

Answer: ​In our announcement of the visit of Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to Goa, we made it very clear that this visit is taking place in the context of a mandatory meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Pakistan is an active member of SCO, and we believe Pakistan’s voice must be heard in the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of SCO. I reiterate that this visit is taking place in the context of SCO and any other noise that accompanies the visit of the Foreign Minister must be ignored, because that’s just noise and has no bearing on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and its proceedings.

Question:​ How many Pakistanis are there in Sudan and how many people have arrived in the recent flight? Please comment.​ (Shakeel Kalyana, Daily Relation News)

Answer:​ I just shared with you that the flight that arrived this morning, carried 149 Pakistani nationals evacuated from Sudan. Two other flights carrying around 200 Pakistanis are expected to arrive later today. We have a large number of Pakistanis who are still in Sudan and some Pakistanis who are in transit through Jeddah. They were evacuated earlier from Port Sudan to Jeddah. Since the breakout of civil war in Sudan, we have evacuated about 847 Pakistanis from Khartoum to Port Sudan and of them some are already in Jeddah while the rest are in transit as we speak to Jeddah via ferries. So, the situation is fluid. We would be able to give you exact numbers as we have more details about the movement of these ferries.

Question:​ Yesterday there was SCO Defense Ministers’ Conference and Pakistan was supposed to attend that conference. Somebody has represented Pakistani Defense Minister. Can you share more details about that?

Secondly, the environment which is right now between India and Pakistan, particularly after the exchange of strong statements between the two sides? Do you see hope for the future that someday we would have good relations with each other? (Azaz Syed, Geo News)

Supplementary Question: ​I understand that the meeting is said to be taking place today and there are reports that Pakistani Defense minister will take part in the virtual mode. Could you confirm this please?​(Jaleel Akhtar, VOA)

Answer:​ The Defence Minister was represented in the meeting of defense ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization by Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Defence Affairs, Malik Ahmed Khan. He attended the meeting virtually.

The other question is about Pakistan – India relations. Pakistan has had a consistent position. We have said repeatedly that Pakistan wishes to have peace in the region. We would like to have peace and amity with all our neighbors, including India. Pakistan believes that following the events of 2019 and India’s belligerent posture in the region the situation for peace and dialogue have been compromised. We now expect India to take steps to create an environment which facilitates peace and dialogue including on outstanding disputes especially the core dispute of Jammu and Kashmir.

Question: ​Firstly, yesterday while addressing a conference at a think tank in Washington, the Pakistani envoy has demanded that US should restore Pakistan’s military financing and sales and he has also gone on to say that, “there is no confusion with US over Russian oil deal. Pakistan had consulted the US before going ahead with any such deals”. What is Pakistan’s official take on both the matters, the restoration of military aid and the sales and second with regards to the Russian oil consultations?

Secondly, are we expecting the visit of the Afghan Foreign Minister in the coming days?​(Anas Mallick, Capital TV)

Answer:​ Regarding your first question, I would like to basically reaffirm that our envoy in Washington speaks on behalf of the Government of Pakistan and I have nothing further to add to what he has already said.

On your second question – the plans are under consideration and once any decisions are final we will share that information with the press corps.

Question:​ An environment is being created before the visit of Foreign Minister to India. We all saw what happened to SAARC. Will SCO have a similar fate? Pakistan and India joined SCO on certain commitments. Who will be responsible if SCO also ends up like SAARC because of Pakistan and India? (Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)

Answer:​ First of all, I would like to say that Pakistan has always been committed to regional cooperation. We have consistently said that SAARC is an important forum for regional cooperation in South Asia. Similarly, SCO remains a vital organization for this region. Pakistan’s record is there for all to see. We have always worked towards regional cooperation and contributed to strengthening of SAARC. We will make every effort and play a prominent role in strengthening of SCO and the success of SCO. The participation of our Foreign Minister in SCO is a reiteration of that commitment of Pakistan to SCO.

Question:​ Azad Kashmir’s political leadership has protested time and again and their point is that Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari should not visit India until India takes back all its actions of 5th August. What are your comments on this?

Secondly, please inform about Foreign Minister’s engagements in India. Will he be meeting Kashmiri leaders there? (Aamir Saeed Abbasi, Dunya TV)

Answer: ​I have to reiterate what I have said earlier. This visit is in the context of SCO. This is not a bilateral visit of Foreign Minister of Pakistan to India. This visit is taking place because Pakistan is an active member of SCO and the Foreign Minister has to represent Pakistan in the SCO Foreign Ministers’ meeting. We have every confidence that our Kashmiri brothers and sisters would understand the reason why this visit is taking place. Any activities of Foreign Minister during his visit to Goa will be in the context of SCO.

Question: Attitude is not positive and responses are not positive. Why India is behaving like this? (Mateen Haider, GNN)

Answer: We cannot speak on someone else’s behavior and why they are behaving in such a manner. But such negative statements and negative developments cannot dissuade Pakistan from playing its part in an organization of which it is an equal member and to which Pakistan is strongly committed. We hope that all members of SCO would see the positive spirit with which Pakistan is participating in this meeting.

Question:​ Army chief is in China and I have two brief questions regarding this visit. Number one is that certain reports suggested that along with the military ties, some kind of economic cooperation between China and Pakistan is also being actively considered during this visit. Can you share some details?

Second question about this visit is that obviously shortly after this visit the Chinese Foreign Minister will also be reaching Goa to attend the SCO meeting. Whether during the meetings and the visit of army chief, certain issues pertaining to SCO like the questions that you just heard from my colleagues are also being taken up over there? (Shaukat Piracha, AAJ News)

Answer:​ As you know that the visit of Chief of Army Staff to China is ongoing. The visit concludes today. I do not have the readout of all the meetings held so far. So it would not be possible for me to comment on these meetings at this stage. I can only underline that this is an important visit and it will contribute to further strengthening of decades-old, robust defense ties between Pakistan and China.

Question:​ It has been reported in American media that a railway track is being constructed from Xinjiang to Gwadar which is going to be a huge and expensive initiative and with this project will have a big impact on the economic as well as the strategic condition. What are your comments on this?

Secondly, has Pakistan played any active role for reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia? (Abbas Jaffar, Daily District News)

Supplementary Question: As you know that relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia are getting better. Is there any possibility of investment by Saudi companies in Iran Pakistan Gas line Project? (Anwar Abbas, BOL News)

Answer: ​First, regarding CPEC I would like to reiterate what I have said in the past. We consider the China Pakistan Economic Corridor as an important initiative of economic cooperation between Pakistan and China. This is a project for the development and prosperity of Pakistan. There are several elements of this project that involves foreign investment and China has made a robust investments in CPEC projects. Pakistan’s investment needs are high and we invite all friends of Pakistan to come and invest in development projects and contribute to the development and prosperity of Pakistan.

Regarding the Iran – Saudi Arabia dialogue, we have welcomed the normalization of relations between two brotherly countries. Both countries are important partners and friends of Pakistan and we are very encouraged with the dialogue that is taking place between them. Now that the two countries have established a direct contact, we encourage them to continue to engage with each other for further normalization of bilateral relations and for the regional peace and stability.

On your third question, I would reiterate what I have said in the past. This is an important project on which Pakistan has been in consultation with all concerned parties and details about its current status are available with the Ministry of Petroleum which can give you an authoritative answer on the current status of discussions with all parties.

Question:​ Recently Pakistan and US defence talks were held in Pakistan and in Washington as well. Is Pakistan demanding the outstanding amount of CSF with respect to the question by Anas Mallick? If yes then please confirm that how much of total outstanding amount is being demanded? (Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)

Answer:​ I do not have any statistics to share with you, but I would like to underline that the defence talks which were held between the two sides in Washington were very constructive and both sides were able to bring to the table all issues of concern. Once we have concrete announcements, we will share with the media.

Question:​ A follow up question to my first question in response to which you said that the envoy in Washington speaks on behalf of the Pakistani government. But, does that reflect the change in policy? Because from this podium, I can quote you at least six examples from your predecessors who have said that Pakistan is not going to pursue this demand of reinstatement of military sales and equipment and I can quote you dates from this very podium and as recently we heard the Petroleum Minister saying that we will not be consulting the US in context of the Russian oil sales. So, is there a change in policy when the envoy says or demands that the sales should immediately be restored and that Pakistan did take U.S. on board with regards to buying Russian oil? Is that a change in policy? (Anas Mallick, Capital TV)

Answer:​ Well, I must reiterate that when our Ambassador speaks he is reflecting the current situation of talks and discussions between the two countries.

Question: Foreign Minister is visiting India to participate in SCO-CFM. Previously there were some reports that it is possible that by making excuse of some incidents India will request to cancel or delay the visit of Foreign Minister. What are your comments?

Secondly, Indian Foreign Minister gave some statements against Pakistan or tried to involve Pakistan in some terrorist activities. Keeping these developments in view is the visit of Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari still confirmed or there is any possibility to reconsider this visit? (Ghazala Noreen, SUNO TV)

Answer:​ Foreign Minister plans to travel to Goa on 4th May to attend the Meeting of SCO Council of Foreign Ministers. Our decision to participate reflects our engagement with SCO in a positive and constructive spirit. We expect other SCO member states to demonstrate a similarly constructive approach.

Thank you.

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