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.


Thank you for joining us for the Weekly Briefing.

Last week was an active week in Pakistan’s diplomacy. Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari travelled to Goa, India to attend the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) Meeting. Also last week, Pakistan hosted the Foreign Minister of China and the Acting Foreign Minister of Afghanistan.

I will begin with the Foreign Minister’s participation in the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) Meeting. The agenda of the Meeting included discussion on issues of regional security, economic cooperation and connectivity as well as SCO’s stance on global economic and political developments.

In his statement at the Meeting, the Foreign Minister highlighted Pakistan’s vision for peace and prosperity in the SCO region. He proposed building of efficient transport corridors and reliable supply chains in the region and stressed that CPEC could be a force multiplier for regional connectivity.

Foreign Minister called for comprehensive and collective approach for eradicating the menace of terrorism and advised against weaponizing terrorism for diplomatic point scoring. He also condemned the willful provocations and incitement to hate and called for collective fight against fascism and historical revisionism that is leading to violent nationalism.

Recalling SCO’s commitment to uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, the Foreign Minister emphasized that unilateral and illegal measures in violation of international law and the UN Security Council Resolutions also ran counter to the SCO objectives.

On the sidelines of CFM, the Foreign Minister held important meetings with his counterparts from China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan as well as Secretary General of SCO.

The CFM afforded Pakistan an important opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to SCO and present its vision for addressing major regional and global issues. Since becoming a member in 2017, Pakistan has actively and constructively participated in all SCO activities and mechanisms and worked for enhanced cooperation in pursuance of SCO’s multisectoral agenda.

China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang paid an official visit to Pakistan on 5 and 6 May 2023. Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and State Councillor Qin Gang co-chaired the 4th round of the Pakistan-China Strategic Dialogue, covering a wide agenda of bilateral issues.

The two sides reaffirmed the All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership; agreed to develop a roadmap for multidimensional cooperation; and discussed the evolving regional and global landscape. They reaffirmed enduring support on issues concerning each other’s core national interests. Welcoming the completion of a decade of CPEC in 2023, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to high-quality development of CPEC.

Acting Afghan Foreign Minister, Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi undertook a visit to Pakistan from 5th to 8th May 2023. The delegation included the Acting Afghan Minister for Commerce and Industry, Haji Nooruddin Azizi, and senior officials from the Afghan Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Transport and Trade. The two sides discussed at length bilateral cooperation in the political, economic, trade, connectivity, education, peace and security including counter terrorism domains.

The 5th China-Pakistan-Afghanistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue was held on 6th May 2023. The three sides agreed to advance political engagement, counterterrorism cooperation and enhance trade, investment and connectivity under the trilateral framework.

The three sides underscored the need to tackle security challenges posing a serious threat to regional peace and stability; not to allow their territories to be used by any individual, group or party including the TTP and the ETIM, to conduct terrorist activities and actions.

The Ethiopian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Misganu Arega, is currently in Islamabad on an official visit. The delegation comprises Ministers of State for Science & Innovation and Trade & Regional Integration, and members of the business community.

On Tuesday, the Ethiopian Foreign Minister called on Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. His programme today includes meetings with Minister of State Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar and inauguration of the Embassy of Ethiopia. The two sides will undertake discussions on a range of bilateral issues of mutual interest, with a focus on trade and cooperation in science and technology. The visit also marks the arrival of inaugural direct flight between Karachi and Addis Ababa operated by Ethiopian Airlines.

Coming to the situation in IIOJK, the oppression in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) continues unabated.

Since our last press briefing, the occupation forces killed at least six Kashmiri youth in Rajouri, Kupwara and Baramulla districts. They continued their cordon and search operations in Rajouri and Poonch districts, harassing the local population. Six shops of a pro-freedom activist, Fayaz Ahmed Magray, were attached by India’s National Investigation Agency in Pulwama district. Two Kashmiri youth, Shahid Ahmad Lone and Waseem Ahmad Ganai, were arrested in Shopian district. Reportedly, 193 more Kashmiris have been identified, whose properties will be demolished as a punishment for their support to the freedom movement.

These human rights violations must end.

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.

This concludes my opening remarks.

Question:​ In an event in Islamabad, Afghan Foreign Minister delivered a statement in which he said that we came on a visit to Pakistan at an official invitation of Pakistan side and also while responding to a question regarding recognition of Afghanistan he said that if Pakistan has invited us then obviously our recognition is being considered. Can you please share that in what capacity he was received here in Foreign Office? (Syed Faisal Ali, Din News)

Answer:​ Foreign Minister of Pakistan extended an invitation to the Foreign Minister of China for the bilateral strategic dialogue as well as for holding the trilateral meeting with the Afghan side. From the Afghan side he extended an invitation to the Acting Foreign Minister of Afghanistan for trilateral dialogue. He is part of the Interim Afghan Government and participated in that capacity.

Question:​ After participating in the SCO-CFM in India, Goa, as Foreign Minister departed for Pakistan with his delegation, Indian Foreign Minister held a press conference in which Pakistan’s Foreign Minister was labeled as Spokesman of terrorists and many similar allegations were also imposed on Pakistan which is against the basic norms of hosting. What are your comments on that?

Also, the visit of Foreign Minister to India was criticized by some circles of the opposition and they called it a mistake. What would you like to say about that? (Rashida Sial, Abb Takk TV)

Answer:​ We believe that Pakistan made the right decision to participate in the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. It shows our commitment to SCO. You may have seen the statement that Foreign Minister made. He highlighted Pakistan’s viewpoint on all aspects of our concern about security, about economic development and about connectivity in this region. He also underlined, that terrorism should not be weaponized as a tool of foreign policy. You may have also seen the interactions that Foreign Minister had with the Indian media and the Pakistani media.

Our position was consistent with our long-standing position on the various issues including on weaponization of terrorism and on the situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. It should not have come as a surprise to anyone. Any statements that have been made in that respect criticizing our Foreign Minister’s statements are just unfortunate and baseless.

Question: Regarding question about the talks with TTP, Mr. Mutaqqi threw the ball in Pakistan’s court that there is nothing being done by Pakistan and we have already played our role, please comment on this. (Syed Faisal Ali, Din News)

Question: The interim Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, once again stated that Pakistan should sit and reconcile with the TTP. Don’t you think it’s involvement in the internal matters of Pakistan and they have nothing to do with the internal matters of Pakistan? (Aamir Saeed Abbasi, Dunya TV)

Question:​ Addressing an event at the Institute of Strategic Studies, the Afghan interim Foreign Minister said that Pakistan should hold talks with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). It was repeatedly asked from him that Afghanistan is facilitating TTP which is involved in different terrorist incidents inside Pakistan. His answer was that Pakistan should hold talks with TTP. Did he also mention the same during talks with Pakistan? What are your comments? (Mazhar Iqbal, PNN News)

Answer:​ Pakistan has been very consistent. Foreign Minister is on record in saying that there will be no talks with terrorist organizations that do not respect our laws and constitution. This was very clearly also enunciated in the trilateral statement that came out during the during the visit of the Foreign Minister of China and the interim Afghan Foreign Minister. In the trilateral statement, the three sides underscored the need to tackle security challenges, posing serious threat to regional peace and stability. They agreed not to allow their territories to be used by any individual group or party, including the TTP and the ETIM to conduct terrorist activities and actions. This was a joint statement that was a result of consensus between the three delegations.

Question:​ On the arrest of Imran Khan, several foreign ministers, missions and countries have raised serious questions. They also said that the internal matters of Pakistan should be resolved through consensus and political leaders should talk rather than these riots and current situation of law and order. What do you think, are they right to comment on this?​(Aamir Saeed Abbasi, Dunya TV)

Supplementary Question: ​I would like to draw your attention to the statement by Deputy Spokesperson of the United Nations Secretary General. The statement attributed to the Secretary General that Secretary General takes note of the ongoing protests that erupted following the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday in Islamabad, and the Secretary General calls for all parties to refrain from violence. What are your comments? (Jaleel Akhtar, VOA)

Answer: We have noted the statements that have come on the current situation in Pakistan and we remind them all that Pakistan has the full ability to deal with all domestic challenges in accordance with our laws and constitution.

Question:​ When Chinese Foreign Minister visited Pakistan, he suggested Pakistan in the joint press conference, to work on political stability and that China is ready to help on this. People think that the in his statement Chinese Foreign Minister snubbed Pakistan in a diplomatic way. Was any note this taken of this statement by the Chinese Foreign Minister and has it been conveyed that these kinds of talks are not suitable for the live press conferences? (Aijaz Ahmed, GNN)

Answer:​ Actually, I have the transcript of his statement and not what media reported. I would like to say that Pakistan and China are close friends. The Chinese Foreign Minister shared his best wishes for stability and consensus in Pakistan so that it can focus on growing the economy improving peoples lives and bringing the country into a fast track towards development.

Question:​ We live in the global village and whatever happens around the world Pakistan also makes comments or sometimes or many a times we also show concern. So, when world is talking about us as you said without any interference, should we take it a positive concern that the global community do care about us or should we seriously take it like the tweet that was issued and then deleted by a big European country’s ambassador here. So, what comes to your mind, positive or negative, when the world is speaking about us? ​(Shaukat Piracha, AAJ News)

Answer:​ I would not like to comment on Pakistan’s domestic affairs here. On global reaction. I reiterate that Pakistan has the full ability to deal with all domestic challenges in accordance with our laws and constitution.

Question: ​Firstly, with regards to reports of Pakistan buying oil from Russia in Yuan. Can you please comment on that, confirm, deny or rebut such reports if that holds any truth. Because, yesterday the petroleum minister was on the record saying something along the same line so I want the Foreign Office to comment on it.

Secondly, at the SCO last week and as I understand this was a continuation of the Tashkent meeting, a proposal was floated last year by Russia to trade in common currencies of the region and it was to be tabled again for discussions and then onwards for ratification for the Delhi Summit. Can you shed some more light on that? (Anas Mallick, Capital TV)

Answer:​ Regarding your second question, preparations for the Heads of State meeting are ongoing and the National coordinators of SCO. Member countries are discussing all proposals.

Regarding your first question, I would not like to second guess the Minister for Petroleum. It appears you already know what he said. I have nothing further to add.

Question:​ Our Foreign Minister impressively led Pakistan in Goa, but it is being said that the behavior of the Indian Foreign Minister was against the diplomatic norms and our Foreign Minister did not get the due regard which was expected. What are your comments on this?

Secondly, he said that Pakistan’s Foreign Minister is the Spokesperson of the terrorist and next day, a Sikh was murdered in Lahore and Indian media allegedly claimed that he was a member of Khalistan Commando Force. Do you think that this was this an activity of RAW to malign Pakistan? Can you share some details regarding the Sikh who was murdered? (Abbas Jaffer, Daily District News)

Answer:​ Regarding your last question, we do not have any comments to offer. This is a security related question. For questions regarding any killings and terrorist incidents, the Ministry of Interior is the right forum to respond to that question.

Regarding the first question that you asked, Pakistan articulated its position very clearly in the statement by the Foreign Minister at the SCO Foreign Ministers’ meeting, and in the various interviews that you may have all seen. Our position is consistent and we participated in the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers in a positive and constructive spirit. We are surprised at the tone and tenor of the remarks that have come from the Indian side. It reflects their frustration when confronted with the truth. We expect all SCO member states to demonstrate positive approach as demonstrated by Pakistan.

Question:​ Afghan acting Foreign Minister came to Pakistan last week, and we had a lot of table talks, but for last two days many Afghanis are involved in protest and sloganeering against Pakistan Army and also destroyed the Government property. They are many media reports showing their involvement and videos are also there. So, will FO shared its concerns with Afghan Embassy on this matter? (Sohail Majeed, The Asian Telegraph)

Answer:​ I do not have such information. Ministry of Interior would be the right forum to share such news. If we receive information about involvement of foreign nationals, and a decision is made to raise it with the other governments, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will fulfill its responsibilities.

Question: ​Is Pakistan satisfied with the assurances given by Afghan Foreign Minister regarding TTP?

Secondly, have they shared any reports regarding the action that they have taken in the aftermath of the problems that have taken place at the Pak-Afghan border since past 20 months? What are the real reasons behind these kinds of problems?

Thirdly, UN has strongly criticized the public executions and public punishments and has also asked the Government of Afghanistan to stop this. What are your comments on this? Also, does Pakistan support this demand by UN? (Allah Noor, Mashriq TV)

Answer:​ First, I would like to read something that our Foreign Minister said from this podium last week at the media briefing with the Chinese Foreign Minister. He said and I quote – our core issue, our red line is the issue of terrorism, which poses a serious threat to our regional stability, regional peace and is a real stumbling block in the way of progress of the Afghan people. Unquote. It is in this context that our side engaged with the Afghan delegation in the bilateral meeting as well as the Trilateral Dialogue. All aspects of security question including terrorism threat that Pakistan faces were discussed in detail. Issues pertaining to the border, the threat and incidents of violence against our security officials were also discussed and our concerns were clearly articulated.

Question: ​Few weeks back Prime Minister said regarding austerity measures that headcount of Embassy staff will be reduced. Can you please share the details that how much of the staff has been reduced? (Naveed Ahmed Khan, Daily Spokesman)
Answer: ​I think on that I made a clarification some time ago that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, like other ministries was asked to curtail its expenses – about 15 percent of our current expenses. It did not include slashing of missions or embassy staff. We are following the instructions of the government and trying to control our budget as per the guidelines of the Government of Pakistan.

Question: ​Pakistan participated in SCO conference in India with a very positive approach but based on how things unfolded there, do you think that relations between Pakistan and India have improved, worsened or are they still the same keeping in view the Indian actions of 2019. What are your comments? (Raja Mohsin Ijaz, ARY News)

Answer: ​I would reiterate that the Foreign Minister’s visit to Goa was not in the context of bilateral dialogue or bilateral relations. There were no bilateral meetings or discussions. Pakistan was very clear about the context and purpose of the visit. So while making any assessment of the visit or its implications for Pakistan-India relations, the context of the visit must be borne in mind. Our position has not changed. With its illegal actions in August 2019, India has closed the door for constructive talks. We believe that the onus is on India to create conditions for talks and for peace and to provide relief to the people of Indian Illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Question:​ First, yesterday we saw an incident in Karachi with a Chinese national involved, where there was an attempted targeted assassination attempt on him. The Karachi police have said on the record that they’ve shared the details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Interior. It comes in the backdrop of very recently from with this very podium, the Chinese Foreign Minister, raising concerns about security of Chinese nationals. Can you shed some more details with regards to this individual and the nature of this incident?

Secondly, we have extensively spoken about counterterrorism and terrorism emanating from the Afghan soil in context of the recent visit of the Afghan Foreign Minister. Particularly my question is that the matter of the assassination of Brigadier Mustafa Burki raised in talks with the Afghan side? (Anas Mallick, Capital TV)

Answer: First of all, I would like to say that regarding the reported unfortunate incident involving the Chinese national, we are in contact with the relevant authorities. It is early for us to make any public statement.

Regarding the second question, actually I would like to repeat what I have said. In all our meetings and interactions, Pakistan’s raised its concerns on security on counterterrorism, including the threat to our security officials. This has been an area of concern for Pakistan. We have been raising it with the Afghan side consistently. It was raised this time as well. I will not go into the details of what was discussed.

Question:​ You’re right that the position of Pakistan is well known. But even in his second visit to Pakistan and standing in the Institute of Strategic Studies, Amir Muttaqi reiterated what he said during his earlier visit that you engage with TTP. My question is why Afghan interim government does not share anything with the Government of Pakistan that they have taken such and such actions against the terrorist groups or individuals who are targeting the Pakistani security forces or Pakistani civilians? Can we say there is a deadlock between Afghanistan and Pakistan on the issue of TTP and other terrorist organizations? (Shaukat Piracha, AAJ News)

Answer:​ The visit of acting Foreign Minister of Afghanistan and the talks that were held both bilaterally and in the trilateral context were important. It gave our side an opportunity to discuss all issues that concern Pakistan. These concerns were clearly spelt out. We hope that the agreements and the understandings which have been reached, will be fully respected by the Afghan authorities and that includes the understandings about not allowing terrorist groups to target Pakistan.

Question:​ As you said earlier that all issues were discussed during the talks. Durand line as another issue between Pakistan and Afghanistan, were there any discussion between Pakistan and Afghanistan regarding Durand line conflicts or did Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Muttaqi say anything about the damage being done to the fence at the border?​(Abbas Jaffer, Daily District News)

Answer: First of all, our position is very clear. We believe there is no dispute about the legality of the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is an internationally recognized border. So, this question should not even arise and this is not and will not be on the agenda of talks with any country or any entity.

Question: There has been a very pleasant development in Islamic world of Syria joining back the Arab league. There are some concerns being raised by the United States and some Muslim countries are welcoming this. What is the stance of Pakistan? (Syed Faisal Ali, Din News)

Answer:​ We see this as a positive development and we hope that it will contribute to regional peace and security. It has been welcomed by the people of the region, who want peace and prosperity. Pakistan would always welcome efforts that leads to peace, dialogue and collaboration between countries in the region.

Question:​ Yesterday, there was a terrorist attack on a Chinese company which is working on a non CPEC project called Hong Kong Rivers and Pak China Boatyard. Do you have any information to share with us? (Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)

Answer:​ I do not have an update of the reports on this particular incident. I can, however, share with you that Pakistan unequivocally condemns all terrorist acts, including acts against foreign nationals in Pakistan. The Chinese nationals are our guests. Chinese companies in Pakistan are contributing to Pakistan’s development. The Government of Pakistan will continue to provide them with all the best possible facilitation and best possible security so that they are able to function in Pakistan without any fear or hindrance.

Thank You!

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