Media Briefing, Press Releases|

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

Assalam-o-Alaikum and good morning,

Thank you for joining us for the Weekly Briefing.

​I will begin today with the visit of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar for the 4th Meeting of the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan held on 13th of April in Samarkand.

​In her statement at the Ministerial Meeting, the Minister of State highlighted the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and called for the humanitarian assistance for the people of Afghanistan. She also called for the progress towards the goal of promoting greater political inclusivity in Afghanistan. The Minister of State emphasized the importance of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan for the region and the interest of the neighboring countries in peace and stability there.

​The Minister of State also participated in the Meeting of the Quadrilateral Group on Afghanistan which includes China, Iran, Pakistan and Russia. She underscored the importance of coordinated regional approaches to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan. She underlined that the untapped potential for connectivity could harness unprecedented new opportunities for the region. The Minister of State also underscored the importance of practical and constructive engagement with the Interim Afghan Government.

​In Samarkand, the Minister of State also held bilateral meetings with the Foreign Ministers of China, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Pakistan’s Head of Mission in Afghanistan, Ambassador Ubaid ur Rehman Nizamani has returned to Kabul and resumed his responsibilities. This was made possible after close consultation with the Afghan Interim Government. In his telephone conversation with Acting Afghan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Amir Khan Muttaqi on 15th of April, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also reiterated the necessity and responsibility of the Afghan Interim Government towards the safety and security of our diplomatic missions and personnel in Afghanistan. Ambassador Nizamani and his team have our best wishes and support.

​Last week Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC) with Bulgaria and with Portugal were held on 11th and 13th April 2023 respectively. Additional Foreign Secretary (Europe) Ambassador Muhammad Saleem led the Pakistan delegation to these Consultations where the entire spectrum of bilateral relations was discussed and important understandings were reached on enhancing mutually beneficial cooperation. Broad range of regional and global issues of common interest including regional security, climate change and cooperation at the multilateral fora were also discussed.

Pakistan continues to participate in SCO meetings in keeping with our long-standing commitment to SCO. Federal Minister for Climate Change, Ms. Sherry Rehman represented Pakistan at the 4th SCO Meeting of Heads of Ministries on Environmental Protection. The meeting was held in online format in New Delhi on 18th April 2023.

Yesterday, Director of the National Disaster Management Authority virtually attended the SCO Expert Meeting of Heads of Agencies for Prevention and Elimination of Emergency Situations while today Mr. Muhammad Idrees Mahsud, Member Disaster Risk Reduction, is virtually participating in the SCO Meeting of Heads of Agencies for Prevention and Elimination of Emergency Situations.

​We continue to follow the worrying developments in Sudan and are closely monitoring the safety and security of the Pakistani community there. Our Embassy in Sudan remains in close and constant contact with our community and will continue to facilitate them. The well-being of Pakistanis remains a key priority of the Government of Pakistan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

As we come to the end of the holy month of Ramzan, we must remember our brothers and sisters in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). Even during this holy month, the occupation authorities have continued to impose curbs and restrictions on the freedom of religion.

Last week, the occupation authorities stopped Kashmiris from offering Friday prayer at Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid. Similarly, there were heavy deployments of security forces around mosques on ‘Shab-e-Qadr’, which is observed on the holy night on 27th of Ramzan. We urge the Indian authorities to bring an end to the restrictions imposed on Kashmiris that prevent them from freely practicing their religion.

​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.

Lastly, I have an important announcement to make.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will be leading the Pakistan delegation to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) being held on 4-5 May 2023 in Goa, India.

​The Foreign Minister is attending the SCO CFM meeting at the invitation of the current Chair of SCO CFM, Dr. S. Jaishankar, Minister for External Affairs of the Republic of India.

​Our participation in the meeting reflects Pakistan’s commitment to the SCO Charter and processes and the importance that Pakistan accords to the region in its foreign policy priorities.

​Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had also attended the last meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers held in July last year in Tashkent.

I thank you and wish you all a happy Eid.


Question:   I want to know that who else would be accompanying the Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in Goa. Will he be staying only for two days or it would be more or less than that? (Azaz Syed, Geo News)

Supplementary Question:​  Will Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari meet the host Foreign Minister Jaishankar, any direct formal meeting, any sideline meeting, please share details. Also, will he be meeting the Foreign Ministers participating in the conference on the sidelines?​(Mateen Haider, GNN)

Supplementary Question:​  Would you mind to share that is there any meeting on cards between Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi?​(Azaz Syed, Geo News)

Answer:  ​I have always said that when decisions are taken, we will make formal announcements. Now that this decision has been taken we will be making preparations for the visit. In coming days as decisions are taken, will be making further announcements. I must underline, however, that the upcoming visit of the Foreign Minister is not a bilateral visit but a visit in SCO context.

Question:​  Pakistani media is definitely keen to attend all these events and I would also cover. Is there any facilitation for the Pakistani media to cover this historic event?​(Mateen Haider, GNN)

Answer:   As you know this is a multilateral event. There is a procedure for participation of delegations and for journalists. We will share those details with journalists so that you know how to register yourself and participate.

Question:​  Ambassador Nizamani has reassumed his duties in Kabul. Do we think that bilateral relations between the two countries have improved or there is some good news for us in the coming days?​(Muhammad Asad, The Frontier Post)

Answer:​  Pakistan and Afghanistan are neighbors and it is important for both countries to have good cordial relations and engage in continuous robust dialogue on all issues. Pakistan remains committed to an Afghanistan that is peaceful and that is stable; and we will continue to engage with Afghan authorities to discuss with them all issues that arise. We believe that the return of our Head of Mission to Kabul will contribute to our efforts to further strengthen dialogue with the Afghan interim authorities.

Question:​  When Pakistani visitors visit Turkiye they apply for temporary resident card after 10 days. They are facing issues even if they have the receipts for application. They are captured and harassed by police and other unidentified people and are shifted to unknown places. So what are the arrangements regarding this issue?

Secondly, can you confirm media reports that Pakistan is going to sign agreements with 30 countries regarding visa on arrivals? Is there any update on this? (Raziq Mehmood Bhatti, Daily Kashmir Express)

Answer:​  On both your questions I need to check and revert.

Question:​  My question is related to CPEC. When it launched it was termed as the game changer for Pakistan in the region. But for quite some time the CPEC projects are apparently slow and there are comments and articles written that it is becoming a burden for Pakistan and it’s no more being seen as a game changer by some experts. What are your comments please? (Jaleel Akhtar, VOA)

Answer:​  First of all, I must say that China Pakistan Economic Corridor is the crown jewel of Pakistan – China economic collaboration. It is an important project to which both Pakistan and China are fully committed. We believe that CPEC has provided enormous benefits to the people of Pakistan. The energy projects that have come online as a result of Chinese investments under the CPEC framework demonstrate their importance for Pakistan’s economy and for Pakistan’s development. Similarly, the people of Pakistan are already benefiting from the road infrastructure and the motorway projects developed under CPEC, and anyone who travels on these roads can appreciate the economic significance of these infrastructure projects. The development of Gwadar Port is also a major achievement of CPEC. We believe that all these projects are contributing and have the potential to further contribute to Pakistan’s development and prosperity.

Question:​  There are two questions related to Prime Minister. There were reports that Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif was expected to visit Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the last week of Ramadan Mubarak, but now it has been canceled. What are the reasons?

Secondly, there are also reports that Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif would be undertaking official visit to United Kingdom next month to attend coronation ceremony of the King. So, any confirmation? Is it true that he will be visiting United Kingdom? If so, will he be meeting the British authorities and the British Prime Minister? (Mateen Haider, GNN)

Answer:​  First, we have not made any announcement regarding the visit of the Prime Minister to these countries. Nor have we announced any visit of the Prime Minister during the month of Ramazan.

Regarding any meetings or visits that can potentially happen in the coming days, we will make the announcements in due course.

Question:  ​I wanted to ask, given the current situation in Sudan, what is the number of Pakistanis that are stuck there? What is a foreign office doing to cater the situation?​(Qurat ul Ain Sheerazi, Independent Urdu)

Answer:​  As I said in my opening remarks, we continue to follow the developments in Sudan and are closely monitoring the safety and security of the Pakistani community there. Our Embassy in Sudan remains in close contact with our community and will continue to facilitate them there. The number of Pakistanis is somewhere around 1500. Our Embassy has advised them to stay indoors for their own safety in view of the developments that are taking place in the country right now. The well-being of Pakistanis remains a key priority of the Government of Pakistan.

Thank you.


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