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


Thank you for joining us for the Weekly Briefing.

​I will begin by sharing our condolences at the unfortunate incident of the capsized boat off the coast of Greece in which several Pakistanis are feared dead. Our hearts go out to all the victims and their families.

We have briefed the media on the developments. To recap, twelve Pakistani nationals are among the 104 survivors. They are in good physical condition. Unfortunately, we have been unable to verify the number and identity of Pakistani nationals among the deceased and missing. Greek authorities have recovered 82 bodies. Their identification will take place through DNA matching. Relevant authorities have started collecting DNA samples from the families of those suspected to be on-board and will be sharing this with the Greek authorities.

Ambassador Aamar Aftab and his team at our Mission in Greece have worked round the clock for recovery and identification of Pakistani nationals who are missing or feared dead and for providing relief to the survivors. Foreign Minister, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, has spoken to his Greek counterpart to discuss arrangements for the recovery of the missing, identification of the bodies and providing relief to the survivors. Our efforts will continue.

​Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif is in Paris to attend the New Global Financing Pact Summit at the invitation of the President of France Emmanuel Macron from 22 to 23 June 2023.

​Today, the Prime Minister will attend the Summit. He will present Pakistan’s perspective and proposals for reform of International Financial Institutions, climate finance, green infrastructure, attainment of the SDGs and solutions related to debt. The Prime Minister will also hold meetings with participating leaders including the President of South Africa Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, Prime Minister of China Li Qiang and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

An important development this week was the visit of Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Andrey Rudenko to Islamabad and the Fifth Round of Bilateral Political Consultations co-chaired by Deputy Foreign Minister Rudenko and Foreign Secretary Dr. Asad Majeed Khan. The two sides engaged in comprehensive and productive discussions to further strengthen bilateral cooperation, deepen understanding on regional and global developments, and enhance cooperation and dialogue in the context of multilateral organizations including the United Nations and Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

​Foreign Secretary also visited Iran for the 12th round of Pakistan-Iran Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC). The two sides agreed to enhance and diversify bilateral trade and expand cooperation in energy, transport connectivity, education and people-to-people exchanges.

​The 13th session of the Pakistan-European Union Joint Commission is currently underway in Brussels. Secretary Economic Affairs Division Dr. Kazim Niaz is leading the Pakistan delegation while the EU side is led by Deputy Managing Head of Asia Pacific Division of the European External Action Service, Ms. Paula Pampolini. The Sub-Group of the Joint Commission on Development and the Sub-Group on Trade have met on 20 and 21 June respectively. The two sides discussed Pakistan-EU Development Partnership, GSP Plus and the upcoming new GSP Plus scheme, and market access for Pakistan. The Sub-Group on Democracy, Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights will meet today. Discussions at the Plenary Session to be held tomorrow will focus on migration and mobility, climate change, cooperation in education, culture, science and information technology.

Formed in 2007, the Pakistan-EU Joint Commission sets the priorities for development cooperation between Pakistan and the European Union, makes recommendations for promoting the mutually agreed priorities, and oversees implementation of sectoral agreements.

Pakistan strongly condemns the recent raid by Israeli occupation forces on Jenin refugee camp, in which four Palestinians, including a 14-year-old, were killed and more than 40 civilians were injured. We pray for the speedy recovery of the injured and once again urge the international community to take prompt action to protect the Palestinian people. Pakistan believes that peaceful resolution of the issue lies in the implementation of the two-state solution. We call for the establishment of an independent state of Palestine, based on pre-1967 borders, with Al Quds Al Sharif as its capital.

​Earlier this week the international community commemorated the World Refugee Day. This day is a reminder of the suffering of Kashmiris who have been evicted from their land and forced to live in exile. They were forced to flee violence, persecution and gross human rights abuses. Thousands of people of Jammu and Kashmir are spending a homeless life and are unable to return to their homeland. India must bring an end to the climate of fear and persecution in IIOJK and bring peace in the lives of the Kashmiri people.

​Pakistan will 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 some upcoming announcements:

​Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will undertake an official visit to Japan on 2-3 July at the invitation of the Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa. In Tokyo, the Foreign Minister will hold substantive talks with Foreign Minister Hayashi. They will discuss bilateral trade and investment, cooperation in science & technology, education, information technology, culture and human resource development. They will also discuss important regional and global developments and cooperation and dialogue in multilateral forums.

​The second round of Bilateral Political Consultations between Pakistan and Kazakhstan will be held on 26th June 2023 in Astana, Kazakhstan. Additional Foreign Secretary (Afghanistan & West Asia) Ambassador Syed Ahsan Raza Shah will lead the Pakistan delegation while the Kazakh side will be led by Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Kanat Tumyst. ​The two sides will review the entire spectrum of bilateral relations in political, trade, economic, connectivity, science and technology and cultural and people to people relations. The inaugural session of the Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC) between Pakistan and Kazakhstan was held on 28th February 2020 in Islamabad.

​Thank you.


Question:​ This is the last briefing before the SCO summit in India that is to be held virtually on the 3rd and 4th of July. Will the Prime Minister be participating in the virtual event?

Secondly, the International Cricket Council is still awaiting a confirmation from Pakistan whether it will participate in the Cricket World Cup in India. What is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ take on the matter? The Pakistan and India cricket match has been scheduled in Ahmadabad Gujarat. Will they be playing in Gujarat particularly, because we’ve seen that Pakistan has in the past raised concerns with regards to participation in events in Gujarat? (Anas Mallick, Capital TV)

Answer:​ First, we have received the official invitation from the Indian Prime Minister for our Prime Minister for the virtual meeting of the Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization that is due to take place on the 4th of July. Pakistan will be represented at the summit. We will be making an announcement regarding our participation in coming days.

Regarding cricket, Pakistan is of the view that politics should not be mixed with sports. India’s policy of not playing cricket in Pakistan is disappointing. We are observing and evaluating all aspects relating to our participation in the World Cup including the security situation for Pakistani cricketers and we will offer our views to PCB in due course.

Question: ​I actually I want to promote football instead of cricket. So, is it correct that the Indian side has denied visas to Pakistan football team? And, in recent past the Pakistani football team was also denied visa from Bangladesh? (Azaz Syed, Geo News)

Answer:​ Our team was given the visas. They are participating in the tournament.

Question:​ Regarding Yasin Malik, how much is Pakistan pursuing his case and what options do we have regarding his case, as India is talking about his death sentence? (Rashida Sial, Abb Takk TV)

Answer:​ The case of Mr. Yasin Malik is an unfortunate situation. He has been convicted on trumped up and fabricated charges. It is a reflection of India’s determination to persecute and silence the voice of Kashmiri leadership. Pakistan has condemned India’s efforts to silence the voice of Kashmiri leadership. We call on India to free Mr. Yasin Malik and put an end to this travesty of justice that is taking place. He should be able to meet his family. He should be able to travel freely; and he should be able to represent the Kashmiri people as is his right.

Question: ​Reportedly Pakistan has restored peace talks with the TTP in recent development. Our tribal elders visited Kabul in meet with the Pakistan Taliban head. This is confirmed from two tribal elders that this meeting was conducted in the presence of senior Afghan Taliban leadership. So, this was on the agenda of the recent visit of the Afghan Foreign Minister or is it independent initiative of Pakistani Government. Foreign Office is on board or not. Thank you. (Abdullah Momin, Dawn TV)

Supplementary Question:​ Naturally, they are to supplementary, one recently Zabiullah Mujahid. Their spokesman has given a statement and once again has offered Pakistan that Taliban are ready to mediate between Pakistan and TTP. What kind of message is this? And is there some kind of delay or some problem is going on? (Azaz Syed, Geo News)

Supplementary Question:​ Ma’am my question is the same that Zabiullah Mujahid spokesperson of Taliban, stated that Taliban would definitely like to mediate between talks between Pakistan government and the Taliban. So, ma’am, how Pakistan see this move from Taliban how much it is required and would Pakistan like to welcome it? Thank you. (Saima Shabbir, Arab News)

Answer:​ Ok. I will respond to these two questions. We have responded to such questions in the past as well. I would like to invite you to a statement made by our Foreign Minister, in which the Foreign Minister stated that Pakistan will not negotiate with individuals who are responsible for killing of Pakistani civilians and law enforcement officials.

Question: Ma’am, there were media reports in this in the beginning of this week, last week, that Afghan Taliban are relocating the TTP in the northern part of Afghanistan. Have you received such as any communication from upon site or some other? Have you got the permission from your mission in Kabul? And what’s your reaction? (Azaz Syed, Geo News)

Supplementary Question: Thank you so much, Ma’am. We’ve seen the statement from the Afghan Ministry of Interior spokesperson denying the presence of the delicate Taliban TTP or any other group that and might be against Pakistan or any other country. Now my question is, on one end, while the Afghan leadership is offering to help and negotiate in mediate talks, on the other end, they go on the record to deny their presence. How do you help mediate and negotiate with somebody to whom you’re denying their presence, their very presence? What is Pakistan’s government take on the matter? Thank you. (Anas Mallick, Capital TV)

Answer: I would not go into specifics of our conversations with Afghanistan. But counterterrorism threat remains high on our agenda. We are regularly engaged with the Interim Afghan Government on countering the menace of terrorism. And this is an ongoing process. We hope and expect that the commitments made, including in the trilateral outcome declaration between Pakistan, Afghanistan and China, will be fulfilled so that Afghanistan is not a source of terrorism and instability faced by its neighbors including Pakistan.

Question:​ As you talked about trilateral ministerial meeting and I have the statement where Afghan side also recognized TTP as a terror group along with ETIM. Do you think there is a rift among the Afghan Taliban themselves that one segment is taking TTP as a terror entity while the other or others are trying to engage Pakistan in talks with them?

Day before yesterday, a high-level investment committee has been formed, headed by the Prime Minister and the mandate is to seek investment from China, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar or other countries. The irony is that there is no role for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or missions abroad at any level. They don’t trust the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in their ability to seek investment or persuade other countries?

Thirdly, Prime Minister had a meeting with the MD IMF, in Paris, Kristalina Georgieva. What has been the feedback that our mission has sent back to Ministry of Foreign Affairs? (Shaukat Piracha, AAJ News)

Answer:​ Regarding your last question, I would advise you to wait for an advice from Paris, which will be coming shortly.

Regarding your first question, I do not want to speculate on the internal political dynamics of another country. But as I mentioned earlier, the trilateral understanding between Pakistan, China and Afghanistan and the outcome document is a proof of our joint commitment against the terrorist entities that threaten Pakistan.

Regarding the inter-ministerial apex body that you have referred to, I would advise you to contact the issuing authority for further comments. We do not have any comments to offer on that. This Ministry and our Mission abroad, however, remain committed to fulfilling our responsibilities to fulfill the objectives of Pakistan’s Economic Diplomacy.

Question:​ In the aftermath of the boat wreck incident in Greece, the process of extracting the dead bodies is ongoing. We visited the homes of those who lost their lives in this incident and their families complained that they were not informed timely by the Government of Pakistan.

Also, some people were evacuated and they are being facilitated by International Organization for Migration. It has been reported that about 12 people were evacuated. What will be the process? Will they be deported or will they stay there? (Syed Faisal Ali, Daily State Views)

Answer:​ Individuals who have survived are being investigated to ascertain the circumstances under which this boat was operating, the masterminds behind the operation and the situation on board as well. These investigations are ongoing, and it may take some time to complete for the Greek authorities to make a final determination about their future stay in Greece.

Question:​ Many people from TTP are present in the border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan and they travel from and to Afghanistan on a regular basis. Has Pakistan raised this issue with Afghan side? Brigadier Mustafa Barki was also martyred near Angoor Adda border. So, what is the progress regarding this issue? Has this been discussed with the Afghan side? (Allah Noor, Mashriq Tv)

Answer:​ As I said earlier in response to another question, Pakistan and Afghan Interim Government are in constant engagement and dialogue with respect to the terrorist threat that Pakistan faces. Pakistan has clearly articulated its concerns. This is an ongoing process and we hope that steps would be taken to mitigate the terrorist threat. It is important that the threat of terrorism emanating from Afghanistan does not endanger the lives of Pakistani people, Pakistani civilians and personnel of Pakistani law enforcement agencies.

Question:​ Can you share details of regarding visits of Federal Minister and Minister of State from January till now? (Naveed Ahmed Khan, Daily the Spokesman)

Answer:​ I do not understand why this question is asked in every other briefing. Please contact us bilaterally and we will share our response.

Question:​ The Minister of Defense from the floor of the House has alleged that the boat in Greece was made to sink on purpose by the Greek authorities. Now from that podium, what is Pakistan’s policy statement on the matter? Does Pakistan really believe that the ship was made to be deliberately sunk in the seas so that this tragedy could happen? (Anas Mallick, Capital TV)

Answer:​ Pakistan is in contact with the Greek authorities. As you are aware the Foreign Minister himself spoke to the Foreign Minister of Greece. There is an ongoing investigation into the circumstances under which this incident took place. So, we believe it is premature for us to make any comments on the circumstances of this incident.

Question:​ I have a question about the submarine, which is missing. So, two Pakistanis are also on board. Is there any news about that? How Pakistan is pursuing that? Can you share any information? (Saima Shabbir, Arab News)

Answer:​ Our concerned Missions in the United States and Canada are following the developments. We have confidence that this matter will be pursued effectively by the local authorities. We would not like to speculate on the circumstances of this incident and we would also like to respect the wishes of the Dawood family that their privacy may be respected.

Question: Any contact of this Ministry with the family?

Answer: Not to my knowledge.

Question: Last week, the Finance Minister Ishaq Dar have alleged that some international powers are lobbying against Pakistan which are creating hurdles in the IMF deal so that Pakistan should default and then we should talk with the IMF. So, you think there are some powers who are lobbying against Pakistan or this is only a political statement that we are not able to sign a deal with the IMF? (Abdullah Momand, Dawn TV)

Answer: ​I do not know the background of the statement. Perhaps you could consult the Ministry of Finance for the context of these remarks because the entire process of negotiations with IMF is being led by the Finance Ministry.

Question:​ Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar has stated in an interview that, “Don’t push Pakistan into the cold war between US and China. Is there any pressure on Pakistan and is Pakistan being pushed to that situation?​(Naveed Siddiqui, Dateline Islamabad)

Answer: ​I would not like to second guess what the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs has said. I would like to underline that her statement was made in the context of certain international developments. Pakistan is among those countries which have very good relations with both China and the United States. As we have said in the past Pakistan does not wish to be part of any bloc. We would like to develop our relations with all our friends, as we have done in the past, in all areas of cooperation, and we hope that Pakistan-China friendship and Pakistan-United States friendship will continue to move forward from strength to strength without any obstacle.

Thank you so much.

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