Media Briefing|

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


Assalam-o-Alaikum and Welcome to the Weekly Press Briefing of the Foreign Office.

Let me begin with the visit of the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation to Pakistan from 6-7 April 2021.

During the visit, delegation level talks were held between Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The visiting Foreign Minister also called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar JavedBajwa.

The visit provided both sides an opportunity to review the whole gamut of bilateral relations and share their respective perspectives on key regional and international issues.

During the delegation-level talks, the two sides agreed on the need to intensify efforts to deepen cooperation in all areas, including economy and trade, energy, counter-terrorism, security and defence, education, and people-to-people exchanges.

Underscoring the importance of energy sector cooperation, Foreign Minister Qureshi reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to early commencement of the “Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline” project.

In the regional context, views were exchanged on matters related to South Asia, West Asia, Gulf region, Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific.

The Foreign Minister underscored Pakistan’s desire for peace in Afghanistan and its continued support for the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

He also appreciated Russia’s role in the ongoing Afghan peace process.

Dilating upon the human rights situation in IIOJK, Foreign Minister Qureshi underlined Pakistan’s commitment to the regional peace and security and peaceful resolution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute.

The Foreign Minister noted with appreciation the close cooperation between Pakistan and Russia at the multilateral fora including at the UN and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

The two Ministers also discussed the potential of Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), of which China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a flagship project.

During the call on the Prime Minister, bilateral relations and issues of regional and global importance were discussed.

The Prime Minister reiterated the importance Pakistan attaches to its relations with Russia as a key foreign policy priority and expressed satisfaction at the steady growth in bilateral ties.

​The Prime Minister underscored his desire for expanding cooperation with Russia, particularly in the areas of trade, energy, industrial modernization, railways, aviation, security and defence sectors.

​The Prime Minister also stressed the importance of a negotiated political settlement in Afghanistan.

He appreciated Russia’s support to the Afghan peace process including through the recent meeting of the Extended Troika in Moscow.

With reference to the situation in IIOJK, the Prime Minister shared Pakistan’s perspective on issues of peace and security in South Asia.

The Prime Minister reiterated his invitation to President Putin to visit Pakistan.

The 10th Summit of the D-8 was hosted by Bangladesh on 8 March 2021 in a virtual mode.

The theme of the Summit was “Partnership for a Transformative World: Harnessing Power of Youth and Technology.”

The Summit was attended by the Heads of State and Government of the D-8 Member States including Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.

In his address, Prime Minister Imran Khan underlined the significance of inter-connectedness, partnership, and creating opportunities for around 550 million young people in the D-8 countries.

He also shed light on the overall impact of Covid-19 pandemic, which has thus far caused over 2.9 million deaths, unemployment of over 250 million people and global economic contraction.

To realize the vision of D-8, the Prime Minister proposed a five-pronged roadmap:

  • One, mobilizing finances and resources to recover robustly from the economic and health crises induced by Covid-19 and addressing these challenges by debt relief; creating Special Drawing Rights (SDRs); mobilizing climate finance; eliminating illicit financial flows; and return of stolen assets.
  • Two, creating concrete actions to expand intra D-8 trade from currently around US$100 billion to US$ 500 billion by 2030.
  • Three, developing a “Youth Engagement Strategy” focused on promoting cultural, educational, and scientific and business exchanges.
  • Four, promoting knowledge-based economies, increasing expenditure on research and development, and focusing on rapid digitalization: and
  • Five, making D-8 more relevant to the lives of our citizens by promoting food security, enhancing cooperation in health, holding joint sports events and helping each other during natural disasters.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi addressed the 19th Council of Ministers meeting of the D-8.

In his remarks, the Foreign Minister briefed the participants about Pakistan’s commitment to the vision and objectives of the D-8.

He reaffirmed Pakistan’s resolve to play an active role in enabling the Organization to achieve its full potential.

The Foreign Minister received the new Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to Pakistan.

He appreciated the UNDP’s positive contribution towards achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the Global South.

The Foreign Minister underscored that sustainable development and poverty alleviation were among the top priorities of the Government.

He also highlighted the reinforced orientation towards Economic Diplomacy with a focus on socio-economic progress through enhanced trade and foreign investment.

The Resident Representative briefed the Foreign Minister on UNDP’s ongoing activities in the country and exchanged views on further strengthening development partnership with Pakistan.

He assured the Foreign Minister of UNDP’s continued support for Pakistan’s development objectives and priorities.

The Under Secretary for Political Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Iraq called on the Foreign Minister.

During the interaction, the Foreign Minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s strong and fraternal ties with Iraq.

On the occasion, an MoU on Cooperation between the Foreign Service Academies of the two countries was also signed.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, including the Ministry of Information Technology and the State Bank of Pakistan organized a virtual start-up Summit titled, “Science & Technology as Catalyst for Entrepreneurship.”

The Summit brought together 120 start-up industry stakeholders from Pakistan and the Pakistani diaspora in the US.

In his keynote address, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi highlighted the increasing role of Science and Technology and underlined the importance of socio-economic and sustainable development in modern day diplomacy.

Pakistan and China held the 3rd Round of China-Pakistan Consultations on the United Nations Affairs at the level of Directors-General.

The two sides exchanged views on a wide range of multilateral issues of mutual interest covering all major areas of the United Nations’ work.

Both sides agreed to:

  • Firmly safeguard multilateralism and support the central role of the UN in international affairs;
  • Strengthen cooperation at the UN and other multilateral platforms;
  • Work towards the political and peaceful resolution of regional and international hotspot issues, and jointly safeguard peace and stability of the world, especially in Asia.
  • Continue to strengthen cooperation on counter-terrorism and peacekeeping in the UN framework and cooperation for the maintenance of international and regional peace and security; and
  • Consolidate strategic coordination in the field of human rights, jointly opposing “double standards” and the politicization of human rights issues.

Regarding the situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), the extra-judicial killings by the Indian Occupation forces continued unabated during the past week as well.

Ten more Kashmiris were martyred in Pulwama and Shopian districts of IIOJK.

Out of these seven were martyred only yesterday.

Pakistan has repeatedly called for independent investigations under international scrutiny, into the extra-judicial killings of all innocent Kashmiris.

We have also consistently underscored the need for unhindered access to the UN human rights bodies, international human rights organizations and media to assess the human rights situation in IIOJK.

We are also concerned over the continuing military siege, incarceration of Kashmiri leadership, unprecedented restrictions on fundamental freedoms of the Kashmiri people and ongoing efforts to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory, in clear violation international law, in particular the 4th Geneva Convention.

The international community must take cognizance of the unabated human rights violations in IIOJK and play its role in resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.

I thank you and am happy to take questions on these or other foreign policy related developments.

Question:   Is Prime Minister Modi coming to Pakistan to attend SAARC Summit in October?(Rashida Siyal, AbbTakk TV)

Supplementary Question:Can you please comment on Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Pakistan to attend the SAARC Summit? (Naveed Akbar, Aaj News)

Answer:Pakistan considers SAARCan important platform for enhancing regional cooperation. Pakistan is ready to host the SAARC Summit. Whenever artificial obstacles created in the way of SAARC Summit are removed, we will hold the Summit.

Question:   Pakistan is not among the list of 40 countries which have been invited by the United States for Climate Change Summit. Do you think it is because of Pakistan’s failed diplomacy in the U.S.? There are media reports that Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States is being replaced. Could you please verify?

What is the progress on UAE visas restrictions for Pakistanis? (Rashida Siyal, AbbTakk TV)

Answer:      As for the change of Ambassador in the U.S., Dr.Asad Majeed Khan is a very senior and highly capable officer who is performing his duties as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States diligently. I am not aware of any such change being planned.

Pakistan enjoys close, cooperative relations with the UAE. As for the temporary restrictions on the UAE visas for Pakistanis, the issue has been largely addressed. However, we remain in regular contact with the concerned UAEauthorities.

Question:   A plane carrying a high profile Parliamentary delegation from Pakistan, led by Speaker National Assembly, AsadQaiser was denied entry in Kabul. There are reports that it was a deliberate attempt by some of the elements within the Afghan government. What are your comments?  (Mateen Haider, G News)

Supplementary Question:      While the Pakistani officials have cited security reasons for this untoward incident, however, a number of other flights landed in Kabul at the very same time. Has Pakistani side taken up this issue with their Afghan counterparts? Do you think there was some conspiracy involved in this matter? (Naveed Siddique, Dawn TV)

Supplementary Question:      There are reports that Afghan government wanted MNA Mohsin Dawar to be part of Pakistan delegation, due to which the entry was denied to the Parliamentary Delegation. Your comments please. (Aijaz, GNN)

Answer:      Pakistan enjoys close and cooperative relations with Afghanistan. Parliamentary cooperation between the two countries is an important pillar of bilateral relations between the two countries.

The subject visit by the Speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan was taking place at the invitation ofhis Afghan counterpart.

The visit of the parliamentary delegation was, however, postponed as the airport was closed due to security threat. New dates for the visit will be decided after mutual consultations.

In this regard, I would refer you to the tweet by the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Afghanistan, Ambassador Muhammad Sadiq on this issue, who was also a part of the delegation.

Question:   The U.S. State Department in a recent statement has underlinedthe need for direct dialogue between Pakistan and India on issues of concern. What is your stance on that?

Do you foresee that the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan would take place by May 01.What is Pakistan’s position on this issue?

 There are number of Pakistani prisoners languishing in Indian jails despite completing their sentence. While Pakistan releases the Indian prisoners in a timely manner the same treatment is not meted out to the Pakistani prisoners languishing in Indian jails. How do you comment on that? (Khawaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer:      The Afghan peace process made significant progress last year. We believe that it is critical that the progress made in the peace process is maintained and further built upon in order to achieve its desire objective of a peaceful political settlement in Afghanistan.

All parties must work together for an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement.

As for the withdrawal of the U.S. troops, Pakistan supports ‘orderly’ and ‘responsible’ withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan as we believe that a precipitous withdrawal would create a vacuum for spoilers.

Regarding the role of U.S. in talks between Pakistan and India, I would like to once again reiterate that Pakistan has never shied away from talks and has always underscored the need for a ‘meaningful dialogue’ and peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues, including the core issue of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

As for the role of third parties including U.S. is concerned, we believe that the international community has an important role to play in averting risks to peace and stability in the region and facilitating a just and lasting solution to the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions.

Regarding the Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails, wetake up theissue on a regular basis with the Indian side through an established mechanism that is in place between the two countries. We continue to underscore the need for a humanitarian approach in handling the prisoners’ issue.

Question:   Can you please confirm the media reports about the role of UAE and United Kingdom in facilitating talks between Pakistan and India? The Russian Foreign Minister also commented on the subject matter during his visit. (Zulqarnain Haider, ARY News)

Supplementary Question:      Does Pakistan plan to convene Friends of Kashmir Conference to draw the attention of International community towards the grave human rights situation in IIOJK? (Asghar Ali Mubarak, The Daily Mail International)

Supplementary Question:      Russian Foreign Minister talked about playing the role of a mediator for the Palestine issue. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also briefed him on the situation in IIOJK. Has Russia also talked about mediation between Pakistan and India? (Zaheer, Samaa TV)

Supplementary Question:      The way Russian Foreign Minister commented on Pakistan and India talks during his Press briefing with Foreign Minister of Pakistan reflects as if there has already been some arrangement in place between the two countries to address the ongoing tensions? How do you comment?

Secondly, we have not heard any update on the Kulbhushan Jadhav case for long. Any update in the matter? (Naveed Akbar, Aaj News)

Supplementary Question:      Has there been any progress on reinstating High Commissioners by Pakistan and India? (Rashida Siyal, AbbTak TV)

Supplementary Question:      According to social media speculations, Pakistan and India are moving towards a peace deal. The first step would be reinstating High Commissioners. Also, is Pakistan making any attempt to ensure Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Pakistan? (Naveed Siddque, Dawn TV)

Supplementary Question:      Russian Foreign Minister clearly stated and I quote that“India and Pakistan have started talks on normalization of the relations, and we welcome that.” Why are India and Pakistan hesitating to share the progress with people in both countries? (Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)

Supplementary Question:      Are the Indian forces expected to visit Pakistan to participate in SCO exercise? (NoumanIshfaq Mughal, Daily Parliament Times)

Supplementary Question:      Can you please confirm that talks are taking place between India and Pakistan, if so, at what level? (Aijaz, GNN)

Answer:      States have their ways and means to communicate with other states which remain available even during wars.

Therefore, it is not important whether there are any contacts between India and Pakistan or not.

What is important is:  one, whether Pakistan is ready to talk to India;two, what should be discussed between the two sides; and three, whether a meaningful and result-oriented dialogue is possible under the current environment.

Pakistan has never shied away from talks with India and has always underscored the need for a ‘meaningful dialogue’ and peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

We believe durable peace, security and development in the region hinge on peaceful resolution of the long-standing Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

We, therefore, believe that the two sides need to discuss all outstanding issues including Jammu and Kashmir with a view to seek peaceful resolution of this long outstanding dispute as per international legitimacy.

We also believe that India has vitiated the environment through its illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019. The onus is, therefore, on India to create an enabling and conducive environment for a meaningful and result-oriented dialogue between the two countries. What constitutes a conducive environment is obvious.

As for the appointment of High Commissioners, no such decision has been made yet.

As for Kulbhushan Jadhav, the case is sub-judiceat Islamabad High Court.

Question:   Do you agree that there is a need for a dialogue to take place between India and Pakistan on different issues rather than dialogue being made contingent upon the issue of Jammu and Kashmir only? (Naseem Siddiqui, AbbTak)

Answer:      As we have repeatedly underlined thatdurable peace and stability in the region is contingent upon resolving all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan, in particular the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

 Question:   During the recent visit of Russian Foreign Minister, it was announced that Russia will give weapons system to Pakistan. Will it be given to Pakistan’s forces or be utilized for defense cooperation? (Khalid Mehmood, Express TV)

Answer: –   Pakistan desiresa long-term, multi-dimensional and strategic partnership with Russia. We have close cooperation with Russia in a number of fields including trade, industrialization, defence& security, and energy & infrastructure development.

During the recent visit of the Russian Foreign Minister, both sides reaffirmed their commitment to enhance cooperation in a range of areas including in the fields of defence, security and counter-terrorism. The cooperation include both training and equipment.

Question:   During his visit to Pakistan, the Russian Foreign Minister expressed his concern regarding growing influence of U.S. in Asia-Pacific. How do you comment on this? (Amjad Ali, PTV)

Answer:      As forPakistan, we believe that all regional and international arrangements should be based on the spirit of mutual cooperation.Regarding the statement that you referred, Russian officials would be in a better position to comment on this issue.


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