Media Briefing|


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

Good Afternoon and welcome,

At the outset, let us take a moment in memory and honor of Mr. Priyantha Kumara, as the entire nation shares the immense grief and loss of the bereaved family and the government and people of Sri Lanka.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you are aware, Pakistan is looking forward to hosting the 17th Extraordinary Session of OIC Council of Foreign Ministers on 19 December in Islamabad. The Session’s focus is on the serious humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. You have followed the media interaction of the Foreign Minister on 4 December outlining the context and objectives of this Conference, which comes in the wake of an intensive and sustained diplomatic outreach by Pakistan led by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, from Afghanistan’s immediate neighbours to other key partners, with a view to promoting engagement of the international community to help address the challenges confronting Afghanistan. We believe OIC’s leadership can help galvanize other international actors, and this Meeting will be a timely opportunity to consider practical arrangements and concrete steps to correspond to the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people. As we prepare and finalize arrangements for the Conference, we shall continue to brief and update you.

By way of a quick round up of activities, let me note Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s visit to Brussels from 6-8 December, during which in addition to the bilateral dialogue with Belgium, he co-chaired the 6th Round of Pakistan-EU Strategic Dialogue with EU High Representative and Vice President, Josep Borrell. The Foreign Minister also met NATO Secretary- General Jens Stoltenberg besides interacting with Belgian and European Parliamentarians. During these meetings, among other issues, regional situation including Afghanistan and Jammu and Kashmir also came under discussion.

You would have seen the comprehensive joint communiqué of the Strategic Dialogue. Foreign Minister Qureshi and HR Borrell reviewed the ongoing cooperation between Pakistan and the EU based on the Strategic Engagement Plan and agreed to further enhance EU-Pakistan mutual engagement.

They also had an extensive exchange of views on the situation in Afghanistan. They agreed on the importance of maintaining sustained engagement with Afghanistan to promote stability, and expressed grave concern at the potential for an economic collapse and significantly worsening humanitarian crisis. The High Representative also thanked Pakistan for its support in evacuation of EU nationals and the safe passage of people from Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Qureshi reiterated Pakistan’s deep concerns about human rights violations by India in Jammu and Kashmir, and efforts to change the demography of the disputed territory in violation of UNSC resolutions. High Representative Borrell underscored that the EU is following the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir closely and restated the need for restraint, de-escalation of tensions and resolution of the dispute through dialogue and constructive political and diplomatic engagement.

Let me also recall that President Dr. Arif Alvi visited Turkmenistan to attend the 15th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) on 28 November. The President also held a number of bilateral meetings during the Summit. The day before, the Foreign Minister represented Pakistan at the 25th Council of Ministers Meeting of ECO.

Earlier in the week, the 11th Round of Pakistan-Norway Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC) was held in Oslo. Whereas the 7th Round of Pakistan-EU Political Dialogue was held virtually on December 5.

As a testament to Pakistan’s credentials in multilateral diplomacy, Pakistan was elected Chair of G-77 and China for the year 2022, and re-elected to the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for the term 2022-2024. In Vienna, Pakistan was elected as member of the Industrial Development Board, and Program and Budget Committee of UNIDO.

In the context of economic diplomacy, on 5 December, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia signed two agreements related to Workers’ Recruitment and Skills Verification program of Pakistani workforce being employed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On the public diplomacy front, Pakistan Foreign Office Women’s Association’s (PFOWA) Annual Charity Bazar was organized on 27 November in Islamabad. Under Foreign Minister’s Vision FO, a series of public diplomacy events were undertaken in Lahore from 4-5 December with over 40 resident diplomatic missions in attendance including at the lively Polo Match to celebrate 70 years of Pakistan-Argentina diplomatic relations.

And you would have followed online the Forum on Cooperation between China and Pakistan Friendship Provinces and Cities, organized yesterday as part of 70th Anniversary celebrations of Pak-China diplomatic relations under which over 120 events have been held so far in the two countries.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was commemorated on 25 November, and today we are marking the Human Rights Day. In upholding universal respect for human rights, these occasions are also reminders to the international community to call for immediate cessation of widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law especially in situations of foreign occupation such as Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).
Ladies and Gentlemen,

This week, 6 December marked the 29th year of the tragic demolition of the centuries-old Babri Masjid by BJP-RSS zealots in India. The new illegal structure being built at the site of the historic mosque will remain illegitimate in the eyes of Muslims and conscientious persons across the world. It is reprehensible that today’s Hindu majoritarian India presents a gruesome reality for its minorities, particularly Muslims, who are being persecuted in all walks of life with complete impunity and state complicity.

The plight of the Kashmiris in IIOJK is also evident before the international community. We strongly condemn the continuing military crackdowns, arbitrary detentions, coercion, use of force, and extra-judicial killings in fake encounters and staged operations by the Indian occupation forces in IIOJK, where at least 21 Kashmiris have been martyred in the last one month. Persisting with their callous behavior, the occupation forces even deprive the bereaved families from carrying out last rites of their loved ones.

The international community, including the UN must take immediate cognizance of the grave situation in IIOJK, and it is in that context that the Foreign Minister has addressed another letter to the President of the UN Security Council the Secretary-General to apprise the world body entrusted with maintenance of international peace and security and a responsibility for peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with its own resolutions.

I thank you for your attention and am ready to take questions on these or other foreign policy matters.

Question: Yesterday in his speech Prime Minister said Pakistan is not a part of any bloc but we have seen that Pakistan has not participated in Summit of Democracy.

Secondly, a number of Pakistani students are unable to return to China to resume their studies, their classes are being held virtually and they are being charged regular fee. Has Pakistan taken up this issue with Chinese authorities for their return? (Umar Hayat, Bol News)

Supplementary Question: According to media reports, Pakistan has not participated in Summit of Democracy because China was not invited and instead Taiwan was invited. Did Pakistan not participate due to these concerns? (Khalid Azeem Ch, Samaa TV)

Supplementary Question: Yesterday, Mr. Lijian Zhao, the Spokesman of Foreign Ministry of China praised Pakistan for not participating in Summit Democracy and called Pakistan an ‘Iron Brother’. Has Pakistan not participated on pressure from Chinese side? (Aijaz Ahmed,GNN)

Supplementary Question: Has Pakistan any reservations on the agenda of the Summit, and what is the nature of Pakistan-US relations? As it is being reported that US President Joe Biden did not hold telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Imran Khan? If you can comment on the situation? (Khawaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: On the question about students, as we have informed you before, there is a constant dialogue and engagement with the Chinese side on this issue both in Islamabad and Beijing. We are conscious of the difficult position the students find themselves in due to the COVID situation. We continue to follow this matter with a view to addressing it at the earliest, and we know the high priority attached to it by the Chinese authorities as well.

On the comment about the Prime Minister having said that we are not part of any bloc, let me recall that this has been a consistent and longstanding policy of Pakistan, we have always maintained this principled opposition to the concept of bloc politics.

With regards to the Summit for Democracy, I would like to say that our issued statement speaks for itself and I would like you to refer to it. Some of the opinions and impressions that I gather from your questions, I think, are unfounded.

Let me tell you that we remain closely engaged with the US on a range of issues. We value our partnership with the US and we wish to expand it bilaterally as well as in terms of regional and international cooperation. There have been exchanges recently as you are aware, that include the delegation led by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Congressman Meeks, and there is another delegation arriving tonight led by Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Senator King, all reflective of continuing, cooperative exchanges with the US.

Question: TTP has issued a statement in which they have blamed Government for violating Peace Agreement. What were the promises Pakistani Government made to the TTP? How would you respond to the statement of TTP?

Secondly, US Government has passed a bill regarding the human rights violations against the Muslims in China. What is Pakistan’s stance on this? (Allah Noor, Mashriq TV)

Supplementary Question: What is the update on ceasefire between TTP and the Government? As TTP has declared an end to ceasefire? NSA during his briefing the other day said that there is positive development and both the sides are abiding by the terms of the agreement? (Naveed Siddiqui, Dawn TV)

Answer: I response to such questions in the past, we noted that there have been statements about this issue by some high officials, and you are referring to another one, and so I think it is for those who are dealing with this issue to pronounce our position, I have nothing to add.

Regarding your other question, I have not seen that document and am not in a position to comment.

Question: How many countries have accepted the invitation for participating in OIC CFM? Have the P-5 also been invited? Who is participating from their side?

Secondly, Ministry of Finance has established a relief fund for situation in Afghanistan, which other countries will provide donations to this fund for dealing with situation in Afghanistan? (Rashida Sial, Abb Tak TV)

Answer: Invitations have been extended to all OIC members and observers, and other invitees. We are in process of receiving confirmations on daily basis, and would update you in due course. From P-5, Special Representatives on Afghanistan have been invited.

On your other question, the fund you are referring to is not in my knowledge if that is something new. As for Pakistan’s own assistance to Afghanistan, there are mechanisms under which it is carried out.

Question: Two days ago Indian CDS passed away in a Copter Crash; we saw tweets and statements coming out from Military and the expressed condolences. The question is that, were these condolences on state level or on the institutional level? (Anas Mallick, the Correspondent)

Answer: I don’t see a need for interpretation. You have seen the condolences expressed by top military leadership on the tragic incident.

Question: Yesterday, during his speech the Prime Minister said that Pakistan desires to hold talks with India on Kashmir. Are there any ongoing back door dialogues? Are there any chances of meeting between the Foreign Ministers of both the countries in near future? (Zahid Khan, Frontier Post)

Answer: You may like to refer to the statement again because I think it was said differently. The Prime Minister while underscoring the need for dialogue to resolve conflicts, and Pakistan’s commitment to it, also stated what was required on part of India in order to have meaningful engagement and negotiations. He also termed the unresolved Kashmir dispute as major obstacle for peace in the region.

Question: You are right that the opinions from anywhere are uncalled for, but what exactly may be the cause of not attending the Summit for Democracy? Pakistan is a functional democracy, it’s a Democracy Summit and due to being a virtual format there might not be any scheduling problems. So what is the single cause of ‘No’ from Pakistan? (Shaukat Piracha, AAJ News)

Answer: Not all issues can be addressed in that way. It was a considered decision. Our statement is quite clear and speaks for itself.

Question: Yesterday, during his speech Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke about the cold war between China and USA. He also said that it is our endeavor to end this cold war. Is Pakistan once again going to play the role of mediator? Are there ongoing talks on the diplomatic level? (Zulqernain Haider, ARY News)

Answer: I think this is in line with our consistent position, and historic role, and there are concerns about return to cold war kind of environment, and we think that is not in the interest of both powers and not in the interest of others. Such a situation is counterproductive and not helpful. We would like to see an environment of cooperation rather than confrontation.

Question: It appears that we have a contradictory policy when it comes to our relations with the US and China. You said that we value our relationship with US and we want to extend it, yet we stay away from this Summit of Democracy. Is it not contradictory?

Secondly, we say that we will not be part of any bloc politics. Is this decision of not participating in Summit for Democracy seen as that we have effectively joined Chinese block? (Kamran Yousaf, Express Tribune)

Answer: I don’t think so. This impression is unfounded.

Question: The Beijing Winter Olympics will be held soon. We noticed that the governments and Olympic committees of many countries expressed their expectation and support for the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. While a handful of Western countries said they were considering whether to join the US in the boycott. Do you have any comment on this? (Ali Jaswal, Xinhua News Agency)

Answer: You are perhaps referring to ‘diplomatic’ boycott by some. At the outset, Pakistan would like to wish China a very successful hosting of the Beijing Winter Olympics. We are confident that despite limitations imposed by COVID-19, the Beijing Winter Olympics would offer a spectacular and colourful gala to sports enthusiasts around the world, including in Pakistan.

The Olympic Games symbolize sportsmanship, team spirit, unity, effort, struggle and maintaining grace in competition whatever the results. The Olympic Spirit espouses fair participation in the events. Like in all previous Olympics events, Pakistan would like to see the Olympics Spirit upheld in true sporting fashion. Pakistan also opposes any form of politicization of sports and hopes that all nations would come together in Beijing and afford their athletes the opportunity to compete against the best and showcase their skills.

Question: According to some reports U.S. has banned 13 entities of Pakistan on allegations of their linkage with Pakistan Nuclear and Ballistic Missile program. On 26th November, 2021 U.S. Commerce Department issued a list in this regard what are your views on this? (Ghulam Abbas Jaffar, Daily District News)

Answer: I spoke on this earlier, and do not have anything to add at the moment.

Question: My question is related to incident involving Sri Lankan national few days back. Is there any compensation announced by the government of Pakistan for the victim’s family? (Saad Umer, Roze News)

Answer: You would have followed these developments and the way the Government of Pakistan, the political leadership and the entire spectrum of the society including the religious leaders and the civil society have responded to it. There is a lot of grief and expression of sorrow on this tragedy. We have been in continuous contact with the Sri Lankan side. As you know, the Prime Minister spoke to the Sri Lankan President and the two Foreign Ministers also held telephonic conversation. On compensation and remunerations, we will facilitate and coordinate all these matters to the satisfaction of the family of the deceased and the Sri Lankan authorities.

Question: There is a lot of discussion on the situation in Afghanistan and the imminent humanitarian crisis. International organizations are also raising concerns on the issue. What is the current situation in Afghanistan as per Pakistan? (Khawaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: This has been discussed a number of times. A detailed briefing was given the other day. The Foreign Minister also talked at length about the humanitarian situation while explaining the context of the forthcoming OIC Extra-ordinary Session on Afghanistan. There are assessments by UN agencies on the extent of the humanitarian crisis in terms of food shortages and other requirements. A large portion of Afghan population is at risk. And there is also the looming economic collapse. The consequences of not addressing these crises will be grave. This is the context in which we are calling for enhanced engagement by the international community, and therein also lies the importance of the OIC Conference.

Question: In the upcoming OIC CFM is there any proposal or suggestion for the recognition of Taliban Government? (Khalid Azeem Ch, Samaa TV)

Answer: The Conference is focused on humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

Question: As you said focus is on the humanitarian crisis, so far any response from the countries who have been invited? Has any country confirmed? In addition to this, in the last briefing you said that UN agencies and P-5 countries are also being invited. Will you like to share with us who from these countries are being invited? Is it at Ministerial level or Special Representative level? What are your expectations as far as financial pledges are concerned? (Mateen Haider, G News)

Answer: I have responded to similar question earlier. We are working in tight time frame. Invitations have been extended to all OIC members, observers and others that include P-5. I have informed that from P-5 the SRs on Afghanistan have been invited. We are in the process of getting responses and would be able to share information in coming days. There is good response.

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