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.

Let me begin with the visit of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar to Sri Lanka on 3-4 February 2023 to participate in the 75th Independence Day celebrations. In Colombo, the Minister of State called on President, Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister, Dinesh Gunawardena and held comprehensive talks with Foreign Minister, Ali Sabry.

During these meetings, the two sides agreed to advance close cooperative ties; enhance understanding and cooperation on issues of global and regional significance; and intensify high-level exchanges. Important understandings were reached to increase cooperation in the fields of trade and investment, defence, education, tourism, culture and people-to-people contacts.

In Colombo, the Minister of State also held bilateral meetings with Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, and Japan’s Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Shunsuke Takei and discussed areas of bilateral cooperation and understanding.

Foreign Secretary, Dr. Asad Majeed Khan, is currently on a three-country visit in Europe for Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC) with Spain, France and The Netherlands. Yesterday, he was in the Hague where he met with Secretary General, Paul Huijts for 10th Round of the Pakistan-Netherlands Bilateral Political Consultations. The two sides agreed to intensify engagement in a range of areas including political, trade and investment, climate change, agriculture, water management, dairy and livestock, education and culture. Detailed discussions were held on GSP Plus and matters relating to trade and investment.

The Foreign Secretary also held a meeting with Director General, Ambassador Fernando Arias, of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and discussed the ongoing cooperation between Pakistan and the OPCW.

You would recall that on 6th February, the Foreign Secretary led the Pakistan delegation at the 5th Round of Annual Bilateral Consultations with Spain. The two sides agreed to expand cooperation in trade, economy, agriculture, renewable energy, climate change, tourism, digitization, startups and food processing areas.

The Foreign Secretary will now travel to France. He will meet with his counterpart for the 14th Round of Bilateral Political Consultations on 10th February. During this visit, the Foreign Secretary will also sign the Roadmap for Bilateral Cooperation between Pakistan and France.

Secretary General of Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), Dr. Pornchai Danvivathana is on an official visit to Pakistan from 07-10 February 2023 to hold consultations with Additional Secretary (Asia Pacific) in her capacity as the Senior Official of Pakistan for the ACD. Dr. Pornchai Danvivathana has also held meetings with Minister of State, Hina Rabbani Khar and Secretary, Ministry of Planning.

During these meetings, Pakistan reaffirmed its commitment to multilateralism and expressed its desire to forge a mutually beneficial relationship with the ACD and member countries. It is committed to promoting regional development through improved connectivity especially in its capacity as the Prime Mover for the Pillar of Connectivity and the Co-Prime Mover for the Pillar of Culture and Tourism in the ACD.

Last week, Pakistan participated in the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM), Preparatory to the upcoming OIC Council of Foreign Ministers held from 5-7 February 2023 in Jeddah. The Senior Officials discussed key issues and challenges confronting the Islamic world including Palestine, the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Mali and Yemen. The recent racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic acts of the desecration of the Holy Quran in Europe and situation of minorities in non-OIC countries were also discussed.

Pakistan has conveyed its deepest condolences and sympathies to the victims of the earthquake that hit parts of Türkiye, Syria and Lebanon on 6 February 2023 resulting in the loss of precious lives and extensive damage to property. We have extended our heartfelt condolences on the tragic loss of life and offered all possible support in the relief efforts. Our support is being delivered in the form of relief assistance and rescue and support teams.

Our Missions in Türkiye and Syria remain in constant touch with the relevant authorities and our community to identify any requirement for the earthquake affected areas and to provide relief to Pakistanis, who may be affected by the earthquake. About 23 Pakistanis have been evacuated from Gaziantep university and accommodated in Adana. Sixteen of them will be evacuated to Pakistan while the rest will be transported to Istanbul.

As you are aware, the Kashmir Solidarity Day was observed on 5th February 2023 with traditional zeal and fervor by Pakistanis from all walks of life and Kashmiri Diaspora around the world. Yesterday, the Parliament of Pakistan at its Joint Session unanimously adopted a Resolution on Jammu & Kashmir reiterating Pakistan’s unstinting moral, diplomatic and political support to the Kashmir Cause.

As we speak, an eviction drive is underway in many parts of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). This is the latest in a series of measures aimed at dispossessing the Kashmiri people of their land. Unfortunately, most of the people facing the brunt of the eviction drive are poor and Muslims. Their rights need to be protected.

In the recent years, in some states of India, bulldozers have been used to demolish properties of Muslims to terrorize them. Regrettably, that model is now being replicated in IIOJK. It is unfortunate that Indian authorities are using land as a weapon to intimidate the people of IIOJK.

We continue to witness disturbing developments in IIOJK. A few days ago, the Indian occupation authorities attached the office building of the All Parties Hurriat Conference (APHC) in Rajbagh area of Srinagar. Pakistan condemns this oppressive act, which constitutes yet another assault on political freedoms in IIOJK.

We believe that the confiscation of the brick-and-mortar buildings cannot coerce the freedom-loving people into subjugation. 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.

Lastly, coming to the upcoming visits — Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Mariano Grossi will visit Pakistan next week from 15-16 February 2023. During his two-day visit, he will hold high level meetings including with the Foreign Secretary and undertake visits to different institutions employing nuclear technology in the fields of health, agriculture, industry and power generation.​The visit will provide an opportunity to Pakistan and the IAEA to explore avenues to advance cooperation in peaceful applications of nuclear technology for socio-economic development.


Question: Please share an update regarding the decision to attend the SCO meeting? If the decision has yet not been taken, by when can we expect it?

Secondly, is it true that the visit of Prime minister along with a delegation was planned to Turkiye, but the Turkish Government did not accept the proposal or advised not to visit? What are your comments? (Azaz Syed, Geo News)

Answer: First regarding the SCO Meeting, the status is the same as I briefed you earlier. When a decision is taken, you will be informed.

Regarding the visit of the Prime Minister to Turkiye, the proposed dates for the visit are under consideration. The visit will take place once that decision is taken.

Question:​ Pakistani Consulates in U.S. and Europe have written letters to Directorate General of Immigration and Passports that salaries have not been paid to MRP staff for 7 months due to shortage of dollars. What is the overall situation of shortage of funds at Pakistan Missions abroad, how much is the current backlog, what are the difficulties being faced by them and is it true that the staff is not being paid their salaries? (Aamir Saeed Abbasi, Dunya TV)

Answer: I need to check the exact details of the Missions that you are mentioning. Overall, as I informed your earlier, some times that this process of transmission of funds faces backlogs. As far as I understand, the requisite funds are given to the Missions as soon as these backlogs are removed. I am not aware of a particular systemic holdup at this stage.

Question: ​IMF delegation is currently present in Pakistan and it seems that the IMF delegation has neglected the situation of economic crisis and devastating floods being faced by Pakistan and strict terms and conditions are being imposed by IMF on Pakistan? Can we imply that IMF is exploiting current difficult situation being faced by Pakistan? What are your comments?

Secondly, please share any update on the Pakistan-Afghanistan relations as it was being said that Afghan soil was used for carrying out terrorist activities in Pakistan. Is there any development on particularly this issue between the two countries? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: Regarding your first question the talks with IMF are on-going and for further details I would refer you to Ministry of Finance which takes the lead on these matters and is in consultations with the IMF.

I think your second question is more of a statement than a question. I would like to refer you to my earlier statements in which I had said that our discussions take place regularly with Afghan authorities at various levels and these discussions are ongoing including on security matters.

Question: ​There are media reports that 190 Pakistani Hindus having Indian visas intended to visit India and they have been stopped from travelling to India by Pakistani immigration authorities. Can you confirm these reports?

Secondly, there are some reports regarding blast in Peshawar that Pakistan is seeking help from Iran and Afghanistan to take action against TTP and end its hideouts from their countries. Please share some details on this matter? (Ghulam Abbas Jaffar, Daily District News)
Answer: In response to your second question, both Iran and Afghanistan are our important neighbors. Pakistan continues to engage with them on border and security related issues. This conversation is ongoing.

On your other question, as I briefed your earlier, pilgrimage related visits that Pakistanis undertake to India are undertaken under specific protocols that exist between Pakistan and India. Pakistan fulfills its obligations under these agreements and protocols.

Question:​ My first question is that, are there any Pakistani casualties or injuries reported in the recent earthquake in Syria and Turkiye?

Secondly, last week in Washington, while speaking to media, Foreign Minister said that there would be talks between Pakistan and United States about counter terrorism next month. So, can you share any details about those talks that when and where they are going to take place and what is the agenda of these counter terrorism talks? (Shabir Waghra, PTV World)
Answer: First, regarding the reports of casualties, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, our Missions are in contact with the host governments and the Pakistani community. They stand ready to respond to any reports that require their attention for Pakistanis in distress. So far, we have no news of casualties either in Syria or in Turkiye.

Regarding your second question, I would like to state that Pakistan and the United States have a number of mechanisms and dialogue processes. We are very pleased that many of these dialogue processes are now active again and some of these dialogues will be held in coming days. We will announce the dates and the details of these Meetings at the right time – may be closer to the dates.

Question: ​We’re seeing that the Moscow format talks are being held in Moscow at the level of National Security Advisor and we saw that Ambassador Zamir Kabulov had also extended an invite to the Minister of State to participate in the Moscow format meeting during his visit to Pakistan in the third week of January as per the Russian readout. So, has Pakistan participated. If so, then who is representing Pakistan?

Secondly, has the Pakistani Head of Mission Mr. Ubaid Ur Rehman Nizamani gone back to Afghanistan? If not, then can you please share any update with regards to him going back to Afghanistan? (Anas Mallick, Capital TV)

Answer: Ambassador Ubaid Nizamani is still in Pakistan. At this stage, we have not made a decision on his return and we are assessing the conditions that are necessary for his return.

Regarding your question about the security meeting currently underway in Moscow, I would like to point out that it is not a meeting of the Moscow Format, of which Pakistan is an active member. We are party to several bilateral, trilateral, quadrilateral and multilateral mechanisms for dialogue and these include the Moscow format, and SCO Contact group on Afghanistan. Pakistan will continue to participate in and play its role in all such mechanisms and initiatives that we think would contribute to peace and security in Afghanistan.

Question:​ Since the situation on Pakistan – Afghanistan border has started to deteriorate and Pakistanis have been killed, we were also asking question regarding this issue and you shared in your responses that talks are ongoing between both countries and that you’ll share the details soon. But, no details have been shared till now. Can you at least let us know that on what level these talks are being held and is there any timeframe in which there will be tangible development on this matter?

Secondly, Pakistani Chief of Army Staff was on a visit to UK for dialogues or talks from 5th to 9th February. In recent media reports it is being said that he has left for U.S. Is Foreign office aware about any details that what is the agenda of his visit to U.S., because there are rumors that a military action is being planned against TTP and he has gone to U.S. to get the financial support? What is your take on this issue? (Mazhar Iqbal, PNN)

Answer: I do not have the details of the programme of the Chief of Army Staff. I need to check with the relevant Division. ISPR I think would have more authentic information to share with you. I would, however, like to underline that the visits of the COAS and our defence officials are aimed at enhancing mutual understanding and cooperation in the defence and security domains between Pakistan and the countries they visit. We are confident that ongoing visit of the COAS to the U.K. will result in enhanced mutual understanding and cooperation in defense and security related issues.

On your first question, I would like to reiterate that Pakistan’s dialogue and cooperation with Iran and with Afghanistan have multifaceted agenda and include trade, security and defense as well as border issues. As I underlined in my last briefing, our Foreign Minister held a very productive meeting with the Foreign Minister of Iran on the sidelines of the ECO Ministerial meeting. In the meeting, there was a detailed discussion on all aspects of bilateral cooperation between Pakistan and Iran. We are, therefore, quite encouraged with our dialogue with Iran. Since your question about Afghanistan pertains to intelligence and security matters, we would not like to make public the details of security related discussions. When there is a concrete outcome, we will share with the media.

Question:​ I would like to ask a follow up to the Moscow question because you rightly pointed out that it is a multilateral consultation of Security Council secretaries and National Security Advisers on Afghanistan. The picture that I see that has been released by the Russian MFA also does not have a Pakistani flag. So now, my question precisely is, was Pakistan invited for this meeting? Given that, it was a meeting of the regional stakeholders did we choose not to participate? (Anas Mallick, Capital TV)

Answer: As said earlier Pakistan is party to several bilateral, trilateral, quadrilateral and multilateral mechanisms for dialogue and these include the Moscow format, and SCO Contact group on Afghanistan. Our decision not to participate in the instant meeting was made in light of our consideration that Pakistan can make a better contribution in formats and forums which can contribute constructively to peace in Afghanistan. We will continue to participate in all these mechanisms to their full potential and will continue to engage with our partners to contribute to peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Thank you.

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