September 8, 2022| Media Briefing|
[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.
The nation is resolutely braving the disastrous consequences of the climate-induced calamity. Disruption of lives and livelihoods, destruction of infrastructure and devastation brought about by the unprecedented rains and floods across various parts of Pakistan is really heart-wrenching. Over 33 million of our compatriots are affected – millions displaced from their homes and in need of shelter, over 1300 lives lost and more than 13000 injured.
The rescue and relief operations by the Government of Pakistan are continuing in all affected areas, including with support of the international community. A large number of our friends and partners have stepped forward with assistance to buttress the Government led relief efforts. Till yesterday, 50 flights carrying humanitarian assistance from China, France, Jordan, Qatar, Turkiye, Turkmenistan, UAE, UNICEF, UNHCR, Uzbekistan and WFP have reached Pakistan. Along with that many countries and international organizations have extended cash or in-kind assistance. We are thankful to the international community for their generous support in this hour of need.
As previously informed, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will be visiting Pakistan for two days from tomorrow as an expression of global solidarity and support for Pakistan.
The Secretary-General will meet the Prime Minister, visit the National Flood Response and Coordination Centre (NFRCC), have a joint presser with the Prime Minister, and hold talks with the Foreign Minister followed by a joint press stakeout here at the Foreign Office, besides other engagements, all related to the floods response. He will also visit areas most affected by flooding including in Balochistan and Sindh where he will meet first responders and interact with people displaced by the floods. He will also have a press talk at Karachi airport tomorrow evening having personally witnessed the situation in several flood-hit regions.
We will be sharing further details about this extremely important visit, and keep you apprised of the SG’s activities while he is in Pakistan.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
During the week, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif received Turkish Minister for Interior, Turkish Minister for Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change, Chairman of Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management (AFAD), Director General for Turkish Low-Cost Housing Agency (TOKI) accompanying the delegation. The Prime Minister expressed his profound gratitude to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his phone call to offer sympathies and condolences, and for dispatch of immediate humanitarian relief assistance for the flood affectees.
The Prime Minister also held a telephonic conversation with the Amir of the State of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani on 4th September. The Prime Minister thanked the Amir for relief support provided by Qatar, including the air bridge established by Qatar for the provision of goods and equipment, as well as the establishment of a field hospital in Sindh.
On the same day, in a telephonic conversation with the Prime Minister, Prince Rahim Aga Khan conveyed the message of good wishes from the Aga Khan and announced a donation of 10 million dollars to help flood victims.
On 5th September, a U.S. Congressional delegation (CODEL) led by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee called on the Prime Minister, who expressed satisfaction at the upward trajectory in the Pak-US relationship and underlined the need for a constructive and sustained engagement, based on mutual respect, trust and understanding. The Prime Minister appreciated the flood relief assistance being provided by the U.S. He noted that the Congressional delegation’s visit would help enhance global awareness of the scale of destruction caused by the super floods in Pakistan and mobilize greater support.
Later the same day, the Congressional delegation also called on Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. The Foreign Minister appreciated the delegation’s visit to Pakistan at a time when ‘super floods’ had ravaged the country and highlighted the government’s full engagement and response in the challenging situation.
On 2nd September, the Foreign Minister received telephone call from the Foreign Minister of UAE Sheikh Abdullah who reaffirmed UAE’s solidarity with Pakistan. The Foreign Minister thanked him for UAE’s strong support for the flood-affected people of Pakistan.
The same day, Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud called Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari expressing solidarity with Pakistan in the wake of the flood situation. The Foreign Minister thanked him for continued assistance for the people of Pakistan.
On September 1, the Foreign Minister received telephone call from Dr. Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Foreign Minister of Iran. He conveyed condolences on the loss of lives and material damage due to the floods.
Yesterday, the Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka Ali Sabry called the Foreign Minister Bilawal to convey condolences and solidarity for the flood affected people of Pakistan.
We thank the international community for standing with us in these difficult times. This support and solidarity means a lot when the entire nation – every individual, businesses, civil society and organizations are coming forward in a big way to face this colossal challenge with resilience, strength, and unity.
As you would have followed, two-day International Conference on “Promoting Strategic Trade Controls through International Cooperation” was held in Islamabad on 5-6 September 2022. The event was jointly organized by Strategic Export Control Division (SECDIV) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and The Institute of Policy Studies (NIPS) of the National University of Science and Technology (NUST).
Independent experts and governmental representatives from different countries, international export control regimes including Chairs of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), UNSCR-1540 Committee as well as academia and industry participated in the Conference. The conference was attended by over two hundred participants including thirty-six foreign delegates.
During the inaugural session, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar underlined that Pakistan possesses the expertise, infrastructure, human resource, and the ability to supply items listed in Control Lists of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). She emphasized the need to have objective criteria for the NSG membership of non-NPT States that should be applied without discrimination.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Indian Occupation Forces martyred seven Kashmiri youth in extra-judicial killing and fake encounters in Shopian, Islamabad and Rajouri areas in the past week. We condemn this unabated state-terrorism resulting in cold-blooded murder of innocent civilians. India must be called to account for its grave violations of international human rights and humanitarian laws, its autocratic suspension of civil liberties and continuing oppression of the Kashmiri people.
We strongly condemn the extra-judicial killing of a Pakistani national-Tabarak Hussain by Indian occupation forces in Rajouri. To register Pakistan’s strong protest, Indian CdA was called to the Ministry on 5 September.
Government of India has been called upon to share the details of the incident, including a credible post-mortem report to determine the cause of death and undertake a transparent investigation to bring to account whoever is responsible for the murder of the Pakistani prisoner.
Ladies & Gentlemen,
Since this morning, you would have followed the visit by the U.S State Department Counselor Derek Chollet who has had important meetings including with the Foreign Minister. The Foreign Minister was live briefly with the Counselor, where the Foreign Minister mentioned continuing good momentum in Pak-U.S relations and the solidarity that has been expressed by such visits with regard to the floods, and there was this Congressional delegation before this visit; and as you are aware the USAID Administrator is also in Pakistan. So, all of this is welcome. During the meeting with Mr. Chollet, there was discussion on the broader bilateral agenda including climate change that has assumed great importance in the context of the recent disaster in Pakistan.
With that I would like to conclude. I thank you and am ready to take your questions.
Question: Pakistan has always been well-wisher of Afghanistan and its people, and we have always tried to help them in difficult times. Yesterday, very unfortunate scenes were observed in playground after a cricket match in Sharjah. What are your comments on that?
Secondly, the dialogue process between Pakistan and India is in a state of deadlock. Until the dialogue process is initiated, the relations between the two countries cannot improve. Is there any hope that one of the two countries takes the first step towards initiation of a dialogue through back door diplomacy or any other means? Can you comment on this? (Khawaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)
Answer: Thank you. On your second question, our position is very clear. We have always been ready and willing for a result-oriented and meaningful dialogue that can address the issues that have bedeviled the relationship between Pakistan and India. As you are aware, the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is the core dispute between the two countries. We have always been open and have never shied away from dialogue. It is India that has not been willing to engage in such a dialogue with Pakistan.
The illegal and unilateral actions that India took in IIOJK on 5th August 2019, and all subsequent illegal actions, as you are aware, further vitiated the environment and seriously damaged the trust that is required for such dialogues, We have urged India to take the necessary steps, including the reversal of all those illegal actions in order to create an environment in which a meaningful and result-oriented dialogue can take place. The onus remains on India in this regard.
You have referred to the Pakistan – Afghanistan cricket match. I think what happens on the cricket field should be left there. There are sometimes heightened emotions and that is normal. We should be mindful of the close and brotherly relations that exist between Pakistan and Afghanistan – the historical, cultural affinities, and the strong spirit of brotherhood that is there between our two peoples. I do not think it is going to be impacted by any such emotions in the sports arena.
Question: Pakistan is faced with devastating floods; we have seen the commitments by the international community the pledges made, which are certainly not enough. Just today, Express Tribune reported that a baby starves to death after crying for food all night. We see that the West is busy in funding of war in Ukraine and conflicts in the Indo-Pacific region, and they have too much on their plate. So, is that an option for Pakistan to buy cheaper gas and oil from Iran and Russia to save enough funds to assist its efforts in helping the flood affectees? (Essa Naqvi, Independent)
Supplementary Question: On 30th August Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif mentioned that Pakistan and Russia continue negotiations about Russian wheat import. Can you share any broader details? What amount of wheat is considered to be purchased? What is the expected price by Pakistan? (Ruslan Bekniyazov, ITAR-TASS News)
Answer: On the last one, let me recall that there was a decision by the Government, in view of the shortage of food grain in Pakistan, to procure wheat, and a part of that was through international tenders and a part of that was on GTG basis, in which different options were under consideration, and Russia was clearly one of them. And, I understand the discussions about that have been ongoing. The relevant Ministries would have more detailed and exact information on the matter.
About the flood situation and the resulting devastation, you are right that the requirements are enormous and the speed of response and the scale of assistance that needs to be provided to over 33 million people who have been affected, that poses huge requirements.
So, as you have been hearing from us, from NFRCC, from many Ministers, including the Prime Minister himself, there is a coordinated national effort to respond to this massive challenge. However, the magnitude of this disaster is so big that it exceeds our capacities and resources. That is where the importance of international community’s assistance comes in; and their response has been very forthcoming.
You are aware that many countries and international organizations have stepped forward and pledged assistance, while responding also to the UN flash appeal, providing assistance bilaterally to the government, working through various UN agencies, and through NGOs and INGOs. So it’s a full scale effort that is ongoing. But I would agree that a lot more needs to be done because the requirements far exceed the response.
Question: It is being reported in American media that there has been a contract of USD 450 million regarding F-16 related equipment which will be to support Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts. Can you confirm these reports? (Khalid Mehmood, Express News)
Supplementary Question: I would also like to ask this same very thing, that US State Department has approved sale of F-16 equipment to Pakistan, as revealed by Department of Defense statement. I need your comment.
And secondly, how important do you see this at this point of time? Is it because of significance of Pak-US relations as well? Can you comment on that? (Saima Shabbir, Arab News)
Supplementary Question: As U.S. State Department has approved a proposed deal for potential sale of F-16 aircraft spares and other equipment to Pakistan, could you please share with us details about the number of F-16 aircrafts for which Pakistan will purchase the spares and equipment from U.S. after the formal approval of the deal by American Congress?? (Jaleel Akhtar, VOA)
Answer: I think for technical details, obviously, I would like to refer you to the relevant departments. I do not want to comment on that. But what I would like to say is that we have noted this development. We have also noted that this proposal has been sent to the Congress for notification. We think this is a step in the right direction, and it will contribute to further solidifying and strengthening our bilateral relations. And as you as you notice there is a lot that is happening between U.S. and Pakistan to advance our relations on the positive track.
Question: The 77th Session of United Nations General Assembly will commence from next week. What is the update on the official delegation of Pakistan? Will Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif lead this delegation? (Nuaman Ishfaq Mughal, Daily Parliament Times)
Answer: Yes, this is an important annual gathering of Heads of State and Government and as I indicated earlier also, there is going to be a high-level participation from Pakistan. We will share more details as we approach closer to UNGA vis-à-vis participation, meetings, engagements on sidelines and other activities that will take place during the visit.
Question: Last week we saw uncalled for comments being made by the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, where she linked the sending of aid to Pakistan, amidst the flood catastrophe, to what she said was victory and it was their responsibility. Now, in the presence of such comments, will Pakistan be accepting any form of aid for flood relief from Bangladesh?
Secondly, after the match yesterday, we saw a ruckus being created inside and outside the stadium by Afghan fans against Pakistani fans in Sharjah. Now my question is, has the matter been formally taken up with the UAE authorities to ensure protection of Pakistani nationals in UAE, particularly those who go to enjoy the cricket match? Thank you. (Anas Mallick, Capital TV)
Answer: On the second, I will check with our Embassy, I am sure any required action that was on part of the Mission they would have been initiated. On your first observation, we have noted that statement.
Question: You gave details and earlier curtain raiser was also issued regarding US Secretary General’s visit. Other than floods while holding talks at the Foreign Ministry with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, will political issues come under discussion? Will Pakistan apprise him about latest situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and security situation in the region, and the threatening postures and statements that emanate from New Delhi against Pakistan? Thank you. (Mateen Haider, G News)
Answer: I think it’s very clear, that the primary objective of the Secretary General’s visit is related to the serious situation that has arisen from the unprecedented floods. That is going to be the focus during his visit; that is our objective also.
We want this visit to further highlight and create greater global awareness about this huge challenge that Pakistan is facing right now. In this context, the Secretary General will also raise awareness about the linkages of such mega disasters with the frightening impact of climate change. It is a priority for us.
We will also have discussions with him on the next steps as we transition from the rescue and relief operation to medium to longer term reconstruction and rehabilitation phase. We look forward to working with the Secretary General on these aspects.
Having said that, obviously, when the Secretary-General is in town, and when we are going to have delegation-level talks, other things including cooperation with the UN, the regional situation, the situation in IIOJK in particular, and other issues like developments in Afghanistan will also come under discussion.
Question: I want to know that humanitarian assistance goods which are being received by Pakistan from various countries, how much of it is actually reaching the flood affectees, because it has been reported in various surveys that it is not reaching the flood affectees?
Secondly, Indian terrorist Kulbhushan Jadhav was allowed to meet his family. Now, Mushaal Mullick has desired to meet her husband Mr. Yasin Malik who is in Indian custody. Will Pakistan play its role in this matter? (Shahzad Hassan Mirza, Daily Media)
Answer: On your second question, I think we should not be linking the two. Kulbhushan Jadhav is a terrorist, he was apprehended red-handed, and it is a completely different context.
Mr. Yasin Malik’s illegal detention is another thing altogether. We have expressed our strong position on the matter on many occasions. We have also been asking the international community to play its due role in pressurizing India to promptly end the illegal incarceration of Mr. Malik and respect his legal and human rights.
Regarding the assistance that is coming from abroad, as I was explaining earlier, the requirements are huge and the assistance that is coming from outside, is meeting a part of that requirement.
If you notice within the country, there is a huge mobilization of effort by individuals, by civil society, NGOs, businesses, and others and they are collecting and distributing relief goods and materials, food, and other items on ground.
The valuable assistance that is coming from outside is addressing some of the core requirements like shelter as well as food, medicine, water pumps and other things, which are being very appropriately, and I would say in a very efficient and speedy manner being received and then further distributed by NDMA and relevant provincial authorities. I think you can request for further details regarding the mechanisms for that distribution from NDMA and other concerned agencies as well.
Question: Is there any update regarding the dialogue between Pakistan, Afghanistan and TTP? We have also observed that there is an increase of attacks inside Pakistan, particularly in last six to seven months.
Secondly, regarding the United Nations flash appeal, have we received any message or any commitment from Russia? (Azaz Syed, Geo News)
Answer: I don’t have any particular update on your first question. I think whenever we have any information, we would like to share with you but these past days and weeks, everyone is really focused on the flood relief effort. I will have to check on your second question and revert.
Question:Today, the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee has directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take up the issue of yesterday’s Pak-Afghan match with the Afghan and UAE authorities and lodge strong protests with them. (Naveed Siddiqui, Dawn)
Secondly, Senate Foreign Affairs Committee came very hard on the performance of the Foreign Missions and Embassies of Pakistan, your comments on this.
Answer: I haven’t got feedback from the meeting. Whenever there are such meetings, we brief the honourable members fully on whatever issues are there on the agenda. As for the work of our Missions abroad, we provide a full picture of the range of activities they undertake to promote the interests of Pakistan. If there are any observations from the members, obviously, we take note and we do our best to address them. And I can say that if they have made any observations with regard to what happened yesterday, appropriate actions will be taken.
Question: It has been estimated that approximately a loss of USD 10 billion has been incurred due to recent floods in the country. Foreign Minister’s media team issued a statement that an appeal has been made to the UN and consequently a lot of humanitarian aid will come in, which turned out to be around USD 160 million. The amount of USD 160 million is very small as compared to the total loss. Foreign Minister’s media team pretended that the goal has been achieved, why was this done in haste? What are you comments on this please? (Zulqernain Haider, ARY News)
Answer: I think there is lack of understanding, and I responded to a similar question in the last briefing also, if you can have a look at that.
Question: Two citizens of IIOJK are imprisoned in central jail of Gilgit Baltistan since 2018. They were declared Indian spies in 2020. Their names are Feroz Ahmad Loan and Noor Ahmad Wani. In April 2022, a session court of Gilgit Baltistan declared them innocent and issued orders for their release and deportation but there have been no implementation on the orders up till now. On 29th August they have again requested for the implementation of court orders for their release and deportation. Has this issue been raised with the Indian side? Can you share some details about this case? (Syed Faisal Ali, Daily State Views)
Answer: I will have to get details about that case.
Last modified: September 8, 2022
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