Record of Press Briefing by Spokesperson on Thursday, 06 December 2018
(2018-12-06) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]
Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim,
Assalaam o Alaikum,
US President Donald Trump, in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Imran Khan stated that his most important regional priority was achieving a negotiated settlement of the Afghan war. In this regard, he sought Pakistan's support and facilitation.
President Trump has also acknowledged that the war had cost both USA and Pakistan. He has emphasized that Pakistan and USA should explore opportunities to work together and renew partnership.
Since Pakistan has always advocated a political settlement to end war in Afghanistan, US decision is welcomed. Pakistan reiterates its commitment to play a facilitation role in good faith. Peace and stability in Afghanistan remain a shared responsibility.
Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Peace and Reconciliation in Afghanistan met the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Foreign Secretary. The Foreign Minster underscored Pakistan's steadfast support for a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan.
Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi also met the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. KentaroSonoura. While welcoming Mr. KentaroSonoura, the Foreign Minister said that Pakistan regards Japan as friend and an economic partner.
The National Security Advisor expressed his earnest desire to further strengthen bilateral relations between Pakistan and Japan in the days to come.
Foreign Minister reiterated that the Government was focusing on socio-economic uplift of the people of Pakistan and furthering regional peace and stability. While briefing the Japanese side on CPEC, an economic undertaking between China and Pakistan, he invited Japanese investment in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and assured facilitation to Japanese investors.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in a ceremony held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, distributed books, school bags, stationary and items of winter clothing among 200 Afghan refugee children as part of the Pakistan-China-Afghanistan collaborative efforts.
Addressing the ceremony, Foreign Minister Qureshi highlighted the hospitality extended by the people of Pakistan to their Afghan brothers and sister during the last four decades. At any given point during these years, on average over three million Afghans have been living in Pakistan. He stated that Pakistan had ensured education facilities to the Afghan refugees similar to its own citizens. Pakistan will continue to invest in the education of the refugee children as it is a real investment for a prosperous future of Afghanistan. He also underscored the importance of trilateral cooperation between Pakistan-China-Afghanistan for peace in Afghanistan and the region, deepening connectivity, mutual development and economic prosperity.
On this occasion, Ambassador of China Yao Jing appreciated Pakistan's continued hospitality to millions of Afghan refugees and expressed his country's desire to work for expanding trilateral cooperation in areas of mutual interests. The Afghan C.d'A thanked Pakistan for hosting Afghan refugees for almost four decades and stated that the trilateral cooperation will contribute towards peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Besides his engagements with diplomatic corps, FM Qureshi also met the President & CEO, Telenor Group Sigve Brekke. Mr. Brekke briefed the Foreign Minister regarding Telenor Group's investment in Pakistan and its popular products like Easy Paisa and Khushal Zamindar. Deliberating on Telenor's future investment plans, he said that technology was being used to provide financial platform to the consumers at their fingertips.
The Foreign Minister appreciated Telenor's US$ 3.5 billion investment in Pakistan and its innovative approach in providing diverse services to its customer base.
Now some updates from Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, where relentless and unabated Indian atrocities, violence and savagery continue.
I want to highlight the plight of the 18 month old child Baby Hiba, whose world has been darkened by the Indian State brutality. This 18 month old child received pellet injuries to her eye, and now faces a sightless future. She is the youngest victim of pellet gun injury. With a pellet lodged deep inside her eye & injury to parts critical for vision the chances of her losing vision in her affected eyes are high. Hiba needs urgent medical care abroad, to at least give her a chance at some semblance of a normal life. This further proves that India considers Kashmiris as children of a lesser God. We hope that the predicament of young Hiba and many of those before her, who met the same fate at the hands of Indian occupation Forces will serve as a reminder to the conscience of the international community and the champions of human rights for urging India to put an immediate halt to its atrocities and the need of urgent resolution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute.
We strongly condemn the illegal detention of APHC Chairman Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and Mohammad Yasin Malik. We also condemn the shifting of illegally detained Hurriyat leaders and activists from Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir to Indian Jails. The deteriorating health of senior Hurriyat leaders, including Shabbir Ahmad Shah, Massarat Alam Bhatt, Syeda Aasiya Andrabi, Nahida Nasreen, Fahmida Sofi, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Mohammad Aiyaz Akbar, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Peer Saifullah, Mehrajudin Kalwal, Farooq Ahmad Dar, Ghulam Muhammad Khan Sopori, Maulana SarjanBarkati, Shabbir Ahmad Dar, Mushtaq-ul-Islam, Qazi Yasir Ahmad, Nisar Ahmad Rather and hundreds of other leaders and activists languishing in notorious Indian Tihar Jail in New Delhi and other different jails and interrogations centres in occupied Kashmir is also a matter of concern for us.
Additionally, in November this year, the Indian occupation forces during so-called cordon and search operations killed twenty four (24) Kashmiris, both men &women including Azad Ahmad Malik, Unas Shafi Bhat, Basit Ahmad Mir, Atif Nazar, Firdous Ahmad, Shahid Ahmad, Umar Majid Ganje, Waseem Ahmad Wagay, Mushtaq Ahmad Mir, Abbas Ahmad Bhat, Khalid Farooq Malik, Waseem Ahmad, Ajaz Ahmad Makroo, Waris Ahmad Malik, Shakir Hassan Dar, Naveed Jatt, Mehraj-ud-Din Khan, Adnan Ahmad Lone (B.Tech student), Adil Bilal Bhat, Ishfaq Ahmad Ganaie, (28-year-old), Muskaan Jan (14-year-old girl ), Noman Ashraf (16-year-old) and Raja Begum (80-year -old) in Shopian, Kulgam, Pulwam and Budgam districts of the Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir.
India should stop misleading the international community and accept ground realities and aspirations of the people of Kashmir instead of continuing with its policy of brutal obduracy in the territory.
The floor is now open for questions.
Reportedly the US has sought Pakistan's assistance for Afghan peace process. Recently, the NATO Secretary General has also highlighted the same. The US has now been embroiled in an 18-years conflict in Afghanistan. By asking for Pakistan's assistance, do you think, that the US is looking for an exit from war- torn Afghanistan? (Khawaja Nayyer - Kashmir Post)
We must appreciate the newfound love for Pakistan in the heart of US Administration. My question is when the US Special Representative on Afghanistan on Reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad met various leaders in Islamabad, did we discuss some new terms of engagement with the US, which support Pakistan's stance as Pakistan has paid a heavy price (which was not previously recognized by the Trump Administration) in this war? (Syed Mohsin Raza - Daily Assas Publication)
We have recently seen a statement confirming the receipt of a letter from President Trump addressed to Prime Minister Imran Khan. Can you please confirm if this letter was written prior to the tweets between the two leaders? Secondly, after the receipt of this letter, will Pakistan take up its case with the US for the expenditure incurred on providing transit routes to the US and its NATO allies, as prior to this, the US has repeatedly said that Pakistan has been taking money from them without any support to the US? (Mr. Asghar Ali Mubarak - Daily Mail Islamabad)
Presently, we are witnessing a change in US position on Afghanistan. Earlier, the US side was pursuing action against Taliban and now it is trying to engage Taliban through talks. What are your comments? Secondly, our CSF reimbursement was suspended by US on the pretext that Pakistan was not doing enough against Taliban, especially the Haqqani Network. Now, that the US is making efforts to engage with the Taliban for a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan, will Pakistan approach the US for its outstanding claims under the CSF? Thirdly, there are news that a delegation comprising Afghan Taliban is in Pakistan. Can you comment on the veracity of this news? (Mr. Ali Hussain - Business Recorder)
Pakistan has consistently maintained that the solution to the war in Afghanistan lies in a negotiated settlement. It is heartening to know that the US is finally realizing the same. I cannot share the details with you at this moment. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad was in Pakistan for discussions. There is also activity in Qatar. We also remain engaged with the Afghan Government regarding the peace process. The point that has to be registered is that all the stakeholders involved in the Afghan peace process are now in agreement with our considered position that the solution to the Afghan conflict rests in dialogue through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process.
Regarding the question on reimbursements, it is a separate matter and our position remains constant.
I have no information regarding the question pertaining to the Taliban delegation in Islamabad.
Reportedly, Foreign Minister is planning to visit Kabul in the near future. What will be the agenda of the visit?
Reportedly, an MoU is also on the cards. Can you tell us something on this?
Will the ongoing Afghan re-conciliation be discussed during the visit? (Mr. Naveed Siddiqui - Dawn News)
It is a bit early to comment on the matter but we will update you in due course.
Regarding, President Trump's request to Pakistan, do you think that Pakistan will be able to easily bring Taliban to the negotiating table? (Chaudhary Hassan Riaz - Channel-5)
We have been repeatedly saying that Pakistan has its limitations regarding Taliban. However, we continue to make all possible efforts in this regard. I would again emphasize that the point to be registered is that all stakeholders now agree with Pakistan's position that the final settlement of the Afghan conflict can only be achieved through dialogue.
Reportedly the incident of Karachi Chinese consulate attack involved elements of the proscribed BLA. It is alleged that they receive support from NDS and RAW nexus through Afghanistan. Do Pakistan and China plan to raise this issue with Afghanistan through the trilateral mechanism that they have on Afghanistan?
Secondly, we saw a question being raised in a meeting of the Prime Minister with the Indian Journalists regarding an Indian prisoner, Hamid Nehal Ansari, being held on espionage charges. Reportedly, his sentence is due to end on 14th December 2018. Any update on this, please? (Mr. Anas Malick - WION News)
The Government of Pakistan has strongly condemned the unfortunate incident of attack on Chinese Consulate in Karachi which was successfully foiled by the law enforcement officials, two of whom embraced martyrdom during the incident.
Immediate outpouring of sympathy and good wishes for the martyrs from Chinese leadership and people underscores the unbreakable bonds of friendship and trust between Pakistan and China.
The Government of Pakistan has taken additional security measures to further beef up the security of the Chinese diplomatic Missions, nationals and interests in Pakistan. We are fully committed to ensure foolproof security of Chinese nationals living in Pakistan as well as all other foreign resident Missions in the country. All necessary measures have been taken to ensure security of foreign resident Missions in Pakistan.
Regarding your question on Hamid Nehal Ansari, I will get back to you with details.
Apparently, what transpires from President Trump's letter to the Prime Minister is that President Trump has taken a U-turn. Your comments please?
I would also like to ask about the current status regarding Pakistan's listing in FATF and whether US has or will support Pakistan? (Mr. Shamim - Online News Agency)
I have already commented on President Trump's letter.
For FATF, I would refer you to the Ministry of Finance, which is the lead Ministry on the matter.
China's official broadcaster CGTN, while reporting on the terrorist attacks in Karachi has shown a map of Pakistan in which the Azad Jammu and Kashmir was shown as part of India. Has Pakistan officially taken the matter up with the Chinese side?
Secondly, with regards to Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad's visit to Pakistan, last time when he visited, it was reported that talks on Afghan reconciliation process have been held but later it transpired that as a result of his visit Mulla Baradar was released. Has the US Special Representative brought some new demands during his recently concluded visit?
Has Pakistan also put forth its own demands to the US? (Mr. Majid Jarral - News One)
China has offered mediation between Pakistan and India on the Jammu & Kashmir dispute. What are your comments? (Mr. Asghar Ali Mubarak - Daily Mail Islamabad)
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has informed our Mission, that the map shown by CGTN portrays Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory and is therefore shown in white, while the maps of Pakistan and India are brown. This map is in accordance with the approved maps used by the Chinese government and the United Nations. They further said that 'their position on Jammu and Kashmir and maps has never changed'.
Regarding your second question, you spoke of the demands being made by Americans regarding Afghanistan. I want to clarify that when we negotiate there are no pre-set demands. Both sides give their positions and we try to identify converging areas to move forward. This is diplomacy. It remains our desire that matters may be resolved through dialogue rather than resorting to settlement through gun.
Regarding the question on Chinese offer for mediation between Pakistan and India on Jammu and Kashmir, we have been calling for a dialogue with India on this matter. However, things can only move forward if India sees reason and agrees to it.
First, the US dollar price is out of control. The Foreign Policy of Pakistan failed to control the price of the dollar. I want to ask what steps have you taken so far to control the price of dollar?
Secondly, there is money laundering going on in Pakistan. We see Indian currency freely available all around Pakistan. On one hand, for the last seventy years we fought wars maintaining that India is trying to destabilize Pakistan and yet we cannot curtail this? Your comments please! (Mr. Salman Hashmir - Forensic Eye)
The questions pertain to the Ministry of Finance and the State Bank.
There are reports that Gilgit-Baltistan will be granted the status of a Province provisionally till the settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. Can you please confirm this?
Secondly, the Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan has made reservations that the authority delegated under the order of 2018 is being revoked by the Centre which he narrated during his speech in the GB Assembly. Your comment on this please?
Thirdly, after the opening of Kartarpur Corridor, there are demands coming from both sides for the opening of Kargil-Ladakh, Kargil-Skardu and other similar route, connecting the two parts of Jammu & Kashmir, in line with the 2007-2008 agreements. There are also reservations that since China is not supportive of the opening of these corridors, Pakistan is not willing to consider these demands. Can you please elaborate? (Mr. Fida Hussain - Radio News Network)
As reported in the media, reforms in Gilgit-Baltistan are on the agenda for the Cabinet Meeting today. Yesterday, the Governor Gilgit-Baltistan met the Foreign Minister. You must have seen the Press Release issued by this Ministry. I would not be able to say much beyond what has already been said. However, I can assure you that all steps that are being taken, and will be taken in the future, are aimed at empowerment of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. There will be good news for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. We want to empower them and strengthen their role.
Regarding your third question, opening of Kartarpur Corridor was announced by the Prime Minister. We can only move forward if India remains steadfast. India's reluctance in reciprocating to Pakistan's proposal is the biggest hurdle in normalization of relations between the two countries. As you all know, the Prime Minister in his letter to Prime Minister Modi outlined a comprehensive way forward for resolving all outstanding issues between both countries, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, Sir Creek, Siachen, people to people contacts, trade and religious tourism.
Regrettably, as you all know India agreed to our proposal one day, only to renege on their commitment the next day. There is lack of clarity and will, on the Indian side. They have their domestic elections round the corner which have overtaken their policy. It is India that has to agree to work on the proposals that you just mentioned and to a comprehensive dialogue, in general. No other country is involved in this.
Sir I want to ask about the Quadrilateral Group on Afghanistan. What is the status of that Group? Is it still alive? (Mr. Naveed Akbar - Aaj News)
The group exists but there is no update on that.
Sir, I want to ask about the return of Afghan refugees. What is the update on that? (Sardar Amer H. Alamgir - Royal News)
Under the APAPPS, negotiations are being held. We also released a Press Release in this regard.
There are reports that the Prime Minister will soon be visiting Qatar. Is this visit being undertaken to reduce tensions between Saudi Arabia and Qatar? If this is true, would you like to share the dates of the visit?
My second question is related to the Foreign Office. Our Ambassadors in Riyadh and Beijing are due to complete their postings. Has the Foreign Office nominated new Envoys for these posts? (Mr. Mateen Haider - G-News)
We will respond on the Qatar visit once we get the details.
As far as new Envoys are concerned, I have no information on that right now.
Was the Kartarpur Corridor opening also part of President Trump's letter to the Prime Minister Imran Khan? (Mr. Shakeel Kilyana - Daily Relations Times)
The Kartarpur Corridor is Pakistan's initiative. The US has also issued a press statement terming it as a welcome initiative.
Reportedly, Americans are in direct contact with the Taliban through their Doha Office. What kind of assistance does US require from Pakistan?
Secondly, during political consultations between Pakistan and Iran held recently at MoFA, what was discussed with regard to Pakistan's role for defusing tension in Yemen crisis? (Ms. Koser Lodhi - Prime News)
On your first question, I cannot share the details.
On your second question, we have already issued a Press Release on this and you may please refer to that.
You spoke of Kartarpur Corridor and America welcoming the opening of this Corridor. On the other hand, on Mumbai Attacks, the Americans have officially issued an advertisement seeking evidence that may lead to prosecution of the facilitators of the Mumbai Attacks. This has been issued by the US after its transpired that allegedly Ajmal Kasab was an Indian national. What are your comments on that? (Mr. Asghar Ali Mubarak - Daily Mail Islamabad)
Regarding the Mumbai trial, the matter is sub-judice, so I will not comment on it, except to emphasize that it is a complex case. Hearings are regularly held in the ATC and the law of the land will take its course. Justice would be done.
We saw the Indian side commenting on statement of Prime Minister Imran Khan with regards to Jammu & Kashmir dispute at Kartarpur. There was a lot of adverse campaigning done by the Indian side. Your comments?
Secondly, is there a timeline that Pakistan is following for the completion of the Kartarpur Corridor? (Mr. Anas Malick - WION News)
I will take your second question first. The project is being planned to be completed before the 550th Birth Anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak which will take place next year.
With regards to Jammu and Kashmir dispute, if there is any idea in the mind of anybody that due to Kartarpur or any other reason, the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute will be put on the back burner, it is misplaced. Please register that Jammu and Kashmir is our core dispute and it has to be resolved in line with the resolutions of the UN Security Council and the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.
The Kartarpur Corridor project has been inaugurated, now the Modi government is taking credit for it to gain traction with the Sikh community in view of the upcoming elections in India. Does Pakistan feel that India is also showing some interest to normalize relations? (Khawaja Nayyer - Kashmir Post)
Pakistan atleast has not inaugurated the Kartarpur Corridor just to take credit. This was the genuine demands of the Sikh community that was met.
As I told you earlier that Kartarpur is not an isolated event. We wrote a letter to India offering dialogue to resolve all disputed issues in September 2018.
As asked earlier, in November and December this year, a number of positions of Pakistan Ambassadors & Consul General will become vacant. What is their number and who will be replacing them and when? (Mr. Aon Sherazi - Such News)
All appointments will be filled in a timely manner.
For coming to the negotiating table, the Taliban's primary demand was withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan. It is reported that Taliban have sought international guarantees for this demand. Are these guarantees being offered by China or Russia or any other country? (Mr. Mazhar Iqbal - Public TV)
I have already spoken on the matter and I cannot go into the details.
Prime Minister Imran Khan stated that as in the case with EU, we would like to see movement across the border between Pakistan and India and that Kartarpur was a beginning. Are similar arrangements also being considered on the western front? Is ease of movement of people across the border part of our policy for the next five years? (Mr. Haider Sherazi - G-News)
Prime Minister's letter addressed to the Indian Prime Minister mentioned forward movement on people to people contacts, among other issues. Details would have to be finalized. Pakistan desires a peaceful neighborhood. Once India is ready to come to the dialogue table, these issues can be discussed.
With regards to the meeting between the Foreign Minister and the Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan a Press Release was issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, no mention was made in the Press Release with regards to the issues discussed between the two dignitaries. Can you please elaborate on that? (Mr. Fida Hussain - Radio News Network)
The Press Release issued by Ministry of Foreign Affairs suffices.
My question is in line with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan's fight against corruption. Would you like to update us on how many corruption cases from foreign office have been detected by the Foreign Office Audit Team and how many of them have been sent to NAB for investigations, including one from Bulgaria on which you promised that the case is in process and that the gentlemen is likely to be arrested? Any update whether he has been handed over to NAB? (Mr. Mateen Haider - G-News)
I will revert on this.