Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 17th April 2014
[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]
Curtain Raiser – Visit of the President to Nigeria from 21-24 April, 2014.
Can be accessed on our Website (www.mofa.gov.pk)
Now the floor is open for Questions
What is the official procedure of re-acquisition of Pakistani nationality, ID card and Passport once they are rendered? How much time does it usually take between application for a passport and its issuance under normal circumstances?
Secondly, what is the update on Mr. Altaf Hussain’s request for Pakistani ID card and Passport? Has the Foreign Office received a response from the Ministry of Interior on the application?
Thirdly, is there any treaty of exchange of prisoners existing between Pakistan and UK?
I am sorry; you ask such detailed questions but I do not have the answers because the Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not deal with this matter. We provide consular services on behalf of the Ministry of Interior in our Missions abroad. How much time it takes for these services, which are done centrally at NADRA and IMPASS offices, we cannot say. Our people receive the documents and forward them to the Ministry of Interior. These questions may be addressed to the Ministry of Interior.
For your second question, in line with the procedure, we received Mr. Altaf Hussain’s application and forwarded it to the Ministry of Interior. I don’t have any information that a response has been received.
As for your third question, no, we do not have any extradition treaty with the UK nor do we have any arrangement for the exchange of sentenced persons.
The Foreign and Commonwealth office of the United Kingdom recently issued a report in which they have termed Pakistan as a country of concern. They have talked about increased human rights violations and have shown their reservations on the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance (PPO). Your comments please.
Protecting the rights of Pakistani citizens irrespective of their gender, religion, opinions, belief systems and party affiliations is the responsibility of the State of Pakistan as it is the responsibility of all States. Secondly, human rights are universal, they are indivisible and they apply to all. Not just Pakistan but every state which claims to be a civilized member of the comity of nations is required and expected to show respect for human rights. Protecting the rights of Pakistanis is our responsibility and no one can be more concerned about the rights of Pakistani citizens than Pakistani State itself. We, therefore, do not accept unjustified criticism from any quarter. All Governments need to look at their own record. The Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch and other similar organizations issue regular reports about human rights situation in all countries. We hope that as members of the International Community, we can all work together to see how best we can improve the human rights situation worldwide and not to keep the focus on one country.
Can you confirm the dates of the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to United Kingdom? What will be on the agenda?
Secondly, the Afghan Presidential elections have recently concluded. Vigilance was stepped-up on the Pak-Afghan border during the elections. Has the situation reverted to normal? Can we not continue this level of vigilance all year round to ensure better management of the border?
The Prime Minister is expected to visit the United Kingdom at the end of this month or early next month. This visit is at the invitation of his British counterpart who visited Pakistan last year soon after the new government took over in Pakistan. There have been a number of ministerial level visits on both sides that have been, in a way, preparing for the visit at the Head of the Government level. We hope that this visit would bring substantive progress in bilateral relations. We have set ourselves some targets and we have to see how we move forward on those, for instance, the target of achieving a certain trade volume by 2015. We have Enhanced Strategic Partnership and the visit will provide an opportunity to review what has been achieved so far.
As regards the other question, I don’t know exactly what the status is now. You may like to ask ISPR. Managing this border is the responsibility of both sides. Pakistan has already carried extra burden. We have more than 1200 posts, we undertake surveillance and we are keen to introduce bio-metric system on this border. We need to see equally strong measures from the other side and from NATO and ISAF.
What is the status of Pak-US Strategic Dialogue?
One working group under the rubric of Strategic Dialogue has not met. This is the group on Law Enforcement and Counterterrorism Cooperation. All the other groups met. You know the Working Group on Economy and Finance met recently. The Finance Minister visited Washington for that and we had very substantive discussions particularly focusing on energy projects as well as on infrastructure and enhancement of bilateral trade. You would also recall that the Advisor visited Washington for the review of the Strategic Dialogue. Two groups whose meetings had not taken place were previewed.
I understand that the Foreign Office is fully aware of the one hundred and fifty thousand people that have been slain and murdered by government of Syria. We have seen massive political pressure, internally developed by media, certain small political parties and vested interests aiming to force the Government of Pakistan to change its policy on Syria. And also under the Constitution of Pakistan this republic is supposed to take care of the issues of peace and stability in the Muslims world as well. Are we in a situation where we are thinking about changing our policy towards Syria? Or are we standing still with the resolution of the United Nations?
First, I don’t think that your interpretation of the constitution is correct. No country can claim to have responsibility for maintaining or taking care of peace and stability in other countries. At least, we don’t do that. Our constitution requires the government of Pakistan to forge close ties with the Muslim countries and that we do. It is also not our policy to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries. We know that there is violence in Syria. We have urged all sides to exercise restraint. We hope to see peace and prosperity in Syria for the people of Syria. We have repeatedly said that it is for the people of Syria to decide their future. We maintain that position. Our objective would be to see peace in Syria, the end of violence and access of Syrian people to humanitarian supplies. There is no pressure on Pakistan to change its position on Syria.
There is lot of possibility that Dr.Abdullah –Abdullah would be the next president of Afghanistan. There is a perception about him that he has very cordial relations with India and is considered anti-Pakistan .If he becomes the next president of Afghanistan, what would be the future plan of the government of Pakistan to enhance bilateral relations and mutual cooperation between the two countries?
It is for the people of Afghanistan to decide who will come into power in Afghanistan. We have said that we are not supporting one party or the other. We don’t know as yet who would form the next government in Afghanistan but whoever forms the government, irrespective of that, Pakistan would focus on building and enhancing our bilateral relations with Afghanistan. We wish Afghanistan peace and prosperity. This is also in self-interest because peaceful and stable Afghanistan is essential for peace and progress in Pakistan. Besides, it would open up the way for economic cooperation, joint-ventures and trade with Central Asia which we are very keen to enhance. We deal with countries as we have repeatedly said and I would not agree with the perception that any particular Afghan leader is against Pakistan. We engage with them all. Whoever forms the government we would be working with him.
It has been reported that Saudi Arabia has named Mr. Aseeri as the next ambassador to Pakistan. During his last tenure in Pakistan, he was asked to leave due to security threats. Can you say that threats to Mr. Aseeri’s life in Pakistan have receded now?
I am not aware of that background. I know Ambassador Aseeri was in Pakistan for a long time and at the moment I am not in a position to confirm if he is going to be the next ambassador.