Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 19th June 2014
[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]
Last week there was a question regarding Pakistani prisoners in China. As promised, I have got the information. There are 281 Pakistani prisoners in Chinese prisons. 90% of them are detained or convicted on drugs/narcotics smuggling and illegal trade charges. One of these prisoners has been detained on murder charges and others in cases like illegal stay/over stay, illegal entry and fraud etc. If you want, I can give you the break down. There are 33 prisoners in Beijing, 95 in Urumqi, 9 in Chengdu, 100 in Guangzhou, 22 in Shanghai and 22 in some other detention centers.
The floor is open for Questions
Yesterday, we again witnessed a drone strike, second in the last six months. Although, Pakistan has condemned these attacks but when it comes to the timing of these attacks especially when a military operation is already going on, is it just a coincidence that the drone attacks are taking place at this time or there is something else?
Are you implying that these attacks have been coordinated? If that is the case then you are wrong. There is no way we condone these attacks. We have condemned them. You know that the Government of Pakistan has taken a number of steps to generate international public opinion against drone strikes. We have been taking it up with the US. You know about the resolutions that we sponsored and were adopted. At the current Human Rights Council session, under way in Geneva, there was a very strong reference to the drone strikes being outside the parameters of international law. A report has been presented by the UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary and Arbitrary Execution on this question. In his report, he said use of armed drones should not undermine human rights.
Pakistan has reportedly contacted the Afghan Authorities on the operation in North Waziristan. The Prime Minister has also spoken with President Karzai and yesterday Afghan Envoy to Pakistan held a meeting with the Army chief. In all these engagements, Afghan Authorities were urged to beef up security along the Pak-Afghan border so that militants cannot escape. What has been the response from Afghanistan on this issue, keeping in mind that there had been attacks in Pakistan in the past conducted from across the border in Afghanistan?
Well, the Afghan authorities have assured us of their cooperation. The military authorities are better placed to inform you about the situation on the ground. At the political level, we have emphasized that there is a need for a particularly better border management and control at this time. You would recall that ISPR also issued a statement that Afghan authorities have been contacted through military channels as well, emphasizing the need for parallel steps from the other side.
Has the Government of Pakistan called the Canadian High Commissioner in the Foreign Office or is there any proposal to ask Canada not to allow
Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri to travel to Pakistan? Can you cite any article of any international convention which can empower the Government of Pakistan to make such a request to the Canadian High Commission particularly because he is a Pakistani citizen?
Secondly, you very kindly told us last week that Advisor Sartaj Aziz will be travelling to Russia and his meeting with his counterpart has been confirmed. Can you specify the agenda of this meeting?
On your first question, there have been some speculations. I have absolutely no information about any proposal of this kind. There was a report in today’s press that Mr. Tariq Fatemi called the Canadian High Commissioner. Mr. Tariq Fatemi was with the Prime Minister in Tajikistan. Not related with this though, there are very clear norms that citizens of one country should not undertake any activities that can be construed as interference in another country.
For you second question, well, both Pakistan and the Russian Federation have clearly shown interest in strengthening relations. Our bilateral relations have been on a positive trajectory. In recent years, there have been many visits and many initiatives. The Advisor’s visit is to attend a conference. He will also be meeting with his Russian counterpart. They will be discussing the status of bilateral relations and how to take this relationship forward and how to give it more impetus. That essentially will be the context of the meeting. Naturally, they would also discuss the regional situation and other issues of mutual interest.
Did Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif discuss the issue of Tajik militants at Pakistani soil during his visit to Dushanbe?
I am not aware of any Tajik militants being on Pakistani soil.
Keeping in view the current serious situation in Iraq, could you please let us know of the well being of Pakistanis there? What measures has the Pakistan Embassy in Iraq taken?
I spoke to our Ambassador in Baghdad last night. He informed me that there are fortunately no reports of any Pakistani were in trouble or kidnapped. Most of the Pakistanis are not in the area where the situation is more alarming. There were some Pakistanis in Tikrit but they left the town before the situation got to this point. Our Embassy is in touch with our citizens and obviously we remain concerned about their welfare. We will take all the necessary steps if we assess that they are in any kind of danger.
The military operation in North Waziristan has already started. Will Pakistan again take up the matter of Mullah Fazlullah with Afghanistan?
These issues are discussed with Afghanistan. We also discuss how to take measures together to eliminate terrorism. We have a commitment not to allow our territory to be used against Afghanistan, we expect Afghanistan not to allow its territory to be used against Pakistan.
What is your take on the situation Iraq? Do you see any fallout of the situation on the neighboring countries?
Secondly, any fresh contact between Pakistan to decide the proposed Foreign Secretary level dialogue?
We are concerned at the recent escalation and violence in Iraq. We believe that a stable and united Iraq is vital for regional and international peace and security. We are watching the situation and we hope that Iraq will overcome these problems and there will be stability.
As regards your second question, the two sides are in contact. As I said at the last briefing, we will let you know when we have any further development.