Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 21 April 2016
(2016-04-21) Opening Remarks
Assalaam Alaikum Distinguished friends, Ladies & Gentlemen!
Terrorist attack in Afghanistan on 19th April, in which many precious innocent lives were lost, has been strongly condemned by the Pakistani Leadership and the entire nation. Let us pray for the victims and those injured, condole with the bereaved families and express solidarity with our Afghan brethren.
In Mardan also the suicide attack caused loss of the human life and injured many. We condemned these despicable and cowardly acts of targeting of innocent civilians.
As you are aware, Japan was hit by two powerful earthquakes, which took a heavy toll on human lives, scores were injured, many still missing, tens of thousands of people and homes have been affected. Government and the people of Pakistan are deeply grieved by the calamity that befell Japan and its people. We sympathize with the Government and the resilient people of Japan and share their grief and sorrow.
13th OIC Summit in Istanbul was the hallmark of last week and its outcome from Pakistan's perspective, particularly in the context of Kashmir, Palestine and other Muslim causes was gratifying. Regrettably, some sections of the media carried negative views with regard to COMSTECH. Therefore, I thought it was important to put the things in correct perspective.
The Headquarters of the OIC Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH) is located in Islamabad. The President of Pakistan is its Chairman.
Despite resource constraints, Pakistan, as Chair, has taken commendable steps for strengthening science and technology capacities in OIC Member States including disbursement of hundreds of research grants and S&T thematic workshops. COMSTECH is also considering a major initiative, Ibn al Haytham Program for intra-OIC movement of researchers to mark the 1000th anniversary of the great Muslim scientist, Ibn al Haytham.
As a founding member of the OIC since 1969, Pakistan is committed to promoting the Organization to further the interests of the Islamic Ummah. Our policy at OIC is guided by our desire to promote mutual respect, peace and harmony among OIC member states and further cooperation on political and economic issues.
Pakistan has been hosting OIC Summits and Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (ICFM).
During the 13th OIC Islamic Summit in Istanbul, the Government of Kazakhstan offered to host the first 'Science and Technology Summit', which the President of Pakistan, who led our delegation, graciously welcomed. The OIC summits and meetings are hosted by the OIC member countries in rotation. Pakistan would host it at another occasion, as a matter of routine.
Contrary to the misleading news item, there is no proposal or suggestion to move the COMSTECH headquarters. Pakistan is a proud host of the COMSTECH and would remain so.
I now invite your Questions
Both the High Commissioners in New Delhi and Islamabad have stated that the process of dialogue between Pakistan and India is blocked, but one shouldn't lose hope about its resumption soon. Reportedly, High Commissioner Basit was targeted by the Indian media and retired officials. What do these words "suspended" and "blocked" signify or how are they different?
My second question is that Amnesty International, while taking serious note of the detention of a teenage girl and a family member in Handwara IOK, sought immediate release of the girl and her family members. Is Pakistan this raising this incident internationally and with India? (Fakhar-u-Rahman - Turkish News Agency)
Pakistan and India are two neighbors which must live in peace and harmony. The hype created by the Indian media over Mr. Basit's remarks was neither warranted nor required. Our media has been sober and shown maturity. This question has been repeatedly asked and I will only add to what has been said earlier is that Pakistan will be ready to talk when India is ready. I would not enter into the debate of what words were used by both sides.
Regarding the second part of your question, we have seen Amnesty International's report. Indian repression and human rights violations in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir is a matter of serious concern to Pakistan. We have always condemned it. We are aware that the international community is equally mindful of the Kashmiris' plight.
Pakistan highlights the human rights violations of helpless Kashmiris in IOK at all the forums.
My concern is the terrorism incidents in Pakistan. A number of hostile intelligence agencies are involved in such incidents. Proxy war is also being played in Pakistan. What are we doing to expose such agencies? Please also update us on the Kulbhushan Yadav, has any further information come up during interrogation? You have engaged many foreign envoys to brief them on this issue of destabilization of Pakistan by foreign intelligence agencies. Are you going to brief more envoys? (Mateen Haider - Dawn News)
On Kulbhushan Yadav, there are other government departments who are conducting the investigations.
On the first part of your question, which is about foreign intelligence agencies, Pakistan continues to highlight the issue of foreign agencies' involvement in subversive activities in Pakistan. The arrest of Indian agent Kulbushan Yadav vindicated our longstanding position that India has a hand in terrorist incidents taking place in Pakistan as well as financing of terrorism in Pakistan. We have briefed a number of envoys over here and this process will continue, where warranted. As we have more information, and when we consider it appropriate, we will raise this issue with the international community so that they are sensitized and updated on the "foreign hand" destabilizing Pakistan.
There are reports that Afghanistan Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah has postponed his visit to Islamabad after the latest Kabul attack. Can you confirm it?
My second question is: regarding reports that the Indian nuclear program is not safe. Your comments please. (Nasir Kazmi - Aaj TV)
The Prime Minister had extended an invitation to Dr. Abdullah Abdullah for a visit to Pakistan. The Afghan side had indicated Dr. Abdullah would visit Pakistan on 2-3 May 2016. The visit has been postponed. The new dates would be worked out through diplomatic channels.
Regarding your second question, all countries should take their national responsibility for nuclear safety and security seriously. In Pakistan, we have taken legal, regulatory and administrative measures for strengthening nuclear safety and security and bringing them at par with international standards.
It has been reported that two more RAW agents have been apprehended. How many total agents have been apprehended so far? (Amjad Ali - PTV News)
As you are aware, our law enforcement Agencies have apprehended a RAW officer, Kulbhushan Yadav. Based on his confessional statements, arrests have been made. Other details are with the concerned authorities.
Afghanistan CEO Mr. Abdullah's Spokesman Javed Faisal has said that the Kabul attack was planned outside Afghanistan according to initial evidence and this was the reason for the postponement of Mr. Abdullah Abdullah's visit. Similarly, Interior Ministry's spokesman said that the leadership which planned such deadly terror attacks in Afghanistan are based outside Afghanistan and are equipped and financed by other countries. Do you think this is again an allegation against Pakistan? (Zarghoon Shah - Geo TV)
Any update on the QCG meeting? (Amjad Ali - PTV News)
Pakistan has been engaged in sincere and consistent efforts to facilitate an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process to bring lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. We believe that violence and bloodshed is not the way to achieve peace. We have therefore, strongly condemned the terrorist incident in Kabul. Pakistan itself is engaged in the fight against terrorism through Zarb-e-Azb and National Action Plan.
Regarding QCG, the next meeting would take place when the four countries are ready. I think there is a common desire on the part of all QCG members to see peace in Afghanistan and there is a desire that all those who are supposed to be on the negotiation table are there.
It has been reported that India has tested a sub-surface nuclear capable ballistic missile, which enables them to have second strike capability. Was Pakistan notified before the test? (Essa Naqvi - Dunya News)
The reported Indian tests of a Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) and development of a nuclear submarine fleet are serious developments, which impact the delicate strategic balance of the region. It has resulted in the nuclearization of the Indian Ocean, which should be a very worrisome development for the region and the international community.
The reported SLBM test was not notified to Pakistan. Any missile test, whether launched from the surface or submerged platform, can be mistaken by the other country as an offensive missile. We, therefore, believe that in line with the spirit of the agreement on the pre-notification of test launch of ballistic missiles, the test should have been notified to Pakistan.
There is media campaign is going on against the Foreign Office both in the print and electronic media. My question is that the silence on the Foreign Office part is deafening. Can you share the motives of this campaign? Moreover, the name of an Officer, Yasir Mahmood, keeps coming up again and again. (Shah Nawaz Mohal - Pakistan Today)
Most of the reports relate to financial matters and is always based on Auditor General's report. So therefore, there must be some wrong doings. Why does Foreign Office not share the truth with us? (Mateen Haider - Dawn News)
Are you going to do something against the Auditor General of Pakistan who is writing reports against you? (Anwar Abbas - Waqat News)
Let me correct this perception that Foreign Office is silent on the issue. That's not true. On every occasion, where it was warranted, we did issue a press release and they are on our website.
We have noted that only one or two journalists are involved in the vilification campaign against the Foreign Ministry. If there were any fact based reasons for their reports, the Ministry of course would have taken appropriate action. However, since these were totally baseless allegations, we hoped that this vilification campaign by one or two journalists would stop in the larger national interest and to protect the good image of the media. Most regretful and intriguing was a reference to the issue of Kashmir, which suggests that the two journalists may be playing into the hands of Pakistan's adversaries.
We have noted that bulk of media has not subscribed to the baseless, insulting and accusatory stories. Ministry of Foreign affairs is a national security institution and is proud of being the first line of defence of the country. We enjoy excellent rapport and cooperation of the media. We hope that this cooperation in the larger national interest will continue.
Regarding Auditor General's reports, you should draw a distinction between irregularities and corruption. Irregularities are actions taken without following the exact procedure laid down. Representations can be made against reports of irregularities and these are dropped in many cases. This is a routine procedure between government departments. Moreover, it is not ethical to pick up elements from such reports and use them for malafide interests by portraying procedural irregularities as corruption.
Day before yesterday, the Indian National Investigation Agency's chief announced that Col; Purohit, who was arrested on charges of planning and carrying out the Samjhota Express terrorist attack, had been cleared of all charges, though he had had earlier confessed.. (Khalid Jameel - Abb Tak)
I have seen media report that you are referring to. I would like to draw your attention to the reported public confession made by the mastermind of the Samjhauta Express terrorist attack, Swami Aseemanand. In his confessional statement, he named Col Purohit and other officials active service army personnel.
Swami had also said that these officials belonged to another terrorist group, I recall the name, Abhinav Bharat, and were actively involved in the Samjhauta Express attack.
You may recall that there were reports attributed to a senior Indian police officer Hemant Karkare, who had found links of the Makkah Masjid blast and other terrorist attacks which took place on Indian soil and were initially blamed on some foreign agencies, which pointed to the same group which was behind Samjhauta Express terrorist attack. We will not go by media reports that you referred to. Our requirement and request of sharing details of the Samjhauta Express terrorist attack investigations is pending with the Indian government. Despite promises, the investigations have not been shared. Let's see when will they get back to us about the outcome of the investigations of this incident in which a lot of innocent Pakistanis lost their lives.
What is the latest about visit of the Joint Investigation Team to India? Is a reciprocal visit on the card? What was the outcome of our JIT that visited India? (Abid Khursheed - ATV)
Regarding the outcome of the JIT, other government departments deal with it. Once the investigations have been completed and a report compiled, we will share with you the shareable information.
Second part of your question relates to NIA team's visit to Pakistan, which has been the subject of much media speculation in India. I am not aware of any official request in this regard.
Regarding the 13th OIC Summit and Pakistan delegation led by the President of Pakistan, the OIC issued a declaration where it condemned Iran and the Iran-backed Hezbollah. Do we agree with the portion of that declaration? (Ali Hussain - Business Recorder)
The statement is in public domain and it is already with you.
My question is regarding the ownership of the Koh-e-Noor Diamond, as Indian Government is still seeking to reclaim it from the British Government. Basically this issue started again yesterday after the decision of the Indian Supreme Court. So, there is also one petition in Lahore High Court on this issue, I want to know what is the stance of the Government of Pakistan on its ownership? (Usman - BBC News)
I do not have any comments to offer in this regard. I am not aware of a case in the Court. I am not which department deals with the claims of assets in foreign countries. I guess it could be the Cabinet Division.
My question is related to today's dialogue on Yemen in Kuwait. What is Pakistan's take on it? (Tariq Siyal - Online)
I think, in the context of political turmoil which is going on in Middle East, we have said time and again that Pakistan's principled position on this regard is that we want to see peace prevailing in the Middle East. All parties should settle all issues and differences amicably through negotiations.
Pakistan would also like to see peace and unity among the Islamic world. If you look at the theme of the 13 OIC Summit, which was held in Istanbul, it was basically based on this idea that there should be unity among the Muslim Ummah and we should collectively be able to deal with our problems or challenges confronting Islamic fraternity.
I want to ask a follow up on the question of investigations regarding the Pathankot incident. Recently, India has been lobbying with China and at the UN about Jaish-e-Muhammad, particularly its leader Masood Azhar. Pakistan made several statements in the wake of Pathankot attack including action against Jaish-e-Muhammad. Still it seems that India is not satisfied. Is there any statement or comment from the Foreign Ministry on the actions that have been initiated on the directions of the Prime Minister after the Pathankot attack? (Qasim Nawaz - Wall Street Journal)
With regard to the action against LeT and your reference to the listing on the UN sanctions, this listing on the UN sanctions is done according to set procedures and that procedure I believe is on course. Attempts to politicize this process is regrettable.
If you want to have a detailed reply, you can go back to our previous transcripts and I think you will find a detailed response in this regard.
Pakistan has submitted the dossiers of Indian involvement to UN and US. Now, when RAW agent as been arrested, whether this solid evidence will be attached with those dossiers or they will be presented separately. (Moazzam Ali Rana - Jahan-e-Pakistan)
We have repeatedly said that those dossiers were regarding involvement of external hand in turbulence in Pakistan and the foreign hand involved in financing terrorist activities inside Pakistan. In this regard, whatever evidence was available with us was included in those dossiers which were presented to UN and the US. They were also shared with some countries in the international community. This latest development, the arrest of Kulbhushan Yadav, has proved that our claim was true. There is a difference in blaming external actors for involvement in your country and providing solid, credible evidence.
Terrorist activities to destabilize Pakistan are our major concern. We have always drawn the attention of the international community towards it. We have also exposed the elements behind it. We are now briefing the international community on the latest arrest which confirms our previous stance.
There is a refugee camp in Afghanistan in Khost province and it is quite close to the Pakistani border. There are a considerable number of Pakistani refugees from North Waziristan languishing in this camp. It is called Goolan refugee camp. I have asked this question few times back but unfortunately there was no answer to it. What efforts we are doing to bring these refugees back to Pakistan as they are Pakistani refugees and they are living in very precarious condition in Afghanistan. (Zarghoon Shah - Geo News)
I will look into the matter, but off the cuff, the government of Pakistan is not stopping them from coming back. There are thousands of people who cross the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan every day. So what's keeping them there, I don't know really. If we are not stopping people from Afghanistan coming to our country why would we stop them doing so. They could have crossed over due to military operations against terrorists.
Former British Dy. HOM Shaharyar Khan Niazi has made a startling revelation that Altaf Hussain had informed the British Govt. that he was working for Indian RAW. He claims that British Govt., in turn, officially informed PPP Government's Senator Rehman Malik. He made further statements and is willing to share more details if the Government departments engage him? (Khawaja Nayeer Iqbal - Kashmir Post)
Ministry of Interior deals with such issues.