Transcript of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on Thursday, 18th April 2019
(2019-04-18) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]
Bismillah Ir Rehman Nir Rahim,
Yesterday, Mr. Sohail Mahmood assumed charge as the Foreign Secretary after Ms. Tehmina Janjua, Pakistan's first female Foreign Secretary, retired at the end of a brilliant career
Separately, grim news continues to pour in from the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, where Indian atrocities against innocent Kashmiris have intensified.
Indian occupation forces during the so-called cordon and search operations martyred four (4) Kashmiris including Shah Jahan Mir, Abid Hussain Wagay, 11th class student Owais Ahmad Mir and a 13-year old boy Sajjad Ahmad in Langate, Shopian and Poonch areas.
We urge the international community, to call upon India, by all means possible, to immediately halt the human rights atrocities in IOK and seek their help in resolving the Jammu & Kashmir dispute.
Our heartfelt condolences to the grieving family of Mr. Zarak Zaheer, a Pakistani tourist, who was visiting Turkey and lost his life in a tragic accident in Fethiye. Due to inclement weather, he and the parachute pilot lost control and crashed while attempting to land. Rescue operations have retrieved his body, which is being transferred to Istanbul and preparations are underway to repatriate it to Islamabad on Friday, depending on flight availability. MoFA has provided all possible assistance to the family and our Mission in Ankara is constantly in touch with them. The Turkish Embassy, very graciously and promptly, issued visa to the brother, Mr. Sharjeel Zaheer, of the deceased. We would also thank the Government of Turkey and its Embassy in Islamabad for extending full cooperation and support in making the effort successful.
At the invitation of thePresident of the Islamic Republic of Iran, His Excellency Hassan Rouhani, Prime Minister Imran Khan will pay an official visit to Iran on 21-22 April 2019. This will be the first visit of the Prime Minister to Iran.
The visit will include a brief stop-over in Mashhad before arriving in Tehran for bilateral talks with the Iranian leadership. The Prime Minister will call on Iranian Supreme Leader Seyed Ali Khamenei, besides holding detailed consultations with President Rouhani. Prime Minister will be accompanied by a high-level delegation.
Prime Minister Imran Khan will also visit China from April 25 to 28, 2019 at the invitation of President Xi Jinping, to attend the 2nd Belt and Road Forum in Beijing. During the visit, Prime Minister will be accompanied by a ministerial delegation. He will deliver a keynote speech in the opening ceremony of the Forum and participate in the Leaders' Round Table. He will also hold meetings with several Heads of State/Government and corporate and business leaders. In addition to participating in the Belt and Road Forum, the Prime Minister will also hold bilateral meetings with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. Pakistan and China will also sign several MoUs and Agreements to enhance bilateral cooperation in diverse areas.
On 12th April 2019, the Foreign Secretary launched Guidelines for the Implementation of the UNSC 1267 Sanctions at Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Guidelines have been prepared by the National Committee for overseeing implementation of Sanctions against individuals and entities designated by the UN Security Council 1267 Al Qaida /Da'esh Sanctions regime and Security Council 1988 (Taliban Sanctions regime). The Guidelines have been formulated, in consultation with stakeholders and in compliance with international standards especially the requirements of the UNSC 1267 Sanctions Committee and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). A detailed press release has already been issued on the matter.
In collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Pakistan Centre of Excellence for Nuclear Security (PCENS) conducted an International Training Workshop from 8-12 April, 2019 on Evaluation of Physical Protection System which was attended by 18 foreign participants form Belarus, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Romania, Spain, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. Four IAEA Experts along with PCENS Faculty conducted the training.Being a responsible nuclear state, Pakistan has evolved effective nuclear security architecture over the years and has also developed substantial capacity of its institutions for imparting nuclear security training.
Ending on a positive note, five Pakistanis and a startup business are doing the country proud as they represent their homeland in the prestigious Forbes 30 under 30 Asia 2019 list. From exhibiting groundbreaking flair in technology to dominating the playing field with strength and sheer talent, the 2019 list by Forbes is testament to the talent and hard work of these young Pakistanis who are endeavoring to make the world a better place. They represent the true spirit of Pakistan and the vibrancy of our nation.
Now the floor is open for questions.
Question: Sir, in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in Balochistan, do you think there is any connection between these attacks and FATF or the role of any foreign power? Secondly, how do you see the recent fighting in the outskirts of Tripoli Libya? (Mr. Zahid Farooq Malik - Daily Metro Watch)
Answer: Pakistan is closely following the developments in Libya and hopes that a negotiated solution to the ongoing fighting around Tripoli would be worked out by all parties in accordance with the international law and expectations of the Libyan people.We believe in a political solution of every conflict and not through violence.
Regarding your question on Balochistan, I would like to refer to the arrest of Commander Kulbushan Jadav from that very area.Currently, investigationsinto the tragic incidentsare under way and we are closely monitoring the situation. If we find any involvement from the Indian side, we will definitely raise the issue with India and take appropriate measures.
In response to your first question, regarding FATF, I do not have any information that establishes a connection of Quetta terrorist attack and FATF.
I would assert that if the involvement of any foreign hand is found, we will expose it vociferously, as we have done in the past, and take appropriate counter measures as well.
Question: Can you please share the details regarding the technical-level meeting on Kartarpur Sahib Corridor? When are the delegation- level talks expected, at Wagah, as initially agreed by both the countries, in the joint statement? (Mr. Asghar Ali Mubarak - Daily Mail)
Answer: Technical- level talks between Pakistan and India on the Kartarpur Corridor took place on 16th April 2019. Despite Indian postponement of the agreed meeting to be held at Wagah on 2nd April Pakistan agreed to the technical talks reflecting our commitment to operationalize the corridor as promised by Prime Minister Khan. The talks were conducted in a cordial environment and focused on various technical issues including hydrology.Both sides agreed to share the technical design/parameters for passage of flood water at the earliest.
Regarding the meeting to discuss the draft agreement for the corridor, work proceeds rapidly on our side on the Kartarpur Corridor. Evacuee Trust Board Pakistan is all set to launch a special coin and postal stamp to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak.
In view of paucity of time, we are keen to hold the meeting to finalize the draft agreement at the earliest. The meeting is specifically to discuss differences related to proposals of both countries for operationalizing the corridor and to align positions to build convergence. We hope India will agree to hold a meeting, at the earliest.
Question: How significantly is the Afghan Peace Process affected by the surge in Taliban's operations under the "Spring Offensive"? (Mr. Asad Yar - PTV News)
Supplementary Question: How do you see the recent statements of Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, regarding the Spring Offensive announced by the Afghan Taliban and his insistence on Pakistan to do more in influencing the Taliban? (Mr. Shabbir Wahgra - PTV World)
Answer: We hope that the Intra-Afghan dialogue will lead towards peace in Afghanistan. Since the direct talks between the US and Taliban began, chances of peace in Afghanistan have become brighter. Pakistan believes that all sides must give peace a chance and continue the dialogue, which is the only way to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan. There is a danger that any increase in hostility has the capacity to derail the peace process.
Regarding the second questions, Pakistan has been playing a facilitating role in the Afghan peace process, as a shared responsibility. We believe that regional countries and neighbors of Afghanistan have an important role in the peace process. Pakistan will continue work for the peace process, in good faith. The US and Taliban have held several rounds of talks and Pakistan was helpful in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table. This has been acknowledged by the US. Pakistan believes that Intra-Afghan dialogue is the key to achieving long-term peace in Afghanistan. The meeting between Afghans and Taliban scheduled to be held in Doha on 19-21 April is a positive development in this regard. We hope that these talks will lead to durable peace and stability in Afghanistan. Pakistan is doing everything in its capacity to facilitate the peace process, and would keep urging both sides to restrain from active hostility.
Question: Pakistan has submitted its third performance report for the FATF. Now, there is a hope that Pakistan's name will not be included in the blacklist and listing of Pakistan in the grey list would also be removed. Your comments please! (Mr. Adeel Warriach - Dunya TV)
Answer: Let me apprise you that several steps encompassing effective actions have been taken in this regard. Ministry of Finance is the lead Ministry to give you further details. You may please refer your questions to that Ministry.
Question: Sir, there are reports in the media that a high-level US official probably US Deputy Secretary of State is planning to visit Pakistan. If so, would you share details of the visit? (Mr. Mateen Haider - G- News)
Answer: I do not have any such information. Let me check the reports and get back to you soon.
Question: Sir, the second round of Indian elections has started today. Prime Minister Imran Khanmade a statement with a group of journalists that created a stir in theIndian media. I would like to quote a statement from the Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, “Imran Khan's statement could be Congress's ploy to de-seat Narendra Modi”. Is Pakistan interfering in the domestic matters of India and their electioneering process? (Mr. Shaukat Piracha - AAP News)
Answer: Pakistan does not believe in interfering in the internal matters of any country, especially India. I would not add to the Prime Minister's statement in this regard as it is quite clear, and the Foreign Minister has already elucidated on it.
Question: There are reports regarding the conversion of religion of an Indian girl Tina in Gujranwala district of Pakistan. It is claimed that she came to Pakistan as a Yatri and was kidnapped here. Can you give us details on this?
Secondly, India has decided not to participate in the Belt and Road Forum scheduled to be held in China. Your comments please! (Mr. Asim Ali Rana - ARY News)
Answer: We have sought a reply from the Ministry of Interior on this matter. But there is no such report in our notice that she was kidnapped. However, I will seek further details and revert to you.
In response to your second question, I cannot comment on India participation or otherwise. Pakistan however, would be participating in it.
Question: Pakistan has always released Indian prisoners alive as a goodwill gesture. But India returns their dead bodies. How do you see this? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal - Media Today)
Answer: This is not true, Pakistan prisoners also come back alive. In some cases of Pakistanis prisoner's deaths, we have actively taken the case up with Indian for adherence to international law and with the international community.
Question: Pakistan's Consul General in Birmingham has been charged with a sexual harassment case and was recalled on 23rd January 2019. What is the current status on his return? (Mr. Naveed Siddiqui - DAWN News)
Supplementary Question: There are reports of misconduct against Pakistan's Consul General in Barcelona. Please share details on that as well. (Mr. Adeel Warriach - Dunya TV)
Answer: I am not aware of these cases but I will seek details and respond soon.
Question: Spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated that China will veto any resolution against Mr. Masood Azhar. Your comments please! (Mr. Muhammad Jaleel - VOA)
Answer: We have a clear stance on Mr. Masood Azhar, and whatever decision Pakistan's takes in this regard will be in its national interest. Pakistan will not be pressured by anyone.
Question: Can you please share the details regarding the Prime Minister’s upcoming visit to Iran? Will the Pak-Iran Gas Pipeline project come under discussion during this trip? (Ms. Rabia Peer - VOA Dewa Radio)
Supplementary Question: It is speculated that Pakistan will agree on the contours of the Pakistan-Iran Gas Pipeline project. Your comments please! (Mr. Faisal Raza Khan - 92 News)
Answer: The Prime Minister is visiting Iran with a high level delegation and all matters will come under discussion, let's wait for the outcome of this visit.
Question: Why did Pakistan not participate in the Doha talks? (Ms. Rabia Peer – VOA Dewa Radio)
Supplementary Question: Last week, you stated that Pakistan will not participate this time; this implies that Pakistan was part of the Afghan Peace process, previously, and was not participating this time. Can you please clarify the confusion regarding this? (Mr. Sib Kaifee - Arab News)
Supplementary Question: How do you envisage Pakistan's role in the future of Afghan Talks? (Mr. Faisal Raza Khan - 92 News)
Answer: There was a misunderstanding regarding my answer last week. I want to clarify that Pakistan has always supported all initiatives that are aimed at bringing peace in Afghanistan. Under this spirit, we facilitated the talks between the US and Taliban in Abu Dhabi and Doha. Pakistan will continue to play its role in this regard as a shared responsibility. It is equally important for all stakeholders to play their role in bringing peace in Afghanistan. An intra-afghan dialogue holds the key to the Afghan peace process. Pakistan will keep facilitating the process, as it hopefully leads to a positive outcome and end of bloodshed in Afghanistan.
Let me also clarify that there is no such thing as the Doha Process. The last two rounds of talks between the US and Taliban were held in Doha but the earlier round was held in Abu Dhabi. Pakistan has not attended talks in Doha. We have been playing a facilitating role in Afghan peace process and will continue to do so.
Question: What steps has Pakistan taken to highlight the recent spate of Israeli offensive attacks on Palestinian territory, in OIC and other international forums? (Mr. Iqbal Mustafa - Jag Beeti)
Answer: Pakistan remains on the forefront of supporting our Palestinian brethren in all OIC regular meetings. We have supported resolutions on Palestine issue at the platform of OIC which strongly condemn the Israeli aggression.
Moreover, Pakistan, being Coordinator of OIC Group at Geneva tables five resolutions on the Palestinian issue under Agenda Item-7 each year;i) the Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem; ii) Right of the Palestinian people to self-determination; iii) Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan; iv) Human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan; and v) Ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem] during UNHRC session.
Pakistan will also take up this issue during the upcoming OIC Summit in Makkah, scheduled to be held during the Holy Month of Ramzan.
In OIC, Pakistan's stated position on the issue is:
"Establishment of a viable, independent and contiguous State of Palestine, on the basis of internationally agreed parameters, the pre-1967 borders, and with Al-Quds and Al-Sharif as its capital, is the only sustainable guarantee for peace."
Question: Pakistani media are reporting that Chinese human traffickers are operating illegal matchmaking centers in Pakistan, where they allegedly trap women from economically burdened families in fake marriages. What has the government done to crackdown on such groups? (Mr. Shamim Mehmood - Online News Agency)
Answer: We have seen the relevant media reports and concerned departments are investigating the matter. Pakistan and China are all - weather strategic cooperative partners. We urge media and citizens of both countries to remain vigilant against elements working against the interests of the two countries.
Question: A Pakistani named Shakil Ahmed has been killed in New York recently. Has the Foreign Office initiated a formal request to the United States to share the investigation report of the killing? And please share the latest updates regarding the case? (Mr. Majid Jarral - News One TV)
Answer: Our Mission in New York is in contact with the family of the deceased, Mr. Shakil Ahmed Khan, and has provided all possible facilitation in transportation of the dead body to Pakistan. Mission representatives also attended his Namaz e Janaza. Our Mission is in touch with New York Police Department for updates on the investigation of the case.