Record of Press Briefing by Dr Faisal Spokesperson (MOFA)

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[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]

Bismillah IrRehman Nir Rahim,

Assalaam –o- Alaikum,

The Prime Minister would be visiting Malaysia on 20-21 November, 2018. We would be sharing details of the visit soon.

Now some highlights from Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, where Indian atrocities against innocent Kashmiris have intensified.

Indian occupation forces, during the so called search and cordon operations martyred four (4) Kashmiris including a orphan Liaqat Muneer Wani (20-years old student) and Wajid-ul-Islam Wani (16-year old student and Hafiz-e-Quran) in different districts of the Indian occupied territory.

We urge the international community, especially the champions of human rights, to urge India to immediately halt the human rights atrocities in IOK.

The 10th Round of Pakistan-Republic of Korea Bilateral Policy Consultations was held in Seoul on 7th November 2018. Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua headed the Pakistan delegation, while Mr. Cho Hyun, 1st Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Korea, led the Korean side. Before the Consultations, the Foreign Secretary met with the Foreign Minister, Ms. Kang Kyung-Wha and exchanged views on the need for closer cooperation between the two friendly countries. During the discussions between the Foreign Secretaries, the two sides reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and identified opportunities and possibilities for further deepening the relations in all fields, especially in the spheres of trade, investment, education, culture and parliamentary exchanges. The two sides agreed in principle for the need of high level visits from RoK to Pakistan to establish closer cooperation in various fields of economic reform and regional peace and security.

Pakistan side welcomed the designation of Pakistan as a “priority partner” for Korean Economic Development Cooperation. The Foreign Secretary also interacted with members of the Pakistani community who had contributed funds for the Dam Fund. She thanked them for their generous contribution to this national cause.

The 11th Round of Pakistan-Japan Bilateral Political Consultations was held in Tokyo on 8th November 2018. Foreign Secretary, Tehmina Janjua led the Pakistani delegation while Mr. Kazuyuki Yamazaki, Senior Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, led the Japanese side. While reaffirming the importance of the relationship, both sides expressed satisfaction at the present state of bilateral cooperation and renewed their commitment to taking the partnership to a new and higher level. The Consultations provided a good opportunity to the two sides to explore new possibilities for further strengthening cooperation, especially in the spheres of trade and economy, investment, people-to-people interactions, human resource development and education. The two sides discussed the evolving peace and security situation in their respective regions. The Foreign Secretary briefed on Pakistan’s efforts towards promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan. Indian atrocities and human rights violations in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir were also highlighted. The Japanese side appreciated Pakistan’s efforts in fighting terrorism and acknowledged successes achieved in improving the security situation. This encouraged greater investments in Pakistan.

During her stay in Tokyo, the Foreign Secretary also called on Mr. Yasutoshi Nishimura, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Norikazu Suzuki, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs and Mr. Takeo Akiba, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs. During the meetings, both sides reiterated the importance of the enhancing mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation to realize the true potential of the relationship.

Pakistan delegation to the Moscow Format Consultations on Afghanistan held in Moscow was led by Additional Secretary (Afghanistan and West Asia) Mr. Muhemmed Aejaz. Senior officials from China, Iran and Central Asian Republics also participated in the meeting. It was first meeting of the Moscow Format with participation of Afghan High Peace Council representatives and Afghan Taliban delegation from its Qatar political office. India and the United States were present in the meeting as observers. Moscow Format was initiated in December 2016. Its membership gradually increased to eleven last year. It signifies a growing consensus among regional countries for jointly promoting peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. It offers an opportunity to participants to exchange views on the prevailing situation in Afghanistan and its implications for the region, in particular for countries bordering Afghanistan. At the meeting, Pakistan delegation highlighted the brotherly sentiments of the people of Pakistan for their brothers and sisters in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s positive approach and consistent efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan through initiatives acceptable to the entire Afghan nation and the futility of military intensive approach which had resulted in colossal human losses and compounded miseries of the people of Afghanistan was particularly highlighted. Pakistan delegation noted that the phrase “Afghan-owned, Afghan-led” peace process, coined by Pakistan several years ago, had now been adopted as an international guiding principle in charting the collective way forward to achieving peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

All delegations thanked the Government of the Russian Federation for its initiative and the hospitality extended.

Now the floor is open for questions:

Question

Would you like to share some details regarding the repatriation of the dead body of the deceased SP Tahir Dawar, who was abducted from Pakistan and murdered in Afghanistan? Has the dead body been handed over to our Mission in Afghanistan? (Mateen Haider – G-TV)

Supplementary Questions

Has anyone claimed the responsibility for abducting the deceased police officer and murdering him? Will Pakistan take up this issue with the Afghan Government and would you like to condemn the said incident? (Khawaja Nayyar – Daily Kashmir Post)

Answer

We are deeply grieved at the brutal killing of SP Tahir Khan Dawar. On receiving the reports of the recovery of body from Afghanistan bearing Mr. Dawar’s service card, the Afghan Charge d’ affaires was summoned twice to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to seek clarity about the news and demanding that in case of confirmation, his mortal remains may immediately be returned to Pakistan. Our Embassy in Kabul and our Consulate in Jalalabad also remained actively engaged with the Afghan authorities. The Afghan authorities subsequently confirmed that the body is being transferred to Jalalabad from Mohmand Gara, a District in Nangarhar. We have repeatedly asked the Afghan side to immediately hand over the body to our Consulate. Our Consul General is at the hospital in Jalalabad to receive the body. We have in writing and through direct intervention insisted that the body be immediately handed over to our Consul General who will accompany the mortal remains to Pakistan. Our Ambassador in Kabul has also protested at the delay.

Question

Recently, Pakistan participated in “Moscow Format” – the Russian initiated process for achieving peace in Afghanistan. Do you think that this dialogue is a meaningful step to achieve peace in Afghanistan? Is it time for America to do more? (Khawaja Hamza – Media Today)

Supplementary Question

According to report by Brown University´s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, around 500000 people died in Afghanistan and Iraq as a result of US war on terror. Despite these immense sacrifices, the US continues its mantra of “do more” vis a vis Pakistan. How would you like to comment? (Mr. Faisal Raza Khan – 92 News)

Answer

Pakistan has a policy of constructively engaging at all forums meant for Afghan peace and stability. In pursuance of the same policy we have participated in the Moscow Format, a consultation process initiated by the Russians. We believe that regional countries can play an important role in facilitating the Afghan peace process. We strongly believe that a military focused strategy cannot be successful in Afghanistan and the only solution to Afghan conflict lies in a politically negotiated settlement through an Afghan-led and Afghan owned peace process. The Afghan Delegation comprised members of the High Peace Council that has the mandate to negotiate for peace in Afghanistan.

Regarding question by Mr. Faisal, we have seen the report by Brown University’s Watson Institute. One of the key findings of the report is that around 507,000 people have died in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan in terrorism related incidents since 2001. Out of this half a million victims of terrorism, more than 65,000 casualties belong to Pakistan.
The report rightly identifies Pakistan as one of the worst victims of terrorism, suffering thousands of casualties in this war, of both civilians and security personnel.
But neither the human nor the financial losses have diminished our resolve to fight this menace. We are determined to fight this menace until the last terrorist is eliminated from our soil. Through our comprehensive efforts, over the past several years, supported by a firm domestic political consensus, we have been able to turn the tide against terrorism.

Question

Although, your good self during the last press briefing has assured that Aasia Bibi is in Pakistan and is in safe hands, is it possible that she can be presented in front of the media in the same manner like Commandar Kulbushan Jadev who met his mother and wife here at the Foreign Office amid tight security to clear the air regarding the news of Aasia Bibi leaving the country? (Syed Mohsin Raza – Daily Assas Publication)

Answer

As I told you earlier, she is alive and at a safe place in Pakistan.

Question

Reportedly, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad is scheduled to visit Pakistan very soon. Would you like to confirm the dates? Secondly, keeping in view the ongoing coldness in US-Pak relations, how do you see these frequent visits from the US side? (Mr. Naveed Akbar)

Supplementary Question

Going back to Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, when you say the dates for his visit are being worked out, are you suggesting that the dates were previously not worked out with Pakistan by the US side? (Fakhar ur Rehman – Saama TV)

Answer

Ambassador Khalilzad visited Islamabad last month and we look forward to engaging him in future as well. The dates for such visits are usually worked out through diplomatic channels. Regarding your second question, there are challenges in the relationship, we do see utility of regular engagement with United States. The relationship between our two countries is wide ranging and we discuss areas of cooperation beyond Afghanistan as well.

Regarding the second question, to the best of my knowledge, dates for Ambassador Khalilzad’s visit were neither announced by Pakistan nor the US, so you cannot say that the dates had been worked out.

Question

Reportedly, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan are claiming that the Chinese authorities are not permitting their Muslim wives to visit Pakistan. Your comments please! (Mr. Asim Rana – ARY News)

Answer

We are engaged with China to resolve this issue.

Question

Pakistan released Mulla Baradar to facilitate the Afghan peace process. Recently, there are reports that two more Taliban leaders Abdul Samad Sani and a junior Taliban Commander Salahuddin has been released in the same manner. Would you confirm? (Mr. Jaleel – VoA)

Supplementary Question

We do not have any clear indication from Pakistan that whether these Taliban leaders like Mulla Baradar and others are being released on request by the Americans as previously Taliban the request for release of Mulla Baradar, conveyed through late Maulana Sami ul Haq was turned down by Pakistan? Can you also comment, under what law these Taliban leaders remained in custody under what law are they been released? (Mr. Adnan Haider – Channel-5)

Answer

I would like to refer you to the transcript of my earlier Press Conference in which I have given a clear response on the issue of the release of Mulla Baradar. As for your second question regarding release of additional Taliban from Pakistan jails, I will check and get back to you with further details.

Question

The government is contemplating various options for repatriation of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. Is swapping of Dr. Shakeel Afridi for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui also under consideration? (Mr. Adnan Haider – Channel-5)

Supplementary Question

There are reports in the media that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureishi has stated that we are not that hopeful of repatriation of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. Is this news correct? (Mr. Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)

Answer

For the purpose of clarity, I would once again narrate the facts regarding Dr. Aafia’s case that the Government of Pakistan has been regularly seized of the case and has consistently raised the matter forcefully with the US authorities. Our Consul General in Houston pays regular visits to Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. During the last three years, around twelve visits were undertaken. Reports about these visits were shared with all concerned including the family of Dr. Aafia. Our officials also facilitated the telephonic conversation of Dr. Aafia with her family in Karachi. The issue of respective the legal and human rights of Dr. Aafia has also been regularly raised with the US officials. Last time, the matter was raised with Ambassador Alice G. Wells on 06 November 2018. Foreign Minister has been overseeing the case and he welcomed Dr. Fouzia, sister of Dr. Aafia, in his office on 13 November 2018. Way forward to seek Dr. Aafia’s repatriation to Pakistan was discussed with her. Foreign Minister has instructed the Consul General in Houston to remain in touch with the prison facilities to ensure that rights of Dr. Aafia are fully respected.

Question

Do you have any information on the meeting scheduled to take place in Geneva later this month between the Afghan Taliban and the Afghan Government, sponsored by the US and the UN and shall be attended by Pakistan? (Mr. Shahid ur Rehman – Kyodo News)

Answer

I will get detailed information on this and get back to you soon.

Question

Thankyou Mr. Spokesperson. I have two quick questions. One is regarding the political instability in Sri Lanka. What are your comments on it? Secondly, yesterday, the Indian Prime Minister met the US Vice President in Singapore and they particularly named Pakistan and said that all links of terrorism lead to Pakistan which should be a matter of concern for the US. How do you see this comment of the Indian Prime Minister? (Mr. Anas Mallick – Wion TV)

Answer

On your first question, it is the internal matter of Sri Lanka and I have no comments to offer. Regarding you second question, India has been consistently trying to malign Pakistan at various fora. There is no traction for this Indian narrative. It is an attempt by the Indian side to deflect and divert attention from the ongoing human rights violations being perpetrated by the Indian security forces in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The Indians have been consistently trying to tow this line without any success. I would further suggest to the Indian side to refrain from doing this and pursue the bilateral issues between our two sides objectively through dialogue. Indians have not responded positively to our offer of dialogue and have shied from the process of resolving disputes through negotiations.

Question

Reportedly, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has decided to suspend the repatriation process of Afghan refugees in Pakistan for around four months. How is this move going to affect the repatriation process? Your comments please! (Mr. Naveed Siddiqui – DAWN News)

Answer

The repatriation process has been suspended due to the arrival of winter season in both the countries. The process shall be resumed in March, at the arrival of spring. During the meeting that was held in SAFRON under APPAPS between both sides agreed on sustainable, dignified and humane repatriation of the Afghan refugees. In this regard, they also agreed to observe the agreed timelines and procedures for repatriation of various categories of these persons to Afghanistan.

Question

Despite recent appointments, a number of positions are lying vacant in Pakistan Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates abroad. Can you please share the details of number of seats of Consul Generals and Ambassadors that are likely to become vacant? (Mr. Sheerazi)

Answer

I will seek the relevant details and revert to you soon.

Question

Can you please comment that why Pakistan cannot enforce State rule in Gilgit-Baltistan like AJK as you have been saying that Gilgit-Baltistan is the part of Jammu and Kashmir? Your comments please! (Mr. Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)

Answer

The question pertains to Ministry of Kashmir Affairs. I will get the relevant details and revert.

However, let me reiterate that Gilgit-Baltistan is a part of Jammu and Kashmir, where plebiscite has to take place in accordance with the Resolutions of UNSC. This is our legal, moral and diplomatic position.

Question

Reportedly, there are number of Pakistanis stranded at Iran-Taftan border. Has the government approached the Iranian side on the matter? (Mr. Moazzam Ali Rana – Jehan-e-Pakistan)

Answer

Let me tell you that the news which was aired previously was not correct. There were approximately 2000 people who were on our side of the border and not, I repeat, not on the Iranian side. Normally, people moving across Iran, once they enter Pakistan, travel in groups and have now moved from Taftan to Quetta.

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