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Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Press briefing by Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman

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Islamabad, March 28, 2013 (PPI-OT): This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

There are no opening remarks. The floor is open for questions.

Question
Afghanistan issue is entering into ending state and Pakistan has offered so many sacrifices but in return we have got fierce Afghan reaction. Of late, Hamid Karzai and his Foreign Minister openly said that Pakistan is supporting Afghan Taliban. So what priority have we set for the post 2014 scenario?

Answer
Our view was and remains that Pakistan and Afghanistan have to work together in harmony to promote peace not only in Afghanistan but for the whole region. We maintain that position. Pakistan would continue to make its good offices available for bringing peace, reconciliation and stability in Afghanistan. We are engaged with Afghanistan at every level, from the leadership to working levels. We will continue to collaborate with them.

Question
Your good intentions are well taken but the other side despite the good gestures and good offices is accusing Pakistan. So there are ill feelings for Pakistan at international scenario whatever comes from Kabul. There is nothing from Pakistan, for the sake of our image. Karzai is moving out and will not contest the next elections. What causes him to speak against Pakistan and Why Pakistan remains silent?

Answer
I have seen some of these statements from President Karzai. The Government of Pakistan accords him due respect as the President of Afghanistan. We would hope to see an appreciation of the contributions made by Pakistan in furthering the peace process in Afghanistan.

Question
Elections are quite close and schedule had already been announced. How many applications have been received by Ministry of Foreign Affairs from various countries for election observers? Had any code of conduct been devised for these foreign election observers or they would be free to do anything?

Answer
The Government of Pakistan has decided to welcome foreign election observers. We are coordinating closely with the Election Commission of Pakistan, Ministry of Interior, and Ministry of Information. The ECP has issued a code of conduct which is to be followed by all foreign election observers. Ministry of Interior would provide guidance on security aspects. So far we have received request for sending observers from EU only.

Question
Indian Prime Minister has said that Pakistan and India don’t have good relations now and relations are in a state of comma. There are very few chances that these relations will come out of comma. What are your views?

My Second Question is that: Have we received any request from India to send foreign election observers to Pakistan for the upcoming elections?

Answer
On Pakistan India relations, we believe that good neighborly relations between the two countries are in the interest of the peoples of India and Pakistan and also of the region. We would continue to maintain this positive approach, and will respond constructively to any positive initiative coming from India. We will also continue to work with them on the Composite Dialogue. We do hope that the conviction of the Government of Pakistan to promote relations with India is well appreciated.

Regarding your second question, we have not received from India any request to send election observers.

Question
Some of the Afghan military officials were due for the joint military exercise in Quetta but it was cancelled by the Afghan foreign ministry because of the artillery Barrage from Pakistani side. What is your take on this?

Secondly, in Kot Lakhpat jail Lahore an Indian prisoner has died. Indian government has reported in the media that some torture signs were found on his body. Indian government has formulated a commission which intends to visit Pakistan. What are your views on this issue?

Answer
Regarding your first question, to the best of my information, there was some intrusion from the Afghan side to which our troops responded, but they did so in a disciplined and responsible manner. There was no artillery shelling from Pakistani side. They were very modest in responding to the intrusion. Canceling of visit by Afghan military officials seems to be an over-reaction. Such joint activities are meant to build trust and confidence and promote relations. We do hope that such opportunities will be availed in the larger interest of building peace in the region.

Regarding your second question, we are in touch with Ministry of Interior and Home Department of the government of Punjab. We have asked for the postmortem report to ascertain facts. We will respond to these reports as soon as we have the information.

Question
Supreme Court has asked to give a right of vote to overseas Pakistanis and it has asked ECP to approach MoFA. Do you think in May 11, 2013 Foreign Office can hold the polling in different countries?

Answer
The Foreign Office will make every possible effort to comply with the instructions of the Election Commission. This undertaking requires coordination among different departments. The Foreign Office and our Missions abroad will extend full assistance in this regard.

Question
Can you tell us about pre-conditions that Afghan government has placed in order to engage in talks on the reconciliation process?

Secondly, have the Indian higher authorities got back on Pakistan’s demands to change design of Kishanganga project?

Answer
I am not aware of any pre-conditions. There are always some areas where both sides need to work together. Pakistan has been extending full cooperation all along to facilitate the peace and reconciliation process. In response to the request of High Peace Council, we extended assistance on all four elements of the understanding reached with the Council. We are convinced that cooperation and collaboration between Pakistan and Afghanistan will help advance the peace process.

On your second question, you are aware that the Court of Arbitration’s partial award on Kishanganga project takes Pakistan’s concerns on board. Our concerned authorities are in touch with their Indian counterpart through the channels established under Indus Water Treaty. The final award is expected towards the end of the year.

Question
A report is published in a news paper that Pakistan still remains a threat to the national security of Britain. What is your take on this?

Answer
I have seen that news report. The context is the unveiling of British strategy for counter terrorism. There is a considerable appreciation in that report for Pakistan’s efforts in the fight against terrorism. Pakistan and UK are engaged in close collaboration to counter terrorism.

Question
There is a story on a news paper that British High Commission has refused to give visa to our senators on blue passports. They claim that there is an interim setup so they should bring the green passports. Does the British High Commission have the right to ask our officials to bring other passports?

Answer
I do not have complete information about this issue. I will revert to you as soon as I have full information.

Question
Indian government intends to send a commission to Pakistan to see the conditions of Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails. Have they formally contacted the government of Pakistan through any diplomatic channel?

Answer
I am not aware if we have been approached on this matter. There is a judicial committee for prisoners. I will obtain further information and revert to you.

Question
I would like to draw your attention towards the tensions mounting on Pak-Afghan border. Has Pakistan taken up with the Afghan authorities the recent incursion into Pakistan’s area of Bajaur Agency? What steps the Afghan authorities have assured to take in this regard?

Answer
Pakistan has concerns about the presence of safe havens of TTP in the Kunnar and Nuristan area. We have taken up this matter with Afghan authorities. We hope that these safe havens from which incursions into Pakistan take place will be eliminated.

Question
Recent report submitted by ISI officials in the Supreme Court says that Afghan government is supporting TTP to destabilize Pakistan. As you mentioned that there are safe havens of TTP in Kunnar and Nooristan Provinces. Has the Government of Pakistan officially taken up this issue with the Afghan Government?

Answer
Yes, as I indicated earlier, we have taken up this matter with Afghan government at all levels. We do hope that such concerns will be addressed as part of our shared interest to bring peace to the region.

Question
Has Indian Deputy High Commissioner contacted Foreign Office to send Election observer to Pakistan, Do you have any details?

Answer
I do not have any details, and will revert to you.

Question
Regarding Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, we have a trilateral forum, US-Pakistan-Afghanistan. Has Pakistan raised the issues about safe havens of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or Tehreek-e-Taliban Swat in Kunnar and Nuristan and other areas and what was the response? We want to know the details about it and at what level Pakistan is raising this crucial issue?

Answer
I did indicate that we are raising our concern on this at every level of the Afghan government. It is important that both governments maintain close contact to address issues of mutual concern in the larger interest of peace in the region.

Question
You have talked about the safe havens across the Pak-Afghan border and the support that TTP is getting from the other side of the border. When US talks about the safe havens in Pakistan, they carry out drone attacks. For how long Pakistan will continue raising its concerns at all levels. What is the threshold? What is the limit that Pakistan thinks should not be crossed? We have lost 49 thousand people in this war, if we have credible intelligence that the support for TTP is coming from Afghanistan, what is the responsible action that the government of Pakistan and the armed forces of Pakistan have taken so far to protect me and my people?

Answer
We will maintain our positive and responsible approach in the conduct of our relations with Afghanistan. We will also keep up our cooperative mode. You mentioned drone strikes. Our position on drone strikes is well known. These are illegal and counter-productive. Recently we also engaged with UN Special Rapporteur on promotion of human rights while countering terrorism. There is a growing debate about the legality of drone strikes. We do hope that we would be able to find a solution to this issue.

Question
According to media reports Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan mentioned that Pakistan has impeded the talks between Taliban and Afghan government. Is it the correct information or not?

Answer
Pakistan supports intra-Afghan dialogue. Pakistan gave its commitment to the High Peace Council to facilitate the process of reconciliation, and we are honouring that commitment.

Question
UN reports on drone strikes will be presented in UN General Assembly and Human Right Commission in Geneva as well. When these reports will be presented in UNGA and when Pakistan is going to take up this issue in Human Rights Commission?

Answer
The mandate of the Special UN Rapporteur stemmed from the Human Rights Council. He will present his report to UN General Assembly in October this year.

Question
You have talked about releasing some Taliban; we released 18 Taliban in first installment and 8 in second, making a total of 26. Have we released some more or only 26?
Secondly, where are the released Taliban right now?

Answer
We released Taliban at the recommendation of Afghan High Peace Council. The idea was to facilitate the reconciliation process. An agreed mechanism has been established to discuss future releases. The Taliban were released to participate in the reconciliation process.

Question
India has recently shown interest in IP gas pipeline. Indian oil and gas Minister has confirmed that India is in contact with US and Iran. But as we know that pipeline will pass through Pakistan, what will be your response if India contacts Pakistan on this issue.

Secondly, India and Iran are developing a project to facilitate trade in Afghanistan. What is your response on this?

Answer
We will respond if and when we are approached on this issue.
Regarding your second question, all sovereign countries are entitled to develop their mutual collaboration.

Question
Charles Farr from British anti terror department has expressed apprehensions over threat to British security from Pakistan. Is it true that British are as strong as US to give dictation to Pakistan?

Answer
I have already answered this question. We maintain a close contact with British government to counter terrorism.

Thank you

For more information, contact:
Mr. Aizaz Ahmad Ch
Spokesman
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan
Tell: 051-9205494
Fax: 051-9204202
Cell: 0336-5644459

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