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Monday, September 25th, 2017

Press briefing by Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman held on 2nd August 2013

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Islamabad, August 02, 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
Pakistan had been preparing for the visit of Secretary Kerry. There has been agreement for resumption of Strategic Dialogue which will take another six months to start. How do you see the outcome of this whole visit?

Answer
The visit of the US Secretary of State has contributed to strengthening Pakistan-US bilateral relationship. The Strategic Dialogue has been resumed. The five working groups under the ambit of the Strategic Dialogue will meet in the coming months culminating with the Ministerial level Strategic Dialogue within six months. The working groups will discuss proposals and projects in energy, economic and finance, counter terrorism and other areas. We thus have a solid framework in place now to pursue tangible cooperation between the two countries.

Question
Has there been a solid and concrete surety by the US side regarding drone strikes and Afia Siddiqui case?

Secondly, what is the stance of Pakistan regarding the killings in Egypt and arrest of the President Morsi?

Answer
On drone strikes, our position has been conveyed to the US side in clear terms. These drone strikes violate our sovereignty, violate international law, and are counterproductive as they undermine the collective efforts of the two countries to counter extremism and terrorism.

On Dr. Afia Siddiqui, there is no prisoners exchange agreement with the US. There are some multilateral arrangements which if acceded to can provide a basis for discussions on this matter. The Ministry of Interior is currently examining this aspect.

On situation in Egypt, we have already issued a press release. Pakistan is concerned at the violence and loss of innocent lives. Egypt is a friendly and brotherly country and we do hope that it will be able to deal with its affairs in a manner that ensures political stability, sustained democracy, and well being of its people.

Question
The focus of the present government is on Economic Diplomacy. The US has been a partner with Pakistan in trade and economic terms. What was the progress and the US response on Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), greater market access, and the US funding for Bhasha Dam? Was there any commitment made by the US side?

Answer
On Bhasha Dam, the US has already committed to contribute US$ 200 million. This and all other economic, investment, and trade related proposals will be discussed in the working groups that would be convening in the coming months. We do hope that there will be progress on these important issues as you rightly remarked that economic cooperation is the priority of the present government. The US side too has indicated interest in promoting tangible cooperation in these fields.

Question
Was IP pipeline discussed during the meeting with the US Secretary of State, John Kerry? What was the response of the US side?

Secondly, there are media reports that date for some subjects have been finalized to resume the Composite Dialogue between Pakistan and India. Do you have any details about that?

Answer
In the context of acute energy requirements of Pakistan, projects related to pipelines including IP pipeline assume high importance. This perspective of Pakistan was conveyed to the US side in the form of a non paper. No further discussions were held on this matter.

As for your second question, there are indications that the Composite Dialogue will resume soon. The leadership of the two countries has already expressed the desire to see improved relations between the two countries. Pakistan side has proposed dates for two of the eight segments of the Composite Dialogue. One relates to the Wullar Barrage and the other Sir Creek. We are yet to hear from the Indian side whether those dates are convenient for them. Similarly the Indian side is also expected to propose dates of the events that it is to host.

Question
Would you like to elaborate what Pakistan gained out of this much talked about visit of Secretary Kerry? None of our leaders talked about the possible release of Dr. Afia Siddiqui. Secretary Kerry also expressed the US concerns on the IP pipeline. Pakistan has lost 40 thousand people and US $ 10 billion in economic terms on war on terror. Still we are not in a mode or a position to re-evaluate our foreign policy to have better relations not only with the US but other countries as well. What are your comments?

Answer
Like in any relationship, there are points of convergence and there are points of divergence in our relations with the United States. It is important to note that there are several areas where the two countries can cooperate on the basis of mutual respect and mutuality of benefit and interests. As already indicated in response to an earlier question, the resumed Strategic Dialogue provides that framework where we can intensify the pace of the mutually beneficial cooperation. And wherever the two countries differ, those issues will also be discussed within the relevant working group under the Strategic Dialogue.

Question
John Kerry in his press briefing talked about safe havens in North Waziristan. How many safe havens are there? If there are any, Secretary Kerry would have put pressure on Pakistan to take actions against them. Is Pakistan going to start any operation in North Waziristan against these alleged safe havens?

Answer
Pakistan has been waging valiant struggle against the forces of terrorism and extremism. Our law enforcement authorities and the people of Pakistan have paid huge sacrifices. We have also achieved significant successes against terrorists. It has been our policy not to allow the territory of Pakistan to be used against any other country.

Whenever our law enforcement authorities come across terrorists, action is taken. At the same time, we have been emphasizing the need to have effective border management on the border with Afghanistan in order to check cross border movement of militants. We believe that all concerned need to join hands and cooperate in order to deal with the challenges of militancy, extremism, and terrorism which is our common enemy.

Question
Secretary Kerry yesterday indicated that Ayman-Al-Zawahiri is violating Pakistan’s sovereignty. Would Pakistan take US indication seriously this time?

Secondly, regarding the Iran-Pakistan pipeline projects, what was the compulsion of sharing a paper with the US as it is not a part of this project?

Finally, on drone strikes we have always been talking about the civilian causalities. Can you tell us if any terrorist has been killed in the drone strikes so far?

Answer
Let me start with the IP gas pipeline. Our energy requirements warrant that we explore all possible options, including the Iran Pakistan pipeline project. The rationale for giving a non paper to the US side was to convey our perspective, with particular reference to whether or not this project would attract US sanctions. In our legal assessment, the US sanctions do not apply on this project. Our side has shared our perspective and understanding of these issues with the US side.

On your first question, everyone knows that Pakistan has been in the forefront of the fight against terrorism. Our law enforcement authorities take swift action against any individual or group committing acts of terrorism.

Drone strikes kill combatants but also non-combatants. We have taken the position that the civilian impact of drone strikes has human rights and humanitarian implications. As for the details of those killed by drone strikes, I would refer you to Ministry of Interior.

Question
Indian foreign Minister has repeatedly said, during the last three four weeks, that he is skeptical about Pakistan’s efforts for the resumption of composite dialogue .What are his concerns? Can you update us?

What sort track-II diplomacy is there when it is in the media, that India and Pakistan are on track-I and track-II diplomacy? What is the outcome of that?

Answer
It is not for me to comment on what the Indian external affairs minister has said or not said. The leadership of Pakistan has expressed clearly that it would like to seek an improvement in ties with all of Pakistan’s neighbors, including India. Peace in the region will help create enabling environment to promote economic well being of our people. It is in this context that resumption of Composite Dialogue is important. We hope that the two sides will engage in an uninterruptable Composite Dialogue.

As for track-II diplomacy, both tracks, formal and informal, are supposed to complement each other. Ambassador Shahryar Ahmed Khan has been nominated by the Prime Minister to pursue this track from our side. We do hope that this track will contribute to the efforts to seek improvement in bilateral relations between Pakistan and India.

Question
Beside the agreements between Pakistan and US to resume the Strategic Dialogue, what other expectations did Pakistan have from Secretary Kerry’s visit?
Answer

As indicated in my reply to an earlier question, Strategic Dialogue provides for an effective framework to pursue concerted discussions on a range of subjects of mutual interest to the two countries. Besides this, the visit afforded an opportunity to discuss the regional situation with a view to exploring ways of bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Question
During the Kerry’s visit to Pakistan, has Pakistan been assured by the US side that the drone strikes will be stopped?

Answer
Pakistan has conveyed its principled stance on drone strikes to the US delegation. The US side has noted our view point. We hope that these drone strikes will be stopped.

Questions
John Kerry in an interview said that people attacking the mosques in Pakistan also violate the sovereignty of Pakistan. Do you agree with it?

Answer
I do not want to make comments on the points mentioned by the Secretary of State in his various interviews.

Question
Did Secretary John Kerry show his reservations on the Pakistan-China economic corridor which was signed during recent visit of Prime Minster of Pakistan to China?

Secondly, what kind of the message did Secretary John Kerry bring for Pakistan regarding Pakistan’s relations with India as he has recently visited India as well?

Answer
Discussions focused mainly on bilateral relations. The US side did not make any comment on Pakistan China cooperation.

The US side expressed its support for the initiative of Pakistan’s leadership to seek better relations with India.

Question
My question is regarding Ayman Al-Zawahiri. Is Pakistan seriously considering to take action against him or will you wait for another Abbotabad like incident?

Secondly, John Kerry has sought Pakistani cooperation for resumption of dialogue with Taliban and Doha process. What is your response in this regard?

Answer
As for your first question, I will refer you to Ministry of Interior.

On resumption of dialogue with Taliban, Pakistan has expressed its support for the reconciliation process in Afghanistan, which we believe is an effective way to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan. Pakistan will continue to facilitate the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

Question
During the discussions between Pakistan and the US, has there been any dialogue on civil nuclear technology?

Answer
This was not discussed but as I indicated to you earlier, one of the working groups deals with the strategic stability issues. That is where this subject will be discussed.

Question
Has the US side discussed or shared their draw down plan from Afghanistan in 2014? Does Pakistan agree to their strategy of complete or partial withdrawal to avoid its impacts on Pakistan and have better solution in Afghanistan?

Answer
As the US prepares to draw down from Afghanistan, there is a need to intensify cooperation among all stakeholders to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan. To this end, Pakistan side will remain engaged with the US, Afghanistan, and others concerned and contribute to bringing lasting peace in Afghanistan.

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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