Record of Press Briefing by Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Spokesperson
Islamabad, January 04, 2018 (PPI-OT):
Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum
First, let me give a brief round-up of the activities on the foreign policy front:
Pakistan regrets the last minute postponement and non-issuance of visas by India for the visit of the 192 Pakistani Zaireen to participate in the Urs of Hazrat Khawaja Nizamuddin Aulia (RA) in Delhi from 1-8 January 2018. This is indeed unfortunate and runs counter to the letter and spirit of the 1974 Protocol and objective of people-to-people contacts. Besides being violative of the bilateral Protocol, and the basic human right to religious freedoms, such measures also undermine the efforts aimed at improving the environment, increasing people-to-people contacts and normalizing relations between the two countries. It is ironic that this was done on the occasion of Urs of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, who remains a symbol of bringing communities closer to each other. Subsequently, Indian have not allowed their blind cricket team to visit Pakistan.
The situation in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir where the Indian occupation forces during violent, armed and illegal operations and fake encounters killed 03 Kashmiri youth including a 17-years young boy Fardeen Ahmad Khanday and 19-years old Manzoor Ahmad Baba in Pulwama district. Two other defenceless innocent Kashmiris were injured after Indian forces used brute force and fired bullets and pellets on protesters in Shopian, Pulwama and Bandipore districts.
The Hurriyat Leadership, Syed Ali Gilani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq continued to remain under house arrest, while over one thousand Hurriyat leaders and activists including Shabbir Ahmad Shah, Masarrat Alam Bhat, Nayeem Ahmad Khan and students languishing in different jails of occupied Jammu and Kashmir and in India is highly condemnable.
The Indian occupation forces in Bandipore, Kupwara, Pulwama, Shopian, Islamabad and Kulgam districts continue to terrorize by illegal house searches day and night, which we unequivocally condemn and call upon world human rights defenders to stand up for the Kashmiris in IOK.
The Government of Pakistan handed over a list of 457 Indian prisoners (58 civil + 399 fishermen) in Pakistan, to the High Commission of India in Islamabad on 01 January 2018. This step is consistent with the provisions of the Consular Access Agreement between Pakistan and India, signed on 21 May 2008, under which both countries are required to exchange lists of prisoners in each other’s custody twice a year, on 1 January and 1 July, respectively. Pakistan will also release 146 fishermen on 08 January 2018.
In accordance with Article-II of the Agreement on Prohibition of Attacks against Nuclear Installations and Facilities between Pakistan and India signed on 31 December 1988, the list of nuclear installations and facilities in Pakistan was officially handed over to a representative of the Indian High Commission at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 1st January 2018, at 1030 hrs. In accordance with the same agreement, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi handed over the list of Indian Nuclear installations and facilities to a representative of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi. The Agreement contains the provision that both countries inform each other of their nuclear installations and facilities on 1 January every year. This has been done consecutively since 1 January 1992.
Pakistan unambiguously and steadfastly supports the Palestinian cause. Pakistan has always supported the two state solution, with East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian State. Pakistan’s explicit position was demonstrated in the rejection of the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Ambassador of Palestine has participated in many public rallies and meetings in Pakistan. The people and Government of Pakistan respect the Palestinian Ambassador’s active participation in the events organized to express solidarity with the people of Palestine.
The people and Government of Pakistan condemn the heinous terrorist attack on a Coptic Church in Helwan in the South of Cairo on 29th December 2017, resulting in the loss of precious and innocent lives. We would like to convey our deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathies to the families of the victims. We pray for a full recovery of those who were injured due to the attack. Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and expresses its support and solidarity with the brotherly people and Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
A certificate awarding ceremony of the Afghan Health Professionals (AHP) was held on 2nd January 2018, at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) who underwent a twelve month training and capacity building program in Islamabad.
Pakistan has extended training and capacity building courses to Afghan doctors, nurses and paramedics to efficiently run the three hospitals built by Pakistan in Kabul, Jalalabad and Nangarhar, Afghanistan. In total 69 Health professionals, were invited for training courses of various durations. 59 have already completed their training and since assumed their responsibilities in hospitals in Afghanistan. 10 AHPs completed their yearlong training and received certificates from the Special Secretary Foreign Affairs at a ceremony held at PIMS. The Government of Pakistan has committed US $1 billion as development assistance to Afghanistan and undertook multiple projects in the fields of education, health, and infrastructure, provision of scholarships, training and capacity building of Afghan professionals. In addition to hosting millions of our Afghan brethren for almost four decades, Pakistan is committed to constructively contribute in the institution building and development of Afghanistan.
Pakistan strongly condemns the terrorist attacks in the Afghan city of Jalalabad and the northern province of Balkh. We are grieved at the loss of precious lives and express our heartfelt condolences with the bereaved families and pray for the speedy recovery of the wounded. Pakistan condemns terrorism in all forms and manifestations and reaffirms its firm commitment for continued efforts and cooperation for elimination of this menace. We express solidarity with the government and people of Afghanistan in the fight against terrorism. We believe concerted efforts by states, and close cooperation among them, are needed for eliminating the common challenge of terrorism.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, H.E. Mr. Taro Kono is visiting Pakistan from 3-4 January 2018. During the visit, he will hold wide ranging talks with Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif on bilateral issues. Both sides have exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interests. Foreign Minister Kono will also pay a courtesy call on the Prime Minister. Japan has also been a major development partner of Pakistan. It has played an important role in the socio-economic development of the country. Foreign Minister Kono’s visit will help further cement our bilateral ties.
First briefing of the year 2018, a happy new year to you all.
Now the Floor is open for Questions
Yasin Malik, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman has addressed an open letter to Indian EAM regarding her speech on the visit of Commander Jadhav’s mother and wife. What are your comments? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Kashmir Post)
We have seen in this video the body language of Kulbhushan Jhadev and he appears to be very confident. He says his mother organization and Intelligence agency ditched him. The video validates Pakistan’s stance and proves Indian terrorism in Pakistan. What is Pakistan doing to inform the international community of this? (Syed Mohsin Raza – Asas Group of Publications)
Will you share the video clip of the Indian diplomat shouting at Commander Kulbhushan Jhadev’s family as described him in the video? (Rashida Sial – Abb Tak)
Yasin Malik’s letter lays bare the hypocritical political gimmickry employed by India to distort the humanitarian gesture of Pakistan. Referring to the Indian EAM’s speech, he writes, and I quote, that the Indian EAM’s speech ”recalled me of my old mother’s ordeal, who not once but many a times, in the same manner, after her repeated pleadings to jail authorities, was denied a chance to hug me, her only son, at many Indian jails especially at Tihar. This reminded me of the tears of my sister who could not tolerate to see me from behind a glass wall, talking on an intercom just like Yadav. Her plea to touch me was also discarded on the pretext of security reasons” –
”It is India that, without proving his guilt and just on the pretext to ‘satisfy the collective conscience of India masses, hanged another Kashmiri youth, Muhammad Afzal Guru in 2013. It is on record that he not only was denied a last chance of meeting his 12-year son, 80-year-old mother and a wailing young wife but even his proper burial was denied by the Indian authorities. The families of these two Kashmiris are still waiting for their mortal remains to be handed over to them. Isn’t it a grave Be-Adabi of humanity too?”
Malik further says ”there are thousands of Kashmiris who have disappeared after being picked up by Indian forces from their residences and their families are yet clueless about their whereabouts. Their wives have been named as ‘half widows’ (a newly introduced terminology) by well-reputed international human rights organizations. The continued agony of these families is also worth consideration.”
The Indian attempts to attribute ulterior motives to the basic security protocol for Commander Jadhav, a convicted spy and terrorist are testament to their double standards considering the abysmal violation of the basic human rights of innocent Kashmiris. It would serve the region better if instead of indulging in political theatrics India puts an immediate stop to the Indian atrocities and continuing bloodshed in IoK.
The video shared at the start of the briefing answers to the all questions related to Commander Jhadev, for the time being.
Please share details of the Foreign Secretary’s meeting with the US Ambassador on 1 January 2018 and the President Trump’s tweet? Secondly, reportedly, National Security Advisers of Pakistan and India met recently in Bangkok. Please also share details of that? (Abid Khursheed – ATV)
The National Security Adviser is present in Pakistan. It would be appropriate that you refer your your query to his office.
I intentionally did not mention President Trump’s tweet and the ensuing activities, which have already received a comprehensive response from the highest forum of Pakistan – the National Security Committee of Cabinet. Subsequently, the National Security Committee of the National Assembly also met in this regard.
Our position is very aptly and comprehensively encompassed in the statements that have come out after these meetings. Live nations face such challenges united with courage and determination, which is exactly what Pakistan is doing.
What options do we have if US conducts drone strikes in settled areas of Pakistan?
Secondly, reportedly, Commander Kulbhushan Jhadev’s family is being held hostage by Indian intelligence agencies after the meeting. After Commander Jhadev’s video clips that we have just seen, he seems unsatisfied with the Indian Government’s behaviour towards his family. Do you think that it confirms the reports of India harassing his family? (Shahid Maitla – ARY News)
I have already responded on this.
On drone strikes the ISPR has already stated that any such actions would get a befitting response.
Whenever there is international pressure on Pakistan, it usually ends up on Afghan refugees in Pakistan – Yesterday Federal Cabinet approved 30 days extension to Afghan refugees instead of six months or a year. Your comments please! (Farhat Javed – BBC)
Pakistan has hosted Afghan refugees for over three decades with dignity and honour. There are 3 million and at times there were 4 million. Only around 1.6 million Afghan refugees are registered. I do not understand what kind of pressure you are referring to, since they have been living here for over three decades. There are expectations that they will return to their homes. We have never created any push factors. We have always requested international community that they should create pull factors in Afghanistan so that they may return to their homes soon.
My first question is that reportedly Pakistani Government is freezing assets and taking control of charities run by Jamaat-ud-Dawah through a secret order to Provincial and Federal Government departments on 19 December 2017. Has Pakistan taken this step due to the US pressure?
Secondly, India has tested a supersonic interceptor missile to destroy an incoming ballistic, which is a step forward towards developing ballistic missile defence (BMD) shield. How do you see this development and Indian aggressive designs and warfare mindset in the region? (Shoukat Piracha – Aaj TV)
I would refer your first question to the Ministry of Interior.
On your second question, Pakistan has always maintained that anti-ballistic missile systems entail destabilizing effects, especially in the regional context and can provoke an arms race.
Pakistan has always urged the importance of restraint measures to promote and preserve strategic stability. We have proposed several missile and nuclear restraint measures to India that include the commitment not to deploy ballistic missile defence systems. Pakistan will continue to follow a policy of restraint and responsibility while taking all necessary measures to ensure our national security. We want to have a peaceful neighbourhood where all countries can focus on meeting the socio-economic needs of their people, rather than squandering their resources on a futile arms race and acquiring destabilizing weapon systems and technologies.
Recently, India and Pakistan exchanged lists of prisoners. Can you please share the number of each country’s prisoners in jails?
Secondly, any update on the shoes of Commander Kulbhushan Jhadev’s wife? (Shahzad Hassan Mirza – Royal News)
The number of Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails has already been covered in our earlier Press release. I will share the list of Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails with you. I have already responded to your second question.
Recently, Pakistan-China-Afghanistan trilateral Foreign Ministers meeting was held in Beijing. Have we raised the issue of Afghan refugees in this meeting? Is the recent extension in Afghan refugees stay in Pakistan final or may be extended as we have done previously? (Naveed Akbar – Daily Dunya)
Yes, we have raised these issues during the Trilateral Meeting in Beijing. Additionally, the issues of drugs and narcotics, and the ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan, were also discussed during the meeting. According to the SIGAR report, 43% of the Afghan territory remains ungoverned, which is a cause of concern.
Regarding refugees, for decades, Pakistan has been home to millions of our Afghan brethren, who were forced to leave their country by persistent conflict in Afghanistan. Pakistan has offered unprecedented hospitality and support to the Afghan people and extended life amenities like education and health at par with the Pakistani citizens. I am pleased to inform, that thousands of Afghan refugee children have studied in Pakistani educational institutions, and are now working in Afghanistan’s public and private sectors, fulfilling the needs of their country. The POR (Proof of Residence) cards of the Afghan refugees were going to expire on December 31, 2017. The Cabinet has granted a one month extension. For further information I may refer you to Ministry of SAFRON.
Reportedly General Mike Mullen has termed the Donald Trump’s presidency as incredibly disruptive and said that he sees the US and North Korea at the brink of a nuclear war. What are your views on increasingly tense relations between US and North Korea? (Saad Umer – Roze TV)
Pakistan shares the international concerns over the tensions in the Korean Peninsula.
It has been Pakistan’s consistent position that all relevant parties should comply with their international obligations and pursue the path of dialogue and diplomacy to reduce tensions, refrain from any action that is inimical to peace and stability in the region and work towards achieving a comprehensive solution through peaceful means. We encourage the relevant parties to resume meaningful negotiations for this purpose.
Reportedly, China is going to establish a military base near Gawadar Port. What is your response? (Media reporter – Phoenix TV)
There is no proposal of building any Chinese Military base near Gawadar. This is all propaganda against the development of CPEC and strengthening of relations between Pakistan and China.
Historically, economic policy dictates the foreign policy, but nowadays foreign policy is dictating the economic policy. Recently, Pakistan has taken a drastic financial measure of shifting to Yuan from US dollars. How do you view this decision? (Salman Hashmi – Forensic Eye)
Regarding the change in currency Ministry of Finance may be in better position to respond.
However, I would not agree with you that our economic policy is dictated by our Foreign Policy. That is how it should ideally have been, but it was not possible because of our history and the location of our country.
Pakistan has arranged a meeting of Indian spy and terrorist Kulbhushan Jhadev with his family. This is in stark contrast with the people of Kargil and Ladakh who have not met their families in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Why has this not happened? (Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)
Earlier, the issue was under discussion in the India – Pakistan dialogue. There was hope that this could be resolved. Unfortunately, India unilaterally suspended the dialogue in 2013. This issue would be discussed again whenever the dialogue resumes.
Reportedly, due to trade and transit issues between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Pakistan’s exports to Afghanistan have declined by 80%. What steps is Pakistan taking to arrest the declining trend in bilateral trade? (Essa Naqvi – Dunya News)
I am glad that you have asked this question. We are aware that some elements are deliberately spreading false news of decline in Pak-Afghan bilateral trade and shifting of Afghan transit trade to other countries. The fact of the matter is Pak-Afghan bilateral trade has witnessed a robust growth in year 2016-17, compared to the previous year. Similarly, as we speak, the bulk of Afghan transit trade is going through Pakistan.
Pakistan’s exports to Afghanistan for the period November 2016 to October 2017 witnessed 9% rise as compared to the corresponding period of last year. Likewise, Afghan exports to Pakistan exhibited a phenomenal growth of 118.25% during the period October 2016 to September 2017 as compared to the same period of 2015-16.
You must be aware, that this year Afghanistan had a bumper crop of fresh fruits. The Government of Afghanistan and the Afghanistan-Pakistan Joint Chamber of Commerce requested Pakistan for special facilitative measures to export additional quantities of fresh fruit to Pakistan and through Pakistan to the rest of the world. Responding to the request, all our border crossings points were kept open for seven days a week. Exclusive lanes were established and dedicated staff was deployed at the custom posts for round the clock clearance of perishable goods from Afghanistan. These measures have been instrumental in phenomenal growth of Afghan exports to Pakistan and also contributed to the high earnings of Afghan growers and fresh fruit merchants. Pakistan will continue to improve and facilitate trade between our two countries and extend all necessary support for Afghan transit trade through its territory.
We are engaged with the Afghan side for early convening of Afghanistan – Pakistan Transit Trade Coordination Authority (APTTCA) to further facilitate Afghan transit trade through Pakistan.
Reportedly, yesterday, the White House Spokesperson confirmed that US $255 million military assistance to Pakistan has been blocked and US will share a list of demands within a few days. Can you confirm this? Also do we have the statistics of military and civilian assistance received from the United States since 9/11? Are we ready to share all the records with the US? (Ali Hussain – Business Recorder)
I would like to reiterate that a detailed and comprehensive press release has been issued by the National Security Committee in this regard. You may refer to it.
India has refused to send its blind cricket team to Pakistan and it is pressing the ICC to shift its matched to Dubai. Indian EAM has rejected any possibility of resumption of cricketing ties with Pakistan. On the other hand, Pakistan is welcoming the Indian pilgrims to Pakistan. In your view, can cricket diplomacy be fruitful for easing tensions between the two neighbours? (Asghar Ali Mubarak – Daily Mail Islamabad)
Pakistan does not believe in a tit-for-tat policy. Indian measures only vitiate the environment and restrict people to people contact.
My question pertains to the problems faced by Pakistani laborers in Saudi Arabia. Indian Government has signed labor agreement with Saudi Arabia. However there are complaints that the Pakistani Ambassador has is not doing enough for resolving the issues of Pakistani laborers. Do you think this is because he is not a career diplomat but from the Army? Your comments please!
Secondly, Saudi cadets are being trained in India. This appears to be a paradox in view of the Islamic Military Alliance? (Auon Sheerazi – Such TV)
Our Ambassador and Embassy in Saudi Arabia are effectively working to resolve the issues related to Pakistani labor there. The ambassador, a military man is doing an excellent job. If you have any specific questions you may refer them to me and I will revert with details.
On your second question, I will get back to you.
The Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has said that possibility of resumption of cricketing ties with Pakistan is unlikely. Your comments please! (Mateen Haider – Bol News)
We are ready. The other side maybe fearful of the defeat.
What is Pakistan’s reaction to the anti-government demonstrations in Iran? How will it affect regional peace? (Rashida Sial- Abb Tak)
Iran is a brotherly neighbour. This is an internal matter of Iran and we are confident that the Iranian government can adequately handle the situation in accordance with the interests of the Iranian people.
Pakistan’s response to President Trump’s accusations has been very weak. Why have we not responded more strongly? Also, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been silent on this issue? (Independent Journalist)
The National Security Committee of the Cabinet is the highest forum and has come out with a comprehensive statement which fully covers our response to President Trump’s tweet.
For more information, contact:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan