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Home » Ministries, Official News

Record of Weekly Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 17 January 2019

January 17, 2019

Islamabad, January 17, 2019 (PPI-OT): Bismillah Ir Rehman Nir Rahim, Assalaam-o-Alaikum,

Opening Remarks

Indian atrocities have intensified in IOK with continuing use of pellet guns. In yet another low, Indian occupation forces have resorted to firing on funeral processions. India continues to label any Kashmiri, irrespective of age or gender, struggling for the legitimate right to self determination, as terrorist. India also attempts to divert the attention of the international community from the humanitarian emergency and its failure in IOK by escalation at the WB and LoC. In 2019 with the year barely begun, Indian ceasefire violations have resulted in the shahadat of an innocent Pakistani civilian on 7 January 2019.

Indian attempts to suppress the indigenous Kashmiri struggle have failed but it continues with its aggressive, belligerent posturing to justify its ceasefire violations by levelling baseless allegations of infiltration from the Pakistan side. India also spuriously alleges ceasefire violations by Pakistan, including so called Border Action Teams. No such teams exist in Pakistan. The Pakistan army is a responsible and professional force which is committed to protecting the lives and property of its own citizens and would not resort to such irresponsible provocation. On the contrary, it is Indian occupation forces which deliberately target civilians in a desperate bid to raise the bogey of external threats during elections. Indian mal-intent is also apparent from their repeated ceasefire violations instead of using the hotline contact between both sides.

Pakistan has consistently maintained, including officially to India, the vital need for the smooth functioning of UNMOGIP in line with UNSC Resolutions for maintaining peace and tranquillity. Despite levelling false allegations, India restricts UNMOGIP allowing virtually no movement on the Indian side in contrast with Pakistan which allows unhindered functioning.

At the invitation of the Government of Pakistan, President of the UN General Assembly, Ms. Maria Fernanda Espinosa, will be in Islamabad from tomorrow i.e. 18 January till 22 January 2019. This visit to Pakistan is the first to any country in the Asia-Pacific region by the President of the General Assembly (PGA), after her election.

During her visit, Ms. Espinosa will call on the President and the Prime Minister. The Foreign Minister will also hold a meeting with the visiting dignitary. Apart from official engagements, the PGA will also meet members of the Women Parliamentary Caucus, Chairperson of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and visit Pakistan’s Peacekeeping Training Center and will also address members of academia, think tanks and students. This marks the second visit by the President of UN General Assembly since 2010.

During last week, Afghan President’s Special Envoy for Regional Consensus for Afghan Peace, Mr. Mohammad Umer Daudzai, met Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and conveyed greetings of President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani for the Pakistani leadership while expressing Afghan government’s strong desire to work closely with Pakistan in all areas of mutual interest. He conveyed the deep appreciation of sincerity and vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan for peace and stability in Afghanistan. Mr. Daudzai stated that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s 3 visits to Kabul within a span of 4 months were a clear proof of Pakistan’s strong support for Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, chaired the first meeting of the Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs, which took place here, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad. He laid out broad contours of Pakistan’s foreign policy and key priorities. Foreign Minister underlined the important role of civil society, including members of the academia, in working with the state institutions for formulating an inclusive and vibrant policy at pace with changing global trends. Members of the Advisory Council appreciated the Prime Minister’s initiative to establish a consultative policy making process and discussed a broad range of issues related to Pakistan’s foreign policy.

Work continues actively on the Kartarpur Corridor on the Pakistan side. Construction of the bridge over River Ravi is underway. The topographical and hydrological surveys have been completed. We will keep you updated on the progress.

The first high-level Inter-Agency meeting on Science diplomacy was held yesterday in MOFA. Foreign Minister welcomed the participants. This initiative was launched in MOFA in September last year. The Foreign Secretary in her remarks highlighted that MOFA hoped to act as a catalyst for international collaboration in science and technology. The initiative would focus on establishing international research collaborations, capacity building, improving public health, matching labor skills with international market requirements and to improve Pakistan’s access to smart technologies and international technical assistance.

I thank you.

The floor is now open for questions.

Question

Reportedly, the PM will be visiting Qatar on 22 January 2019. Can you share some details of the PM visit? Will the PM hold discussions on job provision to 100,000 Pakistanis as has been announced by FM Qureshi recently? (Mr. Zahid Farooq Malick – Daily Metro Watch)

Answer

The Prime Minister, at the invitation of the Amir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, is scheduled to visit Qatar on 21-22 January 2019. During the visit, the Prime Minister will call on the Amir and will hold a meeting with the Prime Minister of Qatar. Issues of mutual interest will be discussed during the visit. The Prime Minister will discuss the import of manpower by Qatar from Pakistan.

Question

Reportedly the second round of negotiations between the Taliban and the US remains stalled over the issue of Taliban not agreeing to negotiate directly with the Afghan National Government. Has Pakistan been able to persuade the Taliban over this specific issue?

Do you foresee any future rounds of negotiations that may take place involving between the Taliban and the Afghan government? (Mr. Mateen Haider – G-News)

Supplementary Questions

Why has the visit of the special representative for the US President on peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad to Pakistan been delayed repeatedly? What is the agenda of his visit?

Secondly, there are reports that the US Special Representative will hold talks with Taliban representatives in Islamabad during his visit. Can you verify this? (Mr. Naveed Siddiqui – Dawn News)

What is the agenda of the talks that US Special Representative Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad will hold with the Pakistani authorities this time? Also, are there any additional requests from the US side, especially with regard to persuading Taliban to engage with the Afghan national government? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Daily Kashmir Post)

The visit of US Special Representative Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad was rescheduled a number of times. Was Foreign Office kept in the loop regarding the rescheduling of the visit?

Secondly, is Pakistan ready for the eventuality of America pulling out its troops from Afghanistan?

Thirdly, how successful has Pakistan been in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table for a dialogue with the Afghan government? (Ms. Rashida Sial – Aab Takk)

BBC has reported that a Taliban leader was arrested in Peshawar. Can you confirm this news?

Secondly, how successful has Pakistan been in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table for a dialogue with the Afghan government? (Mr. Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)

Reportedly, Hafez Mohibullah, a Taliban leader and a former Taliban Minister has been detained by Pakistan. Do you think that such actions can deter Taliban from engaging in the dialogue process? (Mr. Abbas Jaffar – Daily District News)

After the detention of Hafez Mohibullah, the Taliban have accused that Pakistan is exerting pressure on Taliban to come to the negotiating table with the Afghan government and that this detention is a move to further increase this pressure. What is Pakistan’s take? (Ms. Shumaila Andleeb – APP)

Answer

Pakistan has always maintained that the solution to the conflict in Afghanistan lies in an Afghan-led and Afghan owned peace process. In pursuance of that, we have facilitated direct talks between the US and the Taliban. We remain convinced that an intra-Afghan dialogue will lead to bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan. In our view, intra-Afghan dialogue is crucial for success and sustainability of peace process in Afghanistan. Pakistan will continue to support and facilitate Afghan peace process in good faith and as part of a shared responsibility.

With regard to rescheduling the visit of Mr. Khalilzad, he can best respond to this. We understand that he spent yesterday, and day before, having conversations in Kabul. He will be in Islamabad today. He will have meetings in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other parts of the government. Mr. Khalilzad is Special Representative for the US President on peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and his visits to Kabul and Pakistan are a part of the Afghan Peace and reconciliation process.

I have seen reports of detention of Hafez Mohibullah. I ascertain facts on this and get back to you.

Question

In your press briefing a couple of weeks back, you stated that India has no role as far as peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan are concerned. We have also seen President Trump calling for India’s role in Afghanistan. What is Pakistan’s position on this matter?

Secondly, Bangladesh has refused to take back their citizens imprisoned in Pakistani jails with the Bangladesh High Commission claiming that they are not their citizens? Your comments please! (Mr. Anas Mallick – WION TV)

Answer

India has no role in Afghanistan.

On your second question, I will need to check the facts and their nationality confirmation status and shall revert with details in due course.

Question

Mr. Cameron Phillip Munter, former US Ambassador to Pakistan has held a number of meetings in Pakistan this week. There is a mist surrounding Mr. Munter’s visit, with some reports saying that he is in Pakistan to conduct an audit of US $ 33 billion funding given by the US to Pakistan, while other reports suggest that he was in Pakistan to negotiate a secret deal. Can you clarify the purpose of Mr. Munter’s visit? (Mr. Salman Hashmi – Forensic Eye)

Answer

Mr. Munter is favourably disposed towards Pakistan.

Question

Reportedly, the Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman will be visiting Pakistan next month? What are the dates for the visit? What important agreements can be signed during the visit of the crown prince? (Mr. Asim Ali Rana – ARY News)

Answer

His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz is visiting Pakistan in February 2019. The dates of the visit are being worked out. Both sides are actively pursuing to finalize agreements/MoUs for signing during the upcoming visit of the Saudi Crown Prince.

Question

Pakistani Americans in the US, holding dual nationality, have been told by the Indian Embassy in the US, to renounce their Pakistani citizenship and provide evidence before they will be granted visas to visit India. Is the Foreign Office aware of this development? If so, has it been engaging with the Indian External Affairs Ministry on this matter? (Mr. Sib Kaifee – Arab News)

Supplementary Question

Is this news true Sir? Can you confirm or deny it? (Mr. Sib Kaifee – Arab News)

Answer

India is shy of engaging with us. Our Prime Minister wrote to them to have a dialogue on all issues including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and other issues. This would have been covered under that. Unless, we begin that journey, for which Pakistan is ready and they engage with us, it is not possible to resolve even such simple issues.

Ideally, the veracity of this news should be confirmed with India but I shall also check and revert.

Question

Pakistan had once suggested to India an exchange of prisoners, within a certain age limit, the highest being 65 and the lowest 17. Has the Indian side reverted on this suggestion?

Secondly, there was an agreement on visit of the Joint Judicial Commission, is there any development on this front? (Mr. Naveed Akbar – Aaj TV)

Answer

Yes, this was agreed. But you all know that India is not willing to engage with Pakistan. Had India replied positively to our offer for negotiations, these issues could have been resolved. We have a difficult relationship with India. There is very slow progress on these issues. Our efforts are ongoing, however, nothing concrete on this front has been achieved, which I can share with you. I will keep you updated.

Question

It is reported that a bill has been introduced by a Republican Congressman, Andy Briggs, in the US Congress, to remove Pakistan from the list of America’s non-NATO ally. How do you see this development where on one hand the US has sought Pakistan’s support for bringing peace in Afghanistan and on the other there are moves in the US legislature to penalize Pakistan?

Secondly, Afghan Ambassador Mr. Shukrullah Atif Mashal has said that Pakistan and Afghanistan reached an agreement on exchange of prisoners. Can you please share the details of this agreement and what kind of prisoners from both sides will be exchanged under this agreement? (Ms. Rabia Peer – VoA)

Answer

On your second question, I do not have details of the agreement that you are referring to. I will get the details and revert.

On your first question, we have seen this draft Bill which has apparently been tabled by one congressman. Pakistan Embassy in Washington is monitoring the developments on the draft Bill which has been referred to the relevant Committee.

Question

Ms. Lisa Curtis, Deputy Assistant to the US President, reportedly, was in Islamabad or is in Islamabad and held discussions with senior officials in Pakistan government. Can you comment on this? Secondly, was the visit by Ms. Curtis linked to the visit of US Special Representative Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad? (Mr. Muhammad Jaleel – VoA)

Answer

It is part of the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.

Question

The Indian occupation forces, in Shopian district, opened fire on the funeral procession, injuring 16 civilians. The Indian forces continue to use pellet guns on the civilians. What steps has the government of Pakistan taken to highlight the plight of those injured as a result of pellet guns. (Mr. Shabbir Wahgra – PTV World)

Answer

Pakistan continues to lend strong political, diplomatic and moral support to the Kashmiris bearing the brunt of Indian atrocities in IOK, including condemning continuing use of pellet guns, the so called search and cordon operations and in a new low, firing at funerals. Even the dead find no peace in IOK and are being used for target practice. Our missions continue to raise this with their interlocutors, including at the UN and other international forums.

Question

The UAE Crown Prince visited Islamabad on 06 January 2019. However, a controversy surrounded his visit when it was reported that the Crown Prince was in Pakistan at least three days prior to the official announcement by the Foreign Office. Was the Foreign Ministry aware of the Crown Prince’s presence in Pakistan before 06 of January 2019?

Secondly, in the first week of February an important meeting on Kartarpur is scheduled to take place in New Delhi. Who, from Pakistan, side will participate in the meeting? (Ms. Rashida Sial – Aab Takk)

Answer

On your second question, we are not aware of any such meeting and have not received any invitation from New Delhi.

On your first question, our press release of 05 January 2019 clearly stated that the official visit would begin on 06 January 2019. The dignitary was in Pakistan before that for a private visit.

Question

Reportedly, Bangladesh government has disowned their citizens, imprisoned in Pakistani jails, who have completed their sentence. It is unprecedented that the Bangladesh High Commission in Islamabad has also refused to acknowledge these Bangladeshis as their citizens. Your comments please? (Mr. Aon Sherazi – SUCH News)

Answer

As I have answered earlier, we need to ascertain the facts in this case. Once that is done we will get back to you on this.

Question

There are reports that Taliban are not willing to engage with the Afghan Government for negotiations. My question is, are Taliban, Pakistan and China on the same page as far as peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan is concerned? What is the Chinese take on the ongoing Afghan peace and reconciliation efforts? (Mr. Mazhar Iqbal – Public TV)

Answer

It is only appropriate that the Chinese side responds to the question as far as their stance on Afghan peace and reconciliation efforts is concerned. Peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan is a shared responsibility. Pakistan is part of the Pakistan-Afghanistan-China Trilateral process. We have many commonalities amongst us as far as the ongoing peace efforts are concerned. Afghan peace process is a sensitive matter. Our position remains consistent that an intra-Afghan dialogue is the best way forward and that a political solution to the Afghan crisis is the only way forward.

Question

There are reports that the Indian High Commission in Islamabad has refused visas to Pakistani professionals from showbiz. On the other hand, there are talks of providing visa free entry from Kartarpur Corridor, which is part of cultural/religious diplomacy. What is your take on this action by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad? (Mr. Shamim – Online News Agency)

Answer

There is no such bar from our side. We provide visas to Indian nationals who participate in cultural/religious activities being held in Pakistan. It is appropriate for the Indian side to comment on their actions to deny visas for cultural exchanges. It is only through diversity and competition that societies and cultures can evolve. The Indian fear of the Pakistani civilization and culture is horrific, most of all for themselves.

The Prime Minister himself inaugurated the Kartarpur Corridor. If there is lack of clarity, confusion or haze in policy, it is on the Indian side and only they can shed light on it. I have repeated a number of times that the Prime Minister’s letter of September 2018 lays down a clear roadmap for starting negotiations with India. Indians agree to it one day and renege the next day. On Kartarpur, they send their Ministers for the opening ceremony only to claim the next day that the visit was personal. The lack of clarity in Foreign Policy is on the Indian side. We have a clear policy, as articulated by the Prime Minister’s letter. We cannot have a clearer policy on India than the one we have now.

Question

I would like to ask whether Pakistan will highlight the issue of human rights violations in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, during the visit of UNGA President?

Secondly, how Pakistan-Iran relations are being adversely affected as a result of international sanctions imposed on Iran? (Mr. Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)

Supplementary Question

We saw reports of about 14 Iranian Border Guards kidnapped on the Pakistani side, five of whom were later rescued and repatriated to Iran. Is there an update on the rest of the Guards? (Mr. Anas Mallick – WION TV)

Answer

Regarding the Iranian Border Guards, there is no further update.

As far as our relations with Iran are concerned, we have excellent relations. The Iranian Foreign Minister Jawad Zareef is the only Foreign Minister to have visited Pakistan twice in the last four months. The sanctions remain, as they have in the past. There is no impact of these sanctions on Pakistan-Iran bilateral relations.

Regarding your first question, I can assure you that during the visit of UNGA President, Pakistan will effectively highlight the human rights violations being perpetrated by Indian occupation forces in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir at all levels.

Question

Has the government of Pakistan formally lodged a protest over the treatment meted out to an official of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi? Has India provided any basis for the detention of our employee in Delhi? (Ms. Mona Khan – Geo News)

Answer

You refer to the official of the Pakistan High Commission who was detained on baseless charges and forced to sign a note. He was allowed to leave, after Pakistan lodged a strong protest. Allowing such incidents violates the Vienna Convention on Consular and Diplomatic Relations and diplomatic norms.

All these issues need to be resolved through diplomatic channels based on the agreement between both countries.

Question

United Nations has nominated 75 important people to resolve the Yemen conflict. Is anyone from Pakistan involved in this exercise? (Mr. Salman Hashmi – Forensic Eye)

Answer

I have to check on that. Pakistan believes that the matter may be resolved through dialogue.

Question

My first question is whether there is any delegation from the Hurriyat Conference or any other Kashmiri delegation that is likely to meet the UNGA President.

Secondly, Saudi Arabia is being projected as a third partner in the CPEC. We have seen reports of huge investments from Saudi Arabia coming to Gwadar. Is the Saudi Crown Prince likely to visit Gwadar? (Mr. Abbas Jaffar – Daily District News)

Answer

On your first question, I have to check if there is meeting scheduled for the UNGA President with the Hurriyat.

On CPEC, our government’s position is very clear. There is no change on it.

For more information, contact:
Spokesman
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan
Tell: +92-51-9205494
Fax: +92-51-9204202
Cell: +92-336-5644459
Website: www.mofa.gov.pk

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