Record of the Joint Press Briefing by Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar and German Foreign Minister Mr. Guido Westerwelle 18 November, 2011 held at Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar
Assalam-o-Alaikum and good afternoon everyone, and thank you.
Foreign Minister, this is right after Jum’a prayer and the large presence over here shows that you are very popular here in Pakistan.
Let me welcome Foreign Minister Mr. Westerwelle in Pakistan for the second time in this calendar year.
This is your second visit to Pakistan as the Foreign Minister. It shows your commitment to this bilateral relationship with Germany, a large country in its own right and certainly a very important country within the context of the European Union (EU), and, today, an important country also in the context of its presence in Afghanistan.
So let me welcome you on your second visit to Pakistan. We in Pakistan look at it very positively. It shows the commitment of your government to building strong ties with Pakistan. So let me thank you for that.
Our talks were very constructive and extremely positive. The relationship between Pakistan and Germany has improved substantially in the last few years. Let me give you a few examples: you do remember the visit of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani to Germany. And I have also given the example of the Foreign Minister’s earlier visit to Pakistan.
Let me also give you the example of trade and development cooperation that has been enhanced rather, what you can call, astronomically or substantially. To give you a simple example: the development cooperation between the two countries or development assistance coming in from Germany, has increased by threefold from what was close to 34 million Euros in 2006-07 to the tune 145 million Euros in the last year (2009-10).
Germany also happens to be the largest trading partner within the EU for Pakistan. We have a total trade of US$ 2.2 billion and the balance of trade, this time around, happens to be in Pakistan’s favour.
These trade numbers have grown substantially over the last few years. Let me also recognize that over the last few years, we have signed a Bilateral Investment Treaty between the two countries. Let me also recognize that Germany happens to be the fifth largest investor in Pakistan; and about 40 German multinational companies are working in Pakistan, we know profitably.
I spoke to the Foreign Minister about the immense opportunity to further collaborate in the field of energy. Germany, as we all know, is working in renewable energy with a new zeal and force. And we talked about developing linkages between institutions and entities. German entities and our entities can collaborate at an early stage as we develop new sources of renewable energy.
The existing opportunities in Pakistan in this field are immense. We talked about, to quite a large extent, about the opportunities in solar and wind energy in which Germany has a comparative and competitive advantage.
In the realm of development assistance, we also talked about areas where Germany has competitive advantage vis-à-vis Pakistan; which is in two areas: one energy and two vocational training. As of all us Pakistanis in this room know, there is a dearth of vocational training opportunities in Pakistan. There is very strong vocational training in Germany. We already have an agreement in this field. We hope we will benefit from your strength in this fields.
EU is an excellent example of an entity that responded well to the coming of democracy in Pakistan. We have had two summit level interactions with the EU. I have spoken to the Foreign Minister that we have to institutionalize EU-Pakistan summit level interaction. We have the start of a strategic level dialogue with the EU.
We also have Pakistan’s bid to become a beneficiary of the GSP+ in 2014, which we also discussed. But most importantly, and this is something which President Zardari has worked on and Prime Minster Gilani continues to say at every forum, Pakistan believes that for the unique role that it has played and the sacrifices that Pakistan has made, Pakistan deserves a special dispensation in the realm of aid, but in the realm of trade and preferential market access. There is no country in the world, including Pakistan which will transform on the back of aid.
And with that let me, Mr. Foreign Minister; recognize the role that you, together with your other counterparts, including the Foreign Minister of UK, and your governments have played in promoting preferential market access for Pakistan; or a Pakistan specific trade package which it is currently looking for in a WTO waiver. This is the only demonstration of the world listening to what Pakistan has been saying; that Pakistan does deserve a special dispensation. The Pakistani people deserve a special dispensation.
Mr. Foreign Minister, let me thank you for your personal contribution and the contribution of your country.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as you all know, in the run up to transition in Afghanistan, there are three important events. We have just come back from the Istanbul Conference. We have said repeatedly that Pakistan will continue to play a constructive role for peace and stability in Afghanistan, and for Afghanistan to be present in a secure and prosperous region.
The Bonn Conference to be held on the 5th December will also be an important step in that direction. I told the Foreign Minister that Pakistan will continue to play a positive and constructive role in Afghanistan.
I also assure the Foreign Minister, as he assured me, that we have no hidden agenda in the pursuit of peace and stability. Pakistan seeks peace and stability within the region and within Afghanistan for its own selfish reasons.
It is Pakistan that has suffered because of the lack of peace and stability in Afghanistan. It is in the very selfish interests of our people that we pursue a peaceful and stable Afghanistan so that Pakistan is able to realize its full potential in the economic and political field.
Let me assure you, Foreign Minister that Pakistan will continue to play its role; and Pakistan must be viewed for what its role is. We look at ourselves as part of the solution. We can play a much more constructive and useful role in the pursuit of peace if we combine all our energies. Let me also acknowledge the positive role that Germany has played bilaterally, at the regional and the global levels.
So let me thank you Foreign Minister.
Foreign Minister Westerwelle:
Thank you Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. I am delighted to be back again in Pakistan. Thank you very much for the hospitality.
The fact that I am here for the second time shows you that we are very much really interested in good and close bilateral relations between our two countries. We did not just discuss for example the preparation of the Afghan Conference. We had a broad agenda which started with the bilateral agenda.
I would like to congratulate Pakistan for its latest election to the UN Security Council. We know that it is a very important institution for international security and for the destiny of the world. We agreed that we want to cooperate very closely in the Security Council and that we shall have the opportunity to cooperate and collaborate and we will do so.
Let me thank you once again for this excellent meeting. I think it is precisely what you said: it was productive and fruitful. It was not only a diplomatic exchange. We went into details. It was productive and concrete. I appreciate this because this is from my point of view, the way we should manage our bilateral relations.
I would like to say that on the bilateral issues, we want to intensify the cooperation. The German Government but most of all the German people showed heartfelt solidarity to overcome the consequences of the terrible floods catastrophe. And I would like to say that my visit here was once again to convey our deepest condolences to all the victims and to express our solidarity.
And when I use the word solidarity, I mean more than aid. I mean that Pakistan needs the chance for sustainable development to develop your economy. We will try to support you. And what we can do to support you on this we will do. This is the best way how we can support.
This is the best way how we can cooperate. We do not only send some planes with medical aid and help to build infrastructure but we work together in a positive manner to sustain the development of Pakistan’s economy. This is from our point of view the kind of partnership we are seeking; an equal partnership. This is the way we want to develop our bilateral relations.
Thank you so much Hina Khar that you mentioned vocational training. I can underline that we have in Germany a very well-educated sector called vocational training. Of course, for every country, university and academic education is very important. But we think the backbone of any education system is vocational training.
This is what the majority of the people need. So when we are talking about developing the educational system, we do not talk about some academic lead which is very important but we mean the majority of the people, mostly young people because they are the future and they need support for their personal lives and for the future of their families, and therefore, we think vocational training is very important. For example, when we look back to the depression we had in 2008-09 worldwide, you saw that Germany came out of this crisis in a very proper way.
We are successful to be back on track, to be back on the world stage. We are one of the leading economies. And one of the obvious reasons is that we have a stable segment in our economy which is medium sized and small companies. The other side of the coin is vocational training. This is a concrete detail which we discussed. It is not only important for the Foreign Ministers, for the Government, for the Parliament, for the politicians and for diplomats.
It is important for the people. This is a point that I would like to address here. We are together and we work together not in strategic issues of the government. We are here to have close and cooperative relations between countries and the people of our countries. This is the idea we are seeking in our international work.
The Foreign Minister was so friendly to mention our German commitment for renewable energy. This kind of energy is very important. Its importance is increasing for the future. Renewable energies are important not only for the German society but renewable energies are a real success story because fossil energies will decrease in importance in the energy sector.
It is necessary therefore to look for alternatives. The very best alternative is renewable energies. This means we have to intensify research in renewable energy. We have to work and we have to learn what is possible.
It is necessary that we cooperate early enough in this segment of both our economies because good policy is not only planned for the next month; it should also be planned for the next generation, once again in the interest of the young generation. We support Pakistani products in the EU and we hope that a breakthrough on this issue can be reached in the WTO as soon as possible.
Let me now come to the most important issue on the global agenda which is the Afghan Conference that we are hosting in Germany on 5th December. I am glad that Madam Minister accepted our invitation to come to Bonn. It is a great honour for us.
We will have more than 90 delegations from all over the world in Germany and we will work together to find the way for a stable and prosperous development of Afghanistan. This is not only in the interest of those nations who are engaged in Afghanistan and in the interest of Afghanistan but also in the interest of, especially, the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan.
We all know that Pakistan is playing a very important role for the better future of Afghanistan and therefore I welcome what we could discuss what was to discuss and I welcome the clear commitment of Madam Minister that there is no hidden agenda – not on your side, not on our side.
We have to work together because we think the stabilization of Afghanistan is important for the better future of the whole region. We all know that security and prosperous development for the benefit of the people is important – there is a link between both. These are two sides of the same coin. Therefore if you look for investments, foreign companies come when they have secure and safe circumstances and have reliable conditions.
Therefore, the discussions were very constructive. I welcome your support and clear statement about this. This signal will be present in the Bonn Conference. The message in the Bonn Conference would be the idea from transition to transformation.
The idea is that we can not only manage the present problems, this is difficult enough we all know, but it is necessary to show a long term perspective for Afghanistan. So the commitment of the German Government and the international community is crystal clear.
We will not forget Afghanistan and our responsibility to Afghanistan in the years after 2014 when the battle groups will withdraw. It is necessary that we work on a sustainable future for Afghanistan. This is not only, once again, in the interest of Afghanistan, not only in the interest of international community, we think it is in the very special interest of its neighbours. Therefore, I am grateful, glad and happy that we had such a constructive exchange of ideas; that we could agree in details that we have a lot of work to do when we go back to Germany; and also in the European Union. I can repeat what I said earlier this year that Pakistan can rely on Germany; we will be a fair partner for Pakistan.
Q 1: My question to the German Foreign Minister: How do you see Pakistan’s role in seeking a solution to the problems in Afghanistan? And to the Pakistani Foreign Minister, with regard to the endgame in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US appear to have separate views. How do you think they will be on the same page in Bonn?
A1: Foreign Minister Westerwelle: I would like to make two remarks. The first is, I welcome the clear commitment of the Government of Pakistan to fight against any form of terrorist activity. I think this is a consensus between our two governments and it is an important consensus. I say that we have sympathy with so many victims that you have in your country, fighting against terrorism and terrorist activities.
We know that we have so many victims, so much loss of life, so many Pakistani people died in the last ten years because of this fight against terrorism. But I have to say that it is necessary, it is decisive, it is crucial that we stay together against these terrorist activities because it is in our national interest to stabilize the world, stabilize the region and therefore the clear commitment by the Pakistan Government that we work together in the international community.
To fight against any kind of terrorist activities is very important. It is not important which background anyone has, or which self-justification someone says he has when he uses violence, when he chooses the terrorist way. There is only one answer to it that “we do not tolerate this kind of intolerance”.
It is our common answer and I am very glad that this was expressed here once again and this is our consensus. Of course, there are many other things on the agenda of the Bonn Conference but I really welcome this clear commitment.
Foreign Minister Khar: Whatever anyone’s perception about the “endgame” in Afghanistan may be, Pakistan is very clear on this point and that is what I told the Foreign Minister as well. Pakistan has no interest in Afghanistan beyond that of any neighbour in having a peaceful and stable dispensation in Afghanistan.
We want a stable peaceful government in Afghanistan which allows us to function peacefully in a stable environment, an environment in which we can achieve or in which we can convert many opportunities for the benefit of our people.
There is a tendency to give the onus of responsibility of what is happening in Afghanistan to Pakistan. The primary responsibility is that of Afghanistan. I think the onus of responsibility lies with the Afghan people.
As President Karzai interacts with the Loya Jirga, it is for him to decide what end game he has to have in Afghanistan. It is then for the international community to work together so that we can assist them and play a positive role. Pakistan is one of those many actor. Yet Pakistan ought to be different from many of those other actors because we share a porous border with Afghanistan.
It is because of that porous border that Pakistan has suffered more than any other single country. The responsibility lies where it is. It is for Kabul to decide what role would they want us to play to support them. We would at best be able to play a supportive role. We have neither a hidden agenda nor aspirations beyond seeking a peaceful dispensation. Any perception about a hidden agenda is misplaced and unjustified.
Q 2: You say Pakistan has no hidden agenda, then why is there this mistrust in the west. Would you say that there were mistakes made in the past that justify those questions? Are you satisfied with the status of Pakistan-Afghanistan relations? Do you think Bonn Conference would be useful there?
A 2: Foreign Minister Khar: First of all why do you think there is mistrust about Pakistan? I have seen the tendency to have a negative narrative about Pakistan because it may help some other players. In the ten years in Afghanistan, the Foreign Minister has referred to many successes that the first Bonn Conference has led to.
There are still many miles to travel and a lot more to achieve. The mistrust about Pakistan is more readily available in newspapers than behind closed doors when serious interactions are happening. I would happily say this on record, that as Foreign Minister of Pakistan, I have yet to date, not been provided with any substantial evidence or proof of Pakistan playing out a hidden agenda.
As I told the Foreign Minister, if Pakistan is asked to play a more active role, a positive atmosphere in which Pakistan can play this role must be created. We all have a responsibility towards that end. There is an oversimplification of the situation or misreading of ground realities that lead us to pointing fingers at one entity.
Now when we refer to mistakes of the past, I think we should not ignore history. We will have many lessons which will be able to guide the future. In the mistakes made in history, Pakistan happened to be the playground of the games played and therefore Pakistan has concerns that the vacuum that was left before should not be left again.
If there were players and mistakes in the past, Pakistan just happened to be the playground of the games played, and therefore Pakistan always shares responsibility for the mistakes of the past. Let us all learn lessons from the past and let us all ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes. Pakistan and Afghanistan lost a generation. Can we afford to make mistakes for the future generation? I hope not.
As far as better relations with Afghanistan are concerned, it takes two to tango. Pakistani leadership has in the most responsible terms possible reached out to the Afghan leadership in ways and means which are beyond may be diplomatic and political norms.
We will of course be not left in a very happy place if we find negative recriminatory comments coming out of the Afghan capital every now and then. We are committed to whatever is necessary to follow good relations based on trust with our Afghan brothers. To me, that is the center of being able to solve what is being looked at as the problem. So, but we have to receive a similar signal from their side.
Foreign Minister Westerwelle: I would like to add one short remark in answer to the question of German journalist. I just want to make clear that the Bonn Conference would be a future-oriented conference. This is the reason why we stand here in front of you.
Because we think of course we all have to learn our lessons, like all countries worldwide, we have our special history. But what happened in the past may never block what is necessary for the future. This is also the lesson we learn. Believe me, I am standing here as a German representative as I remember the history of my country in the first half of the last century.
It was not clear if we would ever become a well-recognized member of the international community. But we are back, of course. We gave priority to cooperation and not confrontation. This is the German lesson we learn.
Q 3: The actions taken in Afghanistan over the past ten years, did they have an effect over global peace and security? Do you think any country should maintain bases in Afghanistan after 2014?
A 3: Foreign Minister Westerwelle: About the last ten years, I would only like to answer with the remark which started one a half year ago, may be two years ago. We changed the strategy with the London Conference. We are seeking and working for a political solution.
Because we understood that we will not have a military solution. We know that military engagement is necessary to protect the political process, to protect a political solution. We know that we will only be successful with a political solution.
Therefore, I think it is important not only for Afghanistan but for all the others in the region that we do not, the international community does not go out and forget what was and leave the country alone and ignored. This is not in your interest. This is not in the interest of Afghanistan.
This would not be in our own interest. Because we are not in Afghanistan just to be there. We are in Afghanistan because we want to protect our own security. This is the reason why we went to Afghanistan. There is no other reason.
This is what I mentioned and what we both discussed. Germany has no agenda. We are absolutely committed. We want to have positive future. We want to have a fair partnership with all countries of the region and this is our idea.
(Q: What about the bases?)
How can we support the training of their own security system in Afghanistan? How can we develop infrastructure? What would we develop to stabilize the education system because it always plays the key role for development? So the point is that we and the international community have been engaged for the last ten years in Afghanistan.
Many countries have invested so much money in this mission and military engagement. Therefore, I think we should have enough capacity for civil development of Afghanistan. And with the combination of all other measures, I think it can work.
You know that we announced, the German Government announced, that like President Karzai said in his introduction to the second term, we made absolutely clear that we want to finish our military engagement in the sense of battle troops there. We would like to help Afghanistan in the sense of training policemen there so that they have their own development and security system.
Q 4: You say you have learnt your lesson. In which way, the attitude of your country has changed towards your neighbour Afghanistan?
A 4: Foreign Minister Khar In answer to your question, I will say more than you have asked. The lessons of history or the price we had to pay for arming people, for training people, the same people who were trained collectively and financed by some superpower and many other countries have left the fabric of our society very different from when we first started. Clearly, this is the lesson that we have learnt. It is the same people in one form or the other who our troops have been in active combat against.
No two countries can change a relationship unless there is a reciprocity, a modicum of reciprocity coming from the other side. Can we overextend the arm without it being somewhat reciprocated? No country which is serious about improving ties with another country will continue to make recriminatory comments against that country.
We have in the last two years, and let me start with the inauguration of President Zardari to which the only foreign guest was the Afghan President. Because President wanted to send a clear message to his own people and to the world that this democratic government was committed to a better relationship with the Afghan Government. And let me quote the visit of the Prime Minister Gilani, on 16 April when he did not go alone but with the Interior Minister and myself , but also with his national security team including the Army Chief, DG ISI, to tell them here we are.
You have any issues with us, please let us know. We are here to listen to you, to support you. After that a lot of good will was created. We participated in the Joint Commission because President Karzai and Professor Rabbani asked us to participate. We reciprocated. We listened to what they had to say. We started to interact with them. All of this was not “gup-shup”.
It is in our interest to be able to help Afghanistan. But everybody must carry the burden of responsibility which is their share. Don’t give Pakistan more burden than is its share. It is for the Afghan people to decide what they mean. One day they require Pakistan’s assistance; the next day it is Pakistan which is working against them.
Then how can Pakistan help them? We have to be clear on what we want to pursue. Then we have to be steadfast and consistent. I would like to pride myself on the fact that this government has been extremely responsible. It has been consistent. It has been responsible in its message, in its outreach. It is for both countries to gain from a stable region.
For more information, contact:
Syed Haider Ali Jafri
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan
Tel: +9251 921 0335 and 9056604