Islamabad, May 22, 2014 (PPI-OT): There are no opening remarks. The floor is open for questions.
How does the Foreign Office see the initiative by India of inviting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for the oath taking ceremony of Mr. Narendra Modi?
i. We have already heard you saying that it has not been decided yet whether Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will participate in Indian Prime Minister’s oath taking. Can you please specify how many Pakistani Prime Ministers or Heads of States have participated in such events in India in the past?
ii. Once Mr. Modi takes over in India, do you see an early resumption of Composite Dialogue between Pakistan and India and further normalization of ties keeping in view the harsh BJP rhetoric during the election campaign in India? Can we expect some progress on the Kashmir dispute?
iii. If Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif decides not to attend the oath taking ceremony himself, will there be representation of the Pakistan government?
iv. While we hear that the Pakistan government is still contemplating on the Indian invitation, can you please specify the mechanism of the broader consultation on this matter?
v. If the Prime Minister decides not to attend the oath taking ceremony, how do you see it in the context of diplomatic protocol and niceties?
The invitation to the Prime Minister to attend the inauguration ceremony of the new Indian Prime Minister was received yesterday afternoon. The Indian High Commissioner here called on the acting Foreign Secretary and delivered the invitation.
In Delhi also, all the High Commissioners of the SAARC countries were invited to the Foreign Office and this invitation was reiterated there. Whether the Prime Minister would attend or not will be decided sometime today. When it is done, we will share it with you.
As for previous practice, I do not recall any visits of this nature being exchanged. On the expectations, I would not like to speculate. However, we have expectations that stem from our interest in having peace so that we focus on economic development – peace for development and peace with dignity. Our expectations also stem from our desire for the betterment of the larger region.
We expect that when the new government takes over in India, realizing the importance of having peace in the neighbourhood, the dialogue process between Pakistan and India will resume – that it will be a meaningful and constructive dialogue; a dialogue with a view to resolving the outstanding disputes between our two countries so that this region can have durable peace. We expect this dialogue to be uninterrupted and uninterruptible.
You referred to some harsh statements. Well, we hope that when the new government takes over, the kind of atmosphere that prevailed during the election rallies will be left behind and we will get down to the business of states craft.
It is a normal practice that if the Head of the Government has some pre-occupations, he/she can nominate somebody else to represent. So, that’s a normal thing. It is not against protocol and niceties in any way.
Has the Government of Pakistan given any message to the Government of Nigeria or expressed solidarity and condemned the incident where Boko haram has kidnapped more than 200 school girls?
We condemn all acts of terrorism. We condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. As a country which has long suffered due to terrorism, we empathize with the people of Nigeria. I may also take this opportunity to clarify some speculations in the media that there were some tensions between Pakistan and Nigeria which resulted in postponement of President’s visit. Not at all! The visit was postponed and the two Foreign Offices are in touch to look at the possibility of new dates to reschedule the visit.
If there is a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Mr. Narendra Modi, what will be on the agenda of this first meeting? Will they discuss the thorny issues like terrorism, Kashmir, and Siachen?
Well, if and when this meeting takes place, it will probably be the first meeting between the two. They have not met in the past. They will get to know each other and leaders try to establish a rapport where they can get down to discussing serious issues. Obviously, issues related to the disputes; Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Water and others will be discussed when leaders of Pakistan and India meet. Also, trade, economic relations, transnational crime, terrorism and people to people contact can come up for discussion.
The US State Department’s Spokesperson has called Dr. Shakeel Afridi’s detention “unwarranted and unjust”. She further said that they regret the severity of the sentence. On the other hand the US administration has stopped CIA to employ the vaccination campaign for spying. Can you comment please?
Dr. Shakeel Afridi’s detention is Pakistan’s business. It’s our internal matter. He is a Pakistani citizen and he violated Pakistani law. It is for Pakistani law to take its course. Pakistan will decide how to handle it.
Two Indian journalists were recently ordered out of Pakistan. Can you tell why their visas were not extended?
Secondly, do you think that this kind of development ahead of the exchange of goodwill gestures between Pakistan and India would negatively influence the peace measures?
This question should be addressed to the Ministry of Information. We do not deal with visa for journalists. It is not a decision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
I may point out here that while there are normally two Indian journalists in Islamabad, there is no Pakistani Journalist based in India. The Ministry of Information would be able to comment on that as well, but even when Pakistani journalists are stationed in Delhi, they are not invited to MEA briefings.
On the other hand, we do not discriminate against Indian journalists based in Pakistan; they are part of the media corps here. They have as much access to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as any other journalist. This is what I can say on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As regards their visa, please contact the Ministry of Information.
My question is regarding Indian Prime Minister designate Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s meeting. In the past, Baluchistan issue was the most important issue between the two countries. Pakistan always blames that India is involved in Baluchistan issue. Will this issue be discussed in the meeting?
Baluchistan is not an issue between Pakistan and India. Baluchistan is a province of Pakistan. I would not put it in this way that it has been the most important issue between Pakistan and India. What was discussed in past were our concerns and information regarding Indian support to some banned organizations. That has been the context.
I have a question about the recent visit of Advisor Sartaj Aziz to Abu Dhabi. Could you please give more updates on this visit?
Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Mr. Sartaj Aziz visited Abu Dhabi on the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates.
During their bilateral meeting at Abu Dhabi, the two leaders discussed bilateral relations and ways and means to further strengthen these ties, especially in the economic field. UAE Foreign Minister welcomed Pakistan’s commitment to provide manpower to the UAE to support the massive infrastructure development expected to take place for EXPO 2020.
The two ministers also had an exchange of views on regional and international issues of mutual interest. Mr. Sartaj Aziz handed over invitation letters from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum to visit Pakistan.
A Chinese tourist has been kidnapped in D.I Khan. How is it possible that at such a crucial time when the President is in China and CM Punjab is going to sign so many important agreements and China is investing billions of dollars in Pakistan, the Foreign Office and other ministries have let go a Chinese tourist in such an area without any security? Don’t you think it’s negligence at all levels?
I don’t know how you can blame Foreign Office for negligence. We don’t provide security and that is not our job. People do visit Pakistan and they travel here. Among thousands who come here and travel, one unfortunate incident happens and this is the case here. The Chinese national was biking in this area and he was kidnapped. The government is making all out efforts for his early recovery.
In Xinjiang, China, 31 people have been killed in a terror attack. How do you view it?
We condemn this terrorist act perpetrated in the Peoples Republic of China, a close friend of Pakistan, in strongest possible terms. We empathize with the people of China. We, as always, stand with China at this time. Terrorism is a menace that is hurting us all. And we fight it resolutely and we will continue to do that.
We have seen reports that the FBI operator who was arrested in Karachi was released. Even the case against him was discharged. Can you tell us if there was any verbal agreement between the Foreign Office of Pakistan and the US Embassy in this case or under what conditions he was released?
Secondly, does US government share the travel plans of its intelligence operatives working in Pakistan with the Government of Pakistan? Also can you tell us on what assignment this operative came to Pakistan?
The FBI agent was given visa by our Mission in Washington for temporary assignment at the US Embassy in Islamabad. You might have seen that the Ministry of Interior was asked to provide some information to the court on the basis of which the release took place. What information was provided to the court, the Ministry of Interior will be able to clarify that for you. I am not privy to that information.
India has been asking Pakistan to stop terrorism, while Pakistan says that the line of control tensions need to be addressed before formal dialogue. Abdul Basit, our envoy in India, has said that we need to have a clean chit and a white paper before we sit for talks. What do you think is going to be on the table when talks finally begin between Pakistan and India?
Well, there are issues that both sides would like to bring to the table. Unless, we have the opportunity to sit across the table and discuss Indian allegations and evidence for those allegations and we are able to share our information and our concerns, there will be no forward movement. We need to address the more fundamental issues between us. The logic would suggest that we talk to each other to resolve all these issues.
For more information, contact:
Mr. Aizaz Ahmad Ch
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan