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Record of Press briefing by Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokes person held on April 4

Islamabad, April 04, 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
There have been talks between Pakistan, Russia and China on Afghanistan. Would you like to give us some updates about it, any decision, and any progress with regard to issues on Afghanistan during these talks?

Answer
The trilateral talks between Pakistan, Russia and China, the three close neighbors of Afghanistan were held in Beijing. The objective was to promote and coordinate the shared objective of facilitating peace and stability in Afghanistan and how best to contribute to that process. I am told that there was a positive atmosphere in the meeting. All three countries wanted to extend full support to the peace process. We have also issued a Press Release on the trilateral talks today.

Question
When you write in your statement that three parties also agreed to support the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in playing greater role in Afghanistan. What exact role for the SCO has been identified in Afghanistan? Secondly the relations with Afghanistan, those are not coming to normal and we feel lot of knee jerk reactions. What exactly is hindering the two countries from normalizing relations and bring them back to earlier state of good relations?

Answer
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), as an important regional organization, can play a useful role by serving as a forum where the stakeholders can come together and discuss issues to find solutions. Pakistan would be supportive of any such role that SCO can play. As mentioned earlier too, Pakistan will remain supportive of all positive initiatives that can help bring peace and stability in Afghanistan.

As for your second question, Pakistan is engaged with Afghanistan at all required levels and will remain so. There is a need for ever closer engagement between the two governments so that process of peace and stability in Afghanistan can be advanced. Pakistan for its part remains fully committed to do that. We hope that all concerned parties would remain supportive of the ultimate objective of peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Question
What is the update of EU Observers coming to Pakistan to monitor the election process? Secondly Ex-Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has regularized 100-200 people in the Ministry before completing her term which is illegal? Your comments please?

Answer
The EU Observer Mission’s core team is already here and is preparing for its mission. The head of the Mission, Mr. Michael Gahler, is expected to be in Pakistan next week. He is scheduled to meet the Foreign Secretary and others concerned. The Government of Pakistan remains committed to holding free, fair and transparent elections. In this context, we will extend due support to the EU Mission and other observers.

Regarding your second question I will get back to you as soon as I get the information from the concerned colleagues in the Ministry.

Question
My first question is that a group of British MP’s have asked the UK government to withhold the extra aid to Pakistan unless the country does more to collect taxes from its wealthier citizens? Secondly why the government is not making public the autopsy report of Chamail Singh who died in Kot Lakhpat jail in January this year and despite repeated demands from India, the Foreign Office has not handed over the autopsy report to India which has already been prepared by medical board.

Answer
The overall approach of the Government of Pakistan has been to focus more on trade and less on aid. On tax collection, it is a matter of common knowledge that our leadership has been emphasizing the need to broaden the tax base. All relevant government departments are making earnest efforts in this regard.

On the autopsy report, we have not yet received it from the Ministry of Interior or the Government of the Punjab. As soon as we receive the report, we will share it with the Indian High Commission and others concerned.

Question
What is the current status of Pak-China deal to provide Pakistan with 1000 Mega Watt nuclear reactor and US reaction over the deal?

Answer
Pakistan and China have been engaged in civil nuclear cooperation for quite some time, which is under IAEA safeguards and in compliance with international norms.

Question
There are some reports circulating that if Pakistan changed its stance on Fissile Material Cut off Treaty (FMCT), there is a chance that civil nuclear deal between Pakistan and US could go ahead? Would you please like to comment on that?

Secondly please confirm if you have reports about Afghan shelling in Shabak area of Lower Kurram Agency?

Answer
Pakistan is fully committed to the twin objectives of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. On FMCT, Pakistan has taken a position that all four items of the core disarmament agenda, namely nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation, PAROS, and NSAs, should be discussed in a comprehensive manner in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

About your second question, this morning one of our border check posts in Kurram Agency came under attack by some terrorists from across the border from Afghanistan. Our forces responded and killed four terrorists. One of our security officials was injured.

Question
National Democratic Institute has also requested Pakistan to send their observers for the elections. Has their request been processed? Have any other think tanks, NGOs or any other country other than EU approached Pakistan?

Answer
The National Democratic Institute has indeed approached us for sending 57 observers. Their applications are being processed. We have a mechanism whereby we consult with the Ministry of Interior and Election Commission of Pakistan. Once the clearance is done we will be welcoming them to Pakistan as per the established procedure. We have not received any request from any other think tank. Some embassies have also approached us.

Question
I would like to draw your attention about the News story published in a Newspaper referring to the appointments made by the ex-Foreign Minister. What are your comments?

Secondly how many request have we received by the foreign election observers so far?

Answer
I have already answered the two questions.

Question
Being the Spokesman of Foreign Office are you in the loop regarding the delay in the appointment of caretaker Foreign Minister. Please give us some details?

Secondly do we expect the resumption of composite dialogue between India and Pakistan in near future?

Thirdly are there any expected dates for Pak-US Strategic Dialogue?

Answer
On the appointment of caretaker Foreign Minister, I do not have any information. It is the prerogative of the caretaker Prime Minister to take that decision.

On relations with India, Composite Dialogue remains an important part of the peace process. We do hope that the remaining segments of the Composite Dialogue will be held as soon as the dates have been worked out. On your last question, I will check the dates and revert to you.

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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