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Record of Press briefing by Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman held on 12th September 2013

Islamabad, September 12, 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
What would Pakistan have in return of Mullah Baradar because that man caused so much damage to Pakistan? What is the actual mantra of his release and why he was not released earlier?

Secondly, under which law these detainees were kept in Pakistan and were they presented in any court of law or charged for anything?

Answer
The objective of releasing the Taliban detainees is to contribute to reconciliation process in Afghanistan. You would recall that there had been demands from various quarters that Pakistan may support the process of reconciliation.

You would further recall that earlier too at the request of the Afghan High Peace Council, Pakistan had released Taliban detainees. Pakistan is convinced that an Afghan led and Afghan owned reconciliation process can contribute to a lasting peace in Afghanistan.

On the legal side of this, I would refer you to the Ministry of Interior.

Question
Two Kashmiri youth were arrested last week and some of them were relative of Asiya Andrabi. Can you give some clarification that what has actually happened?

Secondly, is Mr. Sartaj Aziz meeting Mr. Salman Khurshid at Bishkek tomorrow?

Answer
As for your first question, I do not have any information on the subject. As for you second question, yes Adviser to the Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs and National Security is scheduled to meet the Indian External Affairs Minister tomorrow (13 September 2013) on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting.

Question
Pakistan has good intentions of facilitating the reconciliation process in Afghanistan. If we are that honest, why are we not handing over these Taliban detainees to Afghan government or Afghan High Peace Council? What is the philosophy behind this?

Secondly, do we keep the track of them? Where do they go when we release them?

Answer
The philosophy is very clear. Pakistan believes that reconciliation in Afghanistan will be facilitated by participation of all stakeholders in an Afghan led process. The release of the Taliban detainees by us should be seen in that spirit.

As for your second question, I do not have information as to where they go once the detainees are released.

Question
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is leaving for Turkey on 16th September. As per media reports shifting of the Taliban office from Qatar to Turkey will be discussed during his visit. Can you confirm this?

Answer
This is a speculation.

Question
Yesterday, the senior advisor to the US representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Robin Raffel expressed her concerns regarding the release of Afghan Taliban prisoners straight in Pakistan. She also expressed her concerns regarding the statement of APC. Do you have any information?

Answer
I do not have any comments on the comments you are referring to. Our position on both issues is clear. Release of Taliban detainees is in the larger interest of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. On All Parties Conference, this was a welcome development which led to an across the board consensus of political parties in Pakistan to join hands in countering terrorism.

Question
Japanese vice Foreign Minister visited Pakistan. No information was shared except his meeting with the Adviser. What issues came under discussion during his meeting with the Adviser and other high officials?

Secondly, is there any confirmation from the Indian side that the two Prime Ministers would be meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly?

Answer
The Parliamentary Vice Minister of Japan for Foreign Affairs visited Pakistan. The visit was a part of regular exchanges that Pakistan and Japan have to discuss matters of common interest and to promote bilateral cooperation. He called on the Adviser and we did issue a press release on that meeting.

On the proposed meeting between the two Prime Ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the two governments are in touch with each other. Pakistan’s position has been that it could provide a useful opportunity for the two leaders to engage in a constructive dialogue to discuss ways of building mutual trust and improving bilateral relations.

Question
Yesterday Pakistan and Afghanistan’s defense committee dialogue concluded in Kabul. Do you think that this platform will be useful to bring the two countries together?

Secondly, has the dates for the Prime Minister Nawaz Sahrif’s visit to Turkey been finalized? What kind of a visit that would be?

Answer
Pakistan and Afghanistan maintain regular contacts at various levels and in various formats. The purpose is to promote cooperation and enhance understanding between the two countries.

As for your second question, the visit would take place from 16-18 September 2013 during which the Prime Minister will be meeting the leadership of Turkey. The focus of the visit is to promote bilateral cooperation particularly in the areas of trade, energy and investment. There will also be a business forum. Details are being worked out.

Question
In view of the present relations between Pakistan and India, how important the meeting between the two Foreign Ministers would be? Is there any agenda?

Answer
The talks will focus on the overall bilateral relations between the two countries.

Question
My question is regarding the release of Taliban prisoners. Are there any conversations happening with the US? Is there any coordination with the US? Are you tracking them? Please share some details with us.

Answer
The government of Pakistan maintains contact with the concerned authorities in Afghanistan and the US on such matters.

Question
What is the policy of Pakistan on current situation on Syria being a non permanent member of the UN Security Council and what is the current status of our Embassy in Damascus?

Answer
Pakistan is pursuing a principled policy on the Syrian situation. The people and the government of Pakistan are deeply saddened at the fratricidal loss of lives in Syria. We are also distressed on the reported use of chemical weapons. While we wait for the report of United Nations investigation team, we believe that chemical weapons should not be used by anyone under any circumstances.

We have called upon all sides to exercise restraint and engage in an inclusive political dialogue to evolve a peaceful political solution of the crisis. As a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, we are following the developments closely and are encouraging the evolution of a way forward consistent with the principles of UN Charter.

Our Embassy in Damascus is functional along with many others. We have prepared our contingency plans, should the need arise, there are plans in place to evacuate our personnel.

Question
If the major breakthrough takes place between the Government of Pakistan and the Taliban, who stands for the guarantee from Taliban side that they will not violate the agreement?

Answer
This is a speculative question, I would not answer that. Our position on this issue is that release of Taliban detainees is intended to facilitate the reconciliation process.

Question
Thirty two prisoners have been released by Pakistan so far except Mullah Baradar. What is the exact figure of released prisoners and how many are in the custody of Pakistan? Is there any demand more for the release of more prisoners from Afghan side?

Secondly, as per media reports, Pakistan swapped some prisoners with Afghanistan. Do you have any details about that?

Answer
We had released 26 detainees last year and another 7 recently. I do not have any information about other figures that you need or the reports of prisoners swap.

Question
In the APC meeting, it has been decided to raise the issue of drone strikes in the UN. Is there any green signal given to Foreign Office in this regard? Or the Prime Minister of Pakistan himself will raise the issue in UN General Assembly?

Answer
The All Parties Conference has recommended that the Federal Government may consider the possibility of taking the drones issue to the United Nations. We have initiated necessary work in this regard in consultation with our missions in Geneva and New York.

The position of the Government of Pakistan on drone strikes is principled and clear. Drone strikes violate our sovereignty and international law and they are also counter-productive. An international debate is now well underway on the humanitarian and human rights implications of the drone strikes as well as their legitimacy and effectiveness. The Foreign Ministry will be taking all possible steps to implement the recommendation of the APC in the most effective manner.

Question
Is there any agreement between the Government of Pakistan and the US for the use the Pakistani airbases by the US for drone strikes?

Answer
There is no agreement on the use of drone strikes in the Pakistani territory. Drone strikes are a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and a violation of international law.

Question
Last week our security forces have arrested some people who are related to Senior Hurriyat leader, Asiya Andarabi. Does that reflect the policy shift towards the freedom fighters in Kashmir?

Answer
I do not have information on the reports you are referring to.

Question
There are at least five Pakistani prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. Can you update us on that?

Answer
I do not have any update. Our Embassy in the US maintains contact with the concerned US authorities in this regard and takes all necessary steps for the release of Pakistani prisoners.

Question
You said that there is no agreement between Pakistan and US on drone strikes. But there are many agreements on intelligence sharing between Pakistan and US and at the trilateral or multilateral level. So do you believe that there is no linkage with the US on the use of drone strike with the intelligence sharing mechanism?

Answer
On the use of drone strikes, Pakistan’s position is very clear. There is no understanding with the US or anyone else on the use of drone strikes in Pakistan.

Question
Which country’s airbases are being used to carry out drone strikes on Pakistan?

Answer
I do not have information on that.

Question
You said that we are not tracking the Taliban prisoners. So in the case of release of Mullah Baradar, how are you going to help the negotiations process if you don’t know where they are?

Answer
As stated earlier, Taliban detainees have been released to facilitate the reconciliation process.

Question
You said Mullah Baradar would be released on appropriate time. What are the factors that would determine the appropriate time?

Answer
The Government of Pakistan would determine the appropriate time.

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

The post Record of Press briefing by Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman held on 12th September 2013 appeared first on AsiaNet-Pakistan.

The post Record of Press briefing by Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman held on 12th September 2013 appeared first on AsiaNet-Pakistan.

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