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Record of Press briefing by Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman held on 19th April

Islamabad, April 19, 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
Is Foreign office in loop regarding any foreign contact and pressure about the Musharraf issue either from London, Washington, Jeddah or any other country?

My second question is that, is there any record available in Foreign Ministry regarding past agreements which were related to certain political leaders and to which certain foreign dignitaries were witness and signatories?

Answer
I am not aware of any foreign contact or agreement mentioned in your questions.

Question
Has any foreign mission in Pakistan actually contacted Government of Pakistan to provide asylum to Pervez Musharraf?

Answer
I am not aware of any such approach by any foreign mission.

Question
Pakistan-India relations are inactive these days. Pakistan has historic demands from India on different issues. Is there any progress on the issues between both countries?

Answer
Composite Dialogue between Pakistan and India is an important element of the peace process. Second round of the Dialogue has already completed and the third round commenced. We hope that the dates of all segments of the Composite Dialogue will be finalized soon.

Question
Recently Afghan authorities including Defense Ministry has alleged that Pakistan is involved in terrorist activities inside Afghanistan. Some LeT groups are not only involved in attacks on Afghan Forces but also ISAF. One of the high profile LeT leader is in the custody of Afghan government. They have not named him but they have provided the information to Foreign Office and security establishments of Pakistan. What is your take on this?

Answer
We do not respond to any allegation with a counter allegation. For us, the most important thing is the peace process in Afghanistan. We are convinced that peace and stability in Afghanistan is in the interest of Pakistan and the region, and we will continue to facilitate the peace process in every possible way.

Question
I will talk about Pak-US relations from your perspective because when we ask them to define the relations, they say that these will be grounded on realities. There are common interests and few differences. Would you like to identify these differences? What sort of support do they expect from Pakistan for troops withdrawal from Afghanistan?

Answer
We are maintaining mutually beneficial relations with the United States. There are issues which happen in every relationship, and we are taking steps to address them. On the whole the relationship is on a positive trajectory.
As for support expected of Pakistan during troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, Pakistan is ready to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve the overall objective of achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan in 2014 and beyond.

Question
Since last two three weeks Pakistan has been assuring support to Afghanistan but the other side does not seem satisfied. They suspect the support and intentions of Pakistan. What kind of reservations have they forwarded to you and your Ministry whenever there are contacts at different levels?

Answer
We have seen these reports and statements. Pakistan and Afghanistan are maintaining contact through appropriate channels to address the issues of mutual concern. You are aware of the recent meeting between the DG MOs of the two countries, which discussed and resolved the border coordination issues, including border post construction. In our view, effective border management can help interdict any cross border terrorist activity. We welcome such bilateral interactions in order to enhance bilateral cooperation and reduce space for detractors.

Question
Few days back, Afghan Defence Ministry claimed that they have arrested a LeT member and he is Pakistani national. Has Afghanistan contacted Foreign Office in this regard? Can you confirm his arrest and his nationality?

Answer
We have not been contacted by Afghan government in this regard.

Question
Recently in Washington, there was a very strong voice to cut off Pakistan’s aid though there were some voices to assist Pakistan. Do you think that US is going to cut off Pakistan’s aid? What is the prospect between Pakistan and US relations especially regarding the coalition support fund, Kerry Lugar and other silent features like FODP? Will Pakistan continue to cooperate in counter terrorism operations despite cutting of aid by US?

My second question is regarding the earthquake in Pakistan. Has there been any call made by Pakistan for international assistance?

Answer
Pakistan and the US governments remain engaged at various levels to address the issues of bilateral concern, including the issues that you mentioned. Both governments are constructively engaged on the basis of mutual respect and mutuality of benefit.

The Government of Pakistan has not issued appeal for international assistance as our national institutions are actively working to provide relief and assistance, including NDMA and Armed Forces.

Question
How much funds have we received or receive annually from US?

Answer
I do not have exact details. I will need to consult the concerned authorities.

Question
What is the latest of Pakistanis residing in Saudi Arabia? Despite the appeal made by President Zardari, people are living in state of fear and apprehension. What measures have so far been taken for the security and respectable deportation of those people?

Do you have any sort of tabulated numbers who have got affected?

Answer
Our Missions in Riyadh and Jeddah have been in constant contact with the Saudi authorities at different levels. The Ambassador and his team are also visiting the deportation centres and various provinces and extending all possible help and assistance. Three months grace period granted by Saudi authorities is being utilized to resolve the issues of residence permit. As for the number of affected Pakistanis, I do not have exact figures yet.

Question
Do you have any information regarding the arrival of Prince Mukkaram from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan to talk about Pervez Musharraf?

Answer
I do not have any information about this.

Question
Do you have any details about election observers from US? How many of them are officials and non-officials?

Answer
The US has requested to send nine election observers. We are facilitating foreign election observers from the EU, NDI, and some countries that have requested to send observer missions, including the US. Paper work is in progress.

Question
There are reports in our all credible media that something is cooking up over there in Saudi Arabia for the return of General Musharraf. Is our mission or our Consulate in Jeddah engaged on this issue?

Secondly, around 17-18 diplomats are serving in different capitals who are politically appointed. There are also contradictory stories that some of them are resigning and some of them are continuing. In a specific case in Colombo, the Government completed its tenure on 16th of March and that gentleman put his credentials on 19th of March. Is it not something a violation of rules and regulations?

Answer
I am not aware of any such contacts from the Saudi side that you mentioned. On your second question, as indicated earlier, the caretaker Prime Minister has approved the continuation of the Ambassadors appointed by the previous government on contract basis until the next elected government takes a decision. On the specific case of Colombo, I would need to get details from our concerned colleagues and revert to you.

Question
You have said that you have not launched any appeal for the help of earthquake victims but there were reports from BBC quoting some military officials that they did seek the international help. So could you clarify this position?

Answer
The Government has not launched any appeal for international assistance. For the relief and assistance being provided by our own resources, I would like to refer you to NDMA.

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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