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Record of Press briefing by Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman held on 22nd August 2013

Islamabad, August 22, 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
Tension at LoC is very high and a Pakistani Military officer also embraced Shahadat due to unprovoked firing by Indian Army yesterday. What efforts are being made to reduce the tensions? Is there any communication other than calling the Deputy High Commissioner and registering the protest?

Secondly, please comment on the upcoming visit of President Hamid Karzai. What are the key issues that Pakistani leadership will be discussing with the President Karzai?

Answer
The incident on LoC violation by India yesterday which was in continuation of many others that have occurred in the past two weeks is a matter of grave concern to us. We called in the Indian Deputy High Commissioner to register our protest and convey our concern.

Pakistan is following the policy of restraint, responsibility, and dialogue in the larger interest of peace in the region. At the same time, the people of Pakistan, the leadership and our institutions are fully capable of defending our territory and our interests. We call upon India to take steps to ensure that there are no more ceasefire violations or other provocations so that the cause of peace in the region is not undermined.

On President Karzai’s forthcoming visit, the Summit level interaction would provide an opportunity for the leadership of the two countries to carry forward the process of constructive engagement between the two countries. The two sides will work together to promote the shared objectives of peace and security in our region. Matters relating to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, bilateral relations and regional situation will be focus of discussions during the visit.

Question
How far it is true that desire for maintaining peace, establishing peace and keeping peace with India is Pakistan’s weakness if it is not a diplomatic compulsion under the circumstances which Pakistan would go through after 2014?

Answer
Desire for peace by the leadership of Pakistan is a wise approach. It is important for India to better appreciate our policy of restraint and responsibility and not construe it as a weakness.

Question
There are media reports that Pakistan is going to release Mullah Baradar during the visit of President Karzai. How many Taliban prisoners are there in Pakistani jails and what will be their fate. There are also reports that someone from Doha office is here in Pakistan to meet the Pakistani officials before the visit of President Karzai. Can you comment on that?

Answer
The government of Pakistan would continue to extend its support for the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. In that regard, whatever steps that we deem are helpful will be taken. For your questions about the Taliban prisoners, I will refer you to the Ministry of Interior.

Question
The resolutions have been passed in the National Assembly and Senate and similar resolutions were passed in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. As you said last week, bilateral channels of communications are open. Indian Foreign Minister has also said that they want peace with Pakistan and that they abide by the cease fire agreement. Then where is the problem? DCC is also meeting today. What options are available with Pakistan?

Answer
I think there are two aspects of it. One is the need to build confidence so that there are no misunderstandings. In that regard the offer of the Prime Minister of the Pakistan to use the occasion of the UN General Assembly next month to hold a meeting with the Indian Prime Minister can provide an opportunity to discuss the steps needed to reduce tensions, build confidence and improve relations. The other is the operational aspect of it. There are existing mechanisms which ought to be used optimally to address the issue of ceasefire violations.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan has even offered that if the Indian side feels that these mechanisms are not sufficiently robust, then we are ready to discuss the ways to further strengthen them. Apart from the bilateral mechanisms, UN Military Observer Mission (UNMOGIP) is also there to observe the line of control.

Question
My question is related to the talks in New York. Yesterday there was a kind of feeler coming from Indian side that the talks will not be happening and India is not very hopeful. There is a big doubt about talks in New York. You have also said that there are other channels open. I want to ask you that secretary level talks on water and other issues are also not happening. Can you please clarify?

Secondly, can u give me the number of LoC violations by India?

Answer
On the meeting in New York, I don’t have the exact date or the confirmation. Of course it has to be with the agreement of two governments. But should that opportunity arise, the leadership of Pakistan is prepared to use that occasion to serve the interest of peace. On the number of ceasefire violations, ISPR would be in a better position to respond. On your reference about the talks, the government of Pakistan believes that dialogue process must continue. Suspending the dialogue or slowing it down does not serve the peace process. In fact it helps those elements who do not wish to see peace in our region.

Question
Do the policy of restraint and the responsibility of the present government also means that we put a side longstanding position that we have been holding. For the first time in 14 days of ceasefire violations, you have referred to UN military observer groups in India and Pakistan. Prime Minister has spoken about this and UN has issued a number of statements. Pakistan has regularly referred to this mechanism. Is this for pacifying India who is opposed to the military observer group?

Answer
Holding of dialogue does not mean giving up your positions. Dialogue is a means to discuss and resolve issues. The Jammu and Kashmir dispute is one longstanding unresolved issue between Pakistan and India. We believe serious and meaningful dialogue is needed to resolve this and other outstanding issues. As for UNMOGIP, it has a mandate to observe the line of control. The Government of Pakistan finds value in the work of UNMOGIP.

Question
The Government of Pakistan has proposed to India to investigate the killings of five Indian soldiers. What is the official response of the India on this?

Secondly, is there any request from the US Government for the arrest of the teacher of Gunj Madrasa? His name is Sheikh Aminullah. He is missing or has escaped when his name was put on the most wanted list.

Answer
On the incident of 6th August that you are referring to, from our side we have investigated and found that Pakistani side was not involved in it. We have conveyed that to the Indian side. It is for the Indian government to investigate what happened on its side. Pakistan which itself has been suffering from terrorism cannot be held responsible for any acts of terrorism that may have happened on the other side of the line of control.

On the Madrassa which has been put by the US on its own sanctions list, I do not have details. I would refer you to Ministry of Interior.

Question
Pakistan has properly reacted to developments in Egypt and very strong statements came twice from the Foreign Office. However, Pakistan has been suspiciously silent on the happenings in Syria. Pakistan is one of those countries which are maintaining its diplomatic relations with Syria. What do you say about the foreign policy of Pakistan towards Middle East and Syria as there is no policy regarding Arab Spring? How do you see the tyrant ruling the country and killing its own people as a general policy?

Answer
On Syria, Pakistan is deeply concerned at the continuing fratricidal violence there. Pakistan’s position is based on principles of respecting territorial integrity and unity of Syria and promoting a solution based on dialogue and engagement. We have expressed our position in the United Nations Security Council where Pakistan is currently a member. As for diplomatic presence, yes Pakistan Embassy in Damascus is functioning.

Question
I would like to know, what is the number of recent LoC violations by India?

Secondly, some time back, we referred the LoC violations by India to the United Nations. Can you share the outcome of that investigation?

Answer
On the number of LoC violations by India, I will refer you to the ISPR. As for your second question, I am not sure which particular instance you are referring to. I will like to check it out first.

Question
During the first address to the nation, the Prime Minister has said that Pakistan would have to make changes in its foreign policy. As we know that Pakistan supports an Afghan led and Afghan owned reconciliation process. I am just curious that this policy might undergo a change in what the Prime Minister is referring towards Pakistan’s foreign policy. Will we see a change in our foreign policy towards Afghanistan?

Answer
I think the context of the Prime Minister’s reference to change of Pakistan’s foreign policy can be better understood in terms of the priority to be attached to the economic welfare of the people of Pakistan. On Afghanistan, the speech was very clear. We support an Afghan led and Afghan owned peace process.

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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