Home / Government Institutions / Record of Press briefing by Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman held on 29th August 2013

Record of Press briefing by Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman held on 29th August 2013

Islamabad, August 29, 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
A new development which requires an immediate attention is whether the Syrian government has used the chemical weapons or not. Are you in position to respond to what Russians are intending to? Reportedly, urgent action memorandum has been issued by President Putin. If this happens what would be the official response of Pakistan?

Answer
Pakistan is deeply concerned at the continuing fratricidal violence in Syria where thousands of people have died and many more injured. Pakistan has called on all sides to exercise restraint and engage in an inclusive political dialogue to facilitate a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Syria in keeping with the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people. Pakistan believes that sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria must be respected. Use of force must be avoided at all costs as the people of Syria have already suffered enormously.

As a non permanent member of the UN Security Council, Pakistan is closely following the situation in Syria and has urged all sides to pursue the policy of restraint and engage in a comprehensive political dialogue. Pakistan condemns the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria. In this context, Pakistan notes that a United Nations team is conducting an investigation. We stress the importance of establishing facts before any precipitate action is taken.

As for your question with regard to Russia, I would not like to make a comment on a speculative question.

Question
Mr. S. K. Lambah from India and Mr. Shahryar Khan from Pakistan are going to have talks in Dubai. Are these back channel negotiations leading to a possible meeting between Nawaz Sharif and Manmohan Singh in New York? Is that happening? What is the Pakistan’s stand point on this?

Answer
Pakistan and India are engaged in track-II diplomacy as you rightly indicated that India’s point person Mr. Lambah and Pakistan’s point person Mr. Shehryar Khan have been in touch with each other. As for the meeting in New York, it has been the position of the government of Pakistan that should an opportunity arise we believe that such a contact between the leadership of two countries will be a useful occasion to discuss the steps required to improve relations between the two countries.

Question
Yesterday in the National Assembly, the entire opposition walked out because there was no briefing from Mr. Sartaj Aziz or Foreign Office. They complained that government is not paying any heed to the situation in Syria and the LoC. What is your take on this?

Answer
Everyone in Pakistan including all institutions hold the Parliament in the highest esteem. The Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs is preparing to address the Parliament shortly to take the honourable parliamentarians into confidence on all these policy issues.

Question
There have been continuous cease fire violations by India along the LoC. The Indian Defence Minister is also blaming Pakistan for all these violations. What are your comments?

Answer
The ceasefire violations by India along the LoC during the past few weeks are a matter of deep concern to us. We have conveyed our concern to the Indian government through the diplomatic channels. Our message to the Indian side has been that tensions along the LoC undermine the peace initiatives of our leadership.

Our approach of restraint and responsibility articulated by the Prime Minister of Pakistan is predicated on the conviction that peaceful and good neighbourly relations between Pakistan and India would help create the space needed for the governments of the two countries to concentrate their energies on the welfare of the people of Pakistan and India. We have made some concrete proposals to the Indian side to help reduce the tension along the LoC. The Indian response is awaited.

Question
During the visit of Afghan President, he demanded for direct negotiations between Afghanistan and Taliban. To what extent Pakistan will facilitate Afghanistan on this? Was there any discussion to release Mullah Baradar?

Answer
The visit of Afghan President to Pakistan was successful. This was the first formal meeting between the leadership of the two countries after the coming into power of the present government in Pakistan. The leadership of Pakistan has expressed its desire to see a peaceful, stable and united Afghanistan and is fully committed to positively consider all steps necessary for promoting peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

As for your question regarding Mullah Bradar, I do not have any information in that regard. As a matter of policy, Pakistan has committed to support whatever we deem will be helpful to advance the reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

Question
There was a discussion on the exchange of prisoners in the Cabinet meeting yesterday. Do you think that the US side will show some flexibility on Dr. Afia Siddiqui’s case?

Answer
The Government of Pakistan is making every effort for the transfer of Dr. Afia Siddiqui to Pakistan. In this context, the Cabinet has approved that Pakistan may accede to Council of Europe Convention on transfer of prisoners with a view to providing a legal framework for consideration of the possibility of Dr. Afia Siddiqui’s transfer to Pakistan to serve her prison term here. Further action in this regard is being taken by Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Interior.

Question
It was reported that the peace talks with Afghan Taliban are likely to resume. Do you have any information on this because Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to empower Afghan High Peace Council and the US side is also on board? Moreover, during Karzai’s visit to Pakistan, was there any commitment made to release more Afghan Taliban prisoners?

Secondly, if Pakistan accedes to Council of Europe Convention, a plenty of the US prisoners in Pakistan will be going to their territory in exchange of one prisoner from our side. What are your comments?

Answer
On the subject you raised in your first question, I do not have any specific information.
With regard to transfer of prisoners, I have noted you comment. I think it was more of a comment than a question.

Question
Yesterday there was a question in the Parliament about the status of Taliban Consulate in Doha. Can you tell us the current status of this consulate and the status of the dialogue?

Answer
I do not think that this was Taliban consulate. I think it was Taliban office. I do not know the latest on the status of that office.

Question
It was reported in the Media that Pakistan will make all its efforts to convince Taliban to shift their office from Doha to either Saudi Arabia or Turkey or to some other location. What is in Pakistan’s hand to convince Taliban and how they can be convinced?

Answer
I have seen the reports that you are indicating. As a matter of policy Pakistan will assist in whatever manner we can to advance the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

Question
Pakistan and Russia has resumed Strategic Dialogue. Do you have any details about this? What specific subjects were discussed in these dialogues?

Answer
Pakistan and Russia held their first strategic dialogue in Moscow where Foreign Secretary represented Pakistan. The dialogue entailed discussions on strengthening bilateral relations in political, economic, defence and other fields. It also provided an opportunity for discussions on a wide range of regional and international issues of mutual concern. The dialogue provides an institutional framework for building closer relations between Pakistan and Russia.

Question
The death penalty for 468 prisoners has been delayed after the summary was presented by the Foreign Office. Does this number include the terrorists, specially the terrorists involved in GHQ attack as well?

Answer
On death penalty, Pakistan has been maintaining a moratorium for the past several years which is likely to continue. For details, I will refer to Ministry of Interior.

Question
News has been published in the newspapers about the statement of the Chairman of Afghan Senate Committee on Foreign Relations that Nawaz Sharif has given his assurance about the Taliban’s participation in the Afghan Presidential elections. Is this true?

Secondly, there are two opinions on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. US block claims that Syrian government used chemical weapons and the Russian block claims that the insurgents used the chemical weapons with assistance of Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries. What are the reports by the Pakistani Mission in Syria on this issue?

Answer
On your first question, I am not aware of the reports that you are indicating. I think our position has been clear. Pakistan will extend all possible facilitation to promote peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

On the second question, Pakistan has condemned the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria and in this context Pakistan notes that the UN investigation team is in Syria and is conducting investigation. We believe the international community should wait for the outcome of investigation before any action is taken.

Question
The New York police department has labeled the mosques, within the US, a terrorist organization. Under this new secret law, those going to the Mosques would be subject to the thorough interrogations. How do you respond to it?

Answer
I have not seen that report. I will revert to you after getting details.

Question
There are reports that Pakistan has pressed upon the Afghan Taliban to hold negotiations with the Afghan High peace Council. Can you confirm that?

Secondly, what is update on the reported visit of Prime Minister to Turkey in the next month?

Answer
On your first question, as I said I do not have specific details. I am therefore not in a position to confirm what you are reporting.

The Prime Minister’s visit to Turkey is on the cards. We are working on the dates and the details of the proposed visit.

Question
The Western countries destroyed Libya, they successfully got dislodged Muhammad Morsi by the Egyptian Army and now they are eying on Syria. We are non-permanent member of Security Council. Are we doing something over there to prevent another outbreak of war and innocent bloodshed in Syria? Or we are just as a silent spectator?

Secondly when yesterday strategic dialogue was held in Moscow, was the question on Syria was discussed between Russia and Pakistan? What was the outcome of that?

Answer
As a non-permanent member of UN Security Council and as a member of the United Nations, Pakistan has been engaged in discussions in the UN on the situations that you mentioned. Pakistan’s position on these issues has been guided by the widely accepted international principles of inter-state relations, particularly the principles of UN Charter, which include the principle of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-intervention in internal affairs, and so on. We have also expressed concern on fratricidal violence and loss of innocent lives and have always stressed the need for inclusive political dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflict.

On your second question about strategic dialogue with Russia, I understand issues of regional and international importance were discussed. I do not have more details than that as the Foreign Secretary is still in Moscow.

Question
We have been saying for a long time that Pakistan is ready to facilitate the reconciliation process in every possible manner. But since the Karzai’s visit, there is slight shift in that statement which you have also repeated today that Pakistan would take all measures that it thinks necessary. Moreover, when Karzai reached Kabul, he, in a statement condemning the death of twelve construction workers, said that Pakistan is not using its influence to bring Taliban to the negotiation tables. So this shows that there was not much progress after the Karzai’s visit here. What are you comments?

Secondly, if the UK resolution on Syria comes to vote, Will Pakistan support it?

Answer
I do not share your assessment that President Karzai’s visit was not successful. We believe that it was highly successful visit. It provided a welcome opportunity for the leaders of the two countries to discuss ways of further strengthening relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In this regard, Pakistan leadership has assured the Afghan President that we would extend every possible support that we think would help advance the reconciliation process. We are convinced that peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan will directly benefit not only Afghanistan but also the region itself.

On your second question about Syria and the resolutions that UK is planning to move, as I said we are closely monitoring the evolving situation and our policy response will be determined by the parameters that I indicated earlier and by the guidance that our leadership will provide on this.

Question
The cabinet has approved the signing of the prisoners exchange agreement with Europe and the US. What stopped Pakistan from signing it during the last five years? What possibly could be the negative fallouts after signing this agreement?

Secondly, there are some reports published in newspapers today indicating the threat that Russia has made that it will consider the attack on Syria as an attack on Russia, and can possibly attack Saudi Arabia. What is your take on it?

Answer
On your first question, as indicated earlier Pakistan accession to the Council of Europe Convention would provide the possibility for the consideration of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s transfer to Pakistan to serve her sentence here. Our Ministry of Interior and Foreign Office will be taking further action with regard to considering all steps that are required and their implications.

I have seen the reports that you are referring to in your second question. I will not like to comment on speculative reports.

Question
Pakistan seems to be very insensitive to the plight of the Muslim in Myanmar. Do you think that Pakistan should ask for the deep investigation to what is the actual position over there as the Muslim houses and lives are in danger over there? With such gross violation of human rights in that part of world i.e. in Myanmar and Thailand why Pakistan being the champion of the Muslim world is silent?

Secondly, with the agreement of transfer of prisoner exchange with the US, will this pave way for the transfer of Shakeel Afridi to the US as well? Has the US side contacted with the Government of Pakistan in this aspect?

Answer
On situation of Muslims in Myanmar or Thailand or anywhere else, Pakistan in its national capacity and as a member of the Organization of Islamic Conference has always expressed its concerns whenever there are reports of atrocities on the Muslims. We have also called upon the concerned government to take every possible step to ameliorate the conditions of Muslims.

With regard to Shakeel Afridi, I am not aware of any approach to us by the US. As I said further steps with regard to our accession to the Council of Europe Convention will be taken by the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Question
I have a question related to the Pakistani judicial commission for which proposed dates have been set by Pakistan’s Foreign Office. Is there any positive response from the Indian side about the judicial commission to be accommodated in Mumbai?

Secondly, on 13th September, SCO summit going to be held in Bishkek. Who is going to head the Pakistani delegation and what are prospects of permanent status of Pakistan in SCO? China has already given the green signal to Pakistan’s inclusion a permanent member in SCO.

Answer
The visit of judicial commission to India is on the cards and dates are being worked out.

On the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, Pakistan delegation would be led by the Advisor to Prime Minster on Foreign affairs and National Security. Pakistan is currently an observer state and is seeking a full membership status.

Question
When is OIC Summit planned?

Answer
OIC Ministerial Conference is scheduled to take place in Conakry, Republic of Guinea in the month of December this year.

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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