Islamabad, July 17, 2014 (PPI-OT):
I have a few statements to make:
i. Terrorist Attacks in Afghanistan
Pakistan strongly condemns the recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, including the one in Paktika Province, in which a large number of innocent civilians have lost their lives including children.
We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and pray for the speediest recovery of the injured. No cause justifies such wanton acts of violence, especially in this holy month of Ramadan. We reiterate our condemnation of terrorism in all forms and manifestations.
ii. Elections in Afghanistan
Pakistan has welcomed the amicable solution reached regarding the complaints of fraud in the second round of Afghan Presidential elections. We appreciate the efforts of everyone who contributed to this peaceful, negotiated outcome.
We believe this is a success for democracy, stability and national unity in Afghanistan. Pakistan wishes the Afghan authorities and the international partners well, as the next steps in this important process are undertaken over the coming weeks.
iii. Case of Mr. Faizullah Khan
There has been widespread media coverage of the conviction of ARY correspondent Mr. Faizullah Khan in Afghanistan. The Ministry would like to underscore that the matter has been actively pursued with the Afghan authorities ever since it was brought to our notice by ARY.
On the Ministry’s instructions, the Consulate General in Jalalabad and the Embassy in Kabul have been pursuing the case on the legal and political tracks. In this context, the Consul General also met with the Governor as well as Chief Justice of the Nangarhar High Court. The Consul General secured immediate consular access to Mr. Faizullah Khan, facilitated his contact with his family, and arranged for a lawyer.
The Pakistan Ambassador in Kabul took up the matter with high-ranking Afghan dignitaries, including the Foreign Minister and Interior Minister. In all these contacts, the Afghan authorities were asked to release Mr. Faizullah Khan on humanitarian grounds. The Afghan authorities, at various levels, promised to help in this case.
Due to these hectic efforts, the most serious charges against Mr. Faizullah Khan were dropped. The Consulate is now in the process of filing an appeal against the Court verdict. I wish to underscore that this case is being pursued as a matter of priority and we will continue our efforts with the Afghan side at the legal and political levels to secure early release of Mr. Faizullah Khan.
Now the floor is open for Questions
What is Pakistan’s position on the formation of new World Bank under the leadership of India?
BRICS is an economic grouping and they are entitled to take all steps that they deem feasible for their economic development.
There is a perception that there is tacit consent from Pakistan on the drone strikes by the US. What is your take on this?
I don’t even want to comment on this. We have discussed this issue thread bare many a times. If you still want to maintain or entertain certain perceptions, you are most welcome.
A couple of days back, there was a rocket attack by militants from the other side of the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan resulting in the killing of a Pakistan Army soldier. Has the Foreign Office lodged a protest? Also, we have seen that whenever such a protest is lodged by Pakistan, there is normally no response. What is the position this time? Has Afghanistan intimated you of any actions taken by them to control terrorist activities from their side of the border?
We have asked Afghanistan repeatedly not to allow its territory to be used against Pakistan by terrorists and we expect Afghanistan to take action. As Pakistan is determined not to allow its territory to be used against them, we expect similar commitment from Afghanistan.
So far, we have no information if any action on the ground has been taken to eliminate these sanctuaries of terrorists on Afghan soil. Our military authorities present on the Pakistani side of the international border would be in a better position to give you that information.
The arrest of Pakistani journalist in Afghanistan invites a backgrounder on it. Pakistan has always been very hospitable and cooperative when it comes to entertaining Afghan citizens over the last three decades. Is it not time that Pakistan reviews its policy towards Afghan citizens not as a retaliatory step but just for the sake of pragmatism?
Thank you. Your advice is noted.
Yesterday, there was a report that two Pakistani diplomats were involved in some serious crimes in the UK. Could you please give us some more information on that.
Secondly, there was another incident of cross fire on the Working Boundary between Pakistan and India and one Indian soldier has reportedly been killed. Do you have something to add?
Your second question first, I think ISPR has already released some information on that. There has been intermittent and unprovoked firing from the Indian side on the Working Boundary in Sialkot which resulted in injuries to two Pakistani soldiers. We have no confirmation that any Indian soldier was killed but certainly the fire was returned.
About your first question, I wanted to clear the misunderstanding created by misleading media reports but forgot. Nevertheless, our High Commission has informed us that as a normal practice the FCO submits a list of serious or significant cases involving foreign diplomats or diplomatic officials in the United Kingdom to the British Parliament every year. The serious and significant offenses include those involving a minimum punishment of twelve month imprisonment under local law.
In the list for 2013, cases of two Pakistanis were mentioned. One case is based on charges of marital rape leveled by his wife. She also alleged that he abducted their children and brought them to Pakistan. As per the High Commission, the wife had a premature delivery after which she was not able to look after her other children.
By mutual agreement, they sent the children to their family in Pakistan. Matrimonial relations between the couple became tense as she wanted to settle in UK permanently under any circumstances, while he was not inclined. On his refusal, she leveled theses charges. Subsequently, when she applied for asylum, she leveled these allegations as well.
The other case is also similar. Again it was the wife, interested in seeking asylum, who leveled the charges against her husband. According to our High Commission, the wife had developed contacts with some local women who even employed her in their laundry. She is also seeking asylum. So, in both cases allegations seem to be motivated by desire to seek asylum.
Indian Minister of Defence in their Parliamentary proceedings talked made two points. One that for normalization of relations and continuation of dialogue the early conclusion of Mumbai trial is mandatory. Secondly, he expressed his desire to settle all issues including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir in a peaceful manner through dialogue. Your comments please?
Any articulation of policy that India wants to settle all issues, including the outstanding issue of Jammu and Kashmir through dialogue resonates with us as it has been our policy. Pakistan’s policy, all along, has been that all outstanding disputes, particularly the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir should be resolved through dialogue.
But you cannot have dialogue and at the same time impose pre-conditions. The trial of the accused in Mumbai case is proceeding. It’s not held up. Unlike this, however, the trial of those accused in Samjhota terrorist attack in which Pakistanis were the victims, is not progressing. I am not saying that we want to hold up progress on one because of the other. But we do expect that Pakistanis who have been victims of terrorists would also get justice.
What are Pakistan’s expectations from this September’s SCO Summit in Dushanbe .Is Pakistan still interested in full formal membership of this organization?
Secondly, what is Pakistan’s stance towards the current political crisis in Ukraine especially to the fact that President Petro Poroshenko is now carrying out the so-called anti-terrorism operations against the civil population?
First about SCO, you know that as Observer Pakistan has been participating very actively at highest level in the SCO meetings. We believe it’s a very useful and relevant forum to discuss the issues this region is facing. Pakistan also looks forward to becoming its full member.
On the Ukraine situation, our policy is well-known. We do not want to see escalation. We would like to see a peaceful resolution of all differences. There have been many efforts and meetings, we do hope that this path would be adhered to and there will be a peaceful resolution.
Dr. Vaidik’s (who is an Indian journalist and writer) visit to Pakistan has created a lot of issues in India. During his stay in Pakistan, he met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and also Hafiz Saeed. Did Foreign Office play a role in organizing these meetings?
If there is a request for a call on the Prime Minister or the Advisor to the Prime Minister, it would go through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But we don’t arrange meetings of individuals with private citizens in Pakistan.
Is Pakistan seeking continued financial assistance from the US for carrying out counter-terrorism operations beyond 2014?
The Coalition Support Fund (CSF) is not actually assistance. It is essentially a re-imbursement of the expenditures that we have already incurred. We are engaged with the US and I think it would be pre-mature to say what kind of counter-terrorism assistance would continue in future.
Can you update us on the issue of Pakistan’s Consulate in Jalalabad. According to some reports there is a pressure from influential political circles on Pakistan to abandon the Consulate’s ownership and possession. According to another report Pakistan has taken up this issue with the Afghan government as well.
Yes, this issue is being discussed. We are trying to resolve it.
The US Principle Deputy Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Ambassador Beth Jones was here. She met with the Interior Minister and we got the information that a statement was issued. She also met with some high officials from the Punjab Government and they also issued a statement.
The third meeting was at the Foreign Office where the US Ambassador was also present. However, this meeting was kept secret and there was nothing issued. Can you clarify the reason?
Well, these are working level engagements and they happen across the board with a number of countries all the time. We don’t have to give out statements every time.
Any update on Pakistani prisoners in China?
We gave comprehensive information on this in an earlier briefing. You may like to have a look on our website.
Although, you have already issued a statement on Palestine but the situation there is worsening day by day. How does Pakistan see this escalation?
Our position has been stated very clearly. The Prime Minister has made statements. Our Missions have been working within the UN system in New York and Geneva and the OIC Jeddah to seek immediate cease fire. These killings of innocent Palestinians particularly women and children are deplorable and condemnable and we condemn them.
For more information, contact:
Mr. Aizaz Ahmad Ch
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan