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Record of press briefing by Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson held on March 7

Islamabad, March 07, 2013 (PPI-OT): [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.]

I don’t have any announcement to make. But I look forward to your questions.

Question
There are reports that the President of Pakistan is visiting Iran for ground breaking ceremony of IP Gas Pipeline. Is there any date fixed for the visit? In addition to the ceremony, whether there would an agreement regarding the funding by Iran and whether other head of states have also invited.

Question 2: Would you please confirm the visit of the Prime Minister to India and whether he would be meeting any Indian official?

Answer
Yes, the President of Pakistan is visiting Iran to attend the ground breaking ceremony of the IP Gas Pipeline on 11 March. The Ministry of Petroleum, being a lead Ministry, is working out the programme and I hope, it will be released soon. Regarding the Heads of State, yes several Heads of State have been invited. Since the Ministry of Petroleum is coordinating the whole event, I don’t have the list.

Yes, the Prime Minister of Pakistan will be visiting the dargah of Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti (R.A) in Ajmer Sharif, India on 9th March 2013. It is a personal visit and I don’t have details about the meetings.

Question
As Pakistan is going to sign IP Gas Pipeline but it seems that Pakistan is in a fix on account of US pressure on Pakistan because of Iran being sanctioned. There is a point of view that Pakistan would not be in a position to carry out this project under international obligations and pressures. As President Zardari said that the IP Gas Pipeline would be pursued in national interest. Is it in national interest or public demand?

Answer
We are not in a fix. We are very clear about this project. It is in our national interest to go ahead with this project. Pakistan being an energy deficient country, is hugely suffering both economically and socially. Yes, we have seen some reports and a statement by the American Ambassador. We know about their concerns but we expect and hope that all our friends including the U.S. would show more understanding on this issue.

Question
The Prime Minister of India, Mr. Manmohan Singh has given a very clear statement that Pakistan has not done enough against terrorists and recent act of line of control showed very irresponsible attitude of Pakistan and the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack have not been brought to the justice. How would you respond to this statement?

Answer
Pakistan has repeatedly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Terrorism is a common threat and requires a common strategy and cooperation among the countries of the region. I think our actions speaks louder than these statements. Referring to the culprits of Mumbai attacks, we need proof, which could stand the scrutiny of the court. Just declaring somebody a perpetrator is not enough. We will not allow our territory to be used against any country and we condemn terrorism and extremism in its all forms.

Question
As India has already reservations and concerns on terrorism and on the line of control but regarding trade and MFN status, just ten days are left, how Pakistan would respond to India about it?

Answer
We are all concerned about terrorism and are suffering because of it incessantly. It is in our national interest to take action against it. Yes, there are some issues but the only way to resolve these issues is through dialogue.

You have mentioned violations of line of control, we have an established mechanism under which all these issues could be addressed and resolved and we are even ready to use the UN- mechanism provided in this regard. As far as the MFN status is concerned, the cabinet has taken decision about establishing normal trade relations with India and the government is committed to its decision. But as you know this is a process which has been initiated, and there are obligations, some on our part. But we are hopeful that we would be able to move this process positively.

Question
As we have noticed a statement from the Ambassador of US regarding Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline. Whether the US has handed over its concerns formally, through its Embassy in Pakistan or State Department?

Answer
I have seen some statements but I am not sure about the demarche’. I can check on this and get back to you.

Question
There are recent reports emanating from India regarding construction of Bhasha Dam or other water reservoirs in northern areas of Pakistan that India has asked Pakistan to acquire NOC to construct any project there. Does India need NOC from Pakistan as well?

Answer
My understanding is that under the Indus Water Basis Treaty, we do not need any NOC from India for the construction of any project or structure on the rivers allocated to Pakistan. Infact, recently, the Court of Arbitration in its decision has also touched this point and has maintained that no such NOC is required for Pakistan to construct any dam or structure on the rivers allocated to Pakistan. However, if India tries to build any dam on the rivers allocated to Pakistan, it is under obligation to inform Pakistan in advance.

Question
After coming in power of the incumbent president, the government has decided to restructure or reform the government institutions in China. What are your comments on this?

Answer
We take restructuring and reforming the institutions as China’s internal affair. We have great trust and respect for the Chinese leadership. They have done a tremendous job for the welfare of their people and the development of their country. It is there for everybody to see the enormous growth China has achieved during last twenty years. We wish them the best in their efforts to restructure their institutions and our leadership looks forward to working with the new leadership of China. Our relationship with China is nothing but exemplary.

Question
How would you compare five years’ foreign policy performance of this government with the previous government?

Answer
Well that would need the whole session. But I think one thing that really stands out is this government’s focus on improving its relations with all the neighbouring countries, particularly with India and Afghanistan. And we can see a sea change in this regard. The other thing that was quite unique to this government was that it gave the parliament a say in the formulation of foreign policy. These are many other successes that I can talk about but we would really another session for that.

Question
There are reports that there is going to be an agreement to install an oil refinery by Iran in Gwadar.

Answer
I have seen some reports regarding this. However, since the Ministry of Petroleum is the lead Ministry on this issue and I would refer you to it.

Question
Is there any development regarding release of more Taliban by Pakistan?

Answer
Not yet.

Question
US government has imprisoned Raymond Davis for two years in a case in the United States. Is there any initiative regarding the case of three murders in Pakistan? Secondly, there was a report in New York Times that two drone attacks, in February, were carried out by Pakistan.

Answer
Regarding your second question, you have seen a detailed press release issued by the ISPR in this regard, I do not have anything to add to this. Regarding Raymond Davis, there was this understanding that the case would be initiated against Raymond Davis, I understand that there have been some developments but I am not in a position to give you specific details of the case at this time.

Question
Ground breaking ceremony must be in Pakistan, is the upcoming ceremony is the ground breaking or just a ceremony in Iran?

Answer
The ground breaking ceremony is taking place in Iran.

For more information, contact:
Syed Haider Ali Jafri
Personal Secretary
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan
Tel: +9251 921 0335 and 9056604

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