Home / Government Institutions / Record of Press briefing by Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson on 2nd April 2015

Record of Press briefing by Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson on 2nd April 2015

Islamabad, April 02, 2015 (PPI-OT):

Opening Remarks

First, let me update you on the evacuation efforts. The Crisis Management Cell (CMC), headed by an Additional Foreign Secretary, is continuing with its formidable undertaking to safely evacuate all stranded Pakistanis from Yemen, where the conditions are getting increasingly challenging.

Aden

To ensure earliest possible evacuation, we enlisted Chinese support, since their ships were already in the region evacuating their nationals from Aden to Djibouti. The designated Chinese ship has been in Aden since early morning yesterday. However, the delayed clearance from Yemeni authorities and complicated local procedures necessitated postponing of embarkation of passengers to the Ship, to this morning. All procedures have been completed now. 186 Pakistanis embarked the Ship which has left the port. The expected time of arrival at Djibouti is 1900 hours local time (2100 hours PST).

A PIA aircraft has been on stand-by since yesterday morning. It will be flying to Djibouti after the Chinese ship arrives in Djibouti, since the disembarkation, immigration and transfer to airport of passengers will take another 7 hours, while the flight time from Karachi to Djibouti is around four hours. This will allow us a smooth transfer of passengers to the aircraft and back to Pakistan.

Our Ambassador in Ethiopia, along with staff, has been in Djibouti since yesterday. A camp office has been set up to make all local coordination. All local logistics arrangements and clearances required including flight clearance, immigration, transit, transport etc. have been already organized. Two officers of the Crisis Management Cell (CMC) are also leaving for Djibouti in the PIA special flight to assist the operation in Djibouti. It may be mentioned that we are also providing support to the Chinese for their evacuations from Yemen.

Mokallah

A Pakistan Navy ship has already arrived at Mokallah, anchored in the open Sea. Because of skirmishes overnight, the roads leading to the port have been closed by the military authorities. Around 175 Pakistanis are assembled in large groups waiting for the clearance to proceed to the port. From the port they will be brought to the ship through boats. Once they are embarked, the ship will bring them back directly to Karachi. It is only due to the clashes close to Mokallah where, reportedly, a prison break occurred last night that the operation has got delayed slightly.

Sana’a

We continue to monitor the situation in Sana’a. We are in contact with the stranded Pakistanis there whose numbers has now reached to 145. These are the ones who could not join the convoy led by the Ambassador to AlHudeida , for one reason or the other, and thus could not be airlifted, They are still not willing to move to the closest port city, Al Hudeida, from where they could be airlifted or evacuated by sea.

Flights have not operated from the Sana’a airport in recent days because of the “no fly zone” restriction imposed by Saudi Arabia. We are in contact with the Saudi government for an exemption of “no fly” restriction. They had offered “No Fly” exemption for Al Hudeida, but we have reiterated our request for Sana’a. The fact that Sana’a airport had been bombed earlier and is partially damaged makes the prospect of a flight more challenging. However, the possibility of flight by small aircraft exists and is being pursued for which required clearances are also being obtained from Yemen authorities.

Working under the guidance of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, appreciates the excellent support it has been receiving from all concerned departments including Civil Aviation, PIA, Ministry of Defence(Pakistan Navy in particular) and our Embassies in the region, and will continue to function round the clock, until all the stranded Pakistanis from Yemen are evacuated.

A Committee of stranded Pakistanis which had been set up earlier are has been also coordinating with the Crisis Management Cell (CMC) to ensure local arrangement where required. We are also in touch with the government authorities in Yemen for required permissions and clearances.

Now the Floor is open for Questions:

Question:

Regarding recent visit of High Level Delegation to Saudi Arabia, what exactly are the demands of Saudi Arabia conveyed to Pakistan? What was Pakistan’s response?

There are reports that Prime Minister of Pakistan is visiting a number of Islamic Countries for discussion on Yemen Crises. He may call also some of the leaders on telephone to discuss the Yemen Crises. Can you confirm the reports?

There are also reports that Iranian Foreign Minister is visiting Islamabad on 08 April 2015 for discussions on Yemen Crises. Can you confirm the date and agenda of the visit? (Mateen Haider- Dawn News)

Answer:

Yes, the delegation has arrived back. The delegation briefed the Prime Minister. You have already seen the press statement that was issued by the Prime Minister’s Office a while ago. I will, therefore, not go into details. The statement stresses that national interest of Pakistan will remain the guiding principle of foreign policy; secondly, it reiterates Pakistan’s commitment to Saudi Arabia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; thirdly, the actions by non state actors in Yemen to overthrow a legitimate government have been condemned; fourthly, statement calls upon all warring factions to resolve all issues peacefully through dialogue.

The matter has been referred to the parliament which will meet on the 6th of April. I am not going to get into the specifics of what was discussed in Saudi Arabia. The consultations are continuing and our concerned authorities will stay engaged with the Saudi authorities. As regards your third question about the visit we will let you know when some decision is taken. We have a procedure for announcing visits.

Question:

There are reports that six Pakistanis have been killed in Yemen by the rebels. Their bodies have been shown in the news by the local media. Can you confirm it? (Zarghoon Shah-Geo News)

Answer:

We are in contact with the Pakistani community there. Till ten minutes ago, we had no information that any Pakistanis have been killed. Of course, we take their security very seriously. It is our hope that we will be able to evacuate all Pakistanis safely. I will however, check again if these reports and rumours are correct, I hope not.

{Subsequent contacts with our community have established that these rumours were false. All Pakistanis are safe}.

Question:

There are reports that Prime Minister of Pakistan is visiting a number of Islamic Countries for the solution of Yemen Crises. Can you share more details in this regard? (Kausar Lodhi-Prime News)

Answer:

I have already responded to that question.

Question:

There are reports that Pakistan’s Ambassador in Iran has been called by the Iranian Foreign Office to express concern over Pakistan’s position on Yemen. Can you confirm the reports? (Qasim Nauman-Wall Street Journal)

Answer:

I have seen media reports. Pakistan’s Ambassador in Tehran probably visits the Iranian Foreign Ministry 2 or 3 times a week. We discuss bilateral relations, regional situation and other issues of mutual interest. Similarly, Iranian Ambassador in Pakistan also frequently stays in contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These are regular bilateral engagements. Last week also, our Ambassador would have visited the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

Question:

Pakistan has been saying that any threat to Saudi territorial integrity would evoke strong response from Pakistan. Now, the statement issued by the Prime Minister Office today says that isolation of Saudi Arabia would evoke strong response from Pakistan. Is this a policy shift from Pakistan or is this a message targeted against Iran? (Syed Baqar Sajjad-Dawn News)

Answer:

No, the message is not targeted towards Iran. How Iran does come into it? Is this your interpretation of the situation between Saudi Arabia and Iran? This is not our assessment. The situation in Yemen is complicated. There is a history.

{There was a typographical error which was corrected. The word was “violation” not “isolation”}

Question:

According to media reports, the opposition parties have opposed sending Pakistani Forces to protect territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia. Is this our duty to protect the territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia? (Anwar Abbas-Waqt News)

Answer:

First, protecting the holy places is every Muslim’s responsibility. I do not think that any political party has said that protecting Saudi Arabia or the holy places is not our responsibility. I do not think that is the correct reflection what has been said. The advice and views expressed have been against sending troops to Yemen.

Question:

The Foreign Ministry has been under criticism in the Media for slow response on evacuation of Pakistanis from Yemen. How do you think that Foreign Office would have done otherwise for smooth and fast evacuation of Pakistanis from Yemen? (Waqas Rafique-Capital TV)

Answer:

Welfare of Pakistanis is indeed our responsibility and it is also our missions’ responsibility. We take this responsibility very seriously. As you would recall in the case of Libya, our citizens were advised, well in advance, to leave. A large number left. Those who remained behind were evacuated. We conducted a very massive airlifting operation.

In case of Yemen, as well, our Embassy issued an advisory. Our people were advised to leave. Our estimate are that there were around 3000 Pakistanis in Yemen, close to 2000 left on the Embassy’s advice and remaining who did not leave at that time are being evacuated now. The mission cannot force people. Some of these people are settled there.

They have their businesses and jobs and some of them are married to locals. Some people may have assessed that situation will not deteriorate further but it happened. We have started the operation, I think earlier than many countries. If it was not for the hitches and the last moment delays, we would have evacuated our people within 72 hours. We cannot foresee everything and all circumstances.

For instance, till yesterday, everyone’s assessment was that Mukkala is peaceful but things have started to change after a jail break. It was our expectation and hope that all the Pakistanis who remained behind would leave with the first convoy which reached Al-Hudaida. You would recall that we had requested two PIA aircraft to remain on standby.

That was for airlifting all the Pakistanis. On the first flight, 500 were evacuated and 500 would have come in the other flight. But it did not happen. So, we have a situation and we are dealing with it. There is no lack of commitment. Our effort is to ensure that every Pakistani is back home safe and sound.

Question:

According to media reports, the Crisis in Yemen is a wider conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia and a proxy war between them. Do you have independent assessment of Crises in Yemen? (Kamran Yousaf-Express Tribune)

Answer:

This question was partly answered earlier. More than that, I am not going to give our assessment.

Question:

According to Media reports, the Government of Pakistan is saying that it will take decision with regard to Saudi request according to the aspirations of the people of Pakistan. Can you explain what is meant by aspirations of people of Pakistan and how would they be expressed?(Asad -Al-Jazeera English)

Answer:

The aspirations of the people of Pakistan will be articulated when their representatives meet on Monday in Parliament.

Question:

Regarding signing of agreements during the forthcoming Chinese President’s visit to Pakistan, is Gilgit-Sakardu Road part of the proposed agreements?

In the Press Briefing given by the Saudi Defence Minister, the flag of Pakistan was shown as one of the participating country in the military operation against the rebels. If Pakistan has not decided yet to participate in the military operation, then why are Saudis showing Pakistani flag as one of the country participating in the military operation by Saudi Arabia and why we have not protested? (Fida Hussain-Radio News FM-99)

Answer:

First, we will talk about the Chinese President’s visit, agenda and agreements to be signed when we formally announce the visit. We have not done that yet.

Secondly, the question about briefing, it was not the Saudi Minister of Defence but some official of their Ministry of Defence. And why Pakistani flag is there is the question which should be addressed to Saudi Ministry of Defence not to us.

Question:

Pakistan sent a delegation to Saudi Arabia for consultations on crisis in Yemen. Why it has not sent a similar delegation to Iran? (Maqbool Malik- The Nation)

Answer:

You would recall that Saudi Arabia established contact with Pakistan. Two, Saudi Arabia has announced a military action in Yemen at the request of Yemen’s legitimate government. I do not see why similar contact is required with Iran.

Question:

What exactly would be the discussion in the Parliament on 06 April 2015 on Yemen? Is it a vote? How the will of the People would be manifested in the Parliament on Monday 06 April 2015? (Katherine Hourld- Reuters)

Answer:

As in all parliaments, probably there will be a debate. They may expect statement or briefing from the Government to initiate the debate. I cannot judge how they are going to conclude it? It is up to the Parliamentarians to decide.

Question:

When will we decide to send our troops to Saudi Arabia and where they will be deployed? (Ali Hasan- Business Recorder)

Answer:

The question is rather presumptuous and premature. I am not aware that any such decision has been taken.

Question:

You have mentioned that Parliament will decide on Saudi request made to Pakistan. As per rules of business, taking decision in this regard is the responsibility of the executive. Foreign Office is the important part of the executive. What is recommendation of Foreign Office in this situation? (Shaukat Paracha-Aaj TV)

Answer:

First, these are intra governmental processes which are confidential. I am not going to discuss what advice the Foreign Office gave or what advice any other Ministry gave. Parliament being the organ comprising the elected representatives of people is part of national decision making.

Question:

Is Sri Lankan President or Prime Minister visiting Pakistan on Sunday 5th April 2015? (Shahid Rana- ARY TV)

Answer:

I can confirm that the President of Sri Lanka will visit Pakistan. We will announce the exact dates, as we always do prior to the visit, in consultations with the other side.

Question:

The Iran-US nuclear talks are underway in the Switzerland. How much Pakistan is optimistic about the deal? Why some Arab countries in the region are against the nuclear deal? (Sheraz Asghar-IRNA)

Answer:

First, our position on the dialogue has been very clear and consistent from the beginning. We called for resolution of the issue through dialogue long before the talks actually started. It is our earnest hope that this dialogue would be concluded successfully. The intensive discussions that are taking place right now give us hope that there would be some positive outcome. I cannot answer the second part of your question as it does not concern Pakistan.

Question:

Our Ambassador in Yemen is in Pakistan. What is the status of our Embassy in Yemen? Is it working or not? (Fayyaz-APP)

Answer:

Our Mission was closed temporarily. But we will continue to assess the situation and decide when we will reopen our mission in Yemen.

For more information, contact:
Mr. Aizaz Ahmad Ch
Spokesman
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan
Tell: +92-51-9205494
Fax: +92-51-9204202
Cell: +92-336-5644459

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