Islamabad: Opening Statement
I will update you on some of the events that have taken place especially in the context of recent meetings relating to Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s principal objectives with regard to Afghanistan are to promote stability, peace and prosperity in this brotherly country. This is important for peace and stability in the region as a whole. We have supported all initiatives for peace and stability and regional economic cooperation.
We are actively participating in all trilateral processes with regard to Afghanistan. These include Pakistan-Afghanistan-Turkey, Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran, Pakistan-Afghanistan-US and the Pakistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan-Russia quadrilateral as well as the SCO sponsored processes and RECCA.
President Asif Ali Zardari was in Istanbul on the invitation of President Abdullah Gul to participate in the Sixth Trilateral meeting between Afghanistan- Pakistan- Turkey and bilateral discussions with President Gul.
The Trilateral meeting in which President Zardari, President Abdullah Gul and President Hamid Karzai were assisted by the Foreign Ministers and military and intelligence heads of the three countries, was very useful. At the trilateral summit, the President reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to the trilateral partnership concept between the three countries. We attach importance to the ongoing trilateral Ankara process.
The Trilateral meeting adopted a joint statement which underscored trans-regional development as a key priority and security cooperation as the main focus of the Sixth Trilateral Summit. Two protocols were signed for trilateral cooperation on conduct of mutual military exercises and courses and on training cooperation.
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar represented Pakistan at the Istanbul regional Conference on Afghanistan. We appreciate the efforts of Turkey for hosting the Conference and making it a success. The Foreign Minister reiterated the following points at Istanbul:
• Assurance to the Government and people of Afghanistan of Pakistan’s full support in their endeavours to overcome all challenges and to assure themselves a bright future of stability, peace and prosperity.
• A secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan is vital for Pakistan’s own security and stability and that of our common region.
• Underscored Pakistan’s commitment to promote socio-economic development of Afghanistan and the region by a mutually collaborative endeavour that optimizes the region’s collective development potential.
• Support for an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process of peace and reconciliation which is inclusive and leads to reestablishment of societal equilibrium that conforms fully with the aspirations of the Afghan nation, its customs and traditions. .
• Stressed upon the importance of the return of 3 million Afghan refugees hosted in Pakistan to their homes in safety and with honour.
• Existing regional organizations particularly ECO and SCO can play an important role.
• Pakistan will continue to endeavour to enhance its bilateral cooperation with Afghanistan to realize the vision of peace and prosperity contained in the three declarations signed between Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
The Istanbul Conference on Afghanistan adopted a broad ranging document that stipulates certain principles and CBMs which constitute an expression of the regions solidarity and support for Afghanistan.
On matters other than Afghanistan, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has returned from Perth, Australia, after participating in the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting. The theme of this year’s CHOGM was ‘Building national resilience, building global resilience” and Commonwealth’s theme for 2011 has been “Women as agents of change and youth development”.
The Prime Minister actively participated in the executive sessions and the retreat and addressed both issues, especially Pakistan’s commitment to the advancement of women and food security. The Prime Minister also participated in a joint special event on polio eradication.
The Prime Ministers of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the President of Nigeria also participated in this event. The Prime Minister had substantive meetings with the Prime Ministers of Malaysia, Singapore and Australia.
Question and Answer Session:
Q.1 Yesterday at the cabinet meeting it was decided to approve grant MFN status to India. Pakistan has some long standing issues with India. On one hand Pakistan is granting MFN status to India, on the other hand India is buying the most sophisticated aircraft from the US how would you comment on it. I would like to supplement this question.
Pakistan is going to grant MFN to India and in the presence of long standing issues with India like have people been taken into confidence on the making tangle outcome on this issue. Can you confirm whether MFN status has been given to India or not?
A.1 On the last question and putting all questions together I would refer you to the press note that has been issued by the Ministry of Commerce yesterday and I read it out for you so that there is clarity on what has been issued by the Ministry of Commerce following the cabinet meeting yesterday.
It says that “the Ministry of Commerce apprised the Federal Cabinet on the current process of trade normalization between India and Pakistan. The Cabinet fully endorsed the efforts of Ministry of Commerce to complete normalization of trade relations and directed to implement in letter and spirit the decisions taken in this regard.
The Cabinet gave Ministry of Commerce the mandate to take the process of normalization forward, which would culminate in the observance of MFN principle in its true spirit”. It is evident that we wish to normalize trade relations with India in a mutually beneficial manner. The Cabinet unanimously decided in principle to according MFN to India, which both sides will have to work towards in further engagements by the Commerce Secretaries.
In the bilateral dialogue that is ongoing between India and Pakistan – the resumed dialogue between Pakistan and India – all the issues that are critically important for both Pakistan and India are on the table and are being repeatedly discussed.
As I have already said in our last briefing, the issue of peace and security, Jammu and Kashmir, for example, was discussed by the Foreign Secretaries in the meeting that was held earlier this year and later by Foreign Ministers themselves and a reference to this discussion is also included in the joint statement that was adopted following the visit by the Foreign Minister to India.
The fact remains that all issues of importance between Pakistan and India continue to be discussed. You will need to look at the note by the Ministry of Commerce to get the point that is being made here i.e. normalization of relations that will culminate in the observance of MFN status principle in its true spirit.
The press note that was sent out by the Ministry of Commerce clearly reflects the direction that the government has decided to take with regard to normalization of trade relations with India.
Q.2 What is the status of Pakistan-India ties? Would you characterize/maintain India as a “hostile” state? Is India a “hostile” state after grant of MFN status? I will refer you to the Istanbul Conference?
A.2 Pakistan and India have an ongoing resumed dialogue process that aims at ensuring what the Governments of Pakistan and of India have repeatedly stated that is to work for peace, stability and prosperity in the region. Both countries agree that their bilateral relationship is important and critical for economic development of the regions and for development and prosperity of both Pakistan and India.
The most important thing that we have to underline is that there is an effort being made by both countries towards establishing friendly relations and resolution of differences and disputes.
Q.3 You did read out a reference to the training. Am I to understand that Afghanistan has now decided to say yes to Pakistan’s efforts in the past to send trainers to Afghanistan to train the Afghan military?
A.3 When you look at the outcome/the joint statement that was issued at the conclusion of 6th Trilateral Summit (Afghanistan-Pakistan-Turkey), especially its paragraph No. 6 which welcomes the signing of the protocol on conduct of mutual exercises and on training cooperation.
The documents adopted are two separate protocols: one for training of police personnel i.e. counter terrorism/law enforcement and the other for the training of the military personnel and both include a training component in it. So, all three States have signed on documents that provide for training of personnel.
Q.4 We know Pakistan’s stand on Libya before Qaddafi and after Qaddafi, does Pakistan recognize the government of Libya, “Yes” or “No”?
A.4 Pakistan maintains an Embassy in Libya. There is a Libyan Embassy in Islamabad. We have long-standing ties with the Libyan people. We wish them a prosperous future and it is important to note that in case of any change in government it is not every time that a government is recognized but it is the state that is recognized and we recognize both the state and government of Libya.
Q.5. So many other countries have recognized the new set-up, why Pakistan wants to be different?
A.5. Pakistan has clearly stated that in the context of any discussions on recognition of any government there is never recognition of a particular government there is always recognition of the state and from that flows the recognition of the government and we recognize both the state and the government of Libya as instituted by the NTC and are working with government of Libya.
Q.6 In case of US strike against Iran, what would be Pakistan’s position?
A.6. We have stated very clearly and repeatedly that we want all issues to be resolved peacefully. We do not want to see ratcheting of tension in the region.
Q.7. I would like to draw your attention towards US-Pakistan relations on having a work plan. Would appreciate if you could shed some lights on the status of discussion on this matter between the two countries. And what are the specific issues being discussed?
A.7. The agreement between the Foreign Minister and Secretary of State during Secretary of State Clinton’s visit to Pakistan was that the two counties would look at and develop a work plan. There are ongoing discussions between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State Department.
For more information, contact:
Syed Haider Ali Jafri
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan
Tel: +9251 921 0335 and 9056604