Islamabad, May 28, 2015 (PPI-OT):
During the last briefing, two questions were asked and I had promised to respond during the next briefing. The first question related to whether a new bilateral agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan had been signed recently regarding Afghan refugees. The response is given below.
The matter comes under the jurisdiction of Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON). According to our information, no new MoU has been signed between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The stay of the registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan is being governed by the Tripartite Agreement among Pakistan, Afghanistan and UNHCR, which has already been extended up to 31 December 2015.
Pakistan, Afghanistan and UNHCR are working closely to devise modalities and realistic timelines for the return of Afghan refugees. Efforts are also being made for mobilizing international support and resources for creating necessary pull factors inside Afghanistan to incentivize the return of refugees.
The second question was about the New York Times correspondent Declan Welsh, who was expelled two years ago. The question may be asked to the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage.
The Floor is Open for Questions
Pakistan has not been able to internationalize the issue of sponsoring terrorism by the Indian Minister of Interior and Minister of Defence. Do you think it is failure of foreign policy or inability to effectively internationalize the issue? (Zarghoon Shah- Geo News)
Yesterday, Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee adopted a very strong resolution condemning the statement of Indian Defence Minister who said that to counter terrorism India will do terrorism. The resolution also called upon Foreign Office to take up the matter with the United Nations Security Council and with the International community. My question is that are you going to take up this issue with the international community because of its sensitivity and seriousness? (Mateen Haider- Dawn News)
Indian Government has made a practice to summon our High Commissioner whenever there is any activity which they dislike. Why Foreign Office did not summon Indian High Commissioner to register protest on statements by Indian Defence Minister to fight terrorism with similar activities? (Muddasir Hussain- Khyber News)
I will respond to the three questions one by one.
In response to the first question, I wish to invite your attention to the statements of the Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs and Defence Minister. You may be aware that Senate’s Defence Committee has also condemned the statement of Indian Defence Minister Mr. Manohar Parrikar and expressed concern. Pakistan is a victim of terrorism and has suffered more than any other country in the world. We have lost more than sixty thousand lives of our citizens and suffered economic losses of more than US$ 100 billion.
Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The statement of the Indian Defence Minister should be a matter of concern to not just Pakistan but also others in the region and beyond. The Indian Minister’s statement may also be seen in the backdrop of an earlier statement of even more grave nature made by Mr. Ajit Doval in February 2014, days before he was appointed National Security Advisor. Their statements confirm Pakistan’s apprehensions about India’s involvement in terrorism in Pakistan.
In response to the second question, let me say that we will take all appropriate measures that are required to protect our national interest.
As regards the third question, you are aware that the Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs had issued a statement immediately in response to the Indian Defence Minister’s statement that terrorists will be neutralized with terrorists. There were various options available to the Foreign Office, but this was the one we chose to exercise.
According to media reports, Commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan has claimed that IS (Islamic State) is recruiting militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Your comments please.
Secondly, Egyptian Foreign Office has termed Pakistan’s statement on the sentence of former President Morsi as interference in the internal affairs of Egypt. Your response please. (Ishtiaq- Voice of America)
Let me deal with the second question first. Our statement on the death sentence given to the former Egyptian President was based on internationally recognized principles. However, I would like to underscore that relations between the people of Pakistan and the people of Egypt are deep rooted in history, culture and shared values. We are confident that the fraternal bonds existing between the peoples of Pakistan and Egypt would be further strengthened in the days to come.
Coming to your second question about ISIL, there is no footprint of ISIL in Pakistan. The people of Pakistan have no ideological, ethnic or linguistic affinities with the organization and its members. However, we have seen some pamphlets and wall-chalking. That is no proof of presence of ISIL in Pakistan. Nevertheless, we are cognizant of the threat ISIL poses. Our security agencies are aware of this treat and will take appropriate measures, if needed.
Is Pakistan demanding extradition of Baloch separatists from UK?
Secondly, recent spike in violence in Afghanistan may affect Pak-Afghan relationship. Your comments please. (Syed Mohsin Raza- Such TV)
It is common practices among States to seek each other’s support in connection with people wanted for various reasons.
Your second question related to the increase in violence in Afghanistan. You are aware that Pakistan desires peace and stability in Afghanistan. There is a commitment on the part of Pakistan to support Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process. You are also aware that during the Prime Minister’s recent visit to Afghanistan, the Prime Minister had categorically said that enemies of Afghanistan are also enemies of Pakistan.
This was reiterated during the recent meeting of Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process by the Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Mr. Sartaj Aziz. We are committed to enhancing our relations with Afghanistan. Our leaders have said repeatedly that peace in Afghanistan is in the interest of people of Afghanistan, people of Pakistan and people of the whole region.
According to a report presented in the US Congress, Pakistan is sponsoring militant organizations for carrying out attacks outside Pakistan. Your comments please. (Naveed Siddique – SAMAA TV)
We have not seen this report, and only after having read it we will be in a position to offer our comments. However, I wish to emphasize that Pakistan enjoys good relations with the United States. The two countries have longstanding cooperation in a number of fields of mutual interest. The cooperation keeps enhancing from time to time.
Pakistan’s commitment to combating and eliminating terrorism is well-known. We have been cooperating with international community in this regard and have suffered huge human and material losses. The US Government is fully aware of that and is appreciative of our cooperation and the measures we have taken to combat terrorism and extremism.
What are the details of the meeting held yesterday between FIA and FBI officers working at US Embassy at Islamabad?
Secondly, what is your assessment of the recent hawkish statements given by various Indian Leaders on Pakistan? (Shaukat Paracha – Aaj TV)
The investigation of the AXACT related issues is still going on. As you are aware, a number of U.S entities and educational institutions have allegedly been named in the AXACT scandal. Therefore, on the request of the concerned investigating authorities, we have approached the U.S side for assistance in the ongoing investigation against AXACT in Pakistan.
As regards your second question, I wish to underscore that we are committed to good neighbourly relations with all neighbouring countries including India. This is our Prime Minister’s vision and we are pursuing it sincerely. I do not want to comment on the objective of the hawkish statements being made from the other side.
What is the procedure for verification of degrees from foreign institutions?
Secondly, has any Pakistani student approached foreign office for his/her degree verification issued by the AXACT? (Shahid Rana- ARY TV)
It is not possible for me to go into the specifics, simply because Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not investigating the matter. The Ministry of Interior, which is investigating this matter, has been briefing media from time to time. However, in general, I can tell you that there is a procedure for attestation of degrees. Any student coming to Pakistan with a degree has to first get it attested from the concerned degree issuing authorities of the country in question and, on that basis, get attestation from Embassy of Pakistan in that particular country.
Can you confirm that a meeting has been held between Afghan Taliban and Afghan Government officials in China with the support of Pakistan?(Qasim Nauman- Wall Street Journal)
I would like to reiterate that Pakistan supports an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process and we support all efforts in that regard.
Last week, one of Pakistan’s Minister’s claimed that India has allocated US$ 50 billion to sabotage Pak-China Economic Corridor. Your comments please.
Secondly, what steps Government of Pakistan has taken to highlight RAW’s involvement in Pakistan at international fora? (Shabbir Ahmed Wahgara- PTV World)
As far as Pakistan-China Economic Corridor is concerned, we have talked about it earlier, including propaganda by Indian media. However, I wish to reiterate our commitment to the realization of Pak-China Economic Corridor projects, which will benefit the entire region.
Your second question is similar to the one that I answered a short while ago, while responding to a question about the Indian Defence Minister’s statement. As regards the steps taken by Pakistan to highlight this at the international fora, I have said that we will take all appropriate measures that are required to protect Pakistan’s national interest.
Has any foreign government requested Pakistan to investigate AXACT?
Secondly, has Chinese government discussed the issue of RAW’s attempts to sabotage Pak-China Economic Corridor with Pakistan? (Rana Abrar- Independent Pakistan)
I have just responded to a question relating to the Pak-China Economic Corridor projects. Both Pakistan and China are committed to the realization of these projects.
As regards your first question, Ministry of Interior is in touch with us. They want some cooperation which we are extending.
Did any Pakistani Embassy receive any complaint against AXACT before the revelation by New York Times?
Secondly, NYT in its follow-up story also claimed that Government of Pakistan and its officers are also involved in AXACT scam. Your comments please. (Essa Naqvi- Bol News)
A comprehensive investigation is going on in the matter by the Ministry of Interior. You may direct your question to the Ministry of Interior.
You are avoiding answering questions on hawkish Indian attitude towards Pakistan. Secondly, why Pakistan is not highlighting RAW’s involvement in terror activities? On the Indian side, hype is created over each and every issue. Your comments please? (Maqbool Malik- The Nation)
I will not comment on your opinion about me.
Secondly, this is my fourth briefing. I have talked about these issues in all previous briefings, the record of which is available on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In response to a question asked earlier about the statement of Indian Defence Minister, I had given a detailed response about India’s involvement in terrorism in Pakistan.
Many children are transported between Pakistan and UK because of family disputes. I am talking especially with reference to the case of a five-year old girl Zarba Fatima who was taken to UK by her relatives after death of her parents. Is there any mechanism between Pakistan and UK to address this problem? (Tariq Mehmood- 92 News)
I will check and get back to you.
A Pakistani national from Faisalabad named Khalid Mehmud was arrested in Bangladesh on charges of working for security agencies of Pakistan. Your comments please. (Esa Naqvi- Bol TV)
Pakistan High Commissioner in Dhaka met Foreign Minister of Bangladesh on 27 May to discuss the issue of the arrested Pakistani citizen, who is allegedly presented as an agent of our agencies. The High Commissioner has requested for consular access to the arrested Pakistani. The Bangladesh Foreign Minister has assured that consular access will be provided.
The Bangladesh Foreign Minister was informed that Mr. Khalid Mehmud was on a legitimate visa in Bangladesh since his arrival in 2014 and was doing his job as an Electrical Engineer in a textile factory in Bangladesh. He is associated with Textile Industry for the last 15 years.
For more information, contact:
Mr. Aizaz Ahmad Ch
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan