Record of Press Briefing by Spokesperson on Thursday, 11 October, 2018 : AsiaNet-Pakistan

Record of Press Briefing by Spokesperson on Thursday, 11 October, 2018

October 11, 2018 | | Share:

[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]

Bismillah Ir Rehman Nir Rahim,

Assalaam o Alaikum,

We begin with the latest update on the foreign policy front - the Foreign Minister is leading Pakistan's delegation to Dushanbe to attend the SCO meeting. We will update you accordingly, as the visit progresses.

Moving on, Indian atrocities in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir have intensified. We condemn the violent operations meant to harass and terrorize innocent Kashmir's in Srinagar, Pulwama, Shopian, Islamabad, Kulgam, Kupwara, Bandipore and Baramulla districts of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

We also condemn the detention and restrictions on APHC Chairman Syed Ali Shah Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik during the sham local body Municipal elections being conducted under Indian occupation forces in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

We are also concerned about the deteriorating health and continued unlawful incarceration of senior Hurriyet leaders including Shabbir Ahmad Shah, Masarat Alam Butt, Syeda Aasiya Andrabi, Nahida Nasreen, Fahmida Sofi, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Mohammad Aiyaz Akbar, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Peer Saifullah, Mehrajudin Kalwal, Farooq Ahmad Dar, Ghulam Muhammad Khan Sopori, Maulana Sarjan Barkati, Shabbir Ahmad Dar, Mushtaq-ul-Islam and hundreds of others languishing in the notorious Indian Tihar Jail in New Delhi and different interrogation centers in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Now the floor is open for questions and answers.

Question

Reportedly, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad visited Pakistan with a big wish list. Would you like to comment? Secondly, there is news in the media that the government of Pakistan is considering to expel Bangladeshi High Commissioner posted in Islamabad. The reason, as per the media reports, is non-issuance of Agreement of Pakistan Ambassador-designate to Dhaka, Ms. Saqlain Syedah, by the Foreign Ministry of Dhaka, since February 2018. Would you please confirm? (Ms. Rashida Sial - Abb Tak)

Answer

Regarding your question on Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, please note that Mr. Khalilzad is the newly appointed Special Representative of the US Secretary of State for Afghanistan Reconciliation. Mr. Khalilzad visited Pakistan on 9 October to discuss the way forward on seeking political settlement in Afghanistan.

He held meetings with the Foreign Secretary and the Foreign Minister. The visit took place following the Foreign Minister's visit to Washington and Secretary of States' visit to Islamabad where both sides agreed to re-engage and work together on the common objective of peace and stability in Afghanistan through a politically negotiated settlement. We have conveyed to the US side that while Pakistan will take all possible steps, in good faith, to facilitate the process for political settlement, it remains a shared responsibility. The role of the US, National Unity Government of Afghanistan and other regional players is equally important. That is why Ambassador Khalilzad is visiting other countries including UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia to elicit their support.

As far as your second question is concerned, please note that the Agreement of an Ambassador is a bilateral issue and is being pursued through diplomatic channels. No other action has been taken.

Question

Reportedly, Pakistan's High Commissioner in London, Sahibzada Ahmed Khan, who was previously recalled, is going back to London to join the High Commission. Have the allegations against him been cleared? (Mr. Zahid Farooq Malik - Daily Metro Watch)

Answer

I have already briefed you on this issue during the last press briefing and I do not have further updates.

Question

Reportedly, China and Pakistan have reached a deal to manufacture unmanned aircrafts jointly. Would you like to comment on this? (Mr. Muhammad Jaleel - VoA)

Answer

I do not have any information on this. Let me get back to you as soon as I get the details. You can also refer to ISPR for further information.

Question

How would you like to comment on the elections which took place yesterday in Kashmir? (Mr. Raziq Bhatti - Kashmir Express)

Answer

As I told you that the so called "elections" being held in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir are completely sham. This is just a cover up for the Indian atrocities in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. As far as the dialogue process is concerned, the hesitant attitude of India is in front of you, having moved one step forward and then going back. Such sham efforts and missteps cannot result in something fruitful.

Question

Reportedly, there are some 1500 Pakistanis waiting for deportation in different Saudi jails. What steps have been taken by our Embassy and Consulates in Saudi Arabia to repatriate them to Pakistan? Secondly, before commencement of the visit of Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, he said that the Afghan Government and Taliban should form working groups for establishing peace in Afghanistan. On a similar note, Mike Pompeo during his visit to Pakistan said that all the peace efforts would be led by the US State Department. Is Pakistan playing any role to convince Taliban for negotiating peace? (Mr. Shaukat Mehmood Paracha - Aaj News)

Answer

To your first question, I must say that the Embassy in Riyadh and the Consulate General of Pakistan in Jeddah are actively following the situation. Following assistance is extended to the prisoners/detainees in jails and deportation centers:

Consular access to the detainees to inquire about their welfare and extend assistance as practicable.

Pay regular visits to deportation centers to issue Emergency Travel Documents for travel to Pakistan to those who do not possess passports.

Process clemency requests from the relatives of the prisoners to the Royal Court.

Raise complaints with the local authorities - made by the detainees.

Facilitate departure of those apprehended for deportation.

Persuade authorities to waive penalties on account of Haq-e-Aam.

As far as your second question is concerned, Pakistan fully supports Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process. I would not be getting into the intricate details.

Question

Reportedly, there are more than 700 Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia working in Azmeel Construction Company in Dhamam, who are on strike for the past two weeks for non-payment of outstanding dues by the Company. What role is our embassy playing in resolving the issue faced by these Pakistani workers? (Mr. Anwar Abbas - Waqat News)

Answer

Our Mission in KSA has taken following steps in this regard:

The Ambassador spoke with the owner of the company, urging him to address the issues and also to cooperate with the Mission's team on visit of Al-Khobar.

The Embassy team then met groups of Pakistani workers, compiled a list of their grievances and presented them to the higher management of the company, in presence of labor department officials of the Eastern province.

After detailed deliberations, the Company agreed to pay one outstanding salary immediately, followed by another salary early next month. It also agreed to resolve boarding issues, ensure renewal of Iqamas, expedite processing of workers' repatriation and EOSB payments.

However, the company sought assurance for resumption of work, as delays could hinder payments from ARAMCO. According to them, the company was incurring a loss of 3 million SAR/day due to strike.

The company was asked to fulfill its responsibilities of providing safety and security to those who wished to resume work.

Question

It has been reported that some Pakistanis have been arrested in Thailand and it has been alleged that Pakistan's Mission in Thailand is not cooperating in resolving the issues of these Pakistanis and is involved in misappropriation of funds. Your comments please! (Mr. Shamim Mehmood - Online News Agency)

Answer

Basically, the media has reported that some officers of the Pakistan Mission in Thailand are involved in embezzlement of Mission's accounts. The media reports have also alleged "unauthorized issuance of passports to Pakistani illegal immigrants/asylum-seekers and criminals in Thailand." In this regard, it may be noted that as per the Government policy, all Pakistani nationals (except blacklisted people), holding valid CNICs, are entitled to the issuance of Passports. In case the applicant is not holding a valid Thai visa, Passport is issued after verification of nationality from Pakistan, as per policy.

Expenditure for utilization of funds received for Transfer of Pakistani prisoners is only made after appropriate sanction/approval is received from the Minister of Interior. Since no such sanction has been received by our Mission in Thailand, the funds remain unutilized. The allegation regarding misuse of the funds is baseless.

The cases for transfer of Pakistani prisoners from Thailand will be sent to the Thai side after receipt of Letters of Authorization and National Verification Letters for each prisoner from the Ministry of Interior, which are awaited. Therefore, the allegation regarding the demand of money for purchase of air tickets for the prisoners is irrational, as it is the last stage of the transfer. Unverified news reports are counter-productive and create unnecessary hindrances in official work.

Question

My question is regarding the visit of the Foreign Minister to the United States - How far was Pakistan able to convince United States as far as the case of Mr. Shakeel Afridi is concerned? Secondly, in your previous briefings you have stated that the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs would give a briefing to the media on the developments regarding administrative and legal reforms in AJK and GB. When is that meeting due? (Mr. Fida Hussain - Radio News Network)

Answer

Regarding your second question, we will try to arrange the briefing soon.

In response to your first question, as I already told you last week that the stance of the Government of Pakistan remains unchanged in Mr. Shakeel Afridi's case.

Question

Reportedly, Afghan government has arrested two Afghan military personnel for allegedly conniving with the Pakistan military and sharing state's secrets with Pakistan. Your comments please! (Ms. Rabia Peer, VoA Radio)

Answer

I have no information. I will check and get back to you.

Question

There are reports that Saudi Arabia is planning to join the CPEC? Has any decision been taken to include Saudi Arabia in the CPEC? Will the issue be discussed during the Prime Minister's visit to China? (Mr. Khalid Mehmood - Express News)

Answer

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have held discussions about the possibility of Saudi Arabia investing in projects in Pakistan under CPEC. However, the details have not been worked out as yet. It is worth mentioning that both Pakistan and China are open to third party/country investments in some projects of CPEC including SEZs. Besides Saudi Arabia, other countries are also welcome to invest in SEZs under CPEC.

Question

Reportedly, India has signed a multibillion dollar defence deal with Russia? How would you like to comment on this? Secondly, recently there have been frequent visits between the United States and Pakistan. Are there any specific demands from the US? (Mr. Mazhar Iqbal - Public TV)

Answer

We are opposed to any arms race in South Asia and have been proposing measures for promoting restraint in both the nuclear and conventional domains. However, we cannot remain oblivious to these developments and are firmly committed to maintaining credible minimum deterrence through taking any measures, as necessary. Let me assure you that Pakistan is fully confident of its ability to do so.

Regarding your second question, I must say that the engagement between Pakistan and the United States has increased as is evident from the recent meetings between the Foreign Minister and various US government officials. I will share the details as we progress further.

Question

Reportedly, the Government of Pakistan in a recent move has banned several INGOs working for the social sector development in Pakistan. Would you please elaborate at what were the reasons behind this move? Would there be any impact of the subject move on the social sector development? (Mr. Tariq Mehmood - Hum News)

Answer

Please note that the Ministry of Interior is responsible for INGOs registration. There is no ban on working of INGOs in Pakistan. Pakistan appreciates the role and work of different INGOs in advancing our development priorities. The INGO Registration Committee under the Chairmanship of Ministry of Interior follows due process and transparency in reviewing the applications received for registration of INGOs. This also includes opportunity for an appeal by the INGO.

So far cases of 141 INGOs have been reviewed and out of them 74 have been given permission. This represents more than 50% of applications received. Further, there is review of number of new applications that is in the pipeline. You may like to seek more details from the Ministry of Interior.

Question

As you said that the Foreign Minister will be visiting Dushanbe for SCO meeting, is there chance of a handshake or informal meeting between the Foreign Ministers of Pakistan and India? Secondly, the family of the deceased Indian boy, who faced an accident on the Indian side and whose dead body washed ashore in Gilgit-Baltistan, is demanding the repatriation of the dead body to India. What has Pakistan done so far? (Mr. Anas Malick - WION News)

Answer

As far your second question is concerned, I will check the details and get back to you during the next briefing.

Regarding your first question, we are ready for talks with India, anywhere and anytime on all outstanding issues including Jammu and Kashmir, as is evident from the letter which the Prime Minister addressed to the Indian Prime Minister. Now it depends upon the Indian side, how much they are willing to move forward.

Question

As we have seen that the Foreign Minister had several meetings with the US dignitaries in the recent past including his meetings in Washington DC and New York. What has been the outcome of these meetings and in which way is our foreign policy going? (Mr. Arif Chaudhary - Metro News)

Supplementary Question

What is the major breakthrough in the backdrop of meetings of the Foreign Minister with the US Secretary of State; John Bolton; Stephen Headley; Zalmay Khalilzad etc? (Mr. Mazhar Iqbal - Public TV)

Answer

These meetings constitute the initial steps for moving further and resolving the irritants in bilateral relations. The Foreign Minister is trying to reach out to all the countries, which occupy an important place in our foreign policy. It is evident from the visit of the Iranian and Chinese Foreign Ministers and the US Secretary of State to Pakistan and the Prime Minister's and Foreign Minister's visit to Saudi Arabia, UAE and the US.

Question

During his visit to Saudi Arabia, the Prime Minister has reportedly stated that Pakistan is ready to mediate between Saudi Arabia, Iran and Qatar. What is the progress so far? (Mr. Abbas - Daily Domestic News)

Answer

As you may have seen the Prime Minister has said that if parties approach Pakistan for mediation, we are ready to extend all possible assistance.

Question

Reportedly, Pakistan Navy has quit the Anti-piracy Task Force due to a decision by the US to cut fuels subsidies for Pakistani patrol boats. (Mr. Asim Rana - ARY News)

Answer

The subject pertains to Navy. But I will check and get back to you.

Question

It is being reported in media that the Foreign Secretary is favouring a particular group of junior officers. For instance a grade-20 officer was appointed as High Commissioner in London, who was later reprimanded for some of his inappropriate actions. What are your comments? (Mr. Aon Sherazi - Such TV)

Answer

As I have briefed you in my earlier briefings that inquiries are under way whereever there are administrative problems in the Missions. We will update you as soon as we get any information. The rest is speculation and I cannot comment on it.

Question

International Court of Justice has fixed the date for hearing Commander Kalbushan Jadav's case. Will Mr. Khawar Qureshi be presenting Pakistan's case in the ICJ? Would you please share the details? Is Pakistan prepared to defend the case? Secondly, hundreds of pilgrims are stranded across Pakistan-Iran border and waiting for entry to Iran. Has Pakistan raised this issue with Iran? (Mr. Faisal Raza - 92 News)

Supplementary Question

Mr. Khawar Qureshi who will present Pakistan's case in the ICJ has previously presented India's cases in the ICJ. How would you like to comment? (Fida Hussain - Radio News Network)

Answer

The ICJ has fixed the date for the hearing for the case of Commander Jadhav. Two rounds of oral hearings are scheduled from 18-21 February 2019. Our legal team, led by the Attorney General, is fully prepared to present Pakistan's position and actively contest the matter. Mr. Khawar Qureshi will continue to present Pakistan's case in the ICJ. He is a renowned lawyer of international repute, who has worked for many countries.

Regarding your second question, I will get update from the relevant desk at the Ministry and will get back to you during the next briefing.

Question

Reportedly, foreign currency is being smuggled from Pakistan to Iran. What steps Pakistan is taking to avert this? (Mr. Sheraz Asghar - IRNA)

Answer

The question pertains to the Ministry of Interior.

Question

The President of AJK has expressed disappointment over the silence of the international community on the situation in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. What are your comments? (Syed Mohsin Raza - Daily Assas Publication)

Answer

Pakistan has always been presenting the case of Jammu and Kashmir at all fora. For instance, Jammu and Kashmir dispute was discussed during the recent meeting of OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir in New York, several Resolutions were passed in OIC Council of Ministers meeting in Dhaka. The OHCHR report on Jammu and Kashmir provides intricate details of Indian attrocites in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. There is international recognition of the need to put an immediate end to the Indian excesses being perpetrated against the innocent Kashmiris in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Question

There are reports that the Government of Pakistan is planning to review the CPEC projects. The Prime Minister made this statement recently. What are your comments? What would you like to say regarding the non-career diplomats posted abroad? When are they being recalled? (Mr. Adeel Wariach - Dunya News)

Answer

There is no plan to review the CPEC projects. The alleged statement of Prime Minister was out of context and a Press Release has been issued clarifying the position.

Regarding your second question I do not have any update.

Question

The Committee to Protect Journalists has issued a report whereby they have recorded serious concerns about freedom of expression in Pakistan. Would you like to comment? (Mr. Jaleel - VoA)

Supplementary Question

It has been felt that the current government is trying to curb the freedom of media. How would you like to comment? (Mr. Mazhar Iqbal - Public TV)

Supplementary Question

You have stated that Media in Pakistan is enjoying more freedom, should there be certain curbs over the media? How would you like to elaborate? (Mr. Abbas - Daily Domestic News)

Answer

Pakistan attaches high importance to the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The Government's strong commitment to this right is demonstrated by presence of more than 100 vibrant media channels and scores of newspapers. The media and journalists in Pakistan highlight political, economic, social and human rights and other important issues contributing to the national debate on issues of public importance.

In a thriving democracy like Pakistan, free and independent media is considered as an important pillar of the state. Journalists in Pakistan play an instrumental role for ensuring freedom of press, fostering culture of accountability, protecting rights of citizens and providing access to prompt and timely information to the public on all issues. Government is committed to protecting them and providing them with an environment free from intimidation and harassment.

We would like to underscore that given the unprecedented level of freedom of media, all cases of intimidation and harassment of journalists get immediate media attention and are addressed by the Government, the Parliament and the Judiciary. Where required, high-powered commissions were set up to investigate the allegations of intimidation and harassment. Challenges notwithstanding, Government is making utmost efforts to ensure safety of journalists so that they can carry out their work in a safe and secure environment. The Government has taken following measures to safeguard them:

Notified a Ministerial Media Security Committee with the mandate to suggest welfare measures to ensure safety of Journalists and Media Persons;

Initiated a new scheme (Life Insurance Policy for Media Persons) for the welfare of the journalists;

Installed a Hot Line Number (111-925-225) in Press Information Department so that journalists can inform the government about any potential threat to them or security related issues;

Has proposed the establishment of an Endowment Fund to provide relief to the wounded and crippled journalists, who have fallen victims of terrorism in the line of duty.

Regarding the second supplementary question by Mr. Abbas, I must say that media should enjoy freedom keeping in view the sense of responsibility. I am absolutely not in favour of any curbs on the media.

Question

Reportedly, Saudi Arabia plans to sell 400 million barrels of oil to India on monthly basis. On the other hand, India is the second largest buyer of oil from Iran. How far can this affect our relationship with Iran and Saudi Arabia? (Mr. Farooq Aqdas - Jang News)

Answer

I cannot comment on bilateral trade relations between two countries. The US unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA despite Iran's adherence to the agreement is regrettable. JCPOA represents a good example of a negotiated settlement of a complex issue. Pakistan, in principle, is opposed to coercive economic sanctions which affect the human development and add to the poverty of not only a specific country, but the entire region. Sanctions limit economic opportunities and suffocate regional trade. We shall analyze all available options to continue trade with Iran in our interest.

Question

Commander Kulbhusan Jadav was apprehended in Balochistan Province. Do you think that besides RAW other foreign agencies are also involved in conspiracies in Balochistan and the other border regions of Pakistan? (Mr. Shamim Mehmood - Online News Agency)

Answer

I have already told you that we are alert to any possible threat to Pakistan. It is evdient from the fact that we have apprehended Commander Kulbhusan Jadav in a timely manner that our agencies and institutes are awake and vigilent.

Question

After the Prime Minister visited Saudi Arabia, a decrease in the visits of the foreign dignitaries has been noticed. Secondly, Pakistan has gone to the IMF which means that Saudi Arabia and other friendly countries are not ready to help Pakistan. How would you like to comment? (Mr. Zahid Farooq Malik - Daily Metro Watch)

Answer

Your second question pertains to the Ministry of Finance.

Regarding your first question I must say that the visits are still going on. Yesterday, Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad was here, and today, the Foreign Minister is going to Dushanbe for SCO meetings. There are many other visits in the pipeline and I will keep you updated regarding them.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Government of Pakistan

Category: Business & Finance