Islamabad, May 16, 2013 (PPI-OT): [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.]
At the outset let me express our shared sense of national pride on the conduct of democratic elections, which witnessed a high participation of the people of Pakistan. As you are aware that more than 350 foreign election observers were invited to observe the General Election 2013. They were facilitated by the Foreign Office, Election Commission of Pakistan and the Ministry of Interior.
The largest contingent came from the European Union. The head of EU Observer Mission and accompanying members of European Parliament called on the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary. After the elections, the European Union’s Election Observer Mission has concluded in its preliminary statement which you have all seen. The Mission commended Pakistan’s strong commitment to the democratic process.
His Excellency Mr. Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China will visit Pakistan from 22 – 23 May, 2013 at the invitation of President Asif Ali Zardari.
It is the first visit of Premier Li Keqiang to Pakistan after becoming the Premier of the People’s Republic of China. The visit takes place immediately after the democratic elections in Pakistan. It will provide an opportunity to Premier Li to meet the President, the caretaker Prime Minister as well as the new leadership in Pakistan. The visit also provides further impetus to our strategic relations. These friendly ties and the friendship with China is the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy. The Government and people of Pakistan look forward to the visit of H.E. Premier Li Keqiang. A warm welcome awaits him.
The Chinese Premier will arrive on 22nd May. He will meet the President who will host a luncheon for him at the Presidency. The Premier will also hold talks with the President and the Prime Minister after which there will be a joint press stakeout. The Prime Minister will host a banquet for the Premier in the evening. The Chinese Premier will also be conferred upon Nishan e Pakistan.
The Premier will also meet leaders of the political parties. Next day, President of Pakistan Muslim League (N), Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif will call on him. The Premier will hold a joint meeting with the Chairman Senate and Speaker National Assembly and also address the Senate of Pakistan. The Premier will also visit Pakistan China Friendship Center and meet with Pakistani friends. Bilateral MoUs will be signed the details of which are being worked out. He will also plant a tree at Shakarparian.
A British national, Mr. Altaf Hussain, has issued threatening statements against Pakistan in media. How does the Foreign Office react to these statements? Would Pakistan raise the matter with the British government?
At this point in time, I am not in a position to make a comment on this matter.
Indeed it’s a matter of pride that democratic process is moving forward and the world at large has lauded it publicly. At the same time, there are expectations and International community is asking for promoting peace on the western border and making peace on the eastern border. There are already various mechanisms in place to pursue of these objectives, what is thinking in Pakistan now?
The thrust of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy has been to seek a peaceful neighbourhood. Our foreign policy reflects the aspirations of the people of Pakistan to seek peace and stability in our region.
i). For long we have seen the dialogue process has been stalled between Pakistan- India. Recently the Indian leadership has congratulated the newly elected leadership of Pakistan. Have we received any invitation from Indian side or has Pakistan taken any initiative to resume dialogue process?
ii). Can you specifically name some agreements, which are expected to be inked during the upcoming visit of the Chinese premier?
We have always stressed the need to continue with the dialogue process with India. We hope that the dialogue process would pick up momentum in all areas.
On your second question, we are still working out details of the agreements and MoUs to be signed during the visit of Chinese Premier.
What is the update regarding the 47 Pakistani prisoners who have completed their sentences in India?
We have approached the Indian government for focused discussions on the issue of prisoners. We hope that these focused discussions would address all aspects of this important issue including the release of the 47 prisoners who have completed their sentence.
Australian Ministry of Defence has issued a white paper regarding defence and strategic prospective in South Asia. They have specifically indicated that Pakistan’s nuclear programme and safe havens are threat to the regional and International peace. They have also shown concerns regarding the security of Pakistan’s nuke. How do you respond to this?
I have not seen the Australian white paper that you are referring to. However, I would like to say that Pakistan’s nuclear program is defined by restraint and responsibility. We have a robust command and control system, have instituted measures for the safety and security of our program, and put in place effective export controls. We are also engaged with the international community, and our efforts have won acknowledgement and appreciation. Our civil nuclear program is under IAEA safeguards.
The US secretary of State Mr. John Kerry is planning to visit to Pakistan. What is the update? How do you see the Pakistan US relations under new leadership?
I don’t have the dates or details of the visit of Mr. Kerry. As for Pakistan-US relation, it is a broad based and mutually collaborative relationship. Pakistan would like to strengthen its relations with the US based on mutual respect and mutuality of benefit.
There are reports that London Police have contacted Pakistan’s High Commission in London regarding the statements of MQM Chief (several follow up questions on this subject)
I am not aware of such reports.
i). Few days back Pakistan’s Ambassador to US Ms. Sherry Rehman had resigned, what is the current status? Is she performing her duties as Ambassador? Who is heading the Mission?
ii). As the job of contract Ambassadors ceases with end of the tenure of the government, why Ambassador Sherry Rehman tendered a resignation now?
iii). What is the number of contract Ambassadors at this time?
The term of contract based Ambassadors ends with the completion of the tenure of the government that appoints them. However, the caretaker Prime Minister had decided that all Ambassadors appointed on contract would remain on their posts until the newly elected government takes decisions on these matters.
Yes, Ambassador Sherry Rehman has tendered her resignation and we have received it. The Deputy Head of Mission Dr. Asad Majeed would take over as Charge d Affaires until new elected government appoints an Ambassador to the US.
There are 15 contract based Ambassadors.
Our High Commissioner in Sri Lanka had presented credentials after the expiry of the government. Why it was so and what is his status?
There are reports that former Foreign Secretary Mr. Riaz Khokhar would be going to Washington as an Ambassador. Has the decision been taken in this regard?
Our High Commissioner in Sri Lanka is also appointed on contract. As indicated earlier, the new elected government would take decisions on these matters.
On your second question, it is the prerogative of the new government to appoint an Ambassador to the US.
We all know that incident of Gursal check post and Pakistani government has strongly reminded the Afghan government being responsible of such event and at the same time, we have also heard that military to military cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been improving. What is your comment on that? Would you agree that military to military cooperation between the two countries has improved?
Pakistan is raising alarms in the United Nations about Africa fast becoming the epicenter of terrorism and Pakistan envoys who have been talking about actions on the emergency basis to prevent this happening? What action does Pakistan want to see so that Africa can prevent from becoming the hub of terrorism?
On Afghanistan, we are in regular contact with Afghan authorities including military to military contacts. On the issue of posts, you would recall that recently a military delegation from Afghanistan had come to Pakistan and resolved the matters on posts.
We have repeatedly stressed the need for an effective border management. We are convinced that these posts serve a very useful purpose of interdicting cross border undesirable activities. We will continue to maintain this cooperative approach in our talks with Afghanistan and as well as other stakeholders.
On Africa, I don’t know which particular statement you are referring to. We are currently an elected non permanent member of the Security Council. Our policy is that as a leading troop contributing country, we participate actively and constructively in discussions on issues of peace and security in the world including Africa. Our general call for fighting terrorism anywhere including Africa stems from our own conviction that terrorism is a common enemy of humanity.
Chinese Premier is going to be here in a week. Can you tell us some of the highlights of this visit in addition to broad-spectrum of existing close relations between Pakistan and China?
There are unconfirmed reports that there might be one or two defence deals and also the possibility of at least one nuclear power project signed for the city of Karachi or other location in Pakistan?
Pakistan-China relationship is broad-based and multifaceted. It also includes defense cooperation. As I indicated earlier the details of the agreements to be signed are being worked out. On your second question, Pakistan-China civil nuclear cooperation is an ongoing matter.
My question is regarding Zaireen issue in Iraq. How it is possible that Iraqi Embassy has taken it leniently and not issued special clearance numbers from their Interior Ministry on the visa stickers? The Pakistani Zaireen are suffering in Baghdad and they are not allowed to perform their visit over there? How the visa issue of Zaireen would be resolved because most of the Pakistanis came back after staying over a month and not allowed to enter in Iraq?
We have taken up this issue with the Iraqi Embassy here and also by our Embassy in Baghdad. Through regular updates and advisories, we have tried to spread this information so that the Zaireen do not suffer. Our Embassy did extend due help to many of the Zaireen who were stuck on the Iraqi border. It is important that Zaireen must check whether the clearance number given by Iraqi Ministry of Interior is reflected in their visas.
For more information, contact:
Mr. Aizaz Ahmad Ch
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan