Transcript of the Press Briefing by the Spokesperson on Thursday,
15 December, 2022
[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]
Assalam-o-Alaikum. Thank you for joining us for the Weekly Briefing today.
As you are aware, President of Tajikistan H.E. Emomali Rahmon arrived in Islamabad yesterday on a two-day state visit to Pakistan. Yesterday, he held comprehensive delegation level talks with the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister also hosted a banquet in honor of President Rahmon last evening. This morning he held meetings with Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif and Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani.
During the meetings, the two sides agreed to further deepen bilateral relationship and to raise it to strategic cooperation for the mutual benefit of the two countries and peoples. It has been agreed that a bilateral Strategic Partnership Agreement will be finalized at the earliest.
A number of Agreements and MOUs were signed yesterday in the areas of industry and new technologies; transit trade; combating trafficking in narcotics; cooperation between custom authorities on establishment electronic data interchange; research in the field of water resources; and cooperation in education.
The two sides have also released a comprehensive Joint Statement that outlines understanding in a number of areas. The two sides will explore new avenues of cooperation in trade, investment, transport, energy, education, culture, and tourism and climate change issues. They have agreed to further boost multilateral cooperation for global and regional peace, stability and sustainable development.
The two sides have reaffirmed their commitment to complete connectivity projects like CASA-1000 which would open new avenues for future energy corridors. Pakistan also expressed support for Tajikistan’s membership of Quadrilateral Traffic in Transit Agreement (QTTA).
As our closest neighbor in Central Asia, Tajikistan is an important partner for Pakistan. We believe that the on-going visit of Resident Rahmon to Pakistan and the Prime Minister of Pakistan to Dushanbe next year will advance cooperation and understanding between our two countries.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is currently in New York to attend the Ministerial Conference of the G-77 and China on 15-16 December 2022. The agenda of the Conference includes discussion on multiple challenges being faced by the developing countries in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the face of Covid-19 pandemic, climate-induced disasters and geopolitical developments.
Yesterday, the Foreign Minister participated in a high-level debate at the UN Security Council on “Reformed Multilateralism”.
In his address, the Foreign Minister reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to multilateralism and the UN Charter. He called for a comprehensive reform of the United Nations and its different organs, as well as democratization of the global financial and economic institutions. The Foreign Minister stressed the importance of a plan for emergency actions and systemic reforms in the international financial, trade and technology architecture. He also presented a concrete plan of action for reviving effective multilateralism and underscored that reform of the Security Council must be decided by consensus and should improve democratization of the Council.
The Foreign Minister also had important meetings with UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J. Mohammed and President of the UN General Assembly Csaba Kőrösi, yesterday. During the meeting, he briefed them about Pakistan’s relief and recovery efforts in the wake of recent floods in Pakistan.
This morning, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari held a meeting with British Minister of State for South Asia & Commonwealth at FCDO, Lord Tariq Ahmad where matters of bilateral and regional cooperation were discussed.
Today, the Foreign Minister will meet the UN Secretary-General to marshal international support for Pakistan’s long-term Recovery, Rehabilitation and Restoration Plan based on the Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA).
As you all know, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) H.E. Mr. Hissein Brahim Taha visited Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir on his first country visit from 10-12 December 2022.
During the visit, the Secretary General called on the Prime Minister of Pakistan and held delegation-level meeting with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. He also visited Azad Jammu and Kashmir where he met with the President and Prime Minister of AJK. He visited the Line of Control in Kashmir and met with victims of cross-LOC shelling, who shared details of their sufferings in an interactive session.
The Secretary General shared his initial impressions about the situation in IIOJK in a joint media briefing with the Foreign Minister. He reaffirmed OIC’s commitment and solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and to their right to self-determination in accordance with relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
Secretary General’s visit to Azad Jammu and Kashmir comes three years after India’s illegal and unilateral actions in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu Kashmir (IIOJK). The visit also marks implementation of a comprehensive Action Plan on IIOJK agreed by OIC at the 48th CFM held in Islamabad last March. The Secretary General will share his findings at the next CFM.
You would recall that last week Foreign Minister was in Indonesia and Singapore from 6-9 December 2022. We have already briefed you on the Indonesia visit. During the Singapore visit, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had a meeting with Foreign Minister H.E. Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan and called on H.E. President Halimah Yacob.
The two sides reiterated their commitment to advance bilateral dialogue and expand cooperation in education, digital economy, trade and investment. Pakistan’s engagement and cooperation with ASEAN and regional and global issues of common interest, including climate change were discussed at length.
An important outcome of the Foreign Minister’s visit was the launch of “Stars Programme” by Meta (Facebook) for monetization in Pakistan. We believe this will contribute to capacity building of young entrepreneurs and serve as a valuable tool for Pakistan’s growing number of Meta content developers.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is the first Foreign Minister in twelve years to undertake an official visit to Singapore. Pakistan will continue to strengthen its dialogue and cooperation with Singapore bilaterally and within the context of ASEAN.
Among upcoming activities — I would like to share with you that the International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan will be held in Geneva on 9th January 2023. The Prime Minister of Pakistan and the United Nations Secretary General will co-chair the Conference.
Pakistan will present the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Recovery and Resilience Framework (4RF) at the Conference. This 4RF document is based on the Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), launched on 28 October 2022, which estimated flood damages to exceed USD 14.9 billion, economic losses over USD 15.2 billion, and reconstruction needs over USD 16 billion.
The Conference will engage the international community to mobilize support towards building back better after the devastating floods. It will also be an opportunity to hold an informed dialogue on climate adaptation and resilience, and to discuss supportive arrangements for the recovery processes.
The Prime Minister of Pakistan and the UN Secretary General have jointly addressed an invitation letter to donor countries, international financial institutions, and other development partners for this Conference.
Yesterday, you must have followed the press conference by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar wherein she briefed on state terrorism against Pakistan – planned, conducted and funded by India. A comprehensive dossier in this context has been developed by Pakistan highlighting India’s involvement in a deadly terrorist attack that took place on 21 June 2021 in a peaceful neighborhood of Johar Town in Lahore.
In the Lahore terrorist attack, three civilians lost their lives and over 24 were critically injured. Investigation by our Law Enforcement Agencies, with the support of international counterparts, have found concrete evidence that the masterminds, financiers and the facilitators of Lahore terrorist attack were Indian nationals and are located in India. Indian agencies recruited terrorists for this attack, trained them, provided them finances and logistic support. Pakistan has initiated international legal proceedings including from Interpol and Mutual Legal Assistance processes to bring those responsible to justice.
Substantiated by forensic evidence, these findings have been documented in a dossier which was shared yesterday by Foreign Secretary Dr. Asad Majeed Khan with members of the diplomatic community.
You may have seen the statement by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on the occasion of International Human Rights Day on 10th December 2022, in which he called upon the international community to bring an end to the suppression of the people of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK) and the violation of their human rights.
The International Human Rights Day commemorates the adoption of Universal Declaration on Human Rights on 10th December 1948. It was the same year when India brought the Jammu and Kashmir dispute to the United Nations Security Council. Since then, this issue has been on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council which has adopted several resolutions recognizing the right of self-determination of the people of Kashmir.
Notwithstanding these stipulations in UNSC resolutions, 70 years later the oppressed people of IIOJK remain deprived of their freedom, rights and dignity. Kashmiris live in a state of siege, caught amidst a dense web of Indian soldiers, checkpoints, barbed wires, bunkers, military convoys, drones, armored vehicles, garrisons, secret prisons, and military bases.
The international community should join hands to bring an end to the suppression of the people of IIOJK and the violations of their human rights. They have an inalienable right to enjoy the same rights and freedoms as people anywhere else.
I thank you all.
Question: Due to shortage of funds a lot of issues are being faced by Pakistan Missions Abroad and you shared a response on this earlier as well. A sale of property owned by Pakistan is being considered in USA and salaries are also not being paid to the officials at various missions abroad. Can you share some details on these matters?
Secondly, Pakistan did not lodge any protest officially with the Afghan side on the incident which happened at the Chaman border. What are your comments on this?
Thirdly, can you share any update regarding the investigation of attack on Pakistan’s C’DA in Afghanistan. Has he returned to Kabul or not? Why Pakistan has been so lenient in this regard with the Afghanistan?
Answer: On your first question, we have responded to some queries in the media that there is a process under which the Government of Pakistan allocates salaries and other financial support to our missions. These steps sometimes involve occasional delays. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Finance have been closely engaged in order to resolve these issues. I would also like to add that these efforts have borne results and missions have started receiving funds. It is the policy of the Government of Pakistan to ensure smooth functioning of Pakistani missions abroad, and all relevant departments of the government are committed towards this objective. Pakistani diplomats and Missions abroad remain committed to representing Pakistan and performing their functions.
On your next question regarding Chaman border incident, we have already released a statement. The matter has been handled at an appropriate level and discussions are ongoing between the two sides at various levels.
Regarding the question about the attack targeting on our C’dA, as we have said earlier, we are in contact with Afghan authorities and are closely following the situation there. We are also working to ensure the safety and security of our diplomats and our missions in Afghanistan. Our C’dA is still in Pakistan and he will stay here until the consultation processes are complete.
Question: If we take a look at the current situation in Afghanistan, a Chinese guest house was attacked and incidents of terrorism are also happening inside Pakistan. Due to this deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan do we have any concerns that a tough time will be given to Pakistan in the near future by various countries or is there any possibility that the international community will ask us to do more?
Secondly, recently a Climate Conference (COP-27) was organized in Sharm El- Sheikh. Have the promises which were done with Pakistan for financial support in the wake of recent floods been fulfilled or not, as we are facing huge financial problems? What have we been able to achieve from that conference? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)
Answer: On your first question, we are concerned about the security situation and we have shared our concerns. I shared with you last time that when the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs visited Afghanistan, these issues were discussed at length. We have received certain assurances and we hope those assurances will be fulfilled.
Regarding your question on climate change, I think on that too, we have briefed the media regarding the Climate Change Conference (COP27). A number of important decisions were taken at the conference. One major outcome from Pakistan’s perspective was the agreement by consensus that a ‘Loss and Damage Fund’ will be established. For that purpose, a transition committee has been established, which is negotiating the various aspects and discussing the TORs of the fund. Pakistan has high hopes that once it is operationalized, climate change would receive the attention that it deserves at the international level.
Question: There are media reports that an old building of Pakistan Embassy in Washington is being sold off and a section of media is presenting this in a scandalous way. Can you share some details regarding the real situation or else we would have to rely on these talks going on in media? (Raheel Nawaz Swati, Daily Mashriq)
Answer: We have already shared our response with reporters who asked this question earlier. I will repeat it for all of you here. The cabinet has approved the sale of old chancery building on R street in Northwest Washington DC on recommendations of an inter-ministerial committee. The building in question was smaller of the two buildings in which the Embassy of Pakistan was situated in the past and had become vacant in 2003 when the Embassy moved to new premises. The sale of the property had become important as not only was it vacant and in disrepair but also because the building no longer enjoyed diplomatic status and was subject to local building and taxation regulations. The Government of Pakistan has therefore decided, after a thorough inter-ministerial process, that the property will be sold in an open bidding process fulfilling all codal and legal formalities.
Question: A lot of cases are being reported from Turkiye regarding human smuggling. At least 8 Pakistanis have been kidnapped till now and their videos are also being sent to their families? Can you share some details regarding this please?
Secondly, on 18th November there was an incident in Georgia regarding killing of an Israeli businessman and a Pakistani national was found to be involved in it. Has this issue been raised with the concerned authorities since it is being reported that Iranian agencies are found to be involved in it and they used a Pakistani national for this incident. Can you share some details? (Syed Faisal Ali, Daily State Views)
Answer: This question was also asked earlier. We have shared that we are in the process of ascertaining details from Georgia. We do not have Embassy in Georgia, but we have taken up this matter with the Georgian authorities through our Embassy in Azerbaijan. As soon as we receive any details, we will share with you. This is one of the standing questions and we will respond whenever we have something.
On your question regarding Turkiye, I don’t have any details right now and can give you our response at the next briefing.
Question: Yesterday we saw the foreign minister addressing the UN Security Council, but interestingly rather surprisingly, he never mentioned the Dossier that was discussed just hours back or the day before by the Interior minister. Was this by design, or was this a policy shift or something? Because I still don’t seem to understand that why did he not take it up at a forum as high as the UN Security Council?
Secondly, two weeks back in response to my question you said that Pakistan as a matter of policy does not sponsor or interfere in other country’s matters, on the Human Rights Council resolution against Iran. But just this year we saw that Pakistan co-sponsored a resolution on Myanmar along with the west on the human rights situation. The last year as well in the Human Rights Council session in February and March 2021, we saw Pakistan co-sponsoring a resolution. Was that not interference in Myanmar’s internal affairs or there is a selective policy for different countries?
Thirdly, we saw that a Ministry of Foreign Affairs officer has registered an FIR with the police on what he says is regarding forged documents that were given to him. This is clearly beyond the realm of what we call administrative matters because this is now going towards criminal conduct. What is the response of Foreign Office on this matter? (Anas Mallick, Capital TV)
Answer: On your first question regarding UN Security Council, yesterday’s session of UN Security Council had a particular theme. That is how the United Nations functions; the debate takes place on certain agenda items. So, the theme for yesterday’s UN Security Council session was “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: New Orientation for Reformed Multilateralism”. Foreign Minister’s participation in the Security Council in this debate was basically in the context of that debate. In his speech, he focused on global challenges, outlined how Pakistan views reform of the United Nations and how the United Nations can contribute more effectively in promoting international peace and security in light of the recommendations made by Pakistan.
Secondly, on your question about Myanmar I will come back later because I have to check with the concerned division.
On your third question regarding the FIR, the Ministry came to know through social media about the complaint, the details of which are being ascertained. The complainant was earlier proceeded against under the Civil Servants (Efficiency & Discipline) Rules 2020 in two inquiries. In one inquiry, he was found guilty and was awarded some penalties while in another inquiry he was exonerated.
He has lodged a baseless complaint against the inquiry officer and the Departmental Representative – both of them have nothing to do with the tampering of the documents. They discharged their official duties assigned to them as per rules and procedures.
Question: Yesterday, Minister of State Hina Rabbani Khar had a briefing with us about the Dossier. India has indirectly accepted the Lahore blast and it is glorifying on social media in form of documentaries and calling it as “OPERATION GOODBYE” of RAW. So, in near future will it be a precondition of talks with India as there is stand-still situation with India after 5th August measures. So will this Lahore blast be a precondition for talks with India in near future? (Nauman Ashfaq Mughal, Daily Parliament Times)
Answer: I will not go into details of the Dossier because you were at yesterday’s press conference. MOS spoke at length about it. I have also highlighted the salient features of the Dossier in my opening remarks. It has become very clear that India is involved and has been sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan. Basically, the dossier reaffirms what Pakistan has been saying time and time again that India is sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan.
Having said this, I would not like to comment on its impact on any dialogue, because at this stage, there is no dialogue between the two countries and this question is thus a bit premature.
Question: Can you share that since 15th August from the time Taliban have taken over government in Afghanistan how many Dossiers have we shared with the Afghan side regarding TTP? (Azaz Syed, Geo News)
Answer: I do not have any information on this right now. I will be able share something with you on this after checking from the concerned Division.
Question: My question is about speech of Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari last evening. After a long time, the issue of Kashmir was raised in the Security Council, but the Indian External Affairs Minister also responded with the same old allegations of terrorism. Whether this issue of Kashmir and then response from India is going to further heat up the relationship between the two countries?
Second question is that you just talked about an agreement being agreed between Tajikistan and Pakistan on the bilateral strategic partnership. What is the kind of strategic partnership that Pakistan is going to sign with Tajikistan? (Shoukat Piracha, AAJ News)
Answer: There was an agreement yesterday that given the two countries have a very positive historic relationship and that there is a great deal of commonality of views and interests, the relationship should be upgraded to a strategic level. Our leadership has agreed yesterday that they would like to further elevate this relationship to a strategic level. The details would be discussed in the intervening period until the visit of our Prime Minister to Dushanbe next year. That is when we hope that this agreement will be signed.
On you other question, I would only like to say that India’s remarks and statements basically reflect its hubris and callousness and oversimplification of a complicated relationship between two nuclear armed neighbors. They also reflected disregard for universally acknowledged principles of inter-state relations, especially sovereign equality, and mutual respect. Its state sponsored terrorism continues to create instability in the region.
We also believe that peace in South Asia has remained hostage to India’s illegal occupation of and brutality in Jammu and Kashmir. India is well advised to put an end to human rights violation of Kashmiris. We also believe that India’s hegemonic ambitions have caused tensions with its neighbors and its hubris for domination remains a primary obstacle to meaningful regional cooperation.
Question: Recently a delegation from OIC visited Azad Kashmir and Line of Control and a complete ceasefire is currently in place there but there is no ceasefire in IIOJK. Do you think that with this visit the objective of cease fire in IIOJK has been achieved or not and will it help in stopping the killing of innocent Kashmiri people? (Raziq Mehmood Bhatti, Daily Kashmir Express)
Answer: As we have earlier said the visit of Secretary General OIC carries special significance. This visit comes three years after the Indian illegal and unilateral actions in IIOJK and it was undertaken in implementation of a comprehensive Action Plan on IIOJK as agreed by OIC at the 48th CFM. After his visit and seeing for himself the situation on LOC and after meeting the victims of cross border shelling, the Secretary General has shared his initial impressions about the situation. He will also share details of his findings with the Organization at the Foreign Minister level meeting next year.
Question: As we are talking about OIC Secretary General’s visit and on his visit to AJK, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson yesterday condemned the visit and used very strong words like calling Secretary General a ‘mouthpiece’ of Pakistan and also calling OIC a redundant organization in his statement. He also said that it is a part of India so this visit is illegal. What is your response on this? (Shabbir Wahgra, PTV World)
Answer: Pakistan rejects the statement by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs on the recent visit of the Secretary General of OIC. We consider this statement as untenable. The Jammu and Kashmir dispute is one of the oldest internationally recognized disputes on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council. The dispute remains unresolved due to India’s intransigence and unwillingness to implement the relevant UNSC resolutions. In that backdrop, it is important that the international community including the OIC continue to play their role in highlighting the atrocities in IIOJK. We also believe that instead of dismissing the international community’s concerns as reflected in various OIC resolutions, India should pay heed to them, end state terrorism in IIOJK and take concrete steps towards implementation of UN Security Council resolutions on this matter.
Question:Can you share some details regarding two individuals who were abducted by Indian army from this side of Line of Control in 2019 and they were forced to do a press conference as members of Lashkar-e-Taiba?
Secondly, if you can share that till now how many individuals have been abducted by Indian army from this side of line of control or those who have crossed the border by mistake? What diplomatic efforts have been made by Pakistan for their repatriation? (Saqib Ali, Daily Kashmir Times)
Answer: We will share details with you regarding these questions at the next briefing.
Question:More than 50 days have passed since the murder of journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya. It was shared that efforts are being made through diplomatic channels for the investigation. What is the outcome till now? Has there been any major breakthrough or we are still waiting? (Aamir Saeed Abbasi, Dunya TV)
Answer: I want to share that for the on-going investigation, the Government has announced a focal ministry and that is Ministry of Interior. So, they have the details on all aspects of this investigation.
Question:Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah did a press conference on the situation in Afghanistan in which he said that TTP has facilitation from Afghanistan. Has Pakistan raised this issue with the current Afghan government? Also, is Pakistan supporting a recent statement issued by US about the Taliban government in Afghanistan? (Allah Noor, Mashriq TV)
Answer: As I shared earlier that during recent visit of Minister of State to Afghanistan, all these issues were discussed with Afghan side in detail and in all meetings. We are engaged with Afghanistan at all levels. I would also like to reiterate what the Minister of State said yesterday that Pakistan does not conduct its foreign policy through media. We believe in getting results and we believe in finding solutions. We think that when there is a need to make public pronouncements, public statements should be made and when there is need for dialogue, dialogue should take place.
Question:According to reports, a large number of containers are stuck at Pak – China border and the border is closed for trade and traders are facing huge losses. What is the reason for that?
Secondly, there are media reports that in area of Gwadar large fishing trailers, India and various other countries are fishing. This is violation of Pakistan’s maritime waters and is also huge economic loss for the local people. This is in violation of Pakistan’s maritime waters. Your comments, please. (Ghulam Abbas Jaffer, Daily Zakawat)
Answer: On question related to fishing trawlers, I can share a response at the next briefing.
Regarding the Pakistan-China border, normally in winters it is closed for three months because of snowfall and tough terrain. For those three months trade and other exchanges at the border remain suspended. That is one reason that sometimes you see reports of border closure.
Secondly, China imposed certain restrictions after the COVID-19 pandemic which affected trade and transit of goods, causing some delays. As China is lifting these COVID-19 restrictions, we hope that soon normal traffic across the border will resume.
Question: Few days back, during the session of parliament, a government MNA criticized Minister of State on her recent visit to Afghanistan claiming that she went alone and did not take any Pahsto speaking delegate along with her. What are your comments on this? (Czechangez Khan Jadoon, Daily Payam-e-Khyber)
Answer: I would not like to comment on statements by public officials in this matter. I would just like to highlight that the visit of Minister of State Hina Rabbani Khar was very successful. It gave us an opportunity to convey our viewpoint and discuss all issues of concern and interest to Pakistan. There are modes of communication in meeting with officials of any country. Even when there is a language barrier, there are ways to communicate and get over those language barriers. I do not believe that in our various interactions with Afghanistan, our message was lost; there was clear communication by both sides.
Question: As it is being said that India is involved in terrorist activities in Pakistan and interior minister also did a press conference on this issue. What are Pakistan’s options to counter India? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)
Answer: Yesterday we shared details of this dossier, Foreign Secretary also met diplomatic envoys yesterday and shared details of dossier with them. Our Missions abroad will raise the findings of the dossier with the host governments. We will also present this dossier at the United Nations. Pakistan will continue to raise it at every relevant forum, bilateral or multilateral.