Like to continue to work for peace, security and development of Afghanistan; Mumtaz

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Transcript of the Press Briefing by the Mumtaz Zahra Spokesperson Ministry of Foreign Affairs on
Friday, 17 May 2024

The highlight of this week was the visit of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar to Beijing, China where he co-chaired the 5th Pak-China Strategic Dialogue with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. He also held meetings with Chinese vice Premier Ding Xuexiang, Minister for IDCPC, Liu Jianchao, and the Minister for Finance, Lan Fo’an.

The two sides reached consensus to collectively take measures to safeguard their common interest, promote the socioeconomic development of peoples of the two countries, and work together to promote peace, development and prosperity in the region. The two sides will enhance exchanges at all levels, deepen experience-sharing in state governance, and further enhance cooperation in all areas.

The two sides will work together to forge an “upgraded version” of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by jointly building a growth corridor, a livelihood-enhancing corridor, an innovation corridor, a green corridor, by aligning them with Pakistan’s development framework and priorities. Together, we will accelerate progress on major connectivity projects including upgradation of ML-1, the Gwadar Port, realignment of Karakoram Highway Phase II, strengthen cooperation in agriculture, industrial parks, mining, and information technology.

The two sides underscored the importance of maintaining peace and stability in South Asia and the need for resolution of all outstanding disputes, and their opposition to any unilateral action. The Chinese side reiterated its principled position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and for its peaceful resolution in accordance with the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements.

The two sides will also strengthen communication and coordination on the situation in Afghanistan. We called for concerted efforts of the international community to encourage Afghanistan to build an inclusive political framework, adopt moderate policies, pursue good-neighbourliness, and firmly combat terrorism, including not allowing its territory to be used for terrorist acts.

On 15 May 2024, Pakistan and Latvia held the 6th Round of Bilateral Political Consultations in Islamabad. Additional Foreign Secretary (Europe), Ambassador Shafqat Ali Khan and Deputy State Secretary-Political Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, Mr. Andžejs Viļumsons, co-chaired the talks.

The two sides reviewed the wide spectrum of bilateral relations and discussed opportunities for further cooperation, especially in trade & investment, energy, parliamentary exchanges, education, technology and labour mobility. The two sides also explored opportunities for trade and investment particularly in clean and green energy, climate change and IT sectors.

Additional Foreign Secretary for the UN and OIC, Ambassador Syed Haider Shah, and US Department of State Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Ambassador Elizabeth Richard, co-chaired the Pakistan-U.S. Counterterrorism Dialogue on 10 May 2024 in Washington DC.

Discussions focused on collaboration, technical expertise exchanges, investigative assistance, border security, and training of police and first-responders. The two sides committed to increasing communication and continuing joint efforts to combat violent extremism.

Pakistan and the United States recognized that countering ISIS-Khorasan, TTP, and other terrorist organizations will enhance regional security and serve as a model for cooperation.

The 6th round of the Pakistan – United Kingdom Dialogue on Arms Control and Non-Proliferation was held in Islamabad on 15 May 2024. Additional Foreign Secretary (Arms Control & Disarmament), Ambassador Mohammad Kamran Akhtar led the Pakistani side while the UK side was led by Director, Defence and International Security at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), United Kingdom, Ambassador Stephen Lillie.

A broad spectrum of topics relating to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation came under discussion. The two sides also shared their perspectives on issues concerning global and regional security, and new and emerging technologies, including the military use of artificial intelligence and the peaceful applications of nuclear technology.

Pakistan supports the historic call by the UN General Assembly made at the tenth Emergency Special Session to admit the State of Palestine to the United Nations as a full member. The resolution determined that the State of Palestine is qualified for membership of the United Nations, and recommended the Security Council to reconsider the matter favorably.

The UN General Assembly has thus provided another opportunity to the UN Security Council to lift its objection on Palestine’s admission to the UN and restore the credibility of the assurances that have been given in support of the two-State solution.

The adoption of this resolution is a partial yet vital step towards redressing the historic injustice against the people of Palestine. We sincerely hope that it would facilitate the revival of the peace process to realize the establishment of a viable and contiguous Palestinian State along the 4 June 1967 borders, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.

Earlier this week the ‘International Day of Families’ was observed. In that respect, we express our solidarity with the Kashmiri families that remain divided and continue to suffer because of Indian occupation and oppression for the last several decades. The estimated number of widowed women and orphaned children, during last 35 years, exceeds 22,000 and 107,000, respectively. Besides, there are thousands of ‘half widows’, waiting for the return of their husbands who have presumably been killed by the Indian forces. The plight of the families of the victims of the enforced disappearance is equally lamentable.

The root cause of these disturbing statistics is Indian’s ruthless suppression of the people of IIOJK. India must allow the people of Jammu and Kashmir to freely realize their right to self-determination as enshrined in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

I have a few announcements.

At the invitation of his Kazakh counterpart, Murat Abugaliuly Nurtleu, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar will lead the Pakistan delegation to the regular meeting of SCO Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) from 20-21 May 2024 in Astana Kazakhstan. The Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister will also hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts on the sidelines of the CFM meeting.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Türkiye, Hakan Fidan will undertake his first bilateral visit to Pakistan on 19-20 May 2024. He will hold delegation-level talks with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Ishaq Dar. They will review the state of bilateral cooperation and take stock of preparations for the upcoming 7th session of High-Level Strategic Coordination Council (HLSCC) between Pakistan and Türkiye. Foreign Minister Fidan will also call on the Prime Minister of Pakistan as well as Speaker of National Assembly and Chairman Senate.

The visit of Foreign Minister Fidan is part of regular high-level exchanges between the two brotherly countries and would serve to further consolidate bilateral cooperation.

Secretary General of SAARC, Mohammad Golam Sarwar, will visit Pakistan from 20-24 May 2024. This will be his maiden visit to Pakistan as it is customary for a new SAARC Secretary General to pay introductory visits to all member states. The visiting dignitary will call on senior leadership of Pakistan, and interact with intelligentsia and business community. He is also scheduled to visit the SAARC bodies, based in Islamabad. As a founding member, Pakistan attaches great importance to SAARC and remains committed to the principles and objectives of its Charter.

Question and Answers

(Abdul Hadi, Hum Pashto1): Earlier this week, Iran and India signed an agreement on development and operational Chabahar port. My first concern is that why the United States was so lukewarm with regard to this development as against the Pakistan’s deal with the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. Secondly, why we are so lethargic to Gwadar port which has been started much earlier, while the Iranian Chabahar port is only a reaction to Gwadar port. My next question is pertaining to this very issue, that why we are not taking so courageous steps as India has taken despite its strategic partnership with the United States.

Spokesperson: Regarding your first question, Pakistan does not comment on relationships of other countries. Pakistan has a solid brotherly relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran and during the recent visit of His Excellency, the President of Iran, several substantive agreements and understandings were reached and this included the decision by the two sides to further strengthen connectivity, including the sister port relationship between Gwadar and Chahbahar. Pakistan will continue to work with its neighbour Iran to further enhance coordination and understanding with respect to connectivity. With regards to the reaction by any third country on a bilateral agreement that has been signed between Iran and India, Pakistan does not have any comments since this issue does not pertain to Pakistan.

(Anas Mallick, Capital TV): Two questions. Firstly, we’ve seen that there have been sporadic clashes at the Afghanistan Pakistan border for the past one week or so. And both sides have been accusing each other. Would you apprise us on the situation of the matter including the diplomatic steps that Pakistan would have taken? Second question is with regards to we’ve seen that in the run up to the elections in India and the protests in Azad Jammu and Kashmir there have been a lot of statements made and a lot of claims made before how does Pakistan have to say or react on the claims that have been laid?

Spokesperson: Regarding your first question, Pakistan respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan. We urge Afghanistan to take action against terror groups that threaten its sovereignty and the security of Pakistan. Pakistan has always said that it will defend itself against any threat to its security and sovereignty, including from terror groups that threaten Pakistan’s security. With regards to your second question, we have seen some statements made by the Indian side and in that respect, Pakistan has issued a comprehensive statement earlier this week that you may have seen. We have outlined in our statement that we reject the irresponsible statements that are coming in from the Indian side amidst the ongoing election campaign. Regrettably, these statements reflect an unhealthy and entrenched obsession with Pakistan and reveal a deliberate intent to exploit hyper-nationalism for electoral gains. These also signify a desperate attempt to deflect attention from mounting domestic and international criticism. With regards to the inflammatory rhetoric about Azad Jammu and Kashmir, we reiterate that historical facts, legal principles, moral considerations and ground realities refute India’s baseless claims and Jammu and Kashmir remains an internationally-recognized disputed territory as the UN Security Council resolutions clearly mandate a plebiscite under auspices of the United Nations. We believe that no amount of inflated Indian statements can change this reality.

(Ali Hussain, Business Recorder): Ma’am you have talked about terror groups in Afghanistan. But in current clashes, huge amount of artillery was used from 2 AM yesterday night till the morning and its happening between Pakistani and Afghan forces. As there are villages on both sides of the borders, people are worried about the use of such heavy amount of ammunition. Are there any high-level contacts between Pakistan and Afghanistan to stop such incidents because these types of incidents take place after every 2 or 4 months?

Spokesperson: As I said just now Pakistan stands ready to defend itself against any threat to its security and sovereignty. Our armed forces and our security forces are ready to defend the territory and the people of Pakistan from any threat that affects or endangers our security. Pakistan has conveyed its deepest concerns about the situation and urges the Afghan authorities to ensure that the soil of Afghanistan is not used to threaten Pakistan’s security and that it should take effective action against terror groups that continue to threaten Pakistan, Pakistani public and law enforcement and security officials.

(Allah Noor Wazir, Mashriq TV): Ma’am, is Pakistan willing to hold discussions with TTP through Qabaili Jirga? Because some of the tribes people revealed that Pakistan is trying to contact TTP’s leaders in Afghanistan through Jirgas.

Spokesperson: First of all, I would not like to comment on any speculative reporting. Secondly, I would like to reiterate that Pakistan has no plans to undertake any talks with a terrorist group that continues to threaten Pakistan’s security and has been involved in killings of Pakistani civilians and law enforcement officials.

(Tang Binhui, Xinhua): Recently, the US think tanks and officials issued irresponsible reports and remarks on the United Nation Resolution 2758, in an attempt to deny the One-China principle and obscure Taiwan’s political status. In addition, the Taiwan independence force, as well as the DDP authority, will hold the so-called inauguration ceremony next Monday. Would you please elaborate on the official policy of the Pakistani government on Taiwan question? Do you think UN member states have the obligation to follow UN Resolution 2758?

Spokesperson: Pakistan’s policy on the question of Taiwan is consistent, clear and principled. Pakistan adheres to One-China policy and we consider Taiwan as an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China. We have called for and we reiterate the call for non-interference in the domestic affairs of all countries as per the Charter of the United Nations. As far as the UNGA resolution 2758 is concerned, that resolution is a reaffirmation of the One-China principle by the United Nations. The resolution restored the lawful rights of the People’s Republic of China at the United Nations. It unequivocally recognized the People’s Republic of China as the only legitimate representative of China at the United Nations. We believe that the resolution remains as valid today as it was in 1971, when Pakistan sponsored this resolution. Pakistan has always stood for full respect for resolutions of the United Nations.

(Farhan Ali, Public News): My question is regarding the recent visit of Deputy Prime Minister to China, what assurance has been made regarding the security of Chinese in Pakistan during this visit?

Spokesperson: If you have read the joint statement, which was issued after the Strategic Dialogue between Pakistan and China, it clearly outlines Pakistan’s commitment to provide security for Chinese nationals, projects, and institutions in Pakistan. We have been in contact with our Chinese brothers at various levels to enhance the security of Chinese nationals in Pakistan.

(Rizwan Abbasi, ABN): Ma’am, there are some reports that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui has been brought to Afghanistan and it was made possible in exchange of seven American soldiers from Afghanistan. Are these reports true?

Spokesperson: We are not aware of any such development.

(Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today): Ma’am, Pakistan has always been a well wisher of Afghanistan. Can you tell which forces want clash between Pakistan and Afghanistan in view of recent developments between both the countries?

Spokesperson: I do not want to enter into a speculative or analytic exercise from this podium. Pakistan’s position with respect to its relations with Afghanistan is clear. The people of Afghanistan are our brothers and we have centuries old links with the people of Afghanistan. We would like to continue to work for peace, security and development of Afghanistan in consultation with the Afghan authorities. We have underlined, however, that Afghan authorities must take action against terror groups that threaten Pakistan’s security and we hope that the reassurances that the Afghan interim authorities have given to the international community will be upheld and the Afghan soil will not be used to project terrorism against any country including Pakistan.