Pakistan and India relations and the facilitation by third parties;Mumtaz Zahra

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Transcript of the Press Briefing by Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson on Friday,
13 January 2023

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

Assalam-o-Alaikum and good morning to you all. Thank you for joining us for the Weekly Briefing.

Let me begin with the on-going visit of Prime Minister Mohammad Shehbaz Sharif to the United Arab Emirates. Prime Minister arrived in Abu Dhabi yesterday for a two-day visit. He is undertaking this visit at the invitation of the President of the United Arab Emirates His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Since yesterday, the Prime Minister has held meetings with the President of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum. During these meetings, the leaders reviewed bilateral ties between Pakistan and the UAE; and agreed to further strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation especially in the areas of trade, investment and energy.

The two sides agreed to deepen bilateral investment cooperation, stimulate partnerships and enable investment integration opportunities. Today, the Prime Minister is meeting Emirati entrepreneurs and investors to explore opportunities to enhance trade and investment. He returns home later today.

As we celebrate 51 years of diplomatic relations, the UAE remains Pakistan’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and home to more than 1.6 million Pakistanis – the second largest Pakistani expatriate community abroad.

Coming to the recently concluded International Conference on Resilient Pakistan, held in Geneva on 9th January 2023 and co-hosted by the Government of Pakistan and the United Nations.

The International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan brought together the international community to reaffirm solidarity with the flood affected people of Pakistan. There was high-level representation from a large number of countries and prominent international financial and development institutions. We are particularly grateful for the UN Secretary-General’s presence at the Conference, as the co-host, and becoming the voice of the flood affected people of Pakistan.

At the conference, the Government of Pakistan presented its vision, plans and priorities for the post-flood recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction in the form of the Resilient Recovery, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction Framework Pakistan (4RF). Delegations reaffirmed their support for immediate relief efforts and extended their financial support for resilient recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts.

The conference identified the principles and action plan for Pakistan’s resilient recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction. Bilateral and multilateral partners committed financial support of over US$ 9.5 billion for realization of the objectives and priority areas outlined in 4RF. A number of delegations made further announcements for in-kind support. We are grateful to all our partners for the generous pledges they made at the Conference.

The Conference has concluded and the real work begins. The Government of Pakistan will work with an “International Partners Support Group to Pakistan’s Resilient Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction” to develop detailed plans for specific recovery interventions and building Pakistan’s climate resilience and adaptation.

Our immediate focus would be in preventing health crisis; mitigating the impact of this winter and the rains in the next monsoon; and restoring livelihoods. Our Long-term Resilience Framework envisages building resilience and Pakistan’s capacity to withstand future shocks. Effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms will ensure transparency in funding allocation and spending.

During the last week, Pakistan has participated in two high profile international events involving participation of Parliamentary leaders. National Assembly Speaker, Raja Pervez Ashraf attended the 26th Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth (CSPOC), held in Australia from 3-6 January 2023. Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf was elected to the Standing Committee of the CSPOC from the Asia Region.

Senator Nuzhat Sadiq headed the Pakistan delegation to the 13th Asian Parliamentary Assembly (APA) Meeting held in Turkiye on 10th January. The Conference brings together parliamentary delegations from APA member countries and provides a forum to parliamentarians to discuss and develop common strategies for promoting peace, development and cooperation in Asia. As an active member of APA, Pakistan will continue to make its contribution in strengthening dialogue among parliaments and people’s representatives.

Yesterday, at a ceremony held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a Host Country Agreement (HCA) was signed between Pakistan and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC). The Agreement was signed by Syed Haider Shah, Additional Secretary (United Nations) on behalf of the Government of Pakistan and Mr. Hans Guttman, Executive Director of ADPC. The signing ceremony was headlined by Acting Foreign Secretary, Mohammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi.

Pakistan became a founding member of ADPC when it was established in 1986. ADPC has worked with Pakistan in areas of climate resilience, mitigation and adaptation and developed projects for decarbonization. With yesterday’s agreement, the organization will be able to operate its country office in Pakistan. Going forward, we hope to further strengthen our cooperation with ADPC.

Pakistan has strongly condemned the terrorist attack that took place in Kabul on the 11th of January. Yesterday, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari spoke on telephone with Acting Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and extended Pakistan’s deepest sympathies and condolences.

Condemning the terrorist act in the strongest possible terms, the Foreign Minister underscored that terrorism posed a common threat to both Pakistan and Afghanistan and required a collective response. He reaffirmed Pakistan’s complete solidarity with the people of Afghanistan in countering the scourge of terrorism and underlined our deep commitment to work with Afghanistan towards regional peace and stability.

On the upcoming engagements — Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs will attend the 53rd Annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) taking place in Davos, Switzerland from 16-20 January. Pakistan is a regular participant in WEF meetings. At the Forum, Pakistan will present its perspective on issues of global economic importance. The Foreign Minister and the Minister of State will also meet participating dignitaries including political leaders, corporate executives, heads of international organizations, and leading media and civil society personalities.

Coming to the situation in IIOJK, today I would like to brief you on the ongoing Indian attempts to perpetuate its occupation by colonizing IIOJK, including by systematically dispossessing Kashmiris of their lands.

Last month, the occupying authorities introduced new land lease rules, depriving the local farmers, hoteliers, and businessmen of their long-held lands on lease. The local authorities have also intensified their campaign to seal or attach the properties of activists and resistance leaders.

Under the amended Land Revenue Act non-Kashmiris can purchase agricultural land for commercial and other non-agricultural purposes. The Indian Army has been given sweeping powers to take possession of agricultural land and residential areas in any part of IIOJK, after declaring them as “strategic”. Reportedly over 430,000 Kanals of land are already under illegal possession of the Indian military and paramilitary forces.

These developments are yet another manifestation of India’s colonial-settler mindset and its designs to expand control over Kashmiri lands, which is a clear violation of International Law and the obligations of the occupying power towards occupied lands.

Pakistan will continue to extend unstinted moral, political and diplomatic support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their quest for self-determination in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

I thank you all.

Questions and Answers

Question:​According to some media reports, Myanmar has targeted some terrorists in India and did some surgical strikes there. Do you have any confirmation that Myanmar has carried out these surgical strikes in India? (Amir Abbasi, Dunya News)

Answer: We have seen the reports and we are observing the situation. I do not have any further comments to offer at this point.

Question:​At an event, Pakistan’s Ambassador to US, Ambassador Masood Khan has given statement about role of US in Pak-India relations. Does Pakistan foresee any mediatory role of US between Pakistan and India which can provide an opportunity to open the closed doors for dialogue between Pakistan and India?

Secondly, can you share any update on The Roosevelt Hotel as it is being reported that Pakistani flag has been removed from the Hotel. Why is it necessary to sell this hotel as these kinds of buildings are doing great business? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: First, the Roosevelt Hotel is a private property and you may like to contact the PIA to get details about its current status.

Regarding the Pakistan – India relations and the facilitation by third parties, including the United States, Pakistan has always said that we would welcome the international community to play their role in promoting peace in the region including in facilitating dialogue and resolution of the core dispute between Pakistan and India i.e. the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

Question:​A famous Pakistani journalist, Mr. Javed Chaudhry has claimed in his recent column that Mr. Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister was all set to visit Pakistan last year, everything was agreed between Pakistan and India but at the 11th hour everything got dropped. What is the reality? Was it conveyed to the Foreign Office and what were the arrangements? (Azaz Syed, Geo News)

Answer: You know very well, we do not speak about speculative reporting and I could only term this article as a speculative reporting.

Question: Firstly, can you share that in total how many Afghan nationals are currently in Pakistani prisons?

Secondly, is Pakistan planning to send those Afghan nationals back who are currently in Pakistani prisons? (Allah Noor, Mashriq TV)

Answer:​I would like to share with you that individuals from Afghanistan who were incarcerated due to illegal entry in Pakistan in violation of our immigration laws are in the process of being repatriated in concert with the families, the Afghan Embassy in Islamabad and the Afghan Consulate in Karachi. The process is underway.

Question:​As you know that last week Pakistan organized a successful conference in Geneva in which Ministry of Foreign Affairs played a very important role. International community helped us a lot particularly UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres provided a lot of support and he also came to Pakistan. Similarly, not only Pakistan but the entire region is also facing terrorism. Two days ago there was a terrorist attack on Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan and previously Pakistani Ambassador in Afghanistan was also attacked. Don’t you think that Pakistan needs to hold a global conference to overcome this situation of terrorism?

Secondly, proscribed terrorist organization TTP is now threatening senior leadership in Pakistan. Is it capable enough to threaten Pakistan’s senior leadership at this level or are there any big terrorist groups behind them like DAESH? What are your comments on the presence of DAESH? (Syed Asif Ali, Din News)

Answer:​Regarding your second question which pertains to internal security, I would advise you to ask the Ministry of Interior for details about the threat level that Pakistan faces in terms of terrorism.

Regarding your first question, I would like to say that Pakistan is fully capable and has the will to fight terrorism. It has had successes in recent past and it will continue to take action to provide safe and secure environment to its nationals. So, we have the full capability to deal with this threat. We have also consistently said that we are concerned about the presence of terrorist organizations in our region that pose a threat to the safety and security of Pakistan. We remain committed to fighting terrorism.

Question:​This is with reference to the news which was published in Daily Jang last Monday that Saudi Arabia has decided to hire some 400,000 workers from six different countries, but Pakistan’s name is not included in the list of these countries. Are you in a position to confirm the news item or not? (Mazhar Iqbal, PNN)

Answer: We have seen the report. We have asked our Mission in Riyadh for confirmation about the veracity of this news item. Once we have information I will share it with you.

Question:​UAE has banned issuance of visas to applicants from 27 Pakistani cities. What are your comments on this? (Sardar Aamir, Daily Maddar)

Answer:​We have already spoken about it — The UAE Government has assured us and it has also said publicly that this information is incorrect.

Question: Saudi Crown Prince has announced that he would like to get Saudi investments rolled up in Pakistan up to US$ 10 billion and US$ 5 billion subsequently. What are the efforts that Pakistan government is doing in assisting to identify the key areas of cooperation.

Secondly, have there been any formal talks between the Prime Minister and the Saudi Crown Prince on the matters as well? (Anas Mallick, Capital TV)

Answer:​We welcome the Saudi decision to increase its investments in Pakistan. All trade and investment related projects when they are discussed, take several months of discussion and painstaking negotiations to come to fruition. So, these items have been discussed at various levels, including at the leadership level. Any further talks if required between the two sides, including at the leadership level will be held to formalize these investments. I cannot at this stage share with you the sectors in which this investment will take place because this is the beginning of the process. It will take some time before we are able to identify all those projects.

Question:​In the recent Geneva conference we have seen that there were no significant pledges from several rich gulf countries like Oman, Kuwait and Qatar. Only Qatar has contributed a little. Are we facing any issues in our relation with Gulf countries? What is the reason? (Ghulam Abbas Jaffar, Daily District News)

Answer: ​First of all, I must say that Pakistan has very good relations with all countries in the Gulf region. We are grateful for their friendship and support that they have been extending to Pakistan throughout the years. As you know the Prime Minister of Pakistan is in the United Arab Emirates and discussions about Pakistan – UAE collaboration in trade and investments are part of the agenda. Similarly, other countries that you mentioned have supported Pakistan in the past including after natural calamities. I should also mention here there are bilateral streams of assistance and cooperation not just with the Gulf but with many other countries around the world. We value these friendships and are grateful for their support and friendship.

Question:​Recently the military operation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir has been accelerated; three youngsters have been killed in just one day and there is also an increase in the detentions being carried out by occupying forces. What are your comments on this?

Secondly, 5th January was observed as the day for right of self-determination in Pakistan. Political leaders of Azad Kashmir and various leaders from government have demanded that we should go to International Court of Justice against human rights violations. Meanwhile a senator has also said that we are preparing for taking the matter to ICJ. So, is there any possibility of going to ICJ in this regard? (Raziq Mehmood Bhatti, Daily Kashmir Express)

Answer: I would first like to say that Pakistan has condemned and will continue to condemn human rights violations that are taking place in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, including the recent killings that have taken place in the occupied territory. As you mentioned, Pakistan commemorated the 5th of January as a self-determination day for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. It continues to call for implementation of UN Security Council resolutions and for determination of the final status of Jammu and Kashmir, according to the wishes of the Kashmiri people and the UNSC resolutions. Pakistan will also continue to utilize all international forums where we think that the cause of Kashmir needs to be raised and where raising our voice would make a difference for the people of IIOJK.

Question:​Keeping in view the current situation in Afghanistan, a terrorist incident happened in Kabul recently as well. Does Pakistan think that there is involvement of some foreign elements who are continuously trying to destabilize Afghanistan? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: As I said in our opening statement, yesterday the Foreign Minister of Pakistan spoke to the Acting Foreign Minister of the interim Afghan government and in his remarks he was very clear that terrorism posed a common threat to both Pakistan and Afghanistan and it requires a collective response. We are concerned about the safety of our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan just as we are concerned about the safety and security of our own people.