Pakistan wishes the PAK- AFG border to be a border of peace and security; Mumtaz

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Transcript of the Press Briefing by the Mumtaz Zahra Spokesperson ministry of foreign affairs on Friday, 24 May 2024

Islamabad, Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif paid an official visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) yesterday, at the invitation of the President of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The Prime Minister held a bilateral meeting with the President and held meetings with UAE investors and entrepreneurs.

The two leaders underscored the importance of galvanizing cooperation and strategic partnership, particularly in the fields of information and communication technologies, artificial intelligence, renewable energy and tourism. They reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring meaningful implementation of investment cooperation agreements in the areas of Energy, Port Operations Projects, Wastewater Treatment, Food Security, Logistics, Minerals, and Banking & Financial Services, signed in November 2023. His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan assured UAE’s support in all circumstances and made a commitment of investing US$ 10 billion in multiple sectors in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif visited the Islamic Republic of Iran on 22 May 2024 to pay condolences on the demise of President Dr. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and their colleagues. He met with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Acting President Mohammad Mokhber and offered condolences on behalf of the people and the Government of Pakistan.

The Prime Minister was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mohammad Ishaq Dar to both Iran and the UAE.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar led the Pakistan delegation to the regular meeting of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) from 20-21 May 2024 in Astana, Kazakhstan. He addressed the CFM and held bilateral meetings with the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart and Foreign Minister Murat Abugaliuly Nurtleu. He also held sideline meetings with the Foreign Ministers of Belarus, China, Russia, Tajikistan, and the Kyrgyz Republic.

From Astana, the Deputy Prime Minister flew to Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic on 21 May 2024 with Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Zheenbek Kulubaev. He also met with Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers Edil Baisalov and Health Minister Alymkadyr Beishenaliev. The focus of these meetings was the welfare of Pakistanis in the Kyrgyz Republic, especially the victims of last week’s mob attack against foreigners in Bishkek.

The Foreign Minister of the Republic of Türkiye, Hakan Fidan, undertook his first bilateral visit to Pakistan on 19-20 May 2024. He called on Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, Chairman Senate Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani, and held delegation-level talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar. He also met the military leadership. The two sides agreed to further strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation in trade, investment, defence and security domains. They also assessed preparations for the upcoming 7th session of the Pakistan-Türkiye High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC) to be held in Islamabad in the near future.

And lastly, the Secretary General of SAARC, Mohammad Golam Sarwar, visited Pakistan from 20-24 May 2024, for the customary introductory visit of the new SAARC Secretary General after his assumption of office. He held talks with Foreign Secretary Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi.

Pakistan welcomes the announcement made by Ireland, Spain, and Norway on recognizing the State of Palestine. We also welcome the recent announcements of recognition of the State of Palestine by the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and Barbados.

These recent announcements serve as another milestone in the decades-long quest of the people of Palestine for their inalienable right to self-determination. The Gaza genocide and the dire humanitarian situation there have underlined the urgency of moving towards the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.

The State of Palestine is now recognized by an overwhelming majority of the UN member states. Time has therefore come to accord full membership to the State of Palestine at the United Nations and other international organizations as called for by the UN General Assembly in its recent resolution. We, therefore, reiterate our call to the UN Security Council to positively respond to this growing international sentiment.

Pakistan rejects the Indian Supreme Court’s order of 1 May 2024, published on 21 May 2024, dismissing the petitions seeking review of its judgment of 11 December 2023 on the status of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

We reject the fresh order of the India Supreme Court just as we had rejected its order of 11 December 2023. The two verdicts fail to recognize the internationally recognised disputed nature of Jammu and Kashmir.

Kashmiris have an inalienable right to self-determination, as enshrined in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. The final disposition of Jammu and Kashmir is to be made in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions and as per the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

India has no right to make unilateral decisions on the status of a disputed territory against the will of the other parties to the dispute i.e. Kashmiri people and Pakistan. Nor can India abdicate its international legal obligations on the pretext of domestic legislation and judicial verdicts.

The Indian Supreme Court’s judgments or orders cannot distract the international community’s attention from the gross and systematic human rights violations being perpetrated in IIOJK.

Now an upcoming visit announcement…

The Foreign Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Jeyhun Bayramov, will undertake an official visit to Islamabad from 29-30 May 2024. He will hold talks with the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar and call on the Pakistani leadership.

Question and Answers

1. (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today): Is there any time frame for the investment coming from UAE?

Spokesperson: Pakistan and the UAE have close bilateral ties and the two countries have been working together to enhance collaboration in trade and investment. During the visit of the Prime Minister to the UAE yesterday, the President of the UAE expressed commitment to make substantive investments in Pakistan. These investment projects in diverse fields will be discussed in coming weeks.

2. (Anas Mallick, Capital TV): Madam, my question is with regards to Bishkek. How many students have returned or have showed their willingness to return and who is paying for the expenses? If you can list out the details categorically.

3. (Aijaz Ahmed, GNN): It is being said that the returning students who are in their first or second year can return to Kyrgyzstan and attend online classes. What is the scenario for the final year students? Will they go back to Kyrgyzstan or will they also attend online classes from Pakistan?

Spokesperson: Okay, first regarding the repatriation of students from Bishkek. According to the information I have, over 4500 students have already returned to Pakistan through different flights, both commercial and special flights. This does not include individuals who may have returned through indirect flights coming via third countries. Secondly, the repatriation of students is taking place at the request of the students who wish to return to Pakistan. It is the decision of the students to return home. The Government of Pakistan has facilitated the process. We have also advised the students to take these decisions taking into account their academic requirements. We believe that their return will also be an independent and personal decision of these students.

4. (Naveed Siddiqui, Daily Dateline): There are reports that two R&AW trained terrorists were arrested from Karachi and they were identified as Ayub Ansari and Ahsan Raza. Can you share the details please?

Spokesperson: I would like to refer you to the local law enforcement authorities who have shared details of this case. Without going into the specifics, I would like to underline that Pakistan has always been concerned about India’s involvement and sponsorship of terrorist incidents inside Pakistan. We have expressed our concerns repeatedly on several occasions including in recent weeks and months.

5. (Azaz Syed, Geo News): Ma’am, my question is related to the students who came back from Bishkek. It can be seen that no Pakistani students were murdered or raped. Despite that Pakistani students are being evacuated and Pakistani government is bearing all the expenses. What is the total expense incurred? And is it true that Indian students didn’t go back to India and the Indian government also advised them to not evacuate to India. Please share with us the expenses we incurred on this and did we also advise our students to not leave or did we simply evacuate them?

Spokesperson: First regarding the expense, I do not have the details. At this point, our focus has been to facilitate individuals who wish to return to Pakistan. Once we have details of expenses incurred from various departments, including from our Embassy in Bishkek, we would be able to make a definitive assessment. Secondly, in our various statements, we have said and it is our assessment that the situation in Bishkek has returned to normal. And we appreciate the Kyrgyz authorities for enhancing security of hostels of foreign students. We understand the trauma faced by Pakistani students in light of the mob riots of last Friday. The traffic of sensational and fake news added to the fear and trauma faced by these students and their families and added to their feeling of insecurity. The decision to return to Pakistan was taken by the students themselves. The Government of Pakistan made every effort to reassure them of their security and to facilitate their return. We hope that they would be able to continue their education through online and other distant learning means.

7. (Zeeshan Yousafzai, Dunya TV): 133 stolen artefacts have been recovered by New York’s District Attorney Office and it is being said that they handed over the recovered artefacts to Pakistan. Reportedly these items were recovered from a smuggling network which is operated by an Indian national. Please comment on it. Secondly, the Prime Minister undertook a visit to UAE recently, is there any expectation of a UAE’s delegation visiting Pakistan and holding meetings here regarding investments in Pakistan?

Spokesperson: Pakistan and the UAE have several exchanges that take place regularly, including people-to-people contacts and exchanges of businessmen and entrepreneurs. This is an ongoing process and we are looking forward to further collaboration and exchange of visits in the field of trade and investment between Pakistan and the UAE. Your other question was regarding the stolen cultural property, stolen artefacts. Pakistan appreciates the efforts by the US authorities, especially in New York, for retrieving the stolen cultural treasures of Pakistan. These artefacts were recovered through extensive investigations into an international trafficking network, which smuggled looted antiquities into the markets in the United States, Europe and Asia. The return of these artefacts not only restores a part of Pakistan’s cultural heritage, but also strengthens bilateral cooperation between Pakistan and the United States against theft of cultural property. This is also a manifestation of the power of international collaboration in preserving cultural heritage. We look forward to similar collaboration with the United States and other countries for return of stolen artefacts from Pakistan.

8. (Anas Mallick, Capital TV): Two more questions. First, FIA in the famous cypher case has now filed for Ambassador Donald Lu, the Assistant Secretary of State to be made a witness and in their appeal they’ve said that they’ve approached the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Mr. Lu to be summoned as a witness in the cypher case. Your comments on the matter? Number two, the 13th JCC between Pakistan and China and China Pakistan Economic Corridor is ongoing virtually. Can you delve into the contours of the agenda of the meeting?

Spokesperson: Regarding the 13th JCC as we speak the Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal is speaking live at the 13th JCC and the important agenda for Pakistan-China collaboration under CPEC which is a shining symbol of the bilateral relationship. I would invite you to check the transcript of the live proceedings. With regards to your first question, I would not comment publicly on a case that is sub-judice. The Foreign Office has always said that we would work with our judiciary and uphold international law and international legal responsibilities as we have done in the past.

9. (Abdullah Momand, Dawn News): On 13th of May, around five Pakistanis were allegedly killed in South Waziristan and a lawmaker in KP Assembly claimed it was a drone attack in South Waziristan and the Government paid compensation to the victims’ families as well. So, what is your view on this?

Spokesperson: First of all, I do not wish to comment on the statement of a lawmaker on this matter. Secondly, the Government of Pakistan expresses deep sympathy and support to individuals who may be killed in any incident, especially terrorist incidents. Lastly, details about this particular incident may be obtained from the law enforcement authorities.

10. (Shaukat Piracha, AAJ News): US $10 billion is a huge amount of investment coming from the UAE. So, there must have been a discussion prior to Prime Minister’s visit. What specific areas that has been identified? Whether these are the projects B2B or G2G? Second supplementary is, apart from your refraining to speak on lawmaker’s statement, do you categorize the Waziristan attack as a terror attack or is it a drone strike. Do you confirm a drone strike took place in Waziristan?

Spokesperson: Issues related to Pakistan’s security and sovereignty are sacrosanct for the Government of Pakistan. I do not wish to categorize any such incidents on indulge in speculation. except to refer to the law enforcement authorities and ISPR for details. With regards to the investments from the UAE, following the visit of our Prime Minister to the United Arab Emirates yesterday, media statements have been released by the two sides. The UAE is a longstanding friend and partner of Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan welcomes and appreciates the support that the UAE have extended to Pakistan in the past. We are grateful to the President of the UAE for his commitment to enhance investments in Pakistan. If you would see the press release, which was issued by the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday, it makes it clear that the investments would be made in multiple sectors in Pakistan. The various projects of cooperation and investment are under consideration between Pakistan and the UAE, both in public and private domain. Details would be announced in coming weeks.

11. (Asghar Ali Mubarak, The Daily Mail International): It is being portrayed by the Indian media that the election turnout in Kashmir is a part of their policy in IIOJK during the fifth round of the ongoing elections. Their local parties, especially Muslims, have already boycotted these elections so how does Pakistan see this and Indian government is considering it as their success after abrogation of Article 370.

Spokesperson: We have always said that such election exercises cannot serve as a substitute to the grant of the right of self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. We believe India should faithfully implement the UN Security Council resolutions and stop intimidating the Kashmiri people. Jammu and Kashmir is an internationally recognized disputed area that remains on the agenda of the UN Security Council. The final disposition of Jammu and Kashmir is to be made in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

12. (Azaz Syed, Geo News): Ma’am, this is with regard to the helicopter crash of President Raisi in Iran. The Prime Minister went to Iran as well. Has Pakistan offered its crash investigation expertise to its neighbouring, friendly country Iran to investigate the truth of the President’s helicopter crash?

Spokesperson: First, we express our deep condolences and sympathies with the Iranian people and Government on the sad and tragic demise of President Raisi and his companions. Secondly, we believe that the Iranian authorities have the full ability to investigate the circumstances of this crash. Pakistan for its part remains ready to extend any support that would be required by the Iranian authorities if such a need arises.

13. (Farhan Ali, Public News): Ma’am, my question is that there are 43 Pakistani prisoners in Sri Lanka. Pakistan has been discussing with the Sri Lankan authorities for the last one month to bring them back. What are the updates on it?

Spokesperson: I am not aware of these particular cases. However, I would like to underline that Pakistan always respects the laws and procedures of other countries. We work with local authorities to facilitate Pakistanis including those incarcerated in various jails, in conformity with the laws and procedures in that country.

14. (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today): Ma’am, what are the updates of Pak-Afghan border, Chaman area?

Spokesperson: With regards to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border including Chaman area, let me reiterate that Pakistan wishes the Pakistan-Afghanistan border to be a border of peace and security. We also believe that any movement across the border should take place on the basis of valid legal documents, on proper visas and passports, as is the case with individuals who travel from other neighbouring countries to Pakistan.