Pakistan would like to have good relations with all its neighbours; Mumtaz

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Transcript of the Press Briefing by the Mumtaz Zahra Spokesperson ministry of foreign affairs on
Thursday 07 March 2024

Islamabad, Yesterday, Pakistan and the EU held the ninth round of Political Dialogue in Islamabad, co-chaired by Foreign Secretary Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi and Deputy Secretary General of European External Action Service, Enrique Mora.

The two sides discussed all aspects of Pakistan-EU bilateral relations with a focus on Strategic Engagement Plan (SEP), trade and development cooperation, security, climate change, and migration and mobility

The two sides agreed to further strengthen Pakistan-EU bilateral ties, hold regular meetings of institutional mechanisms undertaking follow-up actions. They also agreed to explore new opportunities under the EU’s flagship programs: Global Gateway Strategy and Horizon Europe.

The two sides also discussed important regional and global developments and underlined the necessity for close cooperation and dialogue amid rapidly changing geopolitical landscape.

Pakistan welcomes the Extraordinary Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers held yesterday in Jeddah and supports its strong condemnation of the unprecedented Israeli aggression against civilians in the besieged Gaza Strip and the entire Occupied Palestinian Territory. The CFM has held the occupying power, fully responsible for the ongoing genocide of civilians in Gaza.

We join their call for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and cessation of Israeli aggression and the provision of unimpeded and adequate humanitarian, medical and relief aid, the provision of water and electricity, and the opening of humanitarian corridors to deliver urgent aid.

As we move towards the holy month of Ramzan, we call for urgent relief to the people of Palestine and unrestricted access to Palestinians to pray in the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque.

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day tomorrow, we would like to remember the strong women of Kashmir who have faced the brunt of Indian atrocities in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. They have endured widespread devastation and confronted obstacles that impede their access to essential needs and their capacity to lead a dignified life.

The Kashmiri women widowed and orphaned because of fake encounters by Indian forces do not even get time to mourn for their dead husbands and fathers and are forced to become the sole breadwinners for their families. Women heading households face additional difficulties in the society and face hurdles in finding respectable jobs.

Women activists including Hurriyat leaders including Aasiya Andrabi, Naheeda Nasreen and Fehmeeda Sofi remain incarcerated in different jails of IIOJK and India.

The Kashmiri women deserve to live their lives as they choose and enjoy their rights and freedom including the right of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.

Pakistan will continue to extend political, diplomatic and moral support to our Kashmiri brothers and sisters for the just and peaceful settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions.

Now an announcement.

Pakistan and Tanzania will hold the inaugural session of Pakistan-Tanzania Bilateral Political Consultations in Dares Salam on 12 March 2024. Additional Foreign Secretary (Africa), Ambassador Shehryar Akbar will lead the Pakistan delegation while the Tanzanian delegation will be led by Director Asia and Australasia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & East African Cooperation, Ambassador Salvatore Mbilinyi.

Pakistan and Tanzania enjoy close and cordial relations underpinned by mutual respect and confidence. Tanzania is a key trading partner of Pakistan in the African continent. Initiation of the Bilateral Political Consultations is in keeping with our mutual desire to upgrade the bilateral relationship.

The BPC will serve as an important institutional framework for engagement and dialogue between Pakistan and Tanzania. The two sides will discuss all aspects of bilateral relations, explore new avenues of cooperation and discuss regional and global developments.

(Anas Mallick, Capital TV): Two questions. Firstly, last night there was a raid in Rawalpindi in which the CTD, said that at least three terrorists, who were Afghan nationals, were involved. Has the matter been taken up with the Afghan side? Secondly, from this very podium, we’ve repeatedly seen you say that the COP27 and 28 Loss and Damage Fund’s establishment was a success on the part of Pakistan and its diplomacy. The fact that the COP 28 Board of Governors does not name Pakistan, is that not a failure on the part of Pakistani diplomacy?

Spokesperson: We have also seen the statement issued by CTD; the statement was issued overnight. We are obtaining further information and when we have any details to share from the perspective of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we will share with the media. With regards to the Loss and Damage Fund, the assertion regarding absence of Pakistan at the Board of Loss and Damage Fund is not accurate. Mr. Ali Tauqeer Sheikh from Pakistan is currently the alternate member from the constituency of Asia-Pacific states for 2024, at the recently instituted Board of the Loss and Damage Fund. Pakistan attaches great importance to climate change issues and believes that the Loss and Damage Fund is an important milestone in combating climate change.

(Azaz Syed, Geo News):​Ma’am, there are two short questions. The first is related to the Pakistanis arrested by the Americans on 11th of January. Have you confirmed their nationality, whether they are Pakistanis or not?

Spokesperson: We are in the process of confirmation of nationality as you know there is a process that includes confirmation of the authenticity of the legal documents as well as the biometric information and data that is held with NADRA.

(Azaz Syed, Geo News):​How do you see the message by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding the election of Mr. Shahbaz Sharif as Prime Minister? And do you think that with this gesture, the new government would make an attempt to talk to Indian government as we know that their elections are also coming?

Supplementary Question (Naveed Siddiqui, Dateline Islamabad): Ma’am, do you see any thaw between Pakistan and India and will Pakistan wait for a new Indian administration after the general elections. Also, other than the congratulatory message from Narendra Modi any other issue was discussed by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs with Foreign Office in their message?

Supplementary Question (Anas Mallick, Capital TV): Historically we’ve seen that such messages are also followed by customary felicitation letters as well. Has the letter been written from the Indian side?

Supplementary Question (Mateen Haider, GTV News): Ma’am, it’s also related to Indian Prime Minister’s greeting message to Pakistani Prime Minister. So how you interpret this message? Do you think India is sincere in making more contacts with Pakistan, more friendship with Pakistan? What is basically the message and this greeting message? How you interpret this?

Spokesperson: Okay, I think most of the questions were regarding the congratulatory tweet that was made by the Prime Minister of India. It is one of the several messages of felicitations that we have received, or the Prime Minister of Pakistan has received, since his assumption in office and his election as the Prime Minister. As you know, the Cabinet formation is yet to take place and once the Cabinet is in place, we will have a direction with regard to the foreign policy and Pakistan’s relations with other countries, including its neighbours. We would then be in a better position to respond to queries on how this will impact Pakistan’s interaction with India in coming days. We have always said Pakistan would like to have good relations with all its neighbours, including India. However, these relations must be based on respect and equality. It is also important that issues of concern to Pakistan, including the support for terrorism, and extrajudicial and extraterritorial killings by India in Pakistan. Kashmir will always be a priority when such engagement takes place.

With regards to the letter you have inquired about, I’m not aware of such a letter.

(Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today): Ma’am, US State Department Spokesperson has spoken about peaceful and productive talks between Pakistan and India. Will Pakistan accept any kind of mediation role?

Spokesperson: Pakistan has always said that it would welcome mediation by friendly countries. When such a proposal comes to us formally and only then we will be able to respond.

(Aijaz Hussain, GNN):​Some terrorists were killed in North Waziristan on 24th that were said to be from Afghanistan. Has Pakistan raised this matter of terrorism with Afghanistan? Also, yesterday it is being said that Adiala Jail was saved from disaster, regarding two Afghan terrorists who belong to TTP. Have we contacted Afghanistan regarding this issue that what is happening from their side and why are they not controlling this?

Spokesperson: Aijaz sb, I think the second question, I just answered because this is a development that took place overnight. And we have seen the statement that has been made by CTD. When the Ministry of Foreign Affairs receives the information and is asked to convey the data and the information with the Afghan authorities, we will do so. We have repeatedly called on Afghan authorities to take effective measures against terrorism that continues to threaten Pakistan’s security and the terrorist groups which have found hideouts and sanctuaries inside Afghanistan are a serious problem which need to be handled with effective force.

(Jaleel Akhtar, VOA Urdu): Thank you Spokesperson. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to visit Srinagar for the first time after New Delhi revoked the Article 370 giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir. He is set to announce development projects of billions of rupees. What’s your take on this, please?

Spokesperson: First, the visit of Prime Minister Modi to IIOJK seems to be part of India’s efforts to portray normalcy in IIOJK. We believe that these efforts to project normalcy are a facade and tourism cannot be promoted in a situation where local people are being intimidated and their rights and freedoms are being denied.

(Asghar Ali Mubarak, The Daily Mail International): Ma’am, the UK Foreign Secretary David Cameroon in a tweet has stated that the new government must work for all citizens and deliver crucial reforms. What do you say about this?

Spokesperson: If making directive statements on internal affairs of other countries is appropriate then we also believe that the Government of the United Kingdom may first consider listening to its own citizens calling for ceasefire in Gaza and fulfil its responsibility as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

(Khalid Mehmood, Express News TV): Ma’am, firstly, have we received direct congratulatory telephone from America? Secondly, to which country Prime Minister would undertake his first visit?

Spokesperson: Okay, I will reiterate that once we have a Foreign Minister in place, we will be able to be in a better manner to bring for about the future plans of the government.

(Ali Hussain, Business Recorder): I would like your comment on the recent statement by Indian External Affairs Minister Jaishankar who stated that SAARC is in trouble because one of its members, he was referring to Pakistan, is engaged in violent actions against other members. Your comments on this?

Spokesperson: We believe there is only one country and that is India which is hindering development of SAARC. It is the hurdle in the success of SAARC and any kind of regional cooperation. Its belligerent posture towards its neighbours has paralyzed regional cooperation, including SAARC. We all remember it was India that scuttled the 19th SAARC Summit, scheduled to take place in Pakistan in 2016. India has made every effort to make SAARC dysfunctional. Pakistan has said time and again that India’s negative posture in the region is a threat not just to Pakistan but other countries in South Asia. We have also expressed our concerns regarding terrorism emanating from India and Indian sponsored terrorist activities inside Pakistan. We hope that impediments to regional cooperation by India in SAARC will be removed so that SAARC can forge ahead on a path of regional cooperation.

(Allah Noor Wazir, Mashriq TV): Pakistan has stated time and again urging Afghan government to control TTP but what steps has itself Pakistan taken? Pakistan fenced its border however, they still continue their activities. Are there sanctuaries of TTP in Pakistan also or are they coming from Afghanistan?

Spokesperson: As you know, the Ministry of Interior is in charge of security related matters and has a broader and clearer picture on the terrorist threat that Pakistan faces and any terrorist groups that may be operating inside Pakistan. So may be Ministry of Interior can give you a better picture in response to your question.

(Zeeshan Bhatti, PTV):​Ma’am, what is Pakistan’s official position on the ongoing conflict between Somalia and Ethiopia on Somaliland?

Spokesperson: Pakistan is monitoring the situation and we believe that states must respect sovereignty and territorial integrity of their neighbours in accordance with the UN Charter.

(Syed Asif Ali, Din News): On Gaza’s situation, a human tragedy is occurring in which Islamic countries are organizing conferences and demanding ceasefire for many years but every time it is vetoed by America in the UN Security Council. Are there any talks ongoing with America to solve this issue? Secondly, during the Ukraine crisis, neighbouring countries opened their borders, however; in this case the Islamic country Egypt’s border is closed. So, are there any talks ongoing to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza or provide them any shelter through Rafah border?

Spokesperson: First regarding the UN Security Council and its role in this conflict, we believe that UN Security Council is mandated under the UN charter to play its role in peace and security and can bring an end to Israel’s illegal aggression against the people of Gaza and the genocide that is taking place there. We have been engaged with members of the United Nations Security Council and we have urged them to play their part in bringing an end to this atrocity. As far as the humanitarian situation in Gaza is concerned, we have always called for provision of unhindered humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. The main hurdle in provision of assistance is the Israeli authorities. They have closed the normal routes for provision of assistance, including the Rafah border. Lastly, we also believe that the people of Palestine have a right to remain in the territory that belongs to them, and we oppose any forceful dislocation of the Palestinians from their own land.

(Sardar Amir Hussain, Daily Maddar): Ma’am, what is Pakistan is doing for the people of Gaza who are hungry and cold? Have we sent them any assistance?​

Spokesperson: Okay. Yes, Pakistan has sent six shipments of humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza. While five of them went through, the Rafah crossing, one was air dropped, with the help of Jordanian authorities. Our assistance has been in the form of medicines, tents and food for the people of Gaza. The issue is not of the availability or lack of availability of humanitarian assistance. The issue is that the humanitarian assistance that the international community wishes to send to the people of Gaza is not reaching them because of the siege of Gaza and the restrictions imposed by the Israeli occupation authorities. We urge the United Nations Security Council to play its mandated role under the UN Charter and take action so that there is ceasefire in Gaza and the siege is lifted and humanitarian aid flows into Gaza.

(Jaleel Akhtar, VOA Urdu): Spokesperson, would you like to share us any update on Pakistan’s application to become a full member of the BRICS please, any update?​

Spokesperson: There is no update. I briefed last time that Pakistan has expressed its interest in joining BRICS and we hope that BRICS will take a decision in line with its proclaimed objective of inclusive multilateralism. We hope that an early decision inviting Pakistan to join the BRICS will be reached.

(Aijaz Hussain, GNN): Pakistan has announced it will move ahead on Pakistan-Iran Gas Pipeline. How do you see the US reaction on this?

Spokesperson: As I said in my last briefing, the Cabinet of Pakistan decided a few days ago to start work on 80 kilometres of Pakistan-Iran Pipeline and this is the beginning of the construction of the pipeline and it is in line with our commitment to the Pakistan-Iran Pipeline. And since this pipeline is being constructed inside Pakistani territory, we do not believe there is room for any consultations with any third party at this stage.