Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 07 June 2018

Opening Remarks

Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum

First of all, under the caretaker Government, Mr. Abdullah Hussain Haroon has assumed the charge of Foreign Minister on 05 June 2018.

Now, let me give you a brief roundup of activities on the foreign policy front:

President Mamnoon Hussain will visit China on 09 June 2018 to attend Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Qingdao, China. The President will also meet his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping. The President will also have sideline meetings with the leadership of SCO member countries.

We condemn Indian continued and unabated atrocities at the hands of Indian occupation forces. During last week, the Indian forces martyred seven innocent Kashmiris. On 31st May the Indian occupation forces martyred two innocent Kashmiris in a fake operation in Kupwara district. After the use of human shields, bullets and pellets, India is now using new inhuman methods of crushing Kashmiri youth under heavy vehicles. It is highly condemnable that Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) ran a jeep over Kaiser Ahmad, 24 years old, during protests after Friday prayers, who succumbed to injuries in Nowhatta area of Srinagar.

To prevent further protests, the Indian occupation forces have snapped the internet services in Srinagar and clamped curbs on the public movement. Indian atrocities in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir are outrightly condemned and need immediate attention of the international community and global human rights defenders. We condemn the unlawful arrest and detention of Shabbir Ahmed Shah, Masarat Alam Butt, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Syeda Aasiya Andrabi, Fehmida Sofi and hundreds of Hurriyat leaders and activists.

In particular, Mr. Shabbir Ahmad Shah is held in India's notorious Tihar jail, which has virtually become a death trap for Kashmiri political prisoners. The solitary confinement has taken a toll on his health. He has become so frail and fragile that he is not even able to stand. He is also suffering from various acute ailments and Indian jail authorities have been denying him proper medicines and basic health facilities. The doctors have advised him instant angiography but his family's repeated requests for his urgent treatment have been purposely ignored by the Indian authorities, much to the detriment to his health and life. This prisoner of conscience needs the attention of the international community, especially the human rights defenders.

Pakistan strongly condemns the suicide attack that targeted a congregation of religious scholars in Kabul. We are grieved at the loss of precious innocent lives in this barbaric act of terrorism. We express our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the bereaved families and pray for the early recovery of the injured. Pakistan reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and expresses solidarity with the people and Government of Afghanistan in this hour of grief and sorrow.

The World Environment Day was observed on 5 June, 2018. Pakistan is one of the most affected countries and is facing serious water problems. We are committed to improving our deteriorating environment and are actively cooperating with the international community for global efforts to improve the environment and mitigate the effects of climate change.

This year, the theme of the World Environment Day was ''Beat Plastic Pollution''. Pakistan, among the global community, needs to find sustainable alternatives to plastic and urgently reduce its excessive production and usage that are continuously polluting our rivers and seas, damaging marine life and threatening human health.

Now the Floor is open for Questions

Question

Pakistan and Russia are all set to sign a $10-billion offshore gas pipeline deal. Can you confirm? Please share details. Is it a project to bypass Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project? (Sheeraz Asghar - IRNA)

Answer

IP gas pipeline is a separate project. You can get more details on this from Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources. Regarding the Pak-Russia energy project, Pakistan and Russia are strong partners in the field of energy. The two countries have concluded various proposals in the energy sector including construction of North-South Gas Pipeline, import of LNG from Russia, installation of Air Mix plant, establishing a 600 MW combined cycle power plant etc.

The proposal for construction of undersea gas pipeline has been under consideration since 2017. The proposal involves Pakistan, Iran, Russia and India. The Ministries of Energy of Pakistan and the Russian Federation have finalized a MoU for conducting ''Feasibility Study'' for implementation of undersea gas pipeline project. The purpose of the MoU is to assist in providing support for the realization of the project. Based on the results of the Feasibility Study, the two sides will take a decision for the future of the project.

Question

What is the progress on Indian announcement of setting up a judicial committee as well as Pakistan's proposal on Indian proposed agreement on prisoners exchange etc?

World Bank has asked Pakistan to give up its demands of setting up the Court of Arbitration, and instead accept Indian proposal of a neutral expert. How has Pakistan responded to this? (Anas Malick - Republic TV)

Answer

On your first question, Ministry of Interior is working on the proposal. We will let you know of the forward movement in this context.

Regarding your second question, there is no doubt that it is World Bank's responsibility to empanel the Court of Arbitration, as envisaged in the Indus Waters Treaty. Pakistan would however continue to agitate this issue with the Bank. The issue is dealt with by the Ministry of Water and Power and you may seek further details from them.

Question

There are reports that US is also supporting India in the World Bank for its proposal of establishing neutral experts. What options is Pakistan exactly left with?

Second, we saw a very measured statement by DG ISPR recently, proclaiming that India and Pakistan being nuclear states must believe in peaceful co-existence. In this context, what do you see are the prospects of peace between the two countries? (Shaukat Paracha - Anchorperson)

Answer

For Pakistan, water is its jugular vein, as we are largely an agro-based economy. I have already responded to an earlier question on World Bank. For further details please contact Ministry of Water & Power and Attorney General's Office.

Regarding your second question, this is not a new message; Pakistan has maintained its consistent position that only through uninterrupted and uninterruptible dialogue can issues be resolved between the two countries. It is India that has imposed conditionalities on the dialogue process.

Question

Reportedly, India has successfully tested fired long-range ballistic missile Agni-5. What are your comments on this? Don't you think that it is a threat to the regional peace? (Tariq Mahmood - Hum TV)

Supplementary Question

India is continuously testing short and long range missiles as well as ICBMs and interceptors for a long time now. These are being continuously developed at the cost of regional peace and security and initiating a debilitating arms race in the region, particularly in the context of Pakistan. Your comments please! (Faisal Raza Khan - 92 News)

Answer

Indian arms buildup has pushed the region into a vicious arms race. Its hegemonic designs are a cause of serious concern not only to Pakistan but also to the entire region. Indian thirst for becoming a regional hegemon is casting a dark shadow on South Asia. The Pakistan forces are ready to defend our borders against any threat.

Question

Please elaborate on the preparations being made to avoid Pakistan's name from being put in the grey list under FATF as this may take place during the caretaker Government! (Kausar Lodhi - Prime News)

Answer

Please consult Ministry of Finance, the line Ministry in this regard.

Question

Reportedly, BJP State President Ravinder Raina for Jammu & Kashmir recently said that time is approaching fast when India would be left with no option but to strike inside Pakistan. What are your comments on the statement? (Khawaja Nayaar Iqbal - Kashmir Post)

Answer

Pakistan is ready to defend its borders. Any Indian misadventure shall be given a befitting response. Pakistan wants to live in peace, however, if aggression is thrust upon us, it would be duly punished. Let there be no mistake. We expect maturity from India in this regard.

Question

In your view, why is the Government hesitant to make public the findings of the report on Gilgit Baltistan commissioned under Mr. Sartaj Aziz? We have seen how the people of Gilgit Baltistan, along with the rest of the country, forcefully condemned India's objection on the recently enforced GB Order 2018. (Fida Hussain - Radio News Network)

Answer

Indian objections to GB Order are preposterous and without any legal basis. From this podium, I challenge India to let the United Nations carry out a free and fair plebiscite in Jammu & Kashmir, as envisaged in the UNSC Resolutions, so that the Kashmiris are able to decide their future as per their aspirations. Pakistan is confident that Jammu & Kashmir would side with Pakistan. This is what generates fear in the hearts of the Indian establishment. The Kashmiris would never change their principled position despite grave human rights violations being perpetrated by the Indian occupation forces.

Regarding the report, please contact Mr. Sartaj Aziz.

Question

Reportedly, a Chinese engineer was found dead in his room in the Chinese embassy in Islamabad. What are the details of the incident? (Khalid Mahmood - Express TV)

Answer

The Embassy of People's Republic of China in Islamabad has informed that Mr. Yan Peng, a Chinese engineer working as the Project Supervisor for the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad was unfortunately found dead on 3rd June, 2018. The possible cause of his death appears to be heart disease.

The Chinese Embassy is working with the company and the family of Mr. Yan to complete necessary processes to repatriate his dead body to China. Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in touch with the Chinese Embassy and all necessary facilitation will be extended to the Chinese Embassy.

Question

Indian Ambassador has recently stated at a dinner that the relations between Pakistan and India will be better in the coming days as compared to the past. How do you rate this statement, as we have also seen various hard line statements emanating from India with the sole purpose of Pakistan bashing? (Zahid Mashwani - ARY News)

Answer

Indian Ambassador would be in a better position to comment on his statement. Pakistan's stance has been consistent in this regard. We have always maintained that only through a meaningful and result oriented dialogue can we achieve peace in the region.

Question

Pakistan has made a historic decision to merge FATA with KP Province. I really appreciate this decision as I too belong to this area. However, this decision has not gone down well with Afghanistan, which says that it does not accept this decision, and will take it to the United Nations. Your comments please! (Ali Hussain - Business Recorder)

Answer

This is the internal matter of Pakistan.

Question

Recently, some books are being published about Pakistan that portrays the country in a negative light for the outside world. How do you comment on it? (Abid Khan)

Answer

We do not comment on books.

Question

Reportedly, President Mamnoon Hussain will meet his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of 18th SCO Summit in Qingdao. What will be the agenda of this high-level meeting? (Amjad Ali - PTV News)

Answer

The President of Pakistan will visit Qingdao to attend SCO Heads of State Summit on 9-10 June, 2018. The Heads of State Summit is the highest forum of SCO and takes place annually.

The President, during his stay in China will have several bilateral meeting with other Heads of State attending the Summit.

The President will have bilateral meeting with President Xi Jinping during this visit as well. All issues of mutual concern including bilateral, regional and international issues will be discussed during the meeting. Bilateral political matters, progress of CPEC projects, economic and commercial relations, defence relations and other areas of bilateral relations will also be discussed.

Question

Recently, a meeting under Track-II diplomacy was held in Nepal, in which around 30 retired army officials participated from Pakistan and India. Has Foreign Office been briefed about it? We only see military Track-II initiatives, but not much activity on the diplomatic front. Why is it so? (Auon Sherazi - Such TV)

Answer

We are not aware of any such meeting.

Question

What is the fate of more than 500 Pakistani women belonging to Azad Kashmir, who married into Muslim families from IoK, and are now stranded in the occupied Jammu & Kashmir region, without any identity to prove that they are Pakistani citizens? Has Pakistan done something in this regard? (Syed Awad - Daily Nizaam)

Answer

I am not aware of this. I will ascertain details and revert.

Question

What is your comment on the recent telephonic call between General Bajwa and Mike Pompeo, in which the later has asked Pakistan to take indiscriminate action against terrorists?

Second, is there any meeting scheduled of our President with his Indian counterpart during the upcoming SCO Summit? (Rashida Sial - Abb Tak)

Answer

Your first question may be referred to DG ISPR.

On your second question, no such meeting is envisaged.

Question

Pakistan and Russia are developing new diplomatic relationship. However, India has bought S 400 missiles from Russia irrespective of the US sanctions. How will our relations with Russia go along? What are your comments? (Salman Hashmi - Forensic Eye)

Answer

As already explained in my opening remarks, Pakistan and Russia are actively working towards enhancement and consolidation of their bilateral ties.

Question

This week marks the anniversary of Khalistan Tehreek around the world, wherein India brutally crushed the Sikhs of the time, hence giving rise to the Sikh movement. On the one hand, India calls itself a democratic state and on the other hand, it has rendered one of the worst persecutions on its minorities. Your comments please! (Khawaja Nayaar Iqbal - Daily Kashmir Post)

Answer

Our statements regarding Indian persecutions of its minorities, including Muslims, Dalits, Christians and Sikhs are on record. We urge India to mete out equal treatment to the minorities.

Question

Reportedly, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom has recommended to declare Pakistan as a ''country of special concern'' and expressed serious concerns over killing of minorities by unidentified attackers. How do you view this report?

Second, Pakistan is currently going through the electioneering process. Recently, we saw a statement from the US State Department stating that the US expects free and fair elections in Pakistan. In your view, what connotations are being implied by the Foreign Office of Global Powers? (Shaukat Paracha - Anchorperson)

Answer

The Constitution of Pakistan grants full rights to all the citizens of Pakistan including minorities. The Government of Pakistan protects the rights of all the religious minorities. We do not recognize reports issued by countries on the basis of sources, which are either not mentioned or not reliable. The report you have referred to is largely based on information from unidentified civil society organizations and human rights activists. The report lacks adequate references to the sources of data used to merit any comments.

On your second question, the elections in Pakistan will be free and fair. The response of the international community has been largely positive.

Question

What options does Pakistan have now that World Bank itself is calling Pakistan to withdraw from its request of setting up the arbitration court, and instead support India's proposal of establishing a neutral expert? The project has already been inaugurated and the World Bank is unnecessary delaying procedures and so far failed to address Pakistan's legitimate grievances. Your comments please! (Faisal Raza Khan - 92 News)

Answer

As far as Foreign Office is concerned, we will do our utmost to safeguard Pakistan's water interests. For technical details please Ministry of Water and AG Office.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Government of Pakistan