Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 2nd October 2014
Spokesperson: Ms Tasneem Aslam
Release of Mr. Faizullah Khan:
The Ministry extends its warm felicitations to ARY’s Mr. Faizullah Khan, his family, and the journalist fraternity over his release and safe return to Pakistan. As you are aware, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our Missions in Kabul and Jalalabad had been consistently pursuing Mr. Faizullah’s release ever since his arrest in Afghanistan was brought to our knowledge. The Consul General in Jalalabad had consular meetings with him. Our Missions facilitated his contact with his family and ensure his welfare while in detention. They also hired a lawyer to provide him legal assistance. The Jalalabad Consulate helped lodge an appeal against the verdict of the lower court.
Meanwhile, our efforts continued at multiple levels to secure his earliest possible release. All large number of people, institutions and organization in Pakistan made their valuable endeavors. We are grateful for all these efforts and also thank everyone in Afghanistan who contributed to Mr. Faizullah’s release. It is highly gratifying that he has re-joined his family and would be celebrating Eid-ul-Azha with his loved ones.
The floor is now open for Questions
There have been two important developments in Afghanistan: peaceful transition and the land mark BSA. Do you expect any high level visits between Pakistan and Afghanistan in the near future? Also, we would like to have your comments on the BSA and its implications for Pakistan? (Mateen Haider, Dawn News)
You know, we welcomed the peaceful conclusion of elections and transition in Afghanistan. We have congratulated the Afghan leadership over the power-sharing agreement. Our hope and expectation is that this peaceful political transition will help Afghanistan to move towards greater stability. For us, Afghanistan’s stability and prosperity are very important. The presence of our President at the oath taking ceremony is a testimony to the good wishes that we hold for the brotherly people of Afghanistan and the importance we attach to our relationship with that country.
As regards BSA, Afghanistan is a sovereign country. It is their right to conclude agreements with any country. We, on our part, wish Afghanistan the best and we will continue to facilitate all efforts, to the extent possible, for creating stability, peace and prosperity in Afghanistan.
There are media reports that some world bodies are considering to quarantine Pakistan on account of the increased incidence of polio cases in Pakistan. Can you comment? (Zarghoon Shah, Geo News)
Unfortunately this very serious health problem –poliovirus- still exists in Pakistan. You may like to ask the Ministry of National Health Services and Prime Minister’s focal person on Polio about what exactly is being done to contain and eradicate Polio virus from Pakistan. You know that in May this year, WHO’s IHR recommended some travel measures for Pakistan. These were mandatory measures for all people traveling from Pakistan and also for those coming to Pakistan and staying for more than two weeks.
For the latest situation, again I would refer you to the Ministry of National Health Services.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif presented Pakistan’s position on the decades old dispute of Jammu and Kashmir in a very forceful manner in UNGA. He alluded to the UN Security Council Resolutions and urged for their implementation in letter and spirit. In 2004 and after, there were discussions on some out of the box solutions for the Kashmir dispute. Since that period, Pakistan has reference to Security Council resolutions. Can we conclude that the Prime Minister’s recent speech is a departure from the position Pakistan has been taking since around a decade? (Syed Mohsin Raza, Saach TV)
I do not agree with your analysis. Pakistan’s legal and political position on Jammu and Kashmir dispute is based on the UN Security Council resolutions - 20 in all; that Jammu and Kashmir is a dispute that needs to be resolved according to the aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The UN Security Council resolutions gave Kashmiris the right to decide their future, through a plebiscite, through the exercise of their right of self-determination. Those resolutions are valid today as they were valid when they were adopted. That is our legal position.
This would be a misunderstanding that bilateral negotiations could somehow undermine the UN Security Council resolutions. That is legally and politically incorrect. The Simla agreement starts with a reference to the UN Charter. Also, no bilateral agreement can override the UN Security Council resolutions. The Prime Minister articulated in very clear terms Pakistan’s position, based on the UN Security Council resolutions, the human rights situation in IOK and the right of Kashmiris to self-determination. The Prime Minister also referred in his speech to the Simla agreement and the Lahore declaration as bilateral efforts to make progress.
There should be no misunderstanding that discussing Jammu and Kashmir dispute bilaterally between Pakistan and India somehow undermines the UN Security Council resolution
Since the cancellation of Pak-India talks there have been indications coming from India that they are now willing to reinstate the talks. These days the Indian media is abuzz with the reports that the Indian Prime Minister will meet with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the SAARC summit and the Foreign Secretary level talks will be held before that. Do we have any concrete intimation of any of these proposed meetings? (Shaukat Piracha, Aaj TV)
Advisor Sartaj Aziz publically admitted that the timing of Pakistan’s High Commissioner’s meeting with the Kashmiri leaders was perhaps not correct and that it could have been avoided at that time. The Indian media now says that after this public admission, the way for FS level talks has been paved. Your comments? (Waqas Rafique, Capital TV)
Shaukat, I don’t have anything specific on the FS level talks or the meeting between the Prime Ministers. Pakistan and India are neighbors. Ultimately, we have to talk with each other. Sooner or later, we will have to resume the dialogue process.
As regards the supplementary question, we have already made our position clear on the matter. Our position is well known. Most recently, it was explained by the Prime Minister during his address at the UNGA. The Advisor was responding to a question and the thrust of what he said was that we will continue to meet the Kashmiri leadership whenever we consider it necessary. By way of explanation, he said that whenever Pakistan and India hold talks on substantive mattes related to Jammu and Kashmir; we always hold talks with the Kashmiri leaders to take their views on board.
The Chairman of Senate Standing Committee on Defense, Mr. Mushahid Hussain has called for the conversion of Siachin into a peace park and its de-militarization. Is it a workable plan? If yes, how will you incorporate it in our foreign policy? (Haroon Baloch, Radio Pakistan)
The de-militarization of Siachin and making it a peace park has been under discussion in the past as well. India was however, not willing to withdraw troops without authentication of actual position that they held. This was legally not possible.
Few months back Russian Ambassador in an informal interaction with media told that Pakistan and Russia were in contact for the provision of MI-16 military helicopters from Russia to Pakistan and the negotiations were taking place in this regard. I just wanted to have the update on it. (Sikandar Shaheen, Daily times)
Yes, if I recall correctly, this deal was approved. You may like to confirm it from ISPR. I don’t have the details.
Indian Prime Minister in his address to UN General Assembly referred to Pakistan in the context of terrorism. On the contrary, he also said that they were willing to negotiate and to extend ties with Pakistan. Does Pakistan think that this Indian policy is based on double standards and is causing the Kashmir issue to linger? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Kashmir Post)
The Indian Prime Minister did not mention Pakistan; he talked about terrorism which is an international problem. Pakistan itself has suffered because of terrorism. We have been a very active partner of the international community in efforts to counter terrorism. We are taking very robust action against terrorism and we expect that all countries should do the same on their soil. There is no disputing the fact that terrorism needs to be eliminated.
My question is regarding the newly elected Afghan Government. I have not heard of any meeting between the leadership of Pakistan and Afghanistan as yet. Do we have any such plans in the future? (Fida Hussain, Radio FM 99)
As I already said, President of Pakistan attended the inaugural ceremony. He met the new Afghan leadership. Pakistan and Afghanistan have maintained regular contacts at the leadership level. There have been contacts with the new President and Chief executive and we intend to maintain these contacts and work together.
America has declared three Pakistanis as terrorists and has also slapped sanctions against them. What is the stance of Pakistan on it? Is Pakistan also going to impose sanctions on them? (Shahid Ajmal, South Asian News Agency)
In Pakistan, the process of proscribing entities involved in violence took place before the United National Security Council started the process of listing such entities. The listing by the UN becomes an international obligation, not only for Pakistan but for every country to list such individuals and entities and freeze their assets. As regards listing by US, it is their domestic action. It entails no responsibility for us.
According to media reports, the joint statement released after Prime Minister Modi’s meeting with President Obama calls for joint action against militant groups operating in Pakistan. What would you say on this? (Tariq Qayum, Aljazeera TV)
Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Pakistan is a victim of terrorism. More than 55 thousand Pakistanis lost their lives due to terrorism. In economic terms, our losses are almost 103 billion dollars. Pakistan has been a active partner of the international community in counter terrorism. At present, our armed forces are conducting a very comprehensive and decisive operation against terrorists. We believe, it is the responsibility of all countries to take action against terrorism on their own soil.
What steps are we taking to stop the movement of terrorists between Afghanistan and Pakistan? Do you think that the signing of the BSA will provide the US forces a possibility to continue the drone strikes inside Pakistan? (Abbas Khan, Russian TV)
Pakistan and Afghanistan share a very long border. While we are in the midst of a decisive operation against the militants, which is proceeding very successfully, it is essential that there is action from the other side as well. We need better border management. We have given a number of proposals to Afghanistan and we hope to proceed further on it.
As regards the drone strikes, the connection is speculative. We have very clear position on drones and there is an international public opinion as well. The international legal community’s opinion and the human rights bodies’ views are also available on the legal position of drone strikes. You may like to see the record of our last week’s press briefing on this question.
EDITED AND COMPILED BY:
*Political Analyst & Journalist