Pakistan, US engage to pursue political settlement in Afghanistan: Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal

Pakistan, US engage to pursue political settlement in Afghanistan: Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal

By,Asghar Ali Mubarak
Islamabad Pakistan has termed the recent elections in Afghanistan as a positive development and expressed the confidence that the political process in the country will move forward. At his weekly news briefing in Islamabad today, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal stated that both Pakistan and the US are currently engaged along with other regional stakeholders to pursue a political settlement in Afghanistan.
Commenting on the recent statement of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding his country’s South Asia Policy, the spokesperson reiterated that peace and stability in Afghanistan is vital for eliminating the menace of terrorism inside Pakistan and the region. The spokesperson said there is no question of any country applying pressure on Pakistan for something which we believe is in our national interest. He said our foreign policy is based on the principles of peace. Expressing grave concerns over the deteriorating situation in occupied Kashmir, the spokesperson said that Pakistan is actively highlighting the plight of Kashmiri people at every forum. He said Pakistan salutes the courage and commitment of Kashmiri people in the face of Indian brutalities. When asked about dialogue with India, the spokesperson said that it is our considered position that resolution of all issues lies in the dialogue process. Describing the visit of the Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia successful, the Foreign Office spokesperson said that the Kingdom had announced a financial package for Pakistan besides showing great interest in establishing an oil refinery and exploring the mineral resources of Pakistan.
The spokesperson said the Prime Minister during his visit also discussed the problems faced by Pakistani diaspora in Saudi Arabia. He said the reduction in visa fee by Saudi Arabia for Pakistani workers is a significant step towards increasing our workforce in the Kingdom.
When asked about Pakistan’s mediation role in Yemen, the spokesperson said the process has commenced. He said that Pakistan has always worked towards establishing the best of relations amongst the Muslim countries and it will continue to play this role in future as well. About the abducted Iranian border guards, the spokesperson said that both the neighboring countries are actively cooperating on the matter.
Record of Press Briefing by Spokesperson on
Thursday, 25 October, 2018

Bismillah IrRehman Nir Rahim,

Assalaam o Alaikum,

On the invitation of the Chinese leadership, Prime Minister Imran Khan will pay an official visit to China from 2-5 November 2018. This will be the first official visit of the Prime Minister to China after assuming office in August 2018. He will be accompanied by a high-level delegation including the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

During the visit, Prime Minister Imran Khan will have wide ranging discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. After his visit to Beijing, the Prime Minister will visit Shanghai to participate in the First China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, where Pakistan is exhibiting a wide range of export products. The Prime Minister will be among the keynote speakers at the opening of the CIIE.

Ladies & Gentlemen,

At the invitation of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Majesty, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Mr. Imran Khan visited Saudi Arabia to participate in the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Conference on 22-23 October 2018.

During the visit, the Prime Minister had detailed bilateral discussions with His Majesty, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, and His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. The Crown Prince agreed to the Prime Minister’s suggestion to reduce visa fee for Pakistani workers, which is a significant step towards enhancing Pakistan’s workforce in Saudi Arabia, as well as facilitating travel of people from both countries.

Far-reaching decisions on bilateral economic and financial cooperation were also agreed. These included:

a) A MoU was signed between the Finance Minister Asad Umar and the Saudi Finance Minister, Muhammad Abdullah Al-Jadaan. It was agreed Saudi Arabia will place a deposit of USD 3 Billion for a period of one year as balance of payment support.

b) It was also agreed that a one year deferred payment facility for import of oil, up to USD 3 Billion, will be provided by Saudi Arabia. This arrangement will be in place for three years, which will be reviewed thereafter.

c) The earlier visit of the Saudi delegation had evaluated the possibility of investing in a petroleum refinery in Pakistan. Saudi Arabia confirmed its interest in this project, and a MoU will be signed after obtaining cabinet approval.

d) Saudi Arabia expressed interest in development of mineral resources in Pakistan. For this purpose, the Federal Government and the Government of Balochistan will consult, following which a delegation of the Kingdom will be invited to visit Pakistan.

e) On 23 October, after the inauguration of the FII Conference, a Pakistan- specific session was organized, in which the Prime Minister underlined Pakistan’s priorities towards optimizing the economy and attracting foreign investment. Stressing the focus of his government on human resource development, he highlighted the potential of Pakistan’s youth, identified lucrative investment opportunities in the tourism sector, minerals, coal and gas exploration, and Information Technology. He mentioned the successes of Pakistan in the fight against terrorism, which has brought peace and stability to the country and elaborated the significance of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), including the investment opportunities in the Special Economic Zones. The Prime Minister also took several questions from the audience comprising hundreds of business entrepreneurs.

The Prime Minister arrived in Medina on 22 October, where he was received by Governor, Prince Faisal bin Salman. After Ziarat-e-Khas at Masjid -e- Nabwi, the Prime Minister proceeded to Riyadh. Where he was received by Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdul Aziz, Governor of Riyadh.

During the visit, the Prime Minister was accompanied by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Minister for Finance, Mr. Asad Umar, Minister for Information, Mr. Fawad Ahmed, and Advisor to the Prime Minister on Commerce, Mr. Abdul Razaq Dawood, and Chairman BOI Mr. Haroon Sharif.

Now some highlights from Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, where Indian atrocities against innocent Kashmiris have intensified.

Indian occupation forces, during the so called search and cordon operations martyred twenty (20) persons including another Ph. D Scholar, Dr Sabzar Ahmad Sofi, Asif Ahmad Gojri, Irshad Ahmad Paddar, Mansoor Ahmad Dar, Talib Maqbool Laway, Javid Ahmad Lone, Uzair Ahmad Dar, Muhammad Kaleem Bhat, Auqib Ahmad Sheikh, Zubair Ahmad Lone, Shahid Ahmad Tantary, Yazil Ahmad Makro, Showkat Bin Yousuf and a pregnant woman, Firdousa in Srinagar, Pulwama and Baramulla areas of the Indian occupied territory.

The Foreign Minister has strongly condemned the horrific killing of more than ten innocent Kashmiris at the hands of Indian occupation forces in its continued acts of state terrorism in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IoK). The people of IoK are being victimized to quell their struggle for the realization of the legitimate right to self-determination. Pakistan mourns, with its brothers and sisters in IoK, on this unabated killing spree and salutes the courage and commitment of the people of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

The international community needs to take swift action against human rights violations in IoK by the Indian occupation forces. Pakistan calls upon the international community to take cognizance of human rights violations in IoK as well as the OHCHR Report on Jammu and Kashmir, immediately urge India to stop the bloodshed in IoK and allow the OHCHR’s Commission of Inquiry to visit IoK and investigate.

We urge the international community, especially the champions of human rights, to urge India to immediately halt the human rights atrocities in IOK.

Pakistan strongly condemns the terrorist attack resulting in the sad demise of senior Kandhar security officials and causing injuries to many others. Pakistan stands with the Afghan govt and people and reiterates its support for the Afghan democratic process. Pakistan rejects baseless and unfounded allegations regarding the latest Kandahar attacks. No hard evidence or intelligence related information has been shared to date with Pakistan to substantiate such claims.

Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi met the Ambassador of Iraq, Dr. Ali Yassin Mohammed Karim to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and raised with him the issues faced by Pakistani Zaireen in obtaining Iraqi visas for Arbaeen.

The Foreign Minister Mr. Shah Mehmood Qureshi called the Foreign Minister of Iraq, Mr. Ibrahim Al-Jaafari to discuss the difficulties being faced by Pakistani pilgrims in getting visas for Arbaeen in Iraq.

The 6th Round of Pakistan-Lithuania Bilateral Political Consultations was held in Islamabad. The Pakistan side was led by Additional Secretary (Europe), while the Lithuania delegation was headed by Director, Latin America, Africa, Asia and Pacific Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.The next round of BPC will be held in Vilnius in 2019.

Mr. Dato Ku Jaafar Ku Shaari D-8 Secretary General called on the Foreign Minister H.E Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi. The Secretary General congratulated the Foreign Minister on assumption of the office and the new government at the helm of affairs. Foreign Minister appreciated the efforts of the Secretary General for steering the agenda of the D-8 in the right direction. He highlighted that Pakistan successfully hosted 8th D-8 Summit in Islamabad in 2012 and remained its Chair from 2012-17. The adoption of D-8 charter and D-8 Global vision along with Islamabad declaration were the hallmarks of the Summit. During its term, Pakistan played an active role in meeting targets of the organization. Apart from hosting the various high-level ministerial and sectoral meetings, D-8 was successful in securing Observer Status in the UN that added to its prestige and status. The D8 Secretary General also called on the Foreign Secretary.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UN country team jointly organized a ceremony at the Foreign Office to mark the 73rd anniversary of the United Nations. Speaking on the occasion, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi outlined the Government’s priorities with a particular focus on social and economic development, poverty alleviation, job creation and institutional reforms. Acknowledging the role and contribution of the United Nations in these endeavors, the Foreign Minister expressed Pakistan’s willingness to further build on this partnership.

The floor is now open for questions.

Question

Recently in a statement, the US Secretary of State has made some remarks regarding Pakistan, while spelling out US Policy for South Asia. How would you like to comment? (Mr. Khawaja Nayyar- Daily Kashmir Post)

Supplementary Question

Reportedly, the US Secretary of State has again placed the demand of “do more” with regards to Pakistan and has stated that Pakistan should work for terminating the safe havens of Taliban inside Pakistan. Your comments please! (Mr. Asghar Ali Mubarak – Diplomatic Mail)

Answer

Pakistan and the US are currently engaged, alongwith other regional stakeholders, to pursue a political settlement in Afghanistan, which is Afghan owned and Afghan led. In this context, the US Special Representative on Afghan Reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad visited the region, including Pakistan, a couple of weeks ago. It is important to reiterate that Pakistan’s cooperation with Afghanistan and the international community to bring about lasting peace in Afghanistan is borne out of our firm belief that a stable Afghanistan is vital for eliminating the menace of terrorism inside Pakistan and the region in general. Above all, Pakistan’s own economic vision and integration into the broader region hinges on peace in Afghanistan.

There is no question of any country applying pressure on Pakistan for something which we believe is in our own interest. Our foreign policy is based on principles of peace within and peace without. In all our domestic and external pronouncements, we are guided only by Pakistan’s national interest and prosperity of the people of Pakistan.

Question

The recent visit of the Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia is being regarded as a success on the diplomatic front. Reportedly, Pakistan may be offered to play a mediatory role between Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Would you like to confirm? Furthermore, what would be the mandate of Pakistan? (Syed Mohsin Raza – Daily Assas Publictaion)

Supplementary Questions

There is a growing perception that Pakistan would play a mediatory role between Yemen and Saudi Arabia in return for financial aid. There is some other news that Pakistan will allow Saudi Arabia to invest in mines in Balochistan Province in return for the subject package. How would you like to comment? (Mr. Farooq Aqdas – Jang News)

Yesterday the Prime Minister stated that Pakistan may play a mediatory role between Saudi Arabia and Yemen. What will be the modalities of this role? (Mr. Haider Sherazi – GNN)

Have the different stakeholders like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen expressed any views for the mediatory role to be played by Pakistan? (Mr. Khawaja Nayyar- Daily Kashmir Post)

The Prime Minister has yesterday stated that Pakistan may play a mediatory role between Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Is it Pakistan’s desire or has Pakistan been approached by any of the two parties to play a mediatory role? (Ms. Shumaila Andleeb – APP)

As per yesterday’s statement of the Prime Minister, what will be the modalities of the mediatory role of Pakistan? (Syed Mohsin Raza – Daily Assas Publictaion)

When is Pakistan going to start playing the mediatory role between Yemen and Saudi Arabia (Mr. Mazhar Iqbal – Public TV)

Answer

Pakistan, as a matter of policy has always worked for the best of relations between our brotherly Muslim countries and we shall continue to do so.

Question

Recently we have witnessed the instability and militancy in the elections in Afghanistan. Any instability in Afghanistan has adverse effects for Pakistan as it distracts Pakistan from addressing its own internal challenges. How does Pakistan view this election in terms of peace and stability, not only in Afghanistan, but also in the region?

How would you like to comment on the media reports about Mulla Baradar being handed over to Taliban by Pakistani authorities? (Mr. Shaukat Mehmood Paracha – Aaj News)

Answer

Building close cooperative relations with Afghanistan has been a high priority in Pakistan’s foreign policy and a vital component of the Government’s vision of a “peaceful neighborhood.” There is across the board consensus that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan is in the economic as well as strategic interest of Pakistan. We believe that no country benefits more than Pakistan from peace and stability in Afghanistan – likewise, no country suffers more than Pakistan due to unrest in Afghanistan. In the pursuance of this conclusion, in the past two years, Pakistan made deliberate efforts, including multiple leadership and high-level visits to Afghanistan to improve its relations with Afghanistan and constructively contribute to its peace and stability. Conclusion of Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity is the manifestation of these efforts. We would like to jointly work with Afghanistan under the auspices of APAPPS to further strengthen our bilateral relations and support the Afghan government’s efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Regarding your second question, I have no information on this.

Question

Reportedly, one of the cargo ships in the Arabian Sea has been stopped by Indian nationals, as it was going out of Pakistani waters. How would you like to comment? (Ms. Rashida Sial – Abb Tak)

Answer

I do not have any information regarding this. I will check and revert.

Question

Is there any update regarding the Iranian Border Guards who got abducted near Pak-Iran border? (Syed Bahadur Hussaini – IRNA News Agency)

Answer

As I said earlier we are working closely with the Iranian side at the local commanders’ level. The DGs (MO) of both sides have also spoken.

Question

Recently, the Prime Minister has stated that Pakistan may not go to the IMF. Is there any hope that we may get some assistance from China? (Mr. Zahid Farooq Malik – Daily Metro Watch)

Answer

Your question pertains to the Ministry of Finance.

Question

Reportedly, in a recent move, Pakistan has renewed its proposal to India for a bilateral arrangement on a nuclear test ban. Your comments please? (Mr. Naveed Siddiqui – Dawn News)

Answer

As you would recall Pakistan announced in August 2016 that it was prepared to consider translating its unilateral moratorium into a bilateral arrangement on nuclear non-testing with India. That proposal is still on the table and is reflective of our policy of promoting restraint and responsibility in South Asia and our consistent support for the objectives of the CTBT.

Question

Please update us on the progress of the Pakistan-Iran Gas Pipeline project? (Mr. Abid Chaudhary – The World Ambassador Magazine)

Answer

The question pertains to the Ministry of Petroleum.

Question

India and China have signed a security cooperation agreement. How do you view that? (Mr. Anas Malick – WION News)

Answer

We do not comment on the bilateral relations between countries.

Question

During the visit of the Prime Minister to China, will the projects of CPEC be reviewed? (Ms. Rashida Sial – Abb Tak)

Answer

The question pertains to the Ministry of Planning.

Question

How many Pakistanis are currently in Guantanamo Bay Jail? Reportedly, one Pakistani who had been convicted in 9/11 attacks is still detained there. Please elaborate? (Syed Mohsin Raza – Daily Assas Publictaion)

Answer

I will update you after getting the details from relevant quarters.

Question

Recently, we have seen the statement from the Pakistani side that Pakistan may place an offer for negotiations with India after the 2019 elections in India. Is there any hope that India will respond positively to Pakistan’s offer of negotiations? (Khawaja Nayyer – Kashmir Post)

Answer

It has been the considered position of Pakistan that all outstanding issues including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute can only be resolved through dialogue and negotiations. It is upto India to reciprocate.

Question

During the recent visit of the Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia, several MoUs have been signed. Would you please share the details? (Mr. Shahzad Mirza – 7 News)

Answer

A press release regarding Prime Minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia with all the details has already been issued.

Question

There is an intense increase in the killings of innocent Kashmiris, especially young highly educated Kashmiris in IOK by Indian occupation forces. Your comments please? (Mr. Zahid Farooq Malik – Daily Metro Watch)

Supplementary Question

Recently, we have seen statements from the Government of Pakistan including the tweets from the Prime Minister condemning the recent acts of violence perpetuated by the Indian occupation Forces in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir. The response from Pakistan is tepid. What concrete steps Pakistan is taking to highlight these issues? (Mr. Faisal Raza – 92 News)

Answer

We condemn the killings of innocent Kashmiris including the highly educated Kashmiris at the hand of Indian occupied forces. We have been raising this issue on every international forum and will continue to do so in future. You must have seen the tweet of the Prime Minister and the statement of the Foreign Minister regarding the current surge in the violence in the Indian Occupied Kashmir.

From the Indian perspective, every Kashmiri, irrespective of age/gender, including pregnant women and young children are either “militants” or “terrorists.” Indian occupation forces shot dead a six-months pregnant Kashmiri woman in Pulwama. This was followed by the bloodbath in Kulgam where they massacred more than ten innocent Kashmiris, most of them students. Media reports indicate that more than 40 injured, many in critical conditions were rushed to the hospitals. In the aftermath, India tightened the curfew and suspended communication services, including internet. In open defiance of the UN and the Human Rights Charter, India continues to oppress and outrightly kill innocent Kashmiris systemically, labeling every victim a “terrorist”, when the only real terrorism in IOK is by India itself.

Since the OHCHR report on Jammu and Kashmir calling for an independent Commission of Inquiry to look into the situation in IOK, India has intensified its brutalities to silence the legitimate Kashmiri struggle for the right to self-determination, by imposition of governor rule, deployment of NSG in what is already the most heavily militarized zone in the world, almost constant house arrests/ imprisonment of Hurriyat leadership and the recent killing spree which has become a norm in IOK.

The Prime Minister and Foreign Minister have strongly condemned the massacre of innocent Kashmiris in IOK. Our missions have been instructed to raise this grave situation in their host capitals, media and intelligentsia.

It is time for the champions of human right to urge India to halt its brutalities in IOK and expedite the resolution of the J&K dispute in line with the UNSC resolutions

Question

During the Prime Minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia, has the Prime Minister highlighted the issues faced by the Pakistani Diaspora living there? For instance, most of the companies are not paying their employees including Pakistanis in time resulting in an alarming situation. How would you like to comment? (Mr. Faisal Raza – 92 News)

Answer

Pakistan Diaspora living abroad are one of the top priorities of the current government. During the visit, the visa fee structure, among other things, has been discussed so as to facilitate Pakistanis visiting Saudi Arabia.

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