Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesman on 24 February 2012

Islamabad: Questions and Answers

Q: What are your comments on desecration of the Holy Quran at Bagram base in Afghanistan?

A: The Government and the people of Pakistan condemn desecration of the Holy Quran in strongest possible terms. The US has apologized at the highest level and assured of a full enquiry. This is absolutely important that such utterly irresponsible and reprehensible acts do not recur.

Q: How do you see Foreign Minister Khar’s meeting with the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton? Did anything fruitful come out of it?

A: The meeting was held yesterday. It was on the sidelines of an international conference on Somalia which was convened by the British Prime Minister. The meeting between Foreign Minister Khar and Secretary Clinton was positive and constructive from our perspective.

You will agree with me that Pakistan-US relations are important and we are trying to make these relations transparent and predictable. We are waiting for the completion of our parliamentary process. We will proceed further in the light of parliamentary guidelines.

Q: Americans are now publicly saying that they are running out of patience and Pakistan is dragging this matter too long. Your comments?

A: I do not know what they have said publicly. I think they understand and appreciate our position. We expect the parliamentary process to complete soon, in any case sometime during the first half of March 2012.

Q: In one hour meeting with Secretary Clinton, what was the impression of the Foreign Minister regarding the US views on reconciliation process in Afghanistan? The US has in the past asked Pakistan to arrange contacts with Taliban leaders. President Karzai demanded the same thing in his recent visit. Is Pakistan initiating something regarding the said demands?

A: As I said earlier, Pakistan-US relations are very important. The meeting in London was positive and constructive. Both the Foreign Minister and the State Secretary discussed entire gamut of relations and issues of mutual interest. Let us wait for our parliamentary process to complete.

Q: What kind of concern the US has shown over Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline?

A: They have their own concerns and their own position in the context of their national sanctions imposed on Iran. We have our own interests and our own position. As has been stated by our leadership, we will continue with this project and hope to complete it by 2014.

Q: Did the issue of Baluchistan come under discussion during the meeting of Foreign Minister Khar with Secretary Clinton?

A: All issues of mutual interest were discussed. As far as a draft resolution on Baluchistan in the sub-committee of the Congress is concerned, this betrayed arrogance and ignorance on the part of a few individuals. Pakistan has made its position very clear. We would not brook interference in our internal affairs.

A US Congressional delegation, which called on the Prime Minister yesterday, reaffirmed that the tabling of a resolution was an act by a few individuals and cannot represent the will of the Congress. We are confident that this ill-advised and ill-considered moved by a few individuals will not gain any traction and will be rejected by an overwhelming majority.

Q: Does Pakistan think that external forces are involved in creating law and order problems in Baluchistan?

A: There has been evidence about this. The government is cognizant of the issues involved and trying to handle all the issues politically.

Q: Some Baloch separatist leaders are residing in the UK. Did our Foreign Minister raise this issue with her British counterpart?

A: The Foreign Minister did raise the issue of anti-Pakistan activities in some countries.

Q: There are reports that Secretary Clinton had informed Foreign Minister Khar about the commencement of drone strikes in Pakistan. Any comments?

A: I am not aware of that. In any case we are very clear on drone strikes. We believe that drone strikes are unlawful and unacceptable and these strikes hamper our counter-terrorism efforts and realization of shared objectives.

Q: Has Pakistan contacted Interpol for arrest of General Musharraf?

A: I am not privy to any such move.

Q: Initially Pakistan blamed India for interference in Baluchistan. But many Baloch Sardars have taken asylum in Western countries and not in India. Can you explain it please? Moreover, in the past Pakistan has blamed India. Is there any change in Pakistan’s position?

A: As I said earlier, there has been evidence of external involvement in Baluchistan. Some forces have been trying to destabilize the situation in the province but there is no point in discussing these things publicly. We are committed not to interfere in internal affairs of other countries and we expect the same from other countries.

Q: Has Pakistan finally decided to raise the issue of drone attacks in the UN?

A: We have been raising this issue with the US bilaterally. We have not yet taken a decision in this regard.

Q: It has been reported that the Iranian President, in his recent visit to Pakistan, has requested Pakistan not to allow the US to open a consulate in Quetta. Can you confirm it?

A: As and when a decision is taken in this behalf, it will be taken purely by us and on merit. There is nothing of this sort under consideration at present.

Q: Some high level visits are expected from the US including those of Mr. Marc Grossman and General James Mattis. Would these visits take place after the completion of the Parliamentary process?

A: We expect all these visits to take place following the completion of our parliamentary process.

For more information, contact:
Syed Haider Ali Jafri
Personal Secretary
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan
Tel: +9251 921 0335 and 9056604

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