Record of the Press Briefing Held on 25 August, 2011

Islamabad: Opening Statement

Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts remain focused on the promotion of peace and stability in the region. As part of the regional outreach, President Asif Ali Zardari visited Bahrain on 17 August on the invitation of His Majesty King Hammad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

The two leaders held extensive and wide ranging discussions. They agreed to further strengthen bilateral relations and consolidate cooperation in the economic, trade and political fields. Regional and global developments were also discussed.

President Asif Ali Zardari will visit China on 30 August to 1 September to participate in the China-Eurasia Expo being held in Urumqi. Chinese Vice Premier, Mr. Li Kequang, will call on the President at Urumqi as well as leaders of the Chinese corporate sector. The visit aims at strengthening business to business linkages between Pakistan and China and Pakistani and Eurasian businesses. A Pakistani pavilion is being set up at the Expo that the President will visit.

The President will also visit Tajikistan on 1-2 September 2011 on the invitation of H.E. President Emomali Rahmov. The two leaders will hold bilateral talks. The third Quadrilateral Summit between Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Russia will be held on 2 September in Dushanbe. The first two Summits were held at Dushanbe and Sochi in Russia.

The Quadrilateral Summit will focus on matters of regional connectivity including infrastructure and energy projects; regional trade; peace and stability in the region including support for the Afghan reconciliation process; and, cooperation in countering terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime.

A Trilateral meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari, President Hamid Karzai and President Emomali Rahmov is also scheduled.

The Foreign Minister is returning from her first visit to China after taking over as Foreign Minister.

Pakistan’s relations with China are unique, long-standing, broad-ranging and multifaceted. The Foreign Minister’s visit is yet another important landmark in the series of top-level interaction which point to the robustness of the Pak-China friendship and the commitment of both sides to invest this relationship with ever greater substance.

We continue to engage with the United States for building a stable partnership for our shared goals. It remains our belief that this relationship is crucial for the peace and stability of the entire region and beyond. The realization on both sides about the importance of this partnership and the need for it to be founded upon mutual trust and mutual respect was fully acknowledged, during the Secretary of State’s conversation with the Foreign Minister over the telephone a few days ago.

Questions – Answers Session

Q 1: What is the official position of Pakistan on the situation in Libya? Do we still recognize Col. Qaddafi as the legitimate leader of Libya or are we going to extend recognition to the Transition Council.

Secondly, it is reported that the rebels’ flag has been hoisted on the Libyan Embassy in Islamabad. Is it in the knowledge of Government of Pakistan?

A: On the situation in Libya, we are monitoring the situation very closely. Our diplomatic mission in Tripoli is fully operational and is also monitoring the situation. We believe that at this point in time, the situation is in a flux. So we continue to monitor the situation and in doing so we are guided by respect for the principles of sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of all states.

As for your second question, we have not received any official intimation to this effect.

Q 2: As you would know from reports in Chinese media that a Special Economic Zone is being established in the Kashghar region of China. A Chinese scholar has commented that Pakistan will be a key player in this regard. Do you agree with this assessment? Secondly, will President Zardari visit Kashghar during his next visit to China?

A: Pakistan and China are very close friends. It is a relationship which is matched by none. It is one that we can speak about for hours as it is a friendship between the peoples and the leadership of the two countries.

Pakistan, being a close friend and neighbour, takes great pride in China’s rapid development and the fact that China is taking its place among the largest economies of the world. Development of regions within China is of course the decision of the Chinese government. But the development of regions close to Pakistan obviously would have a positive impact on Pakistani regions close to the Chinese border and we welcome it.

Q 3: In a recent press release, the US Embassy has clarified that the version of Peshawar incident in the media whereby certain US officials rushed to the Peshawar Consulate and even tried to crush the police officials on the Peshawar Motorway is not correct.

It said that the American officials were travelling with the NOC that was issued by the GHQ, not by the Foreign Office. On further inquiry, the US Embassy said that in some cases these NOCs are issued by the GHQ. Please elaborate.

A: On issues like this which are operational matters, the discussions are ongoing between the Foreign Office and the US Embassy. I don’t think we need to go into details as to what was the exact reason for any NOC being issued because there are certain procedures that apply to all diplomats without discrimination. The Foreign Minister also referred to these procedures which are adhered to by all Embassies and Consulates.

Q 4: Seemingly, the American annoyance with Pakistan is not gone. Despite Pakistan’s efforts so far, the US assistance to Pakistan is not back on the normal track. What is the latest?

A: As I have said at the last press briefing as well, there are certain operational details which we are working out with the US Government. There is, I would repeat again, strategic convergence between the two countries and it continues to exist. It is at the operational level that we are addressing concerns that exist on both sides.

Q 5: Has the Government of Pakistan sent the letter to the US Embassy for the withdrawal of 200 persons, as reported in the media? And is it necessary for any diplomat to get an NOC from GHQ in order to travel in Pakistan?

A: I have clarified yesterday as well that this report about 200 US officials being told to leave is not correct. As far as the issue of NOCs for the moment of diplomats is concerned that remains within the purview of the Foreign Office.

Q 6: What is Pakistan’s official reaction on the existence of mass graves in Indian Kashmir? Another thing, we have heard that Mr. Warren, the American citizen kidnapped in Lahore has been released. Do you have any information on that?

A: With regard to the report of the Indian Human Rights Commission that has been recently published, we have seen some disconcerting facts which have been revealed in the report. This only goes to confirm what has repeatedly been said by Kashmiri leaders. It is imperative that the Human Rights of Kashmiris are respected and those responsible for such crimes are brought to justice.

I cannot confirm the report regarding the release of the US citizen. I have to check.

Q 7: A question on Afghanistan. As you know there has been a statement issued by the Foreign Minister on the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan which means primarily that Pakistan would probably like the US forces to stay little longer because the Pakistani side believes that the deadline of 2014 is a little hasty?

A: On issues regarding Afghanistan and the presence of forces in Afghanistan, the Government of Pakistan has categorically and repeatedly said that the decision belongs to people and government of Afghanistan.

Q 8: Prime Minister Gilani will be visiting the US next month. Can you comment on the possibility of his meeting with the US President?

A: The Prime Minister is expected to participate in the UN General Assembly Session. The visit is limited to a few days. At this point it is difficult to say who will he meet with as the schedule is still being worked out. He is expected to meet some leaders participating in the UNGA Session.

Q 9: Barhamdagh Bugti’s presence in Switzerland is known. Now he has started his political activities there and has given a few interviews. Have we officially raised this issue with Switzerland?

A: The question has been raised with the Swiss authorities in the past. You are referring to recent article published in the New York Times. We are looking into the details of the article.

Q 10. You have said that the movement of diplomats comes within the purview of the Foreign Office. But the press release of the US Embassy very clearly stated that the NOC was obtained from the GHQ.

The monogram of the GHQ was clearly visible on the NOC which American Embassy officials were showing? We understand that the NOC from GHQ was required only for military trainers. Did the GHQ issue any NOC in this case? Secondly, why does America insist on the return of the Military trainers?

A: With regard to the movement of all diplomats, it falls within the purview of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Q11: Going back to the earlier question. Simply, does Pakistan support the US forces protracted stay in Pakistan beyond 2014?

A: I got your question the first time and the answer to that is clear. It is for the Government and people of Afghanistan to decide about the future of the presence of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

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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