Record of Press briefing by Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman held on 13 June 2013

Islamabad, June 13, 2013 (PPI-OT): [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]

There are no opening remarks. The floor is open for questions.

Question
There are some organizations in Pakistan who take Pakistanis abroad for visit or work but do not fulfil their commitments. Does Foreign Office have check and balance on such organizations?

Answer
Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis, and other concerned authorities deal with organizations and agents who indulge in such malpractices that you referred to. For our part, the Ministry and our Missions abroad extend all possible assistance in addressing the problems of affected Pakistanis in consultation with the relevant Embassies and concerned authorities of the host governments.

Question
The new Government has abolished secret funds of several Ministries. They have also abolished secret funds of some Pakistani Missions abroad. Would you please tell us what these funds are meant for?

Secondly, how much amount Pakistani Missions in London and Washington have disbursed so far? Who were the recipients of these funds and at whose discretion were these funds disbursed?

Answer
We have received government instructions to close the secret fund. We would comply fully with the directions of the Government on this matter. As for the funds of the two Missions you mentioned, I do not have the information at this moment. You are aware that in the case of one Mission, the matter is also subjudice.

Question
What is the plan of new elected Prime Minister’s visit to Afghanistan and how will you describe the current nature of relations between the two countries in wake of the critical statement made from Kabul?

Answer
We have received a letter from President of Afghanistan addressed to the Prime Minister of Pakistan in which an invitation was extended. The dates of the visit have not been finalized. As for our relations with Afghanistan, the Government is fully committed to facilitating peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

Question
The Government has clearly articulated its policy on drones but drones strikes are still continuing. How drone strikes can be stopped?

Secondly, Prime Minister has clearly asked to end drone attacks. What would be the policy/modus operandi of Foreign Office to stop drone strikes?

Thirdly, does the new Government plan to raise this issue in the Security Council?

Answer
The Prime Minister of Pakistan has clearly called for an end to drones strikes. As you are aware, on the instructions of the Prime Minister, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister had called in the US CdA to convey a strong message that the drone strikes violate Pakistan’s sovereignty and are not in keeping with international law or UN Charter or the norms of inter-state relations.

The high level at which this was done signified the importance that the government attached to this matter. There is an across-the-board political consensus on Pakistan’s position on the issue of drone strikes. There is also a growing international debate over the humanitarian and legal implications of drone strikes. This matter is receiving priority attention of the Government.

Question
Every Ministry has a Minister except Foreign Ministry. There are reports of differences between Mr. Sartaj Aziz and Mr. Tariq Fatemi as to who is the real Foreign Minister. How this reported rift between the two gentlemen is going to affect the performance of the Ministry?

Answer
These media reports are baseless. Mr. Sartaj Aziz Advisor to the PM is a highly capable and experienced person with profound knowledge of political and economic issues. Mr Tariq Fatemi is also an experienced diplomat who has served Pakistan with distinction.

They together with the Foreign Secretary are working as a formidable team to give well thought-out policy options to the Prime Minister and to implement his directives in foreign policy. Both have been associated with Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, in office and out of office. Mr. Sartaj Aziz has held senior positions in the Party while Mr. Fatemi has been, since his retirement, the principal foreign policy aide of Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. They are both working as a team in their respective positions.

Question
The US National security Agency has stolen 13.5 billion intelligence reports from Pakistan. Foreign Office has taken up the matter with US. Do you have some details about this issue?

Answer
We have seen these media reports, and have taken up the matter with the US to ascertain veracity of the news and obtain facts of the matter. We are awaiting their response.

Question
What are your comments on violation of Pakistani airspace by Indian jets? Has Indian Government cited reasons for this violation?

Answer
As you know, we have conveyed our concern to the Indian High Commission. We were later told that this was an inadvertent and technical violation. Pakistan believes that the 1991 Agreement on prevention of violations of airspace should be respected fully.

Question
Pak-India talks are likely to be held in July 2013. Do you have the schedule of these talks?

Answer
I don’t have the schedule of these talks but I will revert to you.

Question
There are some reports about the deportation of Mr. Tauqeer Sadiq. Is there any update on that?

Secondly, there was an ordinance issued from the Presidency regarding right of vote for overseas Pakistanis. Is there any positive development on this issue?

Answer
Our Embassy in UAE has been extending due assistance on this issue. I will give you the latest on this issue after consulting my relevant colleagues.

As for right of vote for Overseas Pakistanis, you are aware that Election Commission of Pakistan with the assistance of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Interior had submitted detailed proposals to the Supreme Court. Considerable work has been done. Ministry of Foreign Affairs extended full support to the process.

Question
There are some issues regarding the new labour policies faced by Overseas Pakistanis in KSA? Is there any update on that? How many Pakistanis were deported or under arrest there?

Secondly, there is a visible commitment regarding the normalcy between Pakistan and India but practically some challenges are also there. How do you see the future relations of both countries?

Answer
The Ministry has been making strenuous efforts to address this situation. We have contacted Saudi authorities at every possible level. Our Missions at Riyadh and Jeddah are continuing their efforts to help Pakistanis regularize their stay in Saudi Arabia and to also assist illegal workers to leave the Kingdom before expiry of the grace period on 3 July 2013. In this regards, some of the notable efforts are:

a) 111 companies have been registered with the Embassy to provide possible employment to Pakistanis affected by the Saudi policy;

b) Representatives of these companies are visiting the Embassy on daily basis to interview workers in various categories. The unique initiative of holding ‘Job Fair’ in the Embassy has been very popular and successful;

c) 65 irregular Pakistanis have been recruited by these companies;

d) 1575 Emergency Passports have been issued;

e) 10705 Out passes have been issued.

We take welfare of our nationals abroad as a matter of high importance. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to provide all possible assistance to Pakistani Diaspora in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

As for your second question, Pakistan wants normalized relations with India. There are some challenges but the Government of Pakistan is committed to have a peaceful neighbourhood. It would be our effort to pursue policies of friendship and good neighbourly relations with all neighbours of Pakistan.

Question
Is there any schedule of the Prime Minister’s visit to China?

Answer
No schedule of the Prime Minister’s visit abroad has yet been finalized.

Question
There is lack of availability of machine readable passports machinery in Pakistani Missions abroad. What steps Foreign Ministry is taking to address this issue?

Secondly, what is the total number of Pakistanis residing in Syria? Is our Embassy functioning over there and what kind of the support is being provided to troubled Pakistanis?

Answer
On machine readable passports, we have been in touch with the Directorate General of Immigration and Passports. We understand the situation of MRPs has improved a great deal and it will improve further in days and weeks to come.

As for your question on Syria, our Embassy in Damascus is fully functional. I am not sure about the number of Pakistanis in Syria, but our Embassy is taking every step to make sure that they remain safe.

Question
Have any dates been finalized for the visit of John Kerry to Pakistan?

Answer
US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to arrive in the fourth week of this month. Final dates are being worked out.

For more information, contact:
Mr. Aizaz Ahmad Ch
Spokesman
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan
Tell: 051-9205494
Fax: 051-9204202
Cell: 0336-5644459

Leave a Reply