Record of the Press Briefing by Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Spokesperson

Islamabad, December 17, 2015 (PPI-OT): Opening Remarks

At the outset, let me set the record right in respect of a news item published in the Dawn of yesterday, 16 December 2015, which quoted the Foreign Secretary as saying that Pakistan was “surprised” by its inclusion in the 34-Nation Alliance against terrorism, announced by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

We reject the remarks attributed to the Foreign Secretary as incorrect and misleading. Mr. Baqir Sajjad Syed had misquoted the Foreign Secretary. We do not know why. Let me clarify that, in response to questions during his informal interaction with journalists on 15 December 2015, the Foreign Secretary had merely said that “we are ascertaining details” about the announcement made by Saudi Arabia concerning the alliance. As guided by him, I had also given the same response to the reporters who contacted me. As you are aware, we issued a formal response later in the day welcoming the formation of the alliance against terrorism.

I wish to emphasize that we respect views and analysis of all correspondents. However, we expect that they will not be mixed with facts to mislead the readers, particularly about Pakistan’s relations with important countries. Ethics are important in every profession. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be conveying its concerns to the management of Dawn newspaper about the misleading report by Mr. Baqir Sajjad Syed.

First Anniversary of the Terrorist Attack on APS Peshawar

As you are aware, the first anniversary of the horrific terrorist attack on the Army Public School Peshawar was observed yesterday. The leadership, officers and staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and their families join the nation in paying tribute to the Martyrs of APS Peshawar who lost their precious lives in the cowardly terrorist attack a year ago. We share the pain and grief of the parents, brothers and sisters of the Martyrs and respect and appreciate the courage with which they have borne their irreparable loss.

The sacrifices of APS Peshawar Martyrs have not gone in vain. The nation today is united more than ever before in its resolve to eliminate the menace of terrorism and extremism from the soil of Pakistan, once for all. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to apprise the international community of the sacrifices given by the people of Pakistan while combating terrorism, in order to make the world a safer and a better place.

The Floor is now Open for Questions

Question

My question refers to your statement on Saudi Alliance. In very careful remarks you said that Pakistan welcomes the formation of the 34 countries’ alliance. Does this welcome mean that Pakistan has formally joined or that Pakistan was consulted? Please also let us know since how long Pakistan has been in negotiations? Whether these negotiations were open or secret and why Pakistan was surprised that it has been included in this alliance? (Mateen Haider – Dawn News)

Supplementary Questions

How can a country welcome any coalition without having any information since we have said that we are still waiting for details? (Bashir Chaudhry – Channel 24)

Syria, Iraq and Iran have not been included in this alliance. The question is Pakistan also has friendly relations with Iran. What if Iran takes it as some sort of antagonism against it? (Syed Mohsin Raza – Such TV)

Since it is going to be a military alliance, do we know whether our army is actually going to participate in this alliance and if something happens anywhere in the world in the name of terrorism would Pakistan send its army? What is the arrangement of this alliance? (Essa Naqvi – Dunya TV)

Answer

Our press release issued yesterday is self-explanatory. Pakistan has consistently supported all regional and international efforts to combat terrorism and extremism. It is in this context that we have welcomed this alliance against terrorism. We are seeking additional information to decide the extent of our participation in various activities of this alliance.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy close brotherly relations and have been cooperating with each other in various fields including in fight against terrorism. We maintain close contact with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia bilaterally and within the framework of OIC and have been exchanging ideas on how to deal with the increasing threats posed by terrorists and extremist mindset to the region.

It is for each country to respond to various developments that are taking place at the regional and international level. I will not comment on why some countries are not included in the 34-Nation alliance against terrorism.

In response to the question of Mr. Essa Naqvi, I wish to draw your attention to our press release, which clearly states that further details are awaited to decide the extent of Pakistan’s participation in various activities of the alliance against terrorism.

Question

Was Pakistan consulted before inclusion in this alliance? (Ali Hussain – Business Recorder)

Answer

I have already responded to this question.

Question

My question is regarding the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue with India that was recently announced on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia Conference. What does this change in the name of the dialogue process suggest? How is it different from the Composite Dialogue? (Waqas Rafique Capital TV)

Answer

All the elements that were part of the Composite Dialogue are included in the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue that was announced on 09 December 2015, in Islamabad. What is important is to have a dialogue between the two countries, which is uninterrupted and result-oriented.

Question

Whenever Pakistan-India dialogue is about to take place some elements try to sabotage this process, like the response in the Indian Parliament on the speech of the Indian External Affairs Minister. Can you comment on what happened in the Indian Parliament? Do you think that the process which is going to start next month will be affected by such elements? (Khawaja Nayaar Iqbal Kashmir Post)

Answer

As you are aware, our Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs also made a statement on Pakistan-India relations in our Parliament.

I cannot comment on what happened in the Indian Parliament. It is their internal matter. You must attach significance to the fact that the statement issued on 9 December 2015 in Islamabad was a Joint Statement. It is important to make sustained efforts to realize the shared vision of the leadership of the two countries of a peaceful and stable South Asia.

Question

After the participation of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in the Heart of Asia Conference in Islamabad, what feedback is coming from Kabul on the extent of the anti-Pakistan sentiments, whether it has died down? (Zarghoon Shah Geo TV)

Answer

As you know, several bilateral meetings were held on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia Conference which were very successful. Meetings also took place at the trilateral and quadrilateral levels. The leadership of Afghanistan was here and able to meet with our leadership and discuss bilateral issues in order to further enhance our relations and cooperation. As you know, Pakistan attaches great importance to peace and stability in Afghanistan. We have been supporting Afghanistan and the peace process. The interests of both countries are best served by enhancing cooperation, rather than getting involved in a blame game.

Question

Have you started to act in the capacity of facilitator for Afghan reconciliation? Have contacts been established by Pakistani authorities with Afghan Taliban? And when is an outcome expected in the matter? (Naveed Akbar Daily Dunya)

Answer

Important trilateral and quadrilateral meetings held on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia Conference were helpful in reaching a broad consensus on resuming the peace talks and the way forward. All four countries will be working together to chalk out the way forward.

Question

The Islamic Military Alliance that has been welcomed by Pakistan does not include Iran, Iraq and Syria. How do you see the prospects of the alliance in the absence of such important countries? (Fida Hussain Radio News Network)

Answer

I can only comment on Pakistan’s position. Our statement makes it clear in the very beginning that Pakistan supports all efforts made at regional and international levels because terrorism is a global issue. The 34-Nation alliance has been formed to combat terrorism. That is why we welcomed it. I do not want to comment on why some countries are not part of the alliance.

Question

I want to make sure I understand you correctly, is Pakistan part of the alliance or not? Yes or no? (Carol- AFP)

Answer

I hope that you have read the statement that we issued yesterday. We have also elaborated on that statement. Our position is that because we support all efforts against terrorism whether they are regional or international, we have welcomed this alliance against terrorism. We will determine the extent of our participation based on additional information.

Question

US lawmakers have expressed concerns over Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and have threatened to cut aid to Pakistan. This comes at a time when our defence delegation is in the US. Can you comment on this situation? (Muhammad Ishtiaq Voice of America)

Answer

We have spoken on this issue a number of times in the past. Pakistan is a responsible nuclear weapons state. Our nuclear program has a certain context. The program is for our defence. When Pak-US delegations meet, they discuss different issues including the strategic issues. Strategic issues have also been mentioned in the Joint Statement issued by the two countries after our Prime Ministers visit to Washington in October 2015. As part of the strategic dialogue between Pakistan and the US, views are also exchanged by both sides on nuclear issues.

Question

Recently IAEA Board of Governors has said that Irans possible military nuclear program is totally closed. What is Pakistan’s position on Iran’s case? (Munafi – IRNA)

Answer

We welcome the progress made in the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Question

As far as I am aware this new alliance, this 34 member alliance under OIC, is the first military alliance that has been established. How do you see the role of OIC against militancy and terrorism? (Sidra Al Arabic TV)

Answer

We attach importance to the OIC resolutions on counter-terrorism and have referred to them in our statement issued yesterday.

Question

I just want your comment on the Afghan NDS claim that they seized explosives which were being transported from Pakistan by Haqqani Network. (Rabia Peer Voice of America Radio)

Answer

I cannot comment on such reports. On a number of occasions in the past baseless and unfounded allegations have been made by different countries against Pakistan. We see many such reports in the media but they are not taken up with Pakistan officially. I will comment only when something is taken up officially with Pakistan.

Question

You have said that Pakistan has sought additional information from Saudi Arabia regarding the military alliance. I have two questions: First, specifically what information has Pakistan sought from Saudi Arabia? And secondly, whether the information has been sought to enable us to make a decision on joining the alliance or to determine what role Pakistan can play in the alliance? (Shaukat Paracha Aaj TV)

Answer

We have already clarified our position in our press release. We have welcomed the alliance and, to be specific, will participate in it as it is against terrorism. The only thing that needs to be decided is the extent of our participation in various activities of the alliance.

A question was asked earlier as to whether Pakistan was part of the 34-Nation alliance against terrorism or not. The answer is yes. We have welcomed it and are part of it.

For more information, contact:
Mr. Aizaz Ahmad Ch
Spokesman
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan
Tell: +92-51-9205494
Fax: +92-51-9204202
Cell: +92-336-5644459
Website: www.mofa.gov.pk