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Transcript of the Press Briefing by the Foreign Office Spokesperson on December 29

Foreign OfficeTranscript of the Press Briefing by the Foreign Office Spokesperson on December...
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Islamabad, Pakistan: Transcript of the Press Briefing by the Foreign Office Spokesperson on December 29

Assalam-o-Alaikum, welcome to the Foreign Office and thank you for joining us for the Year End Briefing.

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Before I formally begin, I would like to extend season’s greetings to you and your families, and our best wishes for 2023.

The year 2022, was an active year for Pakistan’s diplomacy. Our diplomatic efforts were aimed at enhancing Pakistan’s international profile and revitalizing our external relations in protecting Pakistan’s interests.

Throughout the year, there was enhanced frequency of high-level exchanges with Pakistan’s friends and partners with increased in-person meetings and interactions as the world moved out of the Covid related restrictions.

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During the first quarter, former Prime Minister visited China and Russia. He was accompanied by former Foreign Minister who also undertook visits to Romania and Spain.

Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari undertook visits to countries in Asia, Europe and to the United States.

High-level visits exchanged with Afghanistan, Austria, China, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Germany, Iran, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Turkey, Tajikistan, Togo, UAE, United States and Uzbekistan helped develop important understandings with these countries.

The visits of UN Secretary-General; Secretary General of OIC; Secretary General of SCO and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to Pakistan also contributed to enhanced cooperation between Pakistan and these organizations.

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Pakistan continued to pursue its active multilateral diplomacy in 2022 — both in individual capacity and as member of international groupings.

We are encouraged with the results of our diplomatic efforts in multilateral settings, the most important of which was Pakistan’s success in coming out of the FATF grey list in October 2022.

Another important achievement was the establishment of Fund for Loss and Damage at COP27 for developing countries.

Pakistan followed a policy of enhanced engagements with our close partners and friends.

We reinforced our traditional partnerships with China, Türkiye, Saudi Arabia and the Islamic world. These relationships are based on mutual trust and friendship and characterized by a tradition of robust dialogue and exchange of bilateral visits.

There was a revival and rejuvenation of political and sectoral dialogues with all partners through high level engagements, which allowed institutionalization of relationships.

During the last year, Pakistan held bilateral dialogue mechanisms with Argentina, Ethiopia, European Union, Hungary, Indonesia, Kyrgyz Republic, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Türkiye, and Uzbekistan. This also included the first ever dialogue with Luxembourg.

Foreign Minister co-chaired the first Ministerial meeting of the Joint Sub Committee of the Political and Security pillar of the Saudi-Pakistan Coordination Council.

Bilateral dialogues with the US were held on Climate Change, Health, Energy, Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).

Pakistan and the European Union launched a Dialogue on Migration and Mobility which would open avenues for legal migration from Pakistan to the EU member countries.

An agreement was reached to establish bilateral Joint Ministerial Commission with Indonesia.

We saw positive momentum in relations with the United States, especially with the visits of the Foreign Minister of Pakistan in September and December. A Senate-confirmed Ambassador was appointed by the United States to Pakistan after four years. The United States agreed to our long-standing request for provision of military hardware. We are confident that de-hyphenation of relations would further contribute to strengthening of our bilateral relations.

We continued to cooperate and engage with our partners in Europe on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest. Our focus was to develop deeper economic collaboration, cooperate to confront climate change and find opportunities in higher education and employment. We are also engaged in discussions with the European Union on extension of GSP Plus Programme and on green partnerships for climate change.

Foreign Minister attended the 29th Ministerial Meeting of ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Cambodia from 4-6 August 2022. He also visited Indonesia and Singapore.

Pakistan’s relations with Africa are seeing a positive trend in terms of bilateral trade and political, parliamentary, military and security cooperation. Pakistan opened new Missions in lvory Coast, Djibouti, Uganda and Ghana while Ethiopia opened its resident Embassy in Islamabad.

Our bilateral trade and business-to-business relations with Africa over the last six months have also registered record increases. Similarly, the remittances from Africa have reached a high of over USD 400 million. PIA and Ethiopian Airline agreed for code-sharing which would directly connect Karachi with Addis Ababa.

Our region remains an important focus of our foreign policy.

During the high-level engagements with countries in Central Asia, Pakistan developed close understandings with these countries to enhance regional connectivity and cooperation in energy, transport and infrastructure.

Pakistan has consistently expressed its desire to see a peaceful, prosperous, stable and connected Afghanistan. We wish that Afghanistan emerges as a trade and energy-connectivity conduit to our region.

Since 15 August 2021, Pakistan has pursued continuous and practical engagement with the Interim Afghan Government. The first high-level visit to Kabul this year was that of National Security Adviser in January.

Foreign Minister of Pakistan Bilawal Bhutto Zardari met Acting Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi, on the sidelines of the SCO-CFM held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on 29th July 2022.

On 29th November 2022, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar, undertook a day-long visit to Kabul where she held meetings with Foreign Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce and Industry of Afghanistan.

As a firm adherent of a regional approach to the situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan participated in meetings and mechanisms aimed at promoting peace in Afghanistan including Meetings of the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan as well as Troika Plus in March in China. Pakistan also participated in the Moscow Format talks held in Moscow on 16th November.

We have had some incidents on the border with Afghanistan. Our Head of Mission in Kabul was attacked on 2nd December 2022. We have increased the security of our diplomats and Missions in Afghanistan. Mr. Ubaid-ur-RahmanNizamani is in Pakistan for consultations.

We are engaged with Afghan authorities on issues related to security and border management. Afghanistan has given certain assurances and we hope the promises made will be honored.

We are also disappointed at the recent decisions taken by the Afghan Interim Government about women education and participation in public life in Afghanistan. We have strongly urged Afghanistan to revisit its decisions. We have emphasized the importance of equal access to education for all segments of society.

As Pakistan faced unprecedented flooding this monsoon, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our Missions abroad have worked together with our international partners to support national efforts for post-flood rehabilitation and reconstruction.

We are grateful to all countries and international organizations that came forward with humanitarian assistance including: Belgium, China, Denmark, the European Union, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Iran, Jordan, Malaysia, Nepal, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tajikistan, Türkiye, Turkmenistan, UAE, UK, USA, Uzbekistan, ADB, UNICEF, UNHCR, World Bank and WFP.

Following the devastating floods, Pakistan launched the Flood Response Plan (FRP) 2022 and the Urgent UN Flash Appeal in collaboration with the United Nations. This helped in securing life-saving and critical humanitarian support for the flood affectees.

The UN Secretary General, who undertook a personal visit to the flood affected areas in September, has been a strong supporter for support to Pakistan’s relief and recovery efforts. With the Prime Minister of Pakistan, he will co-host an International Conference on Climate-resilient Pakistan in Geneva on 09th January 2023, to galvanize support for Pakistan’s recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction in a climate-resilient manner.

Climate Change has become a key pillar of our foreign policy which has been reflected in our bilateral and multilateral engagements.

Pakistan delegation was led by the Prime Minister to COP 27 in November 2022 in Sharm El-Sheikh. A key outcome of the conference was the decision to establish a “Fund for Loss and Damage”. Pakistan as the chair of G-77 and China took a lead in the negotiations on behalf of the developing countries.

This year, Pakistan was leading two important groupings – OIC CFM and G77 and China – the largest international grouping of developing countries.

Pakistan hosted the 48th OIC Ministerial conference in Islamabad on 22-23 March 2022 that brought together OIC members and observers at senior levels. Twenty-Four Foreign Ministers attended the CFM.

The CFM focused on key priorities such as countering Islamophobia, recovery from COVID-19 pandemic, and diverse matters of peace and security, economic development, cultural and scientific cooperation and revitalizing the role of OIC. Palestine and Jammu and Kashmir dispute were the core issues on the agenda of the Conference.

As the Chair of OIC, Pakistan also played a lead role in unanimous proclamation by the United Nations General Assembly of 15th March as International Day to Combat Islamophobia.

In its capacity as Chair of the Group of 77 and China, Pakistan served as the collective voice of the Global South to promote international peace and security, sustainable development and human rights, and uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. It also galvanized support for establishment of the “Fund for Loss and Damage” at COP 27 in Sharm el Sheikh.

Prime Minister of Pakistan attended the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York where he and the Foreign Minister held important meetings. Foreign Minister also hosted a meeting of Young Foreign Ministers in New York.

Pakistan continued to participate actively in regional organization including CICA and SCO. Participation of Prime Minister and Foreign Minister in high-level events of SCO and CICA offered opportunities to present Pakistan’s viewpoint on important national, regional and global issues and underline our desire for enhanced regional connectivity and cooperation to help unlock the political and economic potential of the region.

Pakistan was removed from the FATF Grey List after 52 months of rigorous scrutiny. Pakistan’s removal from the Grey List marked completion of two very challenging and complicated Action Plans and a high degree of effectiveness of our Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime, which is irreversible and robust.

Pakistan continued to pursue a policy of peaceful neighborhood, based on mutual respect and sovereign equality, with all countries of South Asia region.

In case of India, we consistently maintained that bilateral relations cannot fully normalize until the resolution of the outstanding disputes, especially the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

However, a Hindutva inspired nationalist government continues to act as a regional bully and create hurdles in development of normal bilateral relations. Its suppression of minorities and the people of IIOJK is a matter of great concern for Pakistan.

During 2022, we invited the international community’s attention towards the Indian involvement in terrorism directed against Pakistan. In that connection, we recently released a dossier on the Indian involvement in the Lahore attack in June last year.

The year also witnessed the incident of firing of an Indian supersonic missile into Pakistani territory on 9th March 2022. The incident revealed technical lapses and systemic loopholes of serious nature in India’s handling of its strategic weapons. The irresponsible Indian action is yet another threat to peace and security of the entire region. Pakistan demonstrated exemplary restraint, which is a testament of its systemic maturity and abiding commitment to peace as a responsible nuclear state.

The 48th Session of OIC Council of Foreign Ministers took note of the incident and adopted a resolution, calling on India to refrain from any action, which may aggravate the security situation in South Asia.

Notwithstanding the prevailing tensions, the Ceasefire Understanding of 2003, reaffirmed in February 2021, was upheld at the Line of Control in the interest of regional peace. As a humanitarian gesture, Pakistan allowed India to transport consignments of wheat for the people of Afghanistan. In addition to the Kartarpur Corridor, Pakistan facilitated visit of Indian pilgrims to different shrines under the Bilateral Protocol of 1974.

Pakistan’s relations with other South Asian countries Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh witnessed positive developments. Pakistan is keen to strengthen the existing multifaceted cooperation with these countries. In this context, Foreign Minister held important meetings with the Foreign Ministers of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives on the sidelines of important multilateral events and conferences.

During 2022, India continued to use its military might to suppress the Kashmiris’ struggle for their rights and liberty. Throughout the year, Pakistan raised its voice for the people of Kashmir at all relevant bilateral and regional forums. It called for an end to grave human rights violations in IIOJK and for a just resolution according to the wishes of Kashmiri people and the relevant UNSC resolutions.

The 48th Session of OIC Council of Ministers, and OIC Contact Group on Jammu & Kashmir adopted important resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir dispute and agreed on an Action Plan.

OIC Secretary General’s first ever visit to Muzaffarabad and LoC, on 11th December 2022, was another manifestation of the Organization’s continued concern about the situation in IIOJK.

Going forward, Pakistan will continue to make all possible efforts for the settlement of Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.

I thank you.
*
Question:​How do you see the year 2023 in terms of relations and dialogue with India? Has India shared its willingness to come to the table for discussions on all outstanding issues which can be resolved through dialogue?

Secondly, Pakistan is facing a lot of problems due to economic situation, terrorism and as you also talked about climate change conference in Sharm El Sheikh in the context of recent floods as well. Many internationally acclaimed analysts have also given statements on this difficult situation. Even in such circumstances Organizations like IMF and rich countries are further tightening the noose for Pakistan for getting access to finances and they are not helping Pakistan. What are your comments on this, please? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: Answering your first question regarding our expectations for relations with India in the year 2023. Our position is very clear. Pakistan has continued to call for peace and dialogue on the basis of certain conditions that we have spelt out time and again. We want India to end its suppression in IIOJK, we want India to desist from terrorist activities and support for terrorist groups in Pakistan. We believe that it is up to the Indian authorities to take a responsible position and take actions for peace in the region.

Your second question was more of a statement than a question so I would prefer not to answer to that.

Question:​It has come to notice that some Chinese social media influencer go to slums in major cities of Pakistan where they make immoral videos of Pakistani girls and broadcast them live. We also did research and the list can be shared with you. Pakistan and China enjoy strong relations at Governmental level, but it seems some coordinated effort to weaken people-to-people relations. There is a strong outrage among Pakistani community in China. Is this matter in the notice of Foreign Office? Are there any guidelines for any foreign social media influencer regarding what they can report from Pakistan and what they cannot? What are your comments on this please? (Nauman Ashfaq Mughal, Daily Parliament Times)

Answer: I’m not aware of the specific incident or video that you have mentioned. We have to check the veracity of any such video, but I would lagree with you that Pakistan and China are close friends and partners and we will make sure that no amount of propaganda impacts the iron-clad friendship between Pakistan and China.

Question:​There is a video in which Afghanistan’s General Mobeen is addressing the Foreign Minister of Pakistan very inappropriately. What are your comments on use of such remarks against our Foreign Minister? How do think that this is going to impact our relations with Afghanistan?

Second, what are the major outcomes of visits undertaken by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari? Our exports are falling rapidly; factories are shutting down. What has Foreign Minister done to deal with these issues? (Sardar Aamir Hussain, Daily Maddar)

Answer: On your first question, I cannot comment on this because I haven’t seen the video.

Regarding your second question – As I said in my statement, all these visits exchanged between Pakistan and these countries are a demonstration of international community’s interest to engage with Pakistan and to develop understanding on a range of issues. Pakistan too is keen to expand and strengthen our relationships around the world. Pakistan believes that with enhanced interaction and with these high-level visits and exchanges, we can strengthen our friendships, cooperation and dialogue.

If you recall, for the last few years because of COVID restrictions there were very few in-person engagements between countries, especially at the leadership level. With the removal of these restrictions it has become important for leaders to meet with each other, to engage with each other and develop understandings in all areas of cooperation; be it trade, commerce, political arena or defense. We believe, therefore, that it is important to have frequent exchanges and dialogue.

Question:​How do you foresee Pakistan’s relations with the Middle Eastern region and the Middle Eastern states? (Shrouq Tariq, Suno TV)

Answer: Pakistan’s relations with countries in the Middle East are based on historic, cultural and religious commonalities. We have decades old relationships with these countries and cooperate on common causes, be it the Palestine issue or Kashmir issue. As you know that these countries are members of OIC, which has a specific position on the Kashmir dispute. Besides, Pakistan has strong trade and economic ties with the countries in the Middle East. Our community is a link between Pakistan and these countries in the Middle East and a source of important foreign exchange and remittances. So, for us relations with these countries is highly critical.

Question:​Is there any pressure from Saudi Arabia on Pakistan to crackdown against Iranian militant organizations?

Secondly, are there any guidelines for foreign media to keep Pakistan’s National Security in view while reporting from Pakistan? Because, Arab News which is a Saudi media channel had reported a story two days ago that Pakistan is facing a huge threat from Iran-backed Zainabiyoun Brigade which also fought in Syria during the Syrian war. Can you share some details about this, because Pakistan’s Interior Ministry has mentioned two groups as emerging threats for Pakistan which are TTP and ISIS? Will Pakistan’s Foreign Office reject the story of Arab news? (Faisal Ali, Daily State Views)

Answer: I have not seen that report. So maybe I can answer your first question next time.

Regarding the movement or activities of journalists in Pakistan, I would ask you to refer to the Ministry of Information because they issue any such guidelines.

Question:​Can you share the exact details of Flood Relief assistance which Pakistan has received from friendly countries? Also, if you can comment how much of that relief assistance has actually reached the affected people?

Secondly a video is circulating on social media which is actually a footage recorded by Taliban and shows the presence of Taliban in Margalla Hills Islamabad. What are your comments on this? (Sardar Awais, Daily Haqeeqat)

Answer: Regarding your second question, I would advise you to seek views from the Ministry of Interior. They would be in a better position to answer your question about the activities of terrorist organizations.

On your question about foreign assistance, let me first share with you that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is the focal department in Pakistan. It received relief assistance and has been involved in its distribution.

As I said in my opening statement, we are grateful to Pakistan’s friends and partners who have provided assistance to Pakistan in these difficult times. These include Belgium, China, Denmark, European Union, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Iran, Jordan, Malaysia, Nepal, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tajikistan, Turkiye, Turkmenistan, UAE, UK, US, Uzbekistan and some international and multilateral financial institutions and the United Nations.

Question:​Could you update on the status of Kulbhushan Jadhav, weather he is in Pakistan or has been handed over to India?

Secondly, the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan gave a statement about Pakistan a couple of days ago that Pakistan should act as a brotherly country or otherwise we will react. What is the comment of Foreign office on this statement? (Sohail Rana, Editor Post International and Baadban TV)

Answer: My answer to your first question is the same; it hasn’t changed. There is no change in the status and if there is any change in the status of Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, you will get to know.

Your second question was regarding the statement of the Afghan Foreign Minister. On that I would like to say that Pakistan is in contact with the Afghan authorities on all issues of mutual concern. We have mechanisms to discuss issues relating to the border security and hope that these would be resolved soon.

Question: Last week a number of terrorism related incidents happened in Balochistan. What are your comments on who is involved in these incidents?

Secondly, I would like to supplement the question of Sohail Rana sahib that Foreign Minister of Afghanistan has said that they expect Pakistan to treat Afghanistan in a brotherly manner. He has also said that the war on Pakistan – Afghanistan border is not beneficial for anyone. In a way he is blaming Pakistan for whatever is happening on the border and Afghanistan has nothing to do with it. He has also said that Afghanistan has opened the border for trade and trade activity and bilateral relations should improve. What are your comments? (Ghulam Abbas Jaffer, Daily Zakawat)

Answer: On Afghanistan, I would like to highlight once again, that Pakistan has been engaged with the Afghanistan on all matters, including the border situation, the security of our diplomats and Missions and the terrorist threats that Pakistan faces. We hope that these matters will be resolved soon. Afghanistan has given us certain assurances, and we hope that those assurances would be fulfilled.

Pakistan and Afghanistan share a 2600 kilometers long border with a difficult terrain and we have seen in the past as well that instability in Afghanistan has affected Pakistan. Pakistan, therefore, has a natural stake in ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan. We would like to continue to engage and find solutions in all these aspects including the issues that I have just highlighted.

On Balochistan – this is a security matter and the Ministry of Interior is the right forum to answer that question.

Question:​In your opening statement, you talked about diplomatic achievements of Pakistan during last year. What is the reason that during last eight months of the current government apart from Kazakhstan’s President, Secretary General OIC and Secretary General UN, no other Heads of Government; President or Prime Minister came to Pakistan?

Secondly, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in his tenure of 8 months visited United States three times and stayed in US for around 20 days but he had no time to visit Afghanistan himself and he sent Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar to Afghanistan for one day. What are your comments on this please? (Mazhar Iqbal, PNN)

Answer: First of all, I would like to tell you that decisions regarding high-level visits are taken after due consideration and deliberation. It takes several months of planning before these visits materialize. Some visits take place within a short period of time and some visits take longer time to materialize and plan.

In diplomacy we always start with working level engagements and then raise them to higher levels. You have seen that there were a number of important visits during the year including at leadership and Foreign Ministers level. We are working for enhanced engagement going forward.

Same is the case for our engagement with Afghanistan. We believed at that point in time that our interaction with the Afghan interim authorities should start with the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

Question:​In the past few days, threat alerts and advisories have been issued by Embassies of UK and USA in Pakistan. I just wanted your take on that. What exactly is going on? Apart from sharing travel advisories to their respective citizens in Pakistan are we receiving some concerns from the missions as well that are located in Islamabad, because we are also hearing some vibes of full-fledged military operation, although it’s not part of question towards you, but since we are hearing that so the past exercise was whenever Pakistan conducted a full-fledged military operation against militants in Pakistan, Foreign Office used to take on-board all the diplomatic missions and the heads of missions in a briefing. So, is there any kind of situation going on?

Secondly, I don’t see that much attention towards Donors Conference. If I talk about myself, I want to cover it but still I’m totally unable to get the details, how I should go about it. (Sumaira Khan, Samaa News)

Answer: Regarding your second question, we have already circulated that information and we will share with you as well. We have circulated information for all who are interested in covering the Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan in Geneva. There are certain guidelines and we have shared just to facilitate, although the focal ministry in this context is the Ministry of Information. For visits of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Information takes the lead.

On your first question regarding the advisories, I would, like to say that our law enforcement authorities are fully capable of and prepared to ensure safety and security of all nationals of Pakistan and foreign nationals in Pakistan. We attach highest importance to the safety and security of all foreign diplomatic missions in Islamabad, and have assured them of our full support and cooperation. In this context, we have briefed the diplomatic missions as well. It is important to recognize that there are individuals who want to disturb peace in Pakistan, and those individuals would be strictly dealt with by our law enforcement authorities. Lastly I would like to add that no specific information has been shared with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by any of these Embassies.

Question: Mam, In view of recent incidents with Afghanistan on border, has Afghanistan shared any report related to this? What are the reasons of these incidents? What steps have been taken by Pakistan to stop such incidents? ​(Allah Noor, Mashriq TV)

Supplementary Question: There was a part of statement of Afghanistan FM that if we allow Pakistan to use our transit routes to connect with central Asia than in reciprocity Afghanistan should also be allowed to use Pakistan’s transit routes to connect with other countries (India in specific) what is Pakistan’s response to this demand? (Sumaira Khan, Samaa News)

Answer: As I said earlier, we are engaged with Afghan authorities. We have mechanisms in place to discuss all matters including those related to security and the terrorist incidents that you have referred to. Given the sensitive nature of these discussions, we are not in a position to share extensive details.

I would not comment on any specific statement but I would like to share that Pakistan has facilitated Afghanistan which is a landlocked country and needs access to Pakistan’s ports for its exports. We are engaged with Afghanistan and are providing support that it needs in managing its trade.

I would also like to highlight here that in view of the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan was very supportive in facilitating India in providing wheat to Afghanistan overland through Pakistan. Our position on transit trade remains unchanged.

Question: Madam my question pertains to our policy towards Afghanistan. Foreign Minister Bilawal has also indicated that we should re-visit our policy towards Afghanistan, now that you have talked about elements like advisory issues and the situation of Islamabad’s security is in front of everyone and those elements are in Afghanistan, so are we waiting for any incident like APS to review our policy? What are your comments in this regard? :​(Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)

Answer: I would like to say that no policy in the world remains static permanently; all policies remain under review from time to time. I would, therefore, term your question as based on speculation. We strongly believe that it is important to continue engagement with Afghan side to find solutions in order to ensure peace in Pakistan and along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Question:​Can you share the details regarding the summary of Pakistan’s agreement of LNG with Russia. (Rizwan Abbasi, Daily Jinnah)

Answer: I am not sure what you are referring to. Summaries are confidential documents and therefore I am not aware of any such document.

Question:​I just want to know that in 2022 “Cipher” was one of the main developments relating to MoFA. Do you see this as Foreign Office’s success or its failure? (Anwar Abbas, Bol News)

Answer: I think that issue has been debated and discussed at length in the past. It is already a closed case. Let’s not reopen it while we are going into a new year.

Question:​There are water issues between Pakistan and India in which ICJ and World Bank are mediating. Is there anything being done by Foreign Office in this matter. Secondly, an annual exchange between Pakistan and India takes place at the end of the year related to atomic weapons. Is any such exchange taking place or is being planned? (Asghar Ali Mubarak, Daily Mail International)

Answer: Yes, these exchanges happen at the beginning of the year when these take place, we issue press statements.

Regarding the issue of the Indus Waters Treaty, as I stated in my earlier briefings, Pakistan is engaged with the process that is led by the World Bank. Moving forward, we hope that we would have positive outcomes and justice would be done as we believe that India has developed these projects in violation of the terms of Indus Waters Treaty.

Question:​Pakistan and Russia intergovernmental commission on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation will take place in January 2023. I asked the same question last time as well. Could you please provide us details on what is the agenda and for how long the delegation will stay in Pakistan. What are your expectations towards this process? (Ruslan Bekniyazov, Itar-Tass)

Answer: Yes, let me share with you that Pakistan-Russia Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation is a comprehensive bilateral mechanism, which takes place on regular intervals. Last meeting of IGC was held in Moscow in November 2021. From our side the Co-Chair is Minister for Economic Affairs while on the Russian side it’s their Energy Minister. Through this mechanism both countries hold meaningful dialogues on substantive and broad-based issues of mutual cooperation, including trade, investment, industry, railways, energy etc. It will be a good opportunity for both sides for further explore and consolidate cooperation in all areas of mutual interest.

Question:​Madam, the Russian Deputy Prime Minister has stated that they are giving Gas to Pakistan, what is your response on this? Secondly, what can be done to make better Pak-Afghan relations in coming years? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: On Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, we have already addressed that. As I stated earlier, Pakistan desires to have good and friendly relations with its neighbors on the basis of equality and mutual respect, including with Afghanistan. We hope that our relations with Afghanistan will continue to develop in the coming years.

As for the Statement by the Russian Deputy Prime Minister, I would say that Pakistan is in consultation with several countries for purchase of gas and oil to meet its energy needs.

Question:​Despite commitment by French President Macron, France Donor Conference could not be held to seek financial assistance. What are the reasons for that? (Naveed Siddiqui, Dawn News)

Answer: The conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan will take place on 9 January in Geneva, and co-chaired by Pakistan and the United Nations. The aim of the conference is to garner international support for the people and Government of Pakistan to build back climate resilient Pakistan after the devastating floods of 2022. The conference would involve participation from several countries, including France.

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