Press Briefing by Foreign Minister

Islamabad, August 20, 2018 (PPI-OT): Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim, Assalaam-o-Alaikum,

Opening Remarks

Yeh tou wohi jaga ha – guzrey thy hm jahan say

I am happy to be back at the Foreign Office.

Today, I want to convey a message to the people of Pakistan that the foreign policy will begin and end with the national interest of Pakistan. Our prime priority shall be Pakistan. It is my utmost desire that the foreign policy of Pakistan may be reviewed anew and where we need to reset the direction, we will do it. The first priority of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, among others, is the wellbeing of the common man through economic diplomacy and international engagements.

I am fully aware of the enormous challenges faced by us and our region and it is our firm desire to address them and to move forward. There are some elements, which are trying to isolate Pakistan, as there has been no Foreign Minister for a long period of four and a half years, leaving the field open for the opponents. The Foreign Minister is the chief diplomat and the face and spokesman of a country.

My priority will be; to have a national consensus on our foreign policy, by adopting a bipartisan approach. Today from the very beginning, moving forward with the same in mind, I would like to invite the previous Foreign Ministers from the opposition parties of Pakistan, namely; Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar from PPP, Mr. Khawaja Asif from PML (N) and Parliamentary Leader of MMA or whoever they deem appropriate, to discuss important issues and gain from their experiences. I will just instruct my office to fix meetings with them at a time of their convenience.

I will represent Pakistan in the upcoming session of UNGA. Our government is a government of the people and will be run according to the wishes of the people. We will move forward by taking into account the views of the opposition parties, as well.

I will also meet the Foreign Secretary, Ms. Tehmina Janjua, after the Cabinet Meeting and will get a briefing from her on important issues, as she is current on them.

I would like to engage with two important countries, which occupy an important place in our foreign policy and would not hesitate to address the trust deficit, if any, keeping in view the wishes of the people of Pakistan. Later on, I intend to make a telephonic call to the Afghan Foreign Minister and would like to visit Afghanistan as per their convenience. I would like to take along a solid message for the people of Afghanistan that our future, geography, peace and stability are connected and without peace in Afghanistan, there cannot be peace in Pakistan.

We need to cooperate with each other and forget the misunderstandings of the past, to embark upon a new journey. I would like to convey a message of friendship, love and a new beginning to the Afghan leadership, with whom I have had cordial relationship in the past. It is in my knowledge that there is a bilateral architecture in place, wherein there are five tracks and based upon the same, I would like to move forward.

My second message is for the External Affairs Minister of India. One is my eastern and the other is my western neighbour. I would like to tell my Indian counterpart that we are not only neighbours but we are nuclear powers. We have some problems which need to be resolved through negotiations. We cannot afford any adventurism based upon reactionary measures. We have to accept reality and engage in meaningful ways. We have to accept that we have outstanding issues. Jammu and Kashmir is a dispute, acknowledged by both the countries.

Recently, we sent our Law Minister to attend the funeral of the deceased Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who came to Islamabad and accepted the reality of Pakistan and admitted that Jammu and Kashmir is an outstanding issue. The Islamabad Declaration is a part of our history. I know that we need continued and uninterrupted dialogue, which is the only way forward.

My third message is for our Missions abroad that you are not the rulers of the country; rather, you are the servants of the people. Prime Minister Imran Khan also mentioned this in his address to the nation, yesterday. We want to change our way of thinking and behaviour. It never harms one to be polite and respectful to others. Our Missions need to deal with our overseas Pakistanis with courtesy and respect. I will urge our Missions to pay special attention to this.

As the Vice Chairman of my Party, I have contributed towards the agenda and the hundred days programme of the Party. I would like to move forward, keeping in view the philosophy of my Party. I acknowledge that the Foreign Service officers are competent and I will consult them at every step. I would also like to consult our respectable Ambassadors, residing in Islamabad, who are retired and have knowledge and expertise in different fields. Similarly, I would like to consult the academia and the think-tanks. Ms. Janjua, I would like to ensure you and your team that I will move along with you to work for the betterment of our country. First, we have to choose our priorities and then we have to move forward to achieve them.

I have just been informed by the Foreign Secretary that the Indian Prime Minister has sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Ahmad Khan Niazi, conveying that the way forward is only through constructive engagement.

Now floor is open for your Questions:

Question

First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your Party’s historic victory in the general elections. During your first term as Foreign Minister in the PPP Government, you were following the guidelines of the then President Mr. Asif Ali Zardari and now you are working under Imran Khan. What do you think is the difference between the policies of the two leaders? (Mazhar Iqbal – Public TV)

Answer

You probably did not follow my speech. My approach would be, to take along all the political parties. The national interests of Pakistan are a priority for all of us, irrespective of the fact; which party we belong to. We are all united, as far as our national interests are concerned. So, it does not make any difference from where I am taking guidance, which I will take, from wherever it is necessary.

Question

What is the strategy of the new government as far as Pak-US relations are concerned? (Mona Khan – Geo News)

Supplementary Question

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may visit Pakistan on 5th September 2018 so what will be your strategy? Secondly, will the Prime Minister be representing Pakistan at upcoming UNGA Session in New York or you will be representing? (Naveed Siddiqui – Dawn News)

Answer

I have exchanged views with the Prime Minister and would further discuss them in the upcoming Cabinet Meeting. I would definitely seek guidance from the Prime Minister as far as the foreign visits are concerned. His inputs will be important for me. Regarding your question on our relations with US, I had had the opportunity to work with the US officials in the past. I worked with the Ms. Condoleezza Rice, Ms. Hillary Clinton, Mr. Richard Holbrook and I know about their priorities and concern. I will be very straight forward and I will convey to them that bilateral relations are based upon respect and mutual interest, irrespective of the fact whether a country is small or big. As I said earlier, I am not ignorant of the fact that there is a trust deficit on both sides and we will have to mend that by listening to them and presenting our own view point.

Question

Your party was critical of appointment of non-career Ambassadors in our Missions abroad. What will be the present government’s policy? (Essa Naqvi – Indus TV)

Answer

As per my information, there are 17 (seventeen) non-career Ambassadors serving in our different Missions abroad. As per their contract, they are deemed to have resigned, once the new government is in place, however we will not make any arbitrary changes immediately. I would like to assess their performance and the role played by them. Nobody is going to take for granted the position. Our government has its own priorities and we have to fulfill our aims within our tenure and we have to see who is going to serve the purpose.

Question

There is a perception that the foreign policy is formulated by the establishment. There has been a strong criticism from the opposition parties that your Party was favoured by the establishment in the last elections. Secondly, in the last decade, Pakistan followed the policy of no-war and no-peace with the neighbours. What do you have to say about this? (Joris – AFP)

Answer

The foreign policy of Pakistan will only be formulated at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It’s a common rule all over the world that the inputs are sought from various national security institutions while formulating foreign policy which we will also do. These inputs are valuable as they are based on institutional memories. Pakistan first will be our priority. When policies are formulated in the US, the inputs are taken from CIA, Pentagon and other security institutions.

Question

One of the priorities for your government to adopt austerity measures. Do you think these measures will also be adopted in our Missions abroad and Pakistan Houses. Secondly, how would you like to comment on the corruption cases in Foreign Office as well as the Audit Paras on different matters pertaining to the Foreign Office? (Mateen Haider – Geo News)

Answer

We will follow the policy of the government. However, we have to engage with the world as it engages with us and with others. On the issue of corruption, I feel that it has destroyed the institutions of Pakistan and the ability to deliver has gone down over the years. We have determined that we will put an end to this menace.

To a question on CPEC, the Foreign Minister remarked that CPEC is important for both the countries. I would like to meet the Chinese Ambassador in order to know about the details of the project. Our party supports the CPEC project. The Chinese Ambassador has been in touch with us.

For more information, contact:
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

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