"the video tape was available to the international media just days before in JalalabadÖPakistan has always demanded bringing proofs against Osama to surface what is its position nowÖ the video has been released and everyone has watched it".
-- Maj. Gen. Rashid Qureshi, Spokesperson, Islamabad, December 14
No statement was made in the beginning and the Press Conference opened with the question-answer session.
QUESTION - ANSWER SESSION:
The following issues were discussed during the question-answer session:
* When his comments were sought on a reported statement by Mr. Qanooni, Interior Minister-designate in the future set-up of Afghanistan Administration, claiming presence of about five thousand Pakistan army men in Afghanistan, the DG, ISPR said:
These are allegations that have been made in the past and continue to surface from time to time. There is no truth whatsoever in these allegations. They are absolutely false. Pakistan army men have never been inside Afghanistan. Unfortunately, Indians and sometimes some other countries have made such totally baseless allegations. During the past two months, specially after 11 September 2001, the frustrated Indian establishment has been making one allegation after another trying to implicate Pakistan and Pakistan army in any way they can. At one stage it was said that there is one Pak army brigade, which is about 3-4 thousand men, inside Afghanistan fighting against the Northern Alliance. Once the military strike against Afghanistan started, people questioning as to where the Pakistan army was.
Then we heard a rumor published in an Indian newspaper saying that Pakistan army transport aircraft landed at Khost and took aboard Pakistan military personnel. Now in Khost after the bombing by the coalition forces no air strip exists. Then their wild imagination created two Pakistani helicopters having gone to Kunduz to take out two brigadiers and about one thousand men of Pakistan army. It was published in an Indian newspaper. Unfortunately, a few days later the same story was picked up by The New York Times which they published without any kind verification.
What they did not realize is that the distance from the Pakistan border to Kunduz is such that no helicopter in the world today can fly that distance and back without refueling midair. And there was no refueling carried out midair. Even in the Pentagon briefings the US spokesman pointed out that they have radar umbrella over Afghanistan and no aircraft can go into Afghanistan and leave taking so many people without coming to the notice. So it has been proved time and again that these news items basically published in Indian newspapers, are totally baseless, unfounded and false. Recently, we had repeated articles on Pakistani nuclear scientists, having shared nuclear information with unauthorized quarters, which is again a ridiculous allegation. I may point out that it was first published in an Indian newspaper Tribune of 22 November. Then it was picked up by The New York Times wherein they said that two Pakistani nuclear scientists have run away to Myanmar and the President of Pakistan has asked the Myanmar Government to give them asylum. What a ridiculous story! The names of two scientists that they have given donít even exist on the rolls of the PAEC. It was an absolutely false and fabricated news. I think, it is time that newspapers who are picking up such articles from the Indian newspapers owe to the world that they should make sure about their authenticity before picking them up from Indian sources.
* To a supplementary question whether Pakistan would be launching a protest against the utterances of Mr. Qanooni with Mr. Karazai the Prime Minister-designate of the future Afghan Administration, and what steps Pakistan would be taking to check appearance of such baseless and unfounded stories in foreign papers, the Spokesman said:
The other day I had rejected these allegations and insinuations. I would like to reject these allegations once again. As far as interaction with the new interim Administration in Afghanistan is concerned, it should take over first and then the interaction would start. In the past for several years now these allegations have constantly been made as General Rashid Qureshi has pointed out. I had also in one of my briefings mentioned to you that whenever such allegations in the past were made, we challenged them asking that they should produce before the international media if they have got any army personnel in their custody. There was complete lull and nobody was brought forth. So these are motivated allegations and one should reject them outrightly. The same way are these news reports that some prestigious newspaper published without verifications. These are utter fabrications , motivated reports. The two scientists that have been mentioned having gone to Myanmar, there are no scientists of these names in the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.
* Asked as to how Pakistan could claim having good relations with the interim Afghanistan Administration when few of its members were already coming out with venomous statements against Pakistan and those too while sitting in India, the Spokesman said:
As you are aware, President General Pervaiz Musharraf has already spoken to Mr. Hamid Karzai on telephone congratulating him on his appointment. The two leaders expressed the desire of close friendly relations with each other. We have no reason to believe that we would not have good relations with the new interim Administration once it assumes office in Afghanistan. One or two leaders making statements of the kind that they are making can best be ignored. We have already rejected insinuations and allegations.
The kind of relations that Pakistan has with Afghanistan go back to centuries. These are very close relations between the two peoples and two countries. The people of Afghanistan are aware of the sacrifices that Pakistan has made for their sake. Three million Afghan refugees are in Pakistan and we have been hosting them for about two decades. Afghans are good proud people. They value their friends and stand by them. Our relations are deeply rooted in history and cannot be spoiled by irresponsible statements here and there. These ties are very strong and would be further strengthened in the future, Inshall-Allah.
* To a question about the visit of Mr. Brahimi to the region, the Spokesman said:
As far as Mr. Brahimi is concerned we have exchange of views with regard to post-Bonn situation. He has left this morning (11 December) for Kabul. We talked about the new interim set-up. How it is going to come about and the arrangements going to be made. These are the things which he is going to discuss with Afghan authorities in Kabul. He would be returning back to Islamabad tomorrow providing us an opportunity of another session with him.
* When his views were sought on deployment of multi-national forces in Afghanistan, the Spokesman said:
As far as Multi-national forces are concerned, as you know, we have already favoured that kind of arrangement. This is the subject which the Security Council has to discuss. A resolution has to come on that. The UN has to discuss that with the member States and only then it would be determined who are going to contribute forces, how soon will that force be deployed, what will be the terms and conditions of deployment. As far as Pakistanís viewpoint is concerned, we have maintained that in order to allow the new interim Administration to function freely, the city of Kabul be demilitarized and a multi-national force be placed there.
* To a question about Pakistanis caught in Afghanistan and the likely treatment to be given to them on return, the Spokesman stated:
Pakistanis who had gone there and are being repatriated now; first of all, what I can say off hand is, that they crossed the border without proper documents which in itself is an offence and now are re-entering the country. That is one charge I can think of; for the others, I think we will have to get in touch with the authorities to find out exact allegations against them. Only then it can be determined under what laws will they be tried.
* Asked if Pakistan had been asked by the United States or was investigating on its own role of any other scientists, apart from the two already in custody, with regard to their involvement with the Taliban or Al Qaeda, the DG ISPR said:
As far as these two scientists (Mr. Bashiruddin and Mr. Majid) are concerned, they are under detention and being investigated. If there are any leads from them others can also be investigated. I am not aware of any other scientists who have been questioned or are going to be questioned. I am not aware of any lead which leads to other nuclear scientists. So far as sharing of information with the United States, whatever information or intelligence the US has, is being shared with us and whatever we find out, we share with coalition partners.
* Asked if Islamabad was contemplating any action against appearance of false and baseless stories about Pakistan in the local and foreign media, the DG ISPR said:
We have just received information from our Embassy in Washington. They have sent us copies of the articles that have been published. We are going to inform the Embassy of what the exact facts are. I think we would be very grateful if investigative reporters like people gathering here, who are now becoming very sensitive and privy to this vicious circle of Indian newspapers articles being picked up by other newspapers in the United States and then Indians later on quoting the US newspapers like the New York Times and saying that now it is confirmed because a prestigious American paper like the New York Times has published the story. This circle needs to be broken. We are in contact with the (American) newspaper. We will provide them the evidence that we have to prove that they have picked up the stories without any kind of checking and investigation and they have published something which is utterly false.
* Asked if some Taliban leaders had taken refuge in Pakistan; secondly what steps the Government of Pakistan had taken to beef up security along Afghanistan border, the Spokesman said:
As far as the Taliban Ministers and leaders are concerned some of them have their families living here. They have been coming back and forth, visiting Pakistan. If you refer to the people working with the Embassy, they are still in the process of winding up. Their diplomatic visa status would soon be terminated and after that we will see how the things develop.
* To a supplementary question that few of Taliban stalwarts had announced the launching of a party the other day, the Spokesman said:
It is not launching a new party, they have just revived a party that used to exist before and have declared their allegiance to that party. In a way people are leaving their original groups and rejoining some other groups. The phenomenon has started, some of the Taliban leaders who have now either joined one of the original Mujahdeen Groups that they belong to, or this particular party that used to exist already. It is not a new party that has been launched.
DG, ISPR added: About the beefing up of the border I had already stated that Pakistan has decided not only to reinforce borders with Afghanistan to prevent any movement from across the border, but has also decided to use substantial number of regular army troops for the purpose. There is greatly increased mobile surveillance from the air as well as from the ground. So it is not just deployment of troops or additional beefing up of the borders, there is also a substantial increase in the surveillance from the air and from the ground.
* When his comments were sought on a reported statement by the Indian Prime Minister on conclusion of his visit to Japan, that atmosphere was not congenial for resumption of talks with Pakistan and that Islamabad was creating hurdles in the way of holding elections in the Indian Occupied Kashmir, the DG, ISPR said:
All I can say, it is very unfortunate for the Indian leadership to say what you have just stated. From the point view of Pakistan, all problems and conflicts which exist between India and Pakistan and the main problem which has bedeviled relationship between the two countries for the last well over half a century is Kashmir. Pakistan is very up-front in making an effort with India, President Musharraf having gone to Agra for a Summit meeting. Pakistan remains open to resolve all its issues, Kashmir being the major one, peacefully with India through dialogue.
As far as the other part of the question is concerned that the environment for talks do not exist, we differ with the Indian interpretation. I think, one needs to start talking and take the first step. Only that way the environment would improve and tensions would subside. I may reiterate that it is unfortunate if the Indian leadership holds such kind of views with regard to talks. Pakistan is not creating any kind of hurdles for holding of elections in the Indian Held Kashmir. The unfortunate part again is that for every problem that Indians face, which is of their own making, they blame Pakistan. They used suppression and oppression against hapless Kashmiris and then there was reaction to that by those civilian Kashmiris who have been prevented from any political elbow room for last more than a decade. Now as a last resort, they have taken up arms against the oppressor regime inside IHK.
* Asked as to how he viewed the latest Indian move to invite APHC leaders for talks and setting up a special group under Mr. C.K.Pant for the purpose, the Spokesman said:
I think, the APHC has already responded to that and said that they would talk only when Pakistan is also associated with the process.
* When asked about the present status of Mullah Abdul Zaeef, former Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan, the Spokesman said:
He is a former Ambassador, winding up the affairs. Normally when a Mission is terminated a reasonable time is given to wind up the affairs and leave the country.
* When his attention was drawn to certain media reports that Pakistani nuclear scientists were being investigated by US officials, particularly when the US Spokesman had stated that they were cooperating with Pakistan on that account, the DG, ISPR said:
I am quite surprised to listen to your interpretation of what the US Spokesman said. This is not correct. They are cooperating with Pakistan, so as Pakistan is cooperating with them. It does not mean that Pakistan is interrogating someone from the United States. No. Pakistanís own agencies are investigating this case.
"Anything they (India) want to do in Afghanistan - the purpose is only one: how to do something which will be against Pakistan, that will damage our causeÖThat is their sole purpose. They have invited the future interior minister of Afghanistan, Mr (Yunus) Qanooni, there (to Delhi). They must have planted something in his mouth to say. We are not bothered. I am very sure we want to play a positive role in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has suffered tremendously. We understand their problems. We are their neighbours. Geography, our common history, our common culture and religion cannot be undermined by any actions of India, I'm very sure of that."
-- President Pervez Musharraf, interview to Far Eastern Economic Review,
" They (TNSM cadres) had gone to Afghanistan to join fighting along with Taliban against US. Some of them are now reportedly as under arrest there. We too have received this report, though we have no confirmation of this report. They had gone there to wage Jihad. But there friends have not treated them well thereÖIf they seek our help, we shall Insha Allah provide help to them. Now all the routes of entering into Pakistan form Afghanistan have been sealed. In order to supplement it we have moved the Regular Army of Pakistan. Therefore movement across the border is not easy now."
-- Tasneem Noorani, Interior Secretary, interview with BBC
No opening statement was issued.
QUESTION - ANSWER SESSION:
The following issues were discussed during the question-answer session:
* When asked to comment on the statement of the Northern Alliance Interior Minister-designate, Younus Qanuni, in New Delhi, warning Pakistan not to interfere in Afghanistan, the Spokesman said:
Well, we have not seen the exact text of his remarks. However, we categorically reject any such allegation. Pakistan, if you look at past history, has made tremendous sacrifices for Afghanistan and has offered tremendous assistance and help to that war-torn country. It became the frontline state in Afghan peopleís fight against foreign invasion. It opened its doors and wholeheartedly welcomed more than three million Afghan refugees, who continue to stay in Pakistan till today, for almost 22 years. Pakistan has been a home to a majority of the Afghan leadership also. They and their families have lived in Pakistan.
Even after the withdrawal of the foreign forces, Pakistan has made every effort to broker and to promote durable peace in Afghanistan. It gave its full support to the UN and OIC efforts for bringing durable peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan, besides supporting these international efforts, also made efforts of its own inside and outside Afghanistan with the leaders of both sides of the political divide. Pakistanís record, as far as help to Afghanistan is concerned, is quite obvious. At the same time, Pakistan gave its unstinted and complete support to the recent UN peace efforts which have resulted in the Bonn Agreement. Pakistan hopes that this Agreement will bring in a new era of peace and stability in Afghanistan, and that the people and leaders of Afghanistan will finally be able to have a permanent political set-up in their country, which is friendly to all its neighbours.
* When his attention was drawn to certain reports claiming that Osma had already crossed over to Pakistan and whether Pakistan had enhanced surveillance on its borders, the DG, ISPR said:
Yes, we have heard reports and various articles that have been written on that. As already stated, so far there is no credible information claiming that Osama Bin Laden or his supporters have entered Pakistan. However, we have beefed up security on the borders. And when I say beefed up, I am saying in addition to what we have done earlier. There have been movement of regular army troops in substantial number, especially in the areas opposite to Tora Bora as well as Chamman side. There are regular army troops being deployed, in addition to what we moved earlier. There is also increased surveillance. We are utilizing all assets, which means vehicular, manpower as well as helicopters for increased surveillance. All that needed to be done, has been done. There are even armed helicopters that will be surveiling the area.
* To a question that a network of tunnels in Tora Bora were connected to the tribal Areas of Pakistan and whether the areas were being patrolled as Osama might attempt to escape through this route, the DG, ISPR said:
Any one who enters a tunnel has to exit. Helicopters do not go inside tunnels. I donít think there is any such tunnel which goes through a mountain or a mountain range which starts from one end reaches the other end. However, all exits, all areas that could be used for infiltration of forces or movement, especially where these areas converge, are being monitored and we will continue it to ensure that no such thing happens.
* To a question that despite Governmentís denials to the contrary, certain foreign media reports still maintain that Osama and Mullah Omar were in Pakistan and the latterís family had been sighted in Chamman whether he construed it as a conspiracy against Pakistan, the DG, ISPR said:
I donít want to comment on intentions. But if there are certain apprehensions, I would like to allay those as I have done many times before. Each time there is a further information that is given, which by the way, has even been denied by the briefings in the Pentagon. Initially, there was a report that the area of Tora Bora has been either cleared or captured but yesterday, if you noticed, General Tommy Franks of the United States said, no, it is not true, and we also had heard later that they just got to the lower levels, they have not been able to clear Tora Bora area completely. So, therefore, there are news items and there are contradictions. What I am saying now, we have taken all precautions. We have taken additional precautions recently and in the past few days, of which I have just spoken about. The comments that you made that some family members have been seen in Chaman, I donít think that is correct. But what we have said that whoever tries to come across the Afghan-Pakistan border, and if he is not legally allowed to enter, if he does through some routes he will be taken into custody. Investigation and interrogation will be held and according to what he merits, action will be taken against him according to law.
* To a question with regard to the status of Mullah Zaeef in Pakistan, the Spokesman said:
After the termination of diplomatic relations, the Geneva Conventions provide for a reasonable time to be given to diplomats who had been posted in the country, to wind up their affairs and go back. So, that reasonable time was given to him. We have not yet determined exactly what the length of that time would be. We just informed him to wind up his affairs in a reasonable period of time. We will approach him again to check whether he had wound up. You see, there are children going to school, the school term is also involved, and there are several other factors of humanitarian nature which are involved. So we will keep those in consideration as well.
* To a supplementary, the Spokesman clarified:
I was talking about the Afghan leaders who had taken refuge in Pakistan. This is slightly a separate issue. This is not a question of taking refuge. Mullah Zaeef was here as a diplomat. The case will be reviewed and a decision will be taken accordingly.
* Asked whether Mullah Zaeef had requested for asylum, the Spokesman replied in the negative.
* To a number of questions as to what action would be taken against those foreign journalists who were involved in a malicious campaign against Pakistan and whether they had been planted by the CIA, the DG, ISPR said:
One needs to be very specific who are we talking about. Frankly, I am not aware of CIA agents in the form of journalists in Pakistan. Maybe I am ill-informed. I donít think there has been anyone who has very definitely said that Osama Bin Laden has entered Pakistan. There have been people who speculated it. It is unfortunate. We frankly give a lot of leverage to misunderstandings and misperceptions. We continue to do that. We believe in total freedom of press in Pakistan and our track record during the last two years stands witness to it. However, one does note if there are certain stories that continue to circulate in Pakistan. But we have not come to the conclusion that it is a part of a deliberate or malicious campaign to hurt Pakistan. Maybe there are some misperception or wrong information, which we try to clarify in our press briefings here.
* When asked as to what particular role Pakistan had played in Bonn for which it was even praised by the US, the Spokesman said that it was by giving the United Nations team our unstinted support.
* Asked to comment on a report that 156 Pakistanis captured in Afghanistan had been handed over to India by the Northern Alliance, and on the purpose of Saif el-Islam Qaddafiís visit to Pakistan, the Spokesman stated:
As for your first question, we have not heard any such reports. As for your second question, yes, he is here in Pakistan, at the moment holding meetings. He has brought a message from Col. Qaddafi for the President. He will be meeting other officials as well. Once those meetings are over, we would be issuing a detailed press release.
* When asked about the New York Times report that senior Pakistani intelligence officers had admitted supplying arms shipment to Taliban till late October, the DG ISPR contradicted the report and said:
These reports are absolutely false and incorrect. I cannot imagine any intelligence official or anyone else, who has any knowledge of what has been happening here, could have ever made such statements. In fact, it is all part of malicious propaganda that has been circulating not only in Pakistan but abroad as well, and carried by various newspapers, which is absolutely false and incorrect. There have been people here and I can name some foreign journalists and teams, who by the way have inspected, if I may say so, trucks that have been moving with humanitarian aid from Pakistan to Afghanistan. And we are aware that they have done it at random as an attempt to find out if there are any arms shipments. There is no question at all.
Let me add, that the Soviet Union was in occupation of Afghanistan, and also the Western world, which were providing arms and equipment to the anti-Soviet forces, or the Afghans who were fighting against the occupation forces of the Soviet Union. They gave so much arms and equipment that even before 11th of September, and before the bombing started, there were huge enormous dumps of arms, equipment and ammunition that was brought in by the Soviets and the Western world, dumped inside Afghanistan, available to either Northern Alliance or to the Taliban. There were surplus of that. In fact, they can export to various countries. They do not need arms, ammunition or equipment at all. There were greased tanks and helicopters. All of Russian make. Pakistan does not have Russian equipment. India does. If there is any equipment or ammunition or arms that have gone to Afghanistan from outside Afghanistan, it could be from India, not from Pakistan. It is very easy to find that out.
* To a question whether the Government was contemplating action against Christina Lamb in view of her law suit against those who had exposed her design to book a seat in O.B.Ladenís name, the DG, ISPR said:
I am quite aware that sometime ago one foreign journalist had tried to book a seat from Quetta to Islamabad and they filled in a form with the name O.B.Laden. When they were asked why they did that. They turned around and said it was a joke. Although we did not consider that a joke, and let me add here that if today that ticket had been issued, there could have been people saying "donít look for Osama Bin Laden in Tora Bora, look for him in Islamabad." So, therefore, yes, it was a very serious act or mistake, if you would like to call it, the person involved was deported and it is something that we take very seriously.
* To a question regarding the current status of the detained nuclear scientists, the DG, ISPR said:
To a similar question few days ago I had promised to get more details on the subject for your. Frankly, we have not been afforded further details after the latest detention of these two scientists. I will try and get whatever I can about them.
* To a related question whether the Government had apprehended more people in this connection, the DG, ISPR said:
They are not scientists. These are 5/6 people who were part of the governing body of this NGO, they were running. They have been detained for questioning.
* When asked to give details of the Iftar dinner the President had hosted for the political leaders of Pakistan, the DG, ISPR said:
It was a get-together of Muslim Ambassadors to Pakistan which also included leaders of some Political parties. They were invited for Iftar and dinner. There was formal exchange of views, which I guess, is carried on all such occasions. There was no particular agenda or no particular discussion.
* When asked to clarify certain conflicting reports regarding the situation in Kandahar, the Spokesman said:
Well, our source of information is also the same conflicting reports that you hear. We do not have any other means of verification of facts on ground. So, we really cannot enlighten you any better than what you already know.
* When asked to give the estimated number of Pakistani troops deployed at the Pak-Afghan border, the DG, ISPR said:
They are substantial, they are enough to do the job. I cannot go into details on the number and the areas of deployment for obvious reasons. But a substantial number of troops have been deployed.
* To a question whether enough troops were deployed to block possible infiltration by Al Qaeda or other elements into Pakistan, the DG, ISPR said:
Yes, that is exactly what was evaluated and thatís why I said that a substantial number of troops have been deployed. In addition to these, there is greatly increased surveillance, mobile from the air as well as on the ground. So, it is not just deployment of troops or additional beefing up of the border, there is also a substantial increase in the surveillance from the air and from the ground in the last few days.
* To a question about the cost of additional deployment of troops and who would be paying that, whether the US, the DG ISPR said:
I will have to have that worked out. Frankly, I have not done that. I am not aware of how much it will cost but there is assistance from the coalition forces. We are working on this together, as we do consult each other on all other issues. But I am not aware actually what it is going to be cost.
Pakistan welcomes the agreement reached in Kandahar among the Afghan groups to end hostilities. This will greatly help in the implementation of the Bonn Agreement and the establishment of durable peace in Afghanistan. We hope that all Afghan people will devote their energies for the successful implementation of the Bonn agreement as well as for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of their war ravaged country. The Government and people of Pakistan fully support the endeavours of their Afghan brothers in this regard.
7 December 2001.
The Government of Pakistan extends its felicitations to the Afghan people and the UN on the agreement signed in Bonn establishing an Interim Authority in Afghanistan. We hope that this step would usher in an era of peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Pakistan will continue to extend full support and assistance to the UN mediated political process for the restoration of durable peace in Afghanistan. We have faith in the wisdom of the Afghan people and believe that the new Interim Authority would establish the foundation of a stable, prosperous Afghanistan which is friendly to all its neighbours.
5 December 2001.
We are meeting after a gap of a few days. As you might have heard, there has been some success at the Bonn meeting.
The Government of Pakistan felicitates United Nations Secretary General and his Special Representative Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, on the reports of the successful conclusion of an agreement among Afghan leaders on the establishment of an interim authority. We hope that the Bonn meeting will also agree on the composition of the interim Administration. Mutual accommodation among Afghan leaders is necessary for peace and stability, and for return of normalcy after two decades of conflict and strife. With the world community ready to provide generous assistance for humanitarian relief and reconstruction of Afghanistan, this is a propitious moment for an end to the travails of the Afghan people. Pakistan too has borne heavy economic and social costs as a result of the conflict in Afghanistan, over the past two decades. The provision of asylum to over three million refugees, has resulted in consequential environmental damage, proliferation of weapons, narcotics trafficking, smuggling and terrorist crimes. Despite its own economic constraints, Pakistan will join the world community and contribute to the international programmes for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan.
The Government of Pakistan condemns Israeli strikes of 3rd December against Palestinian installations and administrative structures in Gaza and the West Bank, particularly attacks targeting President Yasser Arafatís heliport, destroying two helicopters and damaging his nearby residence. The subsequent attacks by Israeli tanks and armoured vehicles against Palestinian offices and a police building in Jenin and occupation of Palestinian controlled areas in the West Bank, including Gaza, airport has further escalated tension. The latest military action is a part of deliberate Israeli policy of undermining the Palestinian Authority and its administrative structure. Pakistan reiterates the urgent need for restraint and the resumption of peace negotiation, hopes for which were revived by the recent initiative of the US Secretary of State. Besides that, I have a brief announcement also to make, and that is that OIC Secretary General Mr. Belkaziz will be arriving tomorrow. He will be holding talks with the Foreign Minister and would also call on the President. The talks would cover the Afghanistan issue, the situation in Kashmir and the Palestinian situation. This is the first visit by the present Secretary General of the OIC to Pakistan. There was also a question about some British commandos having crossed over into Baluchistan. Somebody had asked me last time and I had promised that I would check and get back to you, which I did. I would like to inform you, I have checked those reports and those reports were totally baseless.
QUESTION - ANSWER SESSION:
The following issues were discussed during the question-answer session:
* When asked to comment that Pakistan has condemned the Israeli attack on innocent Palestinians, whereas Pakistan has never condemned the bombing on innocent Afghani people, the Spokesman said:
We have spoken on the subject before also, and we have said that Pakistan regrets the loss of life, and we are very sorry that it has been happening. I think the two things cannot really be compared. This is a damage as a consequence of an action which is being taken in pursuance of a United Nations Security Council Resolution. The innocent loss of life is regretted, has been regretted in the past. That is why we have also maintained that the military action should be as short as possible. We have been given the assurance that this damage is accidental and that there is every attempt to avoid innocent loss of life.
* To a question about the comments of former Israeli Prime Minister to CNN that the American bombings as well as Israeli bombings were justified, the Spokesman said:
Well, we have spoken on this subject. I think, I have given enough explanation on that. Let us move on to another question.
* When asked to explain the issuance of visa to an American citizen by the Pakistan Embassy in Yemen who was subsequently captured in Mazar-e-Sharif and the possibility of nuclear weapons, may be in possession of Osama Bin Laden, there are reports to that effect, coming out of Afghanistan into Pakistan and whether Pakistan was closely monitoring its borders, the Spokesman said:
For your first question, I will have to check when that visa was issued, under what circumstances was that visa issued. I can only conjecture that perhaps a tourist visa was issued, I mean, a lot of Americans visit Pakistan, we try to promote tourism to Pakistan.
* When told that three months visa was issued in October 2000, the Spokesman said:
That is normally a visa that is issued to visitors or tourists. So it must have been that. As I said, I will have to check on that and then I can give you the details. As far as your second question is concerned, all I can say is that as far as the nuclear safety record of Pakistan is concerned, it is impeccable. Since the start of nuclear programme for the generation of electricity, more than two decades ago, Pakistanís safety record has been absolutely impeccable. So there is no question of anything having leaked outside anywhere. As far as inspection of cargo is concerned, we exercise as much vigilance as is possible. Obviously, a lot of fruit etc. comes from Afghanistan and lot of wheat and other food items, truck loads, go from here. So if you are trying to ask whether each and every grain is inspected, obviously it is not possible. But at the same time, the kind of hypothetical insinuation that is embodied in the question, I think, there is very remote possibility of that. I donít think it would be possible but again, as for your reports, I can get further information and get back to you on that.
* When his attention was drawn to certain statements attributing to the coalition regarding attack on other Muslim countries including Iraq, the Spokesman said:
First of all, I do not think that there is any such intention that has been concretely exhibited. We are not in favour of that. We are with the coalition as far as fighting terrorism is concerned, but there are other means rather than military means also. Even in Afghanistan, as you know, we have maintained that the military campaign should be as short as possible and as targeted as possible.
* When asked if Pakistan has received any suggestion from President Yassar Arafat for holding an OIC meeting, the Spokesman said:
So far we have not. Certainly, when we receive that suggestion we will examine it, and the subject may be discussed tomorrow when the Secretary General of the OIC is here, then we can give you further information on that.
* When asked about Pakistanís position pertaining to the killings of prisoners in Mazar-e-Sharif, the Spokesman said:
Well, we have also, if you recall, requested the United Nations and ICRC to find out the facts of the position, and particularly as far as reports that there were Pakistanis also, who may have been killed in that action. We have asked about the names of those who might have been killed in the operations. You know, it is very difficult to collect information in this regard. Difficulty would also be , if I can hazard a guess, and that would be that, there would not be any documents on the people and on the bodies. So there are difficulties involved. But I think, they are at it.
* To a question whether Pakistan was supplementing the Coalitionís efforts to apprehend Osama Bin Laden, the Spokesman said:
We told you that Pakistan is not involved in any operation inside Afghanistan.
* When asked to highlight the governmentís policy being formulated visa-vis the Madaris (religious schools), the Spokesman said:
I can only speak on that once something has been prepared. Before that, it would be difficult for me. You must have seen the reports, the discussions are going on and something when it is finalized, will be announced to the public.
* To a question if Pakistan was demanding investigation into the killings of Pakistanis at Mazar-e-Sharif, the Spokesman said:
I said, just a while ago, that we have approached both ICRC and the United Nations in this regard to provide us more information about the incident, as well as a list of Pakistanis, if they can verify that there were Pakistanis, who were also killed in the operation.
* Asked about the Governmentís reaction to the proposed international force for Afghanistan and whether the force will be deployed in the entire country, the Spokesman said:
You may recall, that right from the start, we have been asking for a multi-national force and we have said that presence of multi-national force, particularly in Kabul which is the capital city and where the seat of the government would be, that a multi-national force, demilitarization of Kabul and the placing of a multi-national force, would greatly help the functioning of the interim administration that is going to be placed there. This particular decision, which we hope will be finally signed very soon, this agreement, is completely in line with what we have also been recommending in the past. As far as your question of placing of force in the entire country is concerned, you know, that there is heavy expenditure involved, but at least in the capital if that force is deployed and the capital is demilitarized, already it would have very beneficial affect on the running of the Administration and peace in general in Afghanistan.
* To a question as to how many Pakistanis and Afghans had been apprehended at the Pak-Afghan border till now, the Spokesman said:
I will have to check on that because I do not know the number. As you know, we have sealed our border. We are trying to control our border as much as possible. Extra security measures have been taken also. We have given you the details of those extra security measures. Even, from among the refugees, only the extreme humanitarian cases are being allowed. We cannot have further influx of refugees. So the border is pretty well controlled. But how many arrests there have been I cannot readily give you the number, but I will check on that and get back to you.
"Pakistan's importance in relation to Afghanistan is a matter of geography, which cannot be changedÖBoth the objectives of Pakistan have been met when the conference started at Bonn and in the initial round Afghans agreed for a broad-based transitional government in KabulÖThere should be no fears and apprehensions in the mind of any Pakistani, as we will have to have confidence in our strength, in our nation, in our people, in our geo-strategic location and in our resources, etcÖPakistan has seized the opportunity, as all of its economic, political and military interests are well looked after and the opportunity has been seized in a way to maximise the national interestÖThe position is such that Pakistan and Afghanistan relations will further be enhanced by centuries-old fraternal bonds, which will remain as there is no need to be worried about Northern Alliance."
"If Mr Rabbani wants to come here as leader of the Northern Alliance, he will be most welcomeÖI cannot comment when President Musharraf and Mr Rabbani will meet. If he wants to come here as leader of the Northern Alliance, he will be most welcomeÖWe have extended friendship and cooperation to all Afghans as well as the three million Afghan refugees who live hereÖAt the moment efforts for establishment of durable peace in Afghanistan and a broad-based and multi-ethnic government have started at Bonn. We support the UN process as all Afghans are party to these discussions. Results which emerge should be acceptable to all Afghans and as far as Pakistan is concerned once something in the form of a provisional and permanent arrangement acceptable to all Afghans emerges, this will be acceptable to us also."
"The investigations are being carried out by the Pakistanis and information is being shared if it is of any valueÖThese two scientists are under detention but there has been no linkage either with anthrax-related capabilities or biological weapons. I am not privy as to what stage the investigations are at right now. There has been certain violations of rules in which some statements have been made."
No opening statement was issued.
QUESTION - ANSWER SESSION:
* When asked to comment on a report that Iran was going to be a nuclear the nuclear power and that scientist Dr. A.Q.Khan had visited Iran secretly, the Spokesman said:
Dr. A.Q.Khan has never in his life visited Iran, even as a tourist.
* When asked to comment on the New York Times story that the detained Pakistanis scientists were linked with Anthrax related capabilities and biological weapons, the DG, ISPR said:
Like I said yesterday, these two scientists are under detention. Investigations are going on. There is no linkage established at all with any Anthrax related capability that you are talking about, between these scientists and that. And frankly at what stage is the investigation, and what has been the findings of this investigation, I am not privy to it. So I donít think I can answer rest of your question.
* When asked to explain the type of detention, the DG, ISPR said:
I do not know , I am not privy to the exact details. But what I said yesterday is exactly what happened they were called for questioning originally, and then they were released. They were called in for questioning again and then, I think, Dr. Bashiruddin had an angina problem, so he went to the hospital. He was in the hospital for a few days, after which, once he recovered from that angina pain he was called in for questioning again. Now this sort of investigation or questioning is continuing. I do understand that now, he is under detention and there are certain violations of the rules, frankly, that even retired scientists are supposed to observe which includes, you know, prevention from making certain statements which have been made by these people, as also may be traveling, beyond that, I am not privy to any other information.
* When asked whether they were staying in a house in Kabul in the diplomatic compound, the DG, ISPR said:
No, frankly I donít know. However, now that you have mentioned, I have seen this report also. I shall try to get further information about what you said, and if that is available and is to be given out, I will give it out.
* When asked if these scientists were interviewed by the US Intelligence and also to give background of the statements made by them, the DG, ISPR said:
No, whatever I had to give I said. However, as far as being interviewed by United States officials, I do know that the investigation and questioning that is being carried out, is being carried out by Pakistani officials. I am quite sure that information is being shared, if it is of any value.
* When asked to comment on the facts sheet issued by the Central Information Secretary of the Pakistan Muslim League in which he has claimed that the Government has compromised its nuclear assets, the DG, ISPR said:
All I can say at this stage is that I think, what he has exhibited is total ignorance about these aspects. Beyond that, I donít think there is anything that needs to be said.
* Asked if the Government was contemplating any measures with regard to its citizens stranded/killed in Afghanistan, the Spokesman said:
We have spoken about this on previous occasions also when this question was raised. You see, there are reports that some Pakistani nationals are among those who have been captured, or who have surrendered and laid down arms. We have asked the United Nations and the ICRC, first to verify their numbers, where they are, ascertain their national status, whether they are Pakistanis or not. It will take a little while and once that has been done and if they are handed over to us, they will be treated under the Pakistani law.
* When asked to elaborate on the reported negotiations between Pakistan delegation and Professor Rabbani, the Spokesman said:
I denied about the negotiations. Yesterday, if you recall the question was whether a delegation has gone to Kabul, whether a delegation has held meeting, whether meetings have been held and I had said, no. And I also said that we are in contact with the Northern Alliance and with other groups. The contact is there, yes, and that is about it. There was a meeting but no further details about that meeting.
* When asked to comment on the offer of friendship to Pakistan by Prof. Rabbani and whether President Musharraf was planning to reciprocate those gestures, the Spokesman said:
As I had said earlier, on an earlier occasion also, we have held meetings with all Afghan factions in the past. We have been meeting them, including Professor Rabbani. If you recall Professor Rabbani, I think it was 97-98 that he visited Pakistan twice at that time. We have always welcomed contacts with all Afghan groups. If Professor Rabbani wishes to come to Pakistan, as a leader of Northern Alliance, he is most welcome. We are in contact with all other Afghan leaders as well. He has lived in Pakistan for over a decade. He is a very familiar personality here. He is an important leader of an Afghan faction and group. He is certainly most welcome to visit Pakistan as are other leaders welcome to come and visit Pakistan, and meet us. We have always also extended our friendship and cooperation to all Afghans, including the three million Afghans that are resident in Pakistan as refugees and otherwise.
* Asked if it would be a prudent course to hold talks with the Northern Alliance known for their pro-India, pro-Russian leanings, the Spokesman said:
You see, at the moment the efforts are on for the establishment of durable peace in Afghanistan and the formation of a broad-based, multi-ethnic representative government. The United Nations has started the meeting in Bonn, it got off to a good start yesterday. We support the UN process. We also support all efforts towards the formation of a broad-based government. We have maintained and we feel that all Afghans should be a party to those discussions, should be involved in those discussions and as a result of those discussions the result that emerges should be acceptable to all Afghans. It is for the Afghans themselves to decide what they wish to do. How much role they wish to give to which faction and which entity. As far as Pakistan is concerned, once something, whether it is interim, transitional or a permanent political dispensation, as the talks progress, whatever is acceptable to the broad and large majority of Afghans would be acceptable to us.
* To a supplementary question that reportedly Pakistan was not satisfied with the Pakhtoon representation in Bonn talks, the Spokesman continued:
Our position has been that the representation in any future government should be reflective of the demographic realities of Afghanistan, as well as acceptable to all Afghans. We have seen over the past decade that this particular aspect, not being strictly observed, gave rise to a civil war in the country was devastated, that is whatever was left of Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion. The point is for the Afghans to be satisfied. If the Afghans are satisfied with the results of that meeting, as the representation of that meeting is concerned, Pakistan is satisfied also.
* Asked if Pakistan Army was planning to cross the border to help the US Marines in Kandhar, the DG, ISPR said:
I think, it is extremely clear what assistance Pakistan is giving and what has been asked from Pakistan, and if you remember or recall that President Musharraf initially said, that Pakistan is not and will not be involved in any offensive operations across the border.
* Asked whether the Government had been able to ascertain the exact number of Pakistanis in Afghanistan, the Spokesman said:
You see, Pakistanís policy has been to effectively control the border and not allow any unauthorized people to go across the border. Now having said that, we all know, that the border is long over 2000 kilometers and difficult to completely and effectively seal. People from here and there have been going across. For us to ascertain the number is very difficult. We have no way of finding out how many there are. That is why we have asked the United Nations as well as the ICRC. We do not have any presence inside Afghanistan. Our Embassy personnel and the Consulate personnel were withdrawn. So the only means that we can depend on would be the ICRC and the United Nations, and we understand that once all these people who have surrendered and ICRC will have access to them and will determine the nationalities of various groups and people, and we hope at that particular time we will come to know exactly what their number is.
* To a question whether the Government has any plans to send aircraft to Afghanistan to evacuate the Pakistani nationals, the DG, ISPR said:
I think, I need to elaborately answer this. It is very unfortunate that very responsible channels and newspapers have been reporting such news. Whether it was false or it was regarding recently, sending of aircraft or helicopters. It is absolutely false and I would like to reiterate this, I have tried to find out how this news comes to be reflected in certain newspapers in the United States, and on channels like FOX and CNN here. It originated, and all of it, unfortunately, originates from New Delhi, from India, where an article written in a newspaper was published. One is not surprised why the Indians are doing this. They have been trying for the last two and a half months, over two months now, whereby they want to implicate, by some way or the other, Pakistan as having either supplied weapons, ammunition or personnel to Afghanistan, which is absolutely false, and time and again, you read in the newspapers articles saying that Pakistanís military men have been operating inside Afghanistan, which is totally false, devoid of any truth whatsoever. This then is carried by some newspaper, I am sure, through dubious means in the United States, from there it is picked up and people quote someone from the Northern Alliance, who are, let me again say, have been advised by Indian advisors for quite sometime, their presence is there and is then projected on the electronic media. It is very very unfortunate. There is no truth in that and I am surprised, why the people who are responsible people, do not sack such reporters who report total falsehood. There is no question of any military presence or any presence that Pakistan has tried to get out of Afghanistan. If you see the distance between Pakistan and where they say the helicopters went and brought out people, it is impossible for a helicopter to travel such a distance and come back without being detected.
The Spokesman added:
If I may just add that for the last 3 years or more, I have been hearing that Northern Alliance has been claiming that they have captured, they have Pakistani military personnel as prisoners and they have never ever been able to produce a single one. When I was Ambassador there and we even asked them that if we can have consular access to them. These all are fabricated stories just meant as allegations and slander against Pakistan.
* To a related question, the DG, ISPR said:
If people are telling lies time and again, I think action needs to be taken. You may have a different point of view but that is what I wanted to say.
The Spokesman added:
The point is, you see, there are certain stories which appear so preposterous and still they find currency. That is what surprises one, because under the present situation with the kind of presence of surveillance that is going on, for Pakistani helicopters or aircraft to travel undetected go pick up people and come back, is just not possible.
* To a question the Spokesman stated that Ambassador Arif Ayub was representing Pakistan as an Observer in the Bonn talks.
* To a question about unprovoked firing on the LoC by India, the DG, ISPR said:
There is little difference in the fact you are quoting. The Indian army yesterday did resort to indiscriminate and unprovoked firing in the Rawala Kot sector in Azad Kashmir. Three persons, including a minor boy embraced Shahadat, 20 were injured, out of which 7 were women, the condition of six of these injured is precarious. This is what happened yesterday at 4-30. Firing that was conducted by the Indians included heavy Mortars, field artillery, heavy machine guns and other rifles and small arms. This was totally unprovoked. The Indians have been doing this for quite some time now, is been over a month and a half. Pakistan army is under orders to retaliate once fired upon. We do not initiate fire. We exercise maximum control and only retaliate once fired upon. These weapons that the Indians use concentrated on civilian huts and villages.
No opening statement was issued.
QUESTION - ANSWER SESSION:
The following issues were discussed during the question-answer session:
* Asked to comment on a statement by Benazir Bhutto in India that there was link between Lashkar-e-Tayba and the Al-Qaeda network, the DG, ISPR said:
First of all, I have no knowledge of what you just said that former Prime Minister has said there are links of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba with Al-Qaeda. I have no knowledge of that. However, whatever is going on inside Indian Occupied Kashmir is a freedom movement. There are organizations that are formed from within the Kashmiris in Indian Occupied Kashmir. That are fighting for their right of self-determination which has been guaranteed to them by the United Nations Security Council resolution, which is still in force, and there is no possibility or no connection whatsoever between what is happening inside Indian Occupied Kashmir and any other terrorist activity anywhere in the world. So, we are very clear on that and let me tell you, most world leaders that President Musharraf has interacted with, there is no doubt there.
* Asked about the mode of trial in case Osama or Al Qaeda members were apprehended in Pakistan, the DG, ISPR said:
What he said yesterday was that there was a remote possibility that people might come. What he said originally that according to his information there is no presence of this man or anyone else related to Al-Qaeda inside Pakistan. What he said was that in the remotest possibility if he does try to enter Pakistan, he would be proceeded against according to the law. When you say he will be arrested or he will be tried, yes, I think the United Nations and the coalition forces are in the process of determining as to how to proceed against people who are alleged to be involved in terrorist related activity. I do not think they made up their mind as yet as to who will try them.
* To a related question, the Spokesman added:
There are UN Security Council resolutions with regard to terrorism also, and the action that is being undertaken is under those resolutions. At the same time, normally such cases are tried where the crime is committed. So one presumes, once he is apprehended, it will decided where the trial will take place and how that trial will take place, but since there is a coalition united against fighting terrorism, it will be a decision jointly arrived at.
* To a question about the fate of those Pakistanis returning from Afghanistan and whether they would be allowed to bring in their weapons, the Spokesman said:
This question has been raised several times before also. We have said that all those Pakistanis who return, first of all, you know, nobody can return with their weapons, number two, they will be apprehended and they will be tried under law.
* When asked to comment on Benazir Bhuttoís statement that she had been forced to go into exile and that her government was toppled by the Jehadis in the army, the DG, ISPR said:
Yesterday, I think, I addressed the question. She was making statements in her individual capacity and I said, most of them do not need to be answered. However, I would like to clear here that the Government of Pakistan has not sent her into exile. She ran away from the country because there were legal cases against her. And whenever she comes back, or she wants to come back she will face the law, she will face the court. That is the position of the Government of Pakistan. As to she has been appealing to the President, I do not think there is any truth in that. I have not seen any appeal addressed to the President.
The Spokesman intervened: Dismissal of her government was done under the Constitution by the constitutionally elected President, if you recall.
The DG, ISPR continued: The point is, everyone is very clear. The masses in Pakistan, the 140 million people of Pakistan, are very clear as to what she had done when she was here. As to the circumstances of her removal, I donít think, even answering this, which amount to some sort of credence to her allegation, is required.
* When asked to inform if there were any contacts between the Government and Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani and whether the Government was planning to recognize the incumbent Government in Afghanistan, the Spokesman said:
For the moment, no delegation of Northern Alliance is visiting Pakistan. If a delegation comes at a later date, I am not aware of it. At the moment no delegation is coming. Contacts do not mean meetings. Matters are discussed at meetings. Contacts, we have with all Afghan groups and different factions. There are different ways of establishing contacts. Yes, we are in contact with all Afghan groups. But the matter that you have raised can only be discussed when proper meetings are held. At the moment, no such meeting are taking place. As far as your question is concerned, we have been talking about it in the past also. Pakistanís position is that, as envisaged under the Security Council resolution 1378, all Afghan parties which are now meeting in Bonn, as a result of their meetings once a broad-based, multi-ethnic representative transitional entity is in place, then the question of recognition will be examined by the Government of Pakistan. For the moment, there is no question of recognition of any government.
* When his views were sought on a statement by President Musharraf that "the extremists had been exposed and the people of Pakistan had shown that those extremist elements did not enjoy the support of the masses at large, the DG, ISPR said:
I think, we need to wait for the outlining of this policy which will take, may be, a few weeks to really comment on that. What he did say was that these extremists elements stand exposed and what he meant by that was that the whole people of Pakistan have shown these extremist elements that they do not enjoy the support of the masses. We also know that in these demonstrations, apart from most extremists elements of some parties, extreme religious elements, most of those people who participated in these demonstrations were Afghan refugees. The people of Pakistan did not participate.
* When asked to clarify whether the Government had lodged any protest with the coalition regarding the bombing of its territory, the DG, ISPR said:
First, when you use the word ĎPakistan territory was bombardedí, again, we are to choose the word very correctly. It conveys an impression that there was a targeted bombardment of Pakistani territory. That did not take place. A few stray bombs did land in Pakistan territory. And what the Spokesman of the coalition forces yesterday said was that Government of Pakistan has not conveyed to them, if I heard correctly. He did not say there was no evidence of this. As far as conveying by the Government of Pakistan, I am not aware about that but, yes, I re-confirm, there were certain bombs that did land on Pakistani side of the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
* To a related question pertaining to the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden whether the coalition forces were using Pakistan airspace, the DG, ISPR said:
You seems to be quite out of touch. One, Pakistan has no idea where Osma bin Laden is. Second, there are certain air corridors that have been provided by Pakistan to the coalition forces. So, when you say their aircraft were flying over Pakistan territory, obviously, they fly over through Pakistan air-space, once corridors are given to them. But if you are trying to hint at that aircraft are roaming about over Pakistan territory to identify Osama Bin Laden, that is incorrect.
* When asked to comment on President Bushís statement that the countries which had developed weapons of mass destruction, which could be source of threat for the other nations, will also be targeted by the coalition, the DG, ISPR said:
I think, let President Bush decide and elaborate on his statement. I have nothing to say on that.
* To a question with regard to reports of rockets being fired from Afghanistan and landing into Pakistan, the DG, ISPR said:
I have gone into details of that. There is reportedly an in-fighting between some Afghan factions near the border and there was nothing targeted. Neither small arms nor any missile were targeted towards the Pakistan outpost, and I also confirm that there was no missile that fell into Pakistan territory, but there were reports of in-fighting between the Afghans, whether from the Northern Alliance or whatever, within Afghanistan, close to the border, and they did exchange, not with Pakistan troops, not with Pakistani personnel but among each other, fire was exchanged between the Afghans.
* To a question as to the number of Pakistani nationals who crossed the border to fight alongside the Taliban, the Spokesman said:
We have no accurate estimates. We have requested the ICRC and the UNHCR that after the surrender has taken place, if there are any Pakistani nationals, that they should find them and let us know the number, and so on. I suppose, it will take a little time before ICRC can complete their investigation and determine the nationalities of different people there.
* Whether Pakistan was satisfied with the Pashtun representation in the Bonn meeting, the Spokesman said:
You see, Pakistan has been saying that it is for the Afghans to choose whatever form of government that they wish to have. We feel that in the past, looking at the past experience, that when one group got a major share at the expense of another, durable peace was not possible in Afghanistan, and that, we could learn from that past experience. We should take every care that the different ethnic communities inside Afghanistan are satisfied with their representation in the government. But above all, it is for the Afghans to decide. Now, the meetings taking place in Bonn has just started. Once they start their discussion, let us wait as to what is the percentage of different ethnic communities that are going to be represented in the provisional government, that is going to be formed as a consequence of that meeting, and only then one would be able to say or comment on that. But once again, if the Afghans are satisfied that they have been adequately represented, and if they are satisfied with the set up that they have agreed to, the provisional set up, that would certainly ensure durable peace.
* To a question with regard to the detention of two Pakistani scientists, the DG, ISPR said:
Over a period of time, it has been for many weeks that this investigation is being carried on. There were times when they were called for questioning and then released. There were times when especially Mr. Bashiruddin was in hospital. Then he went back home and he was called for questioning again. There have been times he was called for questioning, there have been times when he was released. What the President said yesterday, is the current status today that he is under detention.
* To the related question if both the scientists were under detention, the DG, ISPR said:
I think both, yes.
* Whether Pakistan and Iran had reconciled their differences over Afghanistan, the Spokesman said:
First of all, let me say that Pakistan and Iran have throughout enjoyed very close and brotherly relations. In the past, there have been certain differences of perception as far as the situation in Afghanistan was concerned. Even at that time, there were always extensive consultations between the two countries, extensive exchange of views between the two countries to understand better each otherís position vis-à-vis the situation in Afghanistan. We have constantly been in touch with each other on this particular issue as far as the situation in Afghanistan is concerned, and other than that, there have been frequent exchanges of high level delegations between the two countries to discuss bilateral relations and other issues. The relations have always been good. We will continue our consultations. Both the countries have agreed to support the United Nations in the formation of a broad-based, multi-ethnic government in Afghanistan. Even in the past, there was no differences as far as the ultimate objective was concerned and that was a broad-based, multi-ethnic representative government in Afghanistan, arrived at by the Afghans themselves, without outside interference, through a process of negotiations, under the United Nations umbrella. There might have been certain differences of opinion as far as the approach to that ultimate objective was concerned. But, at the moment and during the visit of Iranian Foreign Minister, this particular subject will receive maximum attention and will be discussed.
* When asked to elaborate further, the Spokesman said:
Well, I cannot go into the explanations of details of differences at that time. There were differences, because we were supporting the Talibans, Iran was not supporting the Talibans. Our suggestion/ approach was a little different from what the Iranian were suggesting, but there was no difference as far as the ultimate objective was concerned and that was the broad-based, multi-ethnic government, peacefully arrived at.
* To a question if there was fresh evidence against the nuclear scientists, the DG, ISPR said:
I am not aware of the details of the investigation. I am sure, once they complete their investigation those things will come out. But at present, I have no idea as to the level that they have reached.
No opening statement was issued.
QUESTION - ANSWER SESSION:
The following issues were discussed during the question-answer session:
* When his attention was drawn to bombardment by US planes inside Pakistan and the governmentís reaction to the Mazar-e-Sharif prison incident, the Spokesman said:
Your second question first. As you know, we have maintained that all those people who are prisoners of war, or those who have surrendered, should be treated under international law. This is also something which has been demanded in the Security Council resolution, that there should be no reprisals. As for this particular incident in Mazar-e-Sharif is concerned, we have also seen the same reports that you have. There are also reports of some kind of uprising, we do not know exactly the details. Nevertheless, we have drawn the attention of the UN and ICRC, particularly with reference to finding out if there were any Pakistani nationals there and if there were, we would like to have the details about that.
DG, ISPR commented: Yes, we have heard of incidents and we have gone into details of these, where most of the bombs fell very close to the border and in one or two instances, they did hit Pakistan territory. Pakistan is in constant touch with coalition forces and this has been conveyed to the coalition forces. No damage of any consequence has actually happened to Pakistan territory, but there have been instances of one or two stray bombs coming over to the Pakistani side. We expect that this will be taken into account and people will be more careful in future.
* To a related query, he said:
There was no chance of these bombs hitting Pakistanís strategic installation.
* Asked whether there were any official or unofficial contacts between Pakistan and the Northern Alliance, the Spokesman commented:
We have never said that there is anything wrong in having contacts. If you recall, that I have been maintaining, that Pakistan throughout these last four or five years has been constantly in touch with both sides of the Afghan political divide. We have gone and met their leaders. I have personally gone and met practically all of the Northern Alliance leaders during the last three or four years. What we have said was that in recent days, even then there are contacts with some we may not have been able to have contacts with others, but as far as going of a delegations is concerned to Kabul it is incorrect. Even unofficially no delegation has gone to Kabul. As far as some Northern Alliance leadersí traveling to Islamabad, yes, Haji Qadir and some others on their way to Bonn have passed through Pakistan and have gone to Germany for the meetings.
* When asked if they did see anybody, the Spokesman said:
Well, as far as I know, no.
* When asked to comment on the PP Chairperson Ms Benazir Bhuttoís statement during her visit to India recently that Pakistan should change its Kashmir policy and also asked India to put pressure on the United States for the restoration of democracy in Pakistan, the DG, ISPR said:
I think, as an individual anyone making any statements, one does not need to bother or comment on that. What she does as an individual, frankly, is of no consequence to Pakistan. The other aspect as to Pakistan changing its foreign policy or policy regarding Kashmir, I donít think, by her saying this it will make any difference to policy makers in Pakistan. What she says, she is answerable for. I am quite sure that people in Pakistan are very aware of the purpose or the reasons why she is making these statements. I donít think that at the government level we need to comment on that.
* When asked whether he considered such statements as anti-state, the DG, ISPR said:
I think, your understanding is fairly good and I and quite sure that people of Pakistan understand the reasons why such statements are made.
* Asked about the ensued polarization between Tajiks and Uzbeks in Afghanistan and their consequent impact on Bonn Conference, the Spokesman said:
The situation on the field in Afghanistan, we really cannot comment on that, for the simple reason that we have no way of verifying the claims that one reads about, or one watches on the television. What is happening inside Afghanistan, the tussle between different commanders and so on, we do not know any details of that. As far as the meeting in Bonn is concerned, the meeting is being held under the UN auspices, and various Afghan groups and factions are being represented there. It is our earnest hope and this is also the expectation of the entire international community, that these meetings would be meaningful, that the Afghans themselves would be mindful of the future of Afghanistan and the prospects of peace in Afghanistan, which is so badly needed. We hope that they all will forget their past differences which have put that unfortunate country into a state of turmoil for so long, and that they will put their energies and their wisdom together to good use, so that, as required under the UN Security Council resolution, an interim transitional broad-based multi-ethnic government after which we can then look towards a permanent solution of the problem.
* When asked to comment that even a couple of days before the start of Bonn meeting the Afghans were not forthcoming to set aside their differences, the Spokesman said:
We hope that the leadership or groupsí representatives who have gone to Bonn, are larger than the smaller commanders who might be vying for an inch of land here or there, and we hope that good sense will prevail and a broad-based transitional government is established.
* To a question whether the UAE Government was playing any role for reconciliation between Pakistan and the Northern Alliance, the Spokesman said:
For the moment, there is no meeting planned between Northern Alliance and delegations from Pakistan. When there is a possibility, if there is a chance, I mean, as far as we are concerned, we are open. Ee have been meeting all Afghan opposition leaders in the past, even at the time when we were recognizing the Taliban government and we have an open mind about contacting all groups in Afghanistan.
* To a question about the visit of a Japanese delegation to Pakistan recently and to highlight the proposed plans for reconstruction and rehabilitation in Afghanistan, the Spokesman said:
As you are aware, the international community has been meeting, now they have held a meeting in Washington recently of some important donor community members as well as some international financial institutions. There is also a meeting being held from tomorrow in Islamabad, under the auspices of the World Bank to discuss the reconstruction in Afghanistan. We have emphasized throughout that a good plan of reconstruction and rehabilitation in Afghanistan would be greatly helpful in promoting durable peace in Afghanistan. Over the last more than 20 years, first the Soviet invasion and after that the civil war in the country has practically destroyed the entire country. The infrastructure is in shambles, the agriculture has also been badly affected, their water channel system has been severely affected. You may recall that the President in all his meetings and also in his public statements, has emphasized this point particularly that reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan is very important and in that particular and immediate attention to be paid to the development of agriculture and to the development of the water system. We feel that this is very important that the international community should meet urgently, that the United Nations prepare a rehabilitation plan, which should be presented to the Afghans, because that would be an incentive to stop fighting and go for peace and the funds need to be provided through the assistance of the important donor countries, who can afford to do that. You are right, massive resources would be required for that purpose.
* To a question about the proportion of representation in the Bonn meeting, the Spokesman said:
As far as the representation is concerned, we still do not have the definitive list of who all are attending that meeting. I think by tomorrow the United Nations would be able to announce who all are attending that meeting and only then can one decide whether representation of one particular ethnic group, or the other is adequate or not, number one. Number two, it all depends on how the discussions proceed. The mandate is very well known. There is no need to be overly pessimistic about the outcome of the meeting. The point is, that a meeting is taking place under the UN auspices, the international community is supporting it and is taking a lot of interest in that meeting. The attention of the entire world is at the moment riveted on this particular meeting, and we hope that all the parties who are attending this meeting, will put their energies and their wisdom together to find a solution of this long on-going problem and come up with some kind of arrangement or a formula for the transitional government. The meeting will probably go on for several days. Let us wait and see, let us not start passing judgment, before the meeting has not even started. We can discuss the outcome of the meeting only after the meeting is over. The Spokesman did not agree with the assertion that Pakistan had been omitted from the consultation process in Afghanistan.
* In the same context when asked about the list of participants in the meeting, the Spokesman replied:
The invitation was to be given by the United Nations to the Afghans without outside interference. The United Nations has consulted us. You may recall Mr. Brahimiís first visit after taking over outside New York, was to Pakistan. He came here for consultations, he had wide-ranging consultations with the authorities here. I donít know how you can base your claim that Pakistan was not consulted.
* When asked about the ethnic composition of Pashtuns in Afghanistan, the Spokesman said:
No census has been done in Afghanistan for a very long time. I understand there was some kind of a census done during the Soviet days but one does not know even the accuracy of that census. Different sources give different percentages to various ethnic groups. These are all estimates, but the more popularly held view is that the Pakhtoons are somewhere between around 55 to 60 percent, the Tajiks are about 15% to 20%, and so on the other communities. The basic question here at the moment is that all ethnic communities should be satisfied with the outcome of that meeting and the representation at that meeting, and as well as once a transitional government is formed, that all ethnic communities should be satisfied with the composition of that government.
* To a question as to the additional security measures Pakistan was contemplating to seal its borders in view of the situation in Kandhar and the US Marines landing there, the DG, ISPR said:
Well, sealing of the borders, adequate measures have been taken. Quite some time back Pakistan decided to reinforce its border security and the forces there were beefed up, increased vigilance and patrolling was done, we have even sent regular army troops to supplement the scouts or the forces on the border and effective sealing of the border to the extent possible, has taken place. There is also increased surveillance, like I said, on all infiltration routes you may like to call them that, wherever they come and converge, those areas are being monitored, and we are fairly secure. In our knowledge there will be no movement inside Pakistanís borders. However, if there are people who do come across, they will be proceeded against according to law.
* To a related question, the DG, ISPR continued:
Those are tactical details of an operational plan that the coalition forces are mounting. I will not be able to talk about those here.
* When asked to comment on Governor of Nangarharís visit to Pakistan, the Spokesman said:
I donít have any more details to give you. He arrived in Pakistan. He stayed the night in Peshawar and next day he took the flight from Islamabad.
* To a question about the facilities being provided by Pakistan to coalition forces, the DG,ISPR said:
Pakistan made very clear from the beginning as to the type of support Pakistan is giving to the coalition forces, and if you want me to repeat, it is sharing of intelligence and information, giving its air space, certain corridors for movement of aircraft and there is logistic support. We do not go beyond this in giving any details of what is actually happening. The Spokesman said: Your second question, I think, I have talked about that in great detail already. I donít know really what else to add to the answer.
* To a question about the implications and consequences for Pakistan of the Afghanistan situation, the Spokesman said:
Peace in Afghanistan has very good implications for Pakistan. We want durable peace and a stable government and a stable transitional arrangement in Afghanistan as quickly as possible, because that would mean there would be peace inside that country, that would mean there would be no displaced people trying to cross over to Pakistan. This will also boost the rehabilitation and reconstruction process, which would mean that refugees, 3.01 million refugees, that are in Pakistan, would also start moving back to Afghanistan and would not be a burden on Pakistan.
The DG, ISPR continued: I may add. It is for the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan is also interested in whatever the people of Afghanistan want. When we talk about a broad-based, multi-ethnic government according to the ethnic composition of Afghanistan, the effort here is to make sure what the people of Afghanistan want who are most important in this situation and for peace to come to Afghanistan, which will benefit all its neighbours. It is important that the will of the people of Afghanistan is taken into account.
* As to the meeting between President Musharaff and the Japanese Foreign Minister, the Spokesman said:
The meeting was held today. Views were exchanged on the situation in Afghanistan as well as bilateral relations between the two countries. A detailed press release on the subject will be issued shortly. You will get the details from that.
* When asked to elaborate the reconstruction mechanism in Afghanistan, the Spokesman said:
It is our hope that the international community will quickly come up with a good reconstruction and rehabilitation plan. Tomorrowís meeting is just one step in that direction. Everything in Afghanistan has been destroyed. It will require extensive, detailed statistics and examination to come up with reconstruction and rehabilitation plan. The roads are totally destroyed, the agricultural infrastructure is destroyed, buildings and bridges have been damaged and destroyed, the hydroelectric dams have suffered severe damage. It is a very extensive job. Certainly, Pakistan would play its due role in these efforts.
* When asked about a possible Musharaff-Vajpayee meeting in Nepal, the DG, ISPR said:
I wonder if there is a proposed meeting. What we have heard is that the Indian Prime Minister has sort of voiced the chance of a meeting. We are not very sure whether that is going to be held, but if the Indian Prime Minister wants to hold the meeting, I am sure, there will be no problem from the Pakistani side. So, therefore, we will have to wait for this to be materialized to be able to comment on that.
* To a question about bombing inside the Pakistani territory, the DG, ISPR said:
I am not sure, however, I think, what we need to clarify here that these are not bombs dropped on Pakistan territory by design. This is misperception. There is no design by which the coalition forces are trying to bomb Pakistan territory. Yes, in a couple of cases, stray bombs have landed in a few yards on Pakistan side of the border.
"A peaceful and friendly government in Afghanistan is required by everyone. All the ethnic groups in Afghanistan are contacting us and whichever government is there, I am sure, will be friendly to usÖ Our consulate in Dubai is also in contact with RabbaniÖ There is nothing to worry about as far as Northern Alliance is concerned. We are in contact with each other and we recognise Northern Alliance and each composite group of the Northern AllianceÖ Pakistan has its own importance with regard to Afghanistan. Being a landlocked country, whatever government comes into being Afghanistan will be friendly towards PakistanÖ The basic parameters for Afghanistan guaranteeing unity, stability and ensuring establishment of a broad-based multi-ethnic political dispensation, and the whole world feels concerned and is making efforts in this regardÖ In my opinion, keeping in view the culture and the psyche of the Afghans, no solution should be imposed on them. One can only facilitate them whatever home grown political arrangement takes shape there, without any outside interferenceÖ Let the Afghans themselves evolve any future dispensation or any arrangement for themselvesÖ One set of Afghan are Pashtun Taliban and they are tribal people, second factor of Pashtun Taliban and third non-Taliban Pashtuns who are moderateÖ We recognize Northern Alliance and each composite group of the Northern Alliance. Therefore, there is nothing to worry about, whatever their role be in a multi-ethnic governmentÖ Osama bin Laden is in Afghanistan and there are chances that he may try to cross the border. The army has sealed the border with the coordination of tribal leaders and nobody would enter Pakistan."
-- President Pervez Musharraf, Interview on Pakstan TV, November 26
-- Moinuddin Haider, Interior Minister, Lahore, November 26
We had spoken yesterday about what Pakistan has done regarding those fighters who are besieged in Kunduz. Day before yesterday also we had spoken about that. In that connection I would like to inform you that today the President of the International Committee of Red Cross Mr. Jakob Kellenberger called on the President and had discussions relating to the situation in Afghanistan with particular reference to ICRC operations in the country. The President expressed deep concern over the safety of Afghan and non-Afghan Taliban in the Kunduz area who reportedly wish to surrender to the UN or a neutral authority. The President emphasized that the coalition, the United Nations and also ICRC must do everything to ensure that these people are treated in accordance with the International Humanitarian Law and do not become victims of revenge. In this regard the President informed Mr. Kellenberger about his telephone conversations with Prime Minister Tony Blair and Secretary of State Mr. Collin Powell. The ICRC President assured the President that ICRC will do everything within its mandate to ensure that International Humanitarian Law is respected with regard to those under siege in Kunduz area. The President noted with satisfaction, progress in the UN-sponsored process to promote a representative multi-ethnic transitional dispensation for Afghanistan which should fill the political vacuum created by the collapse of the Taliban. He also underscored the need for urgent relief efforts to help the Afghans inside their country and the refugees. A long-term strategy for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of war ravaged Afghanistan was also important. Mr. Kellenberger briefed the President about ICRC operations in Afghanistan especially in the health sector. He will be proceeding to Kabul to meet the local ICRC staff and to strengthen the ICRC operations inside Afghanistan.
I had also mentioned that we had approached the United Nations about the people besieged in Kunduz. The Foreign Minister had written a letter to the UN Secretary General Mr. Kofi Annan and Mr. Kofi Annan has responded and sent a letter to our Foreign Minister in response to his letter and in that letter the Secretary General has stated that in view of my own concerns earlier this week I instructed my Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan to urge his interlocutors from the Northern Alliance to exercise maximum restraint and to find a humanitarian solution to the impasse. In this regard the United Nations has been in contact with the International Committee of the Red Cross. As to the general situation on the ground in Afghanistan the Secretary General says that he remains very concerned about the safety and well being of innocent civilians as well as combatants who either have surrendered or wish to do so in accordance with the laws of war. Furthermore the Secretary General has strongly appealed to all Parties in Afghanistan to respect the Geneva Conventions and comply with International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law. The Secretary General, as you know, also has issued a statement in this regard which his Spokesman had given yesterday or day-before-yesterday.
Besides this subject the President also spoke with the President of the Republic of Poland. He informed our President on telephone that the Warsaw Conference on fighting terrorism * this was a Conference held recently in Poland, expressed support for Pakistanís decision to join the fight against international terrorism and for its contribution to the stabilization of the situation in the region. President Pervez Musharraf informed the President of Poland of the latest developments regarding Afghanistan and expressed the hope for military action to be as short as possible. Also the President expressed the hope for pursuit of a political strategy leading to the establishment of a broad-based and multi-ethnic government in Afghanistan as well as provision of humanitarian relief and assistance for the reconstruction and rehabilitation for Afghanistan. The two leaders agreed to enhance relations between them.
QUESTION - ANSWER SESSION:
The following issues were discussed during the question-answer session:
* To a question about closure of Afghan Embassy in Islamabad under pressure of the US, the Spokesman said:
May I draw your attention to the fact that this subject has been under discussion for quite some time and also we have talked about it here in the daily press briefing as well. As you know at one time the matter about the status of the Afghan Embassy and Consulates was reviewed sometime ago whether, under the changed circumstances, what should be the status of the Embassy and at that particular time it was decided that for the moment we would leave the Embassy to function as it was the only window to Afghanistan and that was the time when a large area was still being held by the Taliban. As the situation changed we have been taking gradual steps towards the closures of the Mission and sub-missions. A few days ago we closed the Consulate in Karachi, then three days ago we announced the closure of two consulates in Peshawar and Quetta and then yesterday a decision was taken to close the Embassy in Islamabad and this decision has been communicated officially to the Afghans this morning.
* To a question about the remarks by the American Ambassador in New Delhi that freedom fighters in Kashmir are terrorists, the Spokesman commented:
As you recall, our position is that freedom fighters are freedom fighters and a distinction needs to be drawn between freedom struggles and acts of terrorism. If at all, acts of coercion and terrorism are being perpetrated on the people in Occupied Kashmir, they are the victims of terrorism. As far as our position is concerned the genuine struggle of the people of Kashmir for their right for self-determination which is promised to them under the UN Security Council resolutions, which has been promised to them by the Indian leaders themselves in the past and which has been agreed to by the international community also that they should be allowed their right of self-determination. That is a struggle for their right to self-determination and in no way can be construed as anything else.
* To a follow up question if Pakistan is going to lodge a protest to America, the Spokesman stated:
You see the subject of definition of terrorism is still under debate, the subject is being discussed. It is not that arbitrarily one can decide that this is terrorism and this is not terrorism. There is no doubt and no question internationally about the freedom struggle of the Kashmiri people.
* To a question about the provision of consular services in the absence of Afghan Embassy, whether the closure is not on account of US authorities, time given to diplomats to leave and looking after of Pakistanís interests by any other country in Afghanistan, the Spokesman said:
This is not a new subject which has come to you as a surprise today. We have been talking about it over the last 15/20 days. The subject has been constantly under review and even if you look at the statement that you are talking about, which was made in Washington yesterday, that has also talked about a reference to the past and has talked about the need to keep the Embassy open. So it is a subject which has been under discussion in our Foreign Office and you know that we have been taking gradual steps keeping the realities on the ground in mind. As far as allowing time is concerned, normally when such things happen the accredited diplomatic staff is given a reasonable time under international law to wind up their affairs and leave. So a reasonable time would be given. It cannot be computed in days, that it will be 5 days or 10 days but it depends on how much time do they require. If that is within reasonable limits, I mean this is subject that can be discussed with them. As far as the provision of services is concerned, once there is a broad-based multi-ethnic representative transitional government in Afghanistan we will consider about accreditation of Afghanistanís representation to Pakistan.
* To a question about the US decision to go for search of any ship which will move from Pakistanís coast, the Spokesman said:
I told you that no ships are being searched in Pakistani territorial waters. International waters are not in Pakistanís jurisdiction.
* While drawing attention to a similar operation, the Spokesman said:
This is not specific to Pakistani ships. I think, there are sometime search operations on the high seas. We have no knowledge about those operations at all.
* Asked to comment about the search of ship under Pakistani flag, the Spokesman said:
I will have to check what are rules under the international law and I can come back and get back to you. I do not think that there is any such operations against Pakistan. These search operations are done under a certain specific mandate. At the moment this subject may be a subject of speculations, nothing more on that.
* To a question that any Pakistani ship challenged in the international waters by an Indian ship, the Spokesman said:
I have to check about that.
* Asked whether Pakistan is prepared to give safe passage to the besieged people of Kunduz, the Spokesman said:
Number one, we donít have presence inside Afghanistan. We have asked the International Committee of the Red Cross, we have asked the United Nations, we have asked the coalition forces too, to help in this regard. As far as taking the Pakistanis back is concerned, each and every case will be examined on its own merit and will be decided under law.
* To a question by a foreign journalist as to who will facilitate the matters inside Afghanistan as the Embassies are closed, the Spokesman said:
You will have to bring your documents, the documents that you have got for travel to Afghanistan and only then can we decide whether to recognize those or not. I canít do anything about how to facilitate your travel inside Afghanistan. We can certainly facilitate the foreign journalistsí travel to Pakistan and I think, we are extending extremely good facilities in this regard but I cannot really comment about what should be the arrangements about travel to Afghanistan.
* In the same context when asked about the refugees, the Spokesman continued:
The refugees are being looked after by the Pakistan Commissionerate of Refugees and the UNHCR and they will continue to be looked after by the Pakistan Commissionerate of Refugees and the UNHCR, they will continue to be looked after till such time that they can be repatriated to Pakistan.
* Is there any decision that Pakistan is going to request any third country to look after Pakistanís interests in Afghanistan, the Spokesman said:
* To a question about taking back Pakistanis, the Spokesman said:
The Pakistanis, when they are returning to their own country, obviously, once we have established their credentials that they are Pakistanis, will be taken back into Pakistan and will be treated under law. That is what I said.
* Asked about the position of Pakistan about the fate of fighters who are neither Afghans nor Pakistanis, the Spokesman said:
I think when I was reading out the conclusions of the Presidentís meeting with the President of the ICRC we have said that all the Afghans and non-Afghans should be treated under the international humanitarian and human rights law.
* To a related question, the Spokesman said:
That is the subject for the United Nations and the ICRC to decide.
* To a question about how many Pakistanis detained in US since September 11, the Spokesman said:
I repeat again what I have repeated on this subject several times before and that is that the Government of Pakistan has taken up this subject with the United States Government both in Pakistan and particularly in the United States. Our Embassy as well as the Consulates in New York and Los Angles are constantly in touch with the State Department as well as with the immigration authorities and other authorities in this regard. As you know after the 11 of September a lot of people from different nationalities were being interrogated and arrested for interrogation purposes with regard to the incidence of 11 September. Most of those people were released after the interrogations were completed. As far as the Pakistani nationals are concerned, there were also certain cases where people were arrested in connection with the interrogation relating to the incidence of 11 September but later it was discovered that they were over-staying or they did not have valid documents or some other irregularities and so on. So each case is being dealt with and decided according to its merits, as the case may be. As far as the Embassy is concerned, and we just got another report from the Embassy today, once again reiterating to us that the Embassy is constantly in touch for each and every case they come to know, they have requested the American authorities that whenever an arrest of a Pakistani is made the Embassy and the Consulates, as the case may be, should be informed immediately, that they should be provided consular access and they should have all the details available as to the nature and reason of that arrest. Our Embassy is taking care of it. People are being released. I mean, tell me if anybody is there as an illegal immigrant, what efforts can one do, if somebody is breaking the law and is being deported as a consequence or is being punished as a consequence, you have to be respectful to the local laws. It is the same way as the local Pakistani laws apply to aliens coming into Pakistan. But the Embassy as far as providing assistance to the Pakistanis are concerned the Embassy is doing everything that is possible.
* Asked to comment about US having established Special Military Courts, the Spokesman said:
There are no such courts I have heard of. When there is some kind of situation of emergency like that, when investigations are being carried out, people are detained for interrogation, for questioning, for cross-examination and a decision taken after establishing the merits of the case whether further investigation is required or the person should be released and so on. So this is the situation that I think is there.
* When pointed out that legislation is made on it, the Spokesman said:
When there is legislation made, then a legislation has been made.
* When asked whether the statement of American Ambassador in New Delhi is a strong blow to the position of Pakistan on Kashmir, the DG, ISPR said:
I think this question has already been answered. So I donít want to go into repetition of what has been said. However, what I can inform you what happened yesterday and previously regarding the situation on the Line of Control I can talk about that, that there was heavy firing resorted to by the Indians. They used medium and field artillery as well as mortars and anti-tank missiles and small arms. The area that was engaged was the Neelum Valley and Aliabad sector. This resulted in casualties to Pakistanis and Azad Kashmir civilians. There is one female who embraced Shahadat and there were ten men, women and children who were seriously injured. Pakistan army did retaliate and we will be issuing a press release on this with exact names of people who been injured and other casualties. I thought that I could inform you all this time and we will be issuing the press release by afternoon.
* When asked about giving safe passage by Northern Alliance to Afghani Taliban besieged in Kunduz and not to foreigners, the Spokesman said:
I think I have elaborated on this for so long and I have explained in such detail. We have approached the ICRC, we have approached the United Nations, we are doing our best that the subject should be treated under international humanitarian law and under international human rights law and these efforts will continue.
* When asked if Pakistan has also approached the coalition partners in this regard, the Spokesman said:
* When asked to comment as to the fact that the majority of the people in Kunduz are not terrorists nor trained fighters, they went there only by religious zeal, the Spokesman said:
The United Nations Security Council resolution has also talked about avoiding any such action against the civilians. It is a war-like situation, the Northern Alliance has been told not to have any reprisals, not to have any acts of violence against the civilian population. The United Nations is present there, the ICRC is present there. They have to look at what is happening there and they have to then determine whether international humanitarian law and human rights law is being violated or not and by whom.
* When someone pointed out that Mr. Brahimiís washing his hands off in this connection, the Spokesman said:
He did not wash his hand of it. He said at the moment they do not have the forces through which they can bring safe passage for those people. It is a very large number of people but this does not mean that the United Nations is not engaged on the subject.
* When asked to comment on US and UNís adopting double standards and not taking a lesson from September 11, the Spokesman said:
Our position is that all actions should be taken within the Security Council resolution 1378 which has called for the establishment of a broad-based multi-ethnic representative government and a transitional government also to be broad-based multi-ethnic and representative. The United Nations is convening a conference in this regard, the meeting is going to be held of all Afghan parties in Germany on the 26th of this month which will determine how best to go in the implementation of that resolution and in the formation of the transitional multi-ethnic representative government. All Afghan parties have also given their commitment including the Northern Alliance towards achieving those objectives.
* To a question about landing of Indian troops in Afghanistan, the Spokesman said:
We have not heard about any Indian troops landing there so far. I am told an Indian delegation has gone there to look at the situation. There are many delegations going there. The military presence, as far as we know at the moment is only of some British and American troops there. That is also a very small number. As far as the military situation there is concerned, as I told you earlier also, Pakistanís position is that the city of Kabul should be demilitarized and a multi-national force approved under a UN Security Council resolution should be placed there to maintain security of the population in Kabul and also to help the transitional government, which will be formed as a consequence of the meeting being held under the auspices of the United Nations, that can work freely and without any fear of use of force by any one particular party or group.
* To a question about the continuous detention of nuclear scientists, the DG ISPR said:
I donít think they are in continuous detention. That is one. Secondly, we have initiated an enquiry into certain areas one of which is their movement to and from Afghanistan. There are areas of rules and regulations which determine the conduct of people who are involved with the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission. That is an area that is being investigated also. I donít think there is any problem in enquiring and investigating all aspects that we need to do. We cannot go into details as yet, as to what are the results of these investigations. However, as I said before there is no danger because there was no availability of information or access to these scientists of the Pakistanís weapons programme. So that worry is not there at all. However, there are other aspects that we needed to enquire and we will continue to investigate for as long as it is deemed necessary.
* When asked if they are not detained, are they relased , the DG, ISPR continued:
You see when they are required they are called in for questioning. Whenever they are not required they go back home.
* When asked if they are detained in their houses, the DG, ISPR said:
I am not very sure about exactly whether they are detained in their houses or they have been asked to stay, where they are. I am sure they have been instructed that wherever they move they need to inform the authorities.
* To a question about the entering of Mullah Umar into Pakistan, the Spokesman said:
We havenít heard any report like that.
* When pointed out to Iranian State radio three more foreign journalists had been killed in Jalalabad, the Spokesman said:
We have no information so far.
"We know that 10 years ago, 12 years ago we had won the war against the then-Soviet Union, but the whole international community lost the peaceÖWe must not lose the peace againÖWe must ensure that a broad-based, multiethnic government is quickly formed by the Afghans themselves with the UN performing the role of a facilitating agency, so we can get on quickly with the job of economic reconstruction and the repatriation of refugees from my country."
-- Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Interview to CNN, November 20
A very brief announcement. The Government of Pakistan has decided to close the Afghan Consulates in Peshawar and Quetta from today.
QUESTION - ANSWER SESSION:
The following issues were discussed during the question-answer session:
* When asked to comment on the reasons for the closure of Afghan Consulates in Peshawar and Quetta and whether the US had asked Pakistan for the custody of two of its nuclear scientists, the Spokesman stated:
Your second question first. That report is incorrect. Thatís all I can say about it. As far as your first question is concerned, the Consulates normally provided consular functions, which is road permits, visas etc. for travel to their country, and since at the borders now, at Torkham border particularly, the control is in the hands of the Northern Alliance group or the group which has taken over in Jalalabad, so, obviously, whatever will be issued by that Consulate will not be acceptable. So, naturally that Consulate was not able to function in any case and the same holds true about Quetta because there is confusion there as well. So, these Consulates had stopped functioning.
* Has there any alternate arrangement been made after the closure of these Consulates in Peshawar and Quetta:
For the moment no alternate arrangements, when there is a new interim transitional government in Afghanistan then these questions will be taken up.
* When his attention was drawn to the Pentagon briefing that the US was using special bombs in Kunduz and Khandhar to dig out the terrorists, the Spokesman stated:
I have also seen these reports and these claims. Since we have no way of verifying what kind of ammunition is being used, I really cannot comment on that but I have also seen the same reports that you have.
* Asked to evaluate Pakistanís relations with the Taleban in view of the Foreign Ministerís statement that "they were at the verge of collapose", the Spokesman stated:
If you look at the UN Security Council Resolution, it talks about a transitional government, a broad-based multi-ethnic transitional government as well as later-on a permanent government. The United Nations is trying to organize a meeting, the venue has been agreed, most probably it is going to be Germany. The date is also being worked out. It will be in the very near future. I think, the UN will make an announcement in this regard and at that meeting, all the different Afghan groups and parties will meet and they will try to work out steps or measures towards the formation of a transitional government, and once a broad-based multi-ethnic entity is established then the other questions that you are referring to will be examined.
* To a supplementary query that the date was 24 November, the Spokesman added:
24th November is the date being talked about. I do not know whether the UN have made a formal announcement in that regard or not. It is their meeting, they should make a formal announcement about, the venue as well as the date. We have heard about these dates, yes.
* When asked to give his views whether he was optimistic about the possible outcome of the proposed meeting of various Afghan groups, the Spokesman said:
We are fairly optimistic about this because the international community is committed. International community is giving full support to the work of Mr. Brahimi. The UN has given a commitment. The Security Council resolution is there to support this. So there is every reason to be reasonably optimistic that the outcome would be positive and soon.
* When asked about the status of the Afghan Embassy in Islamabad and whether press briefings by the USIS in Islamabad violated third country rule, the Spokesman stated:
As far as the status of the Embassy is concerned, as I said earlier, the Foreign Minister gave a very detailed briefing on that yesterday. There is no further point that I can add to that. As far as reminding anyone of the third country rule is concerned, when the third country rule is violated, then you give reminders. You donít start issuing reminders to people who have not violated anything.
* When his attention was drawn to a news item that the US Navy was searching all naval vessels leaving Pakistan to apprehend Osama, the Spokesman said:
There is no truth in that report at all. There is no naval picketing as far as Pakistani territorial waters are concerned. What happens on international waters, is not our concern.
* To a question about the Iranian Deputy Foreign Ministerís visit to Pakistan in the context of a broad-based government in Afghanistan, the Spokesman said:
We have had detailed discussion on bilateral relations, the regional situation, particularly the situation in Afghanistan. As you know, Pakistan and Iran have very close brotherly, friendly relations. We have frequent exchanges of views on bilateral, regional issues as well as the situation in Afghanistan. Recently, you would recall, that when the President was traveling to New York, en route there was a technical stop-over in Tehran, where the First Vice President of Iran came and met the President. Then the President had a meeting with the Iranian President in New York. The Foreign Minister met Foreign Minister Kharazi in New York. Now Mr. Aminzadeh is here. This is a continuous process of dialogue between two friendly brotherly countries. The Iranian Interior Minister recently visited Pakistan and such high level visits are quite frequent between the two countries.
* To a question whether the government was thinking in terms of closing the Afghan Embassy in Islamabad, the Spokesman said:
We spoke about the Embassy yesterday. The Foreign Minister spoke about it. At the moment there are no further developments on that.
* To a question about meeting of ground between Iran and Pakistan over the establishment of a broad-based government in Afghanistan, the Spokesman said:
There is a meeting of ground between the two countries that there should be a broad-based, multi-ethnic, representative government in Afghanistan, which should be chosen by the Afghans themselves. The UN is making efforts in this regard and both the countries should help Mr. Brahimi in those efforts so that the Afghans can have a broad-based multiethnic representative government, which can ensure durable peace in that country.
* To a question about the murder of six journalists yesterday in Afghanistan, the Spokesman stated:
This incident in Afghanistan is sad and regrettable. It should not have happened but the situation inside Afghanistan, we have no control over it we donít even know the circumstances in which that took place. But it is very unfortunate that it has happened. When journalists go into war zones they go with certain risks, I mean, itís very brave of the journalists that they do it but I can only express sorrow and regrets on our part.
* To a related question that if a protest had been lodged with the Northern Alliance, the Spokesman said:
Do we know the details about who had done it and how it happened? Till we find out details about that and besides we do not even recognize that government, I think there is no question of launching a protest with them.
* When asked to elaborate the perception of Pakistan about the formation of multinational force in Afghanistan, the Spokesman replied:
Well, we support the formation of a multinational force, we think that it is essential that a multinational force takes control in Kabul for the maintenance of security, it is very important. As for the modalities, this is a very complicated procedure, it involves expense and underwriting of the expenditure and so on, who is contributing forces, who is willing to contribute forces? On what conditions are they willing to contribute forces. These are matters which are normally decided by the UN and once this subject comes under discussion, we will certainly participate in that. But more than that I cannot say.
* When his attention was drawn to the murder of a Pakistani journalist in Afghanistan, the Spokesman replied:
We will try to verify what has happened. What were the circumstances. Where it has happened. We will have to get in touch. We will find out. We will request the ICRC if they can help in this regard, or the UN if they can help in this regard. You see, there is a situation of chaos but as soon as we get any details, if you have any detail or information, we would most certainly welcome that, so that we can do something further about it. We will on our own also try to verify the facts and find out the details.
* When asked if the government was negotiating with the Northern Alliance, the Spokesman stated:
At the moment, Ďnoí. We havenít refused any discussions with any Afghan group, we have always maintained this position. Pakistan has maintained contacts with all Afghan parties. All groups who wish to have contacts with us, are also welcome. When there is appropriate time and situation, these contacts can be re-established or established. As far as contacts are concerned, we are in touch with all Afghan groups, we have been talking to them during past several years and will continue to do so.
To a related question about recent contacts with the Northern Alliance, he said: Some time ago, recently we havenít. Your question was if we had lately had any contacts, we havenít had lately, but in the past we had several time discussions with the Northern Alliance.
* When his attention was drawn to a report that Northern Alliance was receptive to have good relations with Pakistan, the Spokesman stated:
You see, our position is, that all Afghan groups should get together and cooperate with the UN and the international community, in their efforts to put an end to the internal situation of uncertainty, to put a broad-based multi-ethnic and representative dispensation acceptable to all Afghans in Kabul, as quickly as possible. We would appeal to all groups and all Afghans to redouble their efforts to help the UN and help themselves, it is their government, they are going to put this government in place for their own country and they should react at as positively and constructively as possible, and in that respect, whatever help that we can do, we will certainly extend that help. But it is under the UN umbrella and it is for the Afghans to do it.
* On the Northern Allianceís reported desire to have good relations with Pakistan, the Spokesman stated:
We have not had direct contact with Northern Alliance lately, but the indications we receive is, that they have also responded positively towards the formation of a broad-based multi-ethnic government.
No opening statement was issued.
QUESTION - ANSWER SESSION:
The following issues were discussed during the question-answer session:
* Whether the bombing on a Mosque in Khost by the US was deliberate, the Spokesman stated:
I have seen the reports and the reports indicate that because of a failure of guiding system a bomb intended for some other target mistakenly hit the Mosque. Now obviously, a place of worship being damaged is a case for sorrow, is a case for regret. To assume that this has been deliberately done, I think would be wrong. I would not like to comment on the commentary you had given, but as far as the question part is concerned, the position that has been explained is that it was inadvertent, it was a failure of the guiding system of the bomb which caused the damage and obviously, it is a regrettable and sad incident. You would also recall that the American President and the American government right from the start of this operation have said that this was an operation intended against the terrorists and not against the Afghans or against the Muslims. President Bush has even issued a message for the Muslims at the start of Ramadan.
To a related question he added: We have stated that the bombing should be stopped during Ramadan. Now having said that a certain target is being pursued. You know, the bombing, because of the changed situation on the ground, has been reduced considerably and we hope that very soon it would no longer be necessary.
* Asked whether or not the Geneva Convention was applicable to the call by US Secretary Defence for mass killings of Taliban and if the Afghan Transit Trade facility had become inoperative, the Spokesman stated:
On the first, I really cannot say much because I haven't seen that statement. Obviously international law has supremacy and nobody can violate the international conventions and laws. As far as the Afghan transit trade is concerned, no Afghan transit trade has been stopped. If there is a temporary halt it is because of the circumstances, and you know what the circumstances are at the moment. The very fact that Pakistan government is trying its best to facilitate the passage of humanitarian assistance, despite all the difficulties, should convince anyone that no steps will be taken where any further difficulties are added to the Afghan people. The Afghan transit trade primarily is meant for the Afghan people and the government of Pakistan will provide every facility so that this trade continues unabated. Now, if temporarily something has happened I am not aware of it. I will have to check but I can assure you that there is no decision in this regard. This is just probably some administrative lacuna which may have caused it and nothing more.
* When asked to comment on the Talebanís decision to withdraw from Kandahar, the Spokesman stated:
We do not have any independent source of information of our own coming from Kandahar. We are also getting this information through media reports and the reports that are coming, and nothing more.
* When asked if Pakistan had decided to deploy troops permanently on the Pak-Afghan border, the Spokesman stated:
I think General Qureshi yesterday gave such a detailed comment on that. We have beefed up the security at our Pakistan-Afghan border due to certain reasons. There is need to beef up that security. That is why we have done. What you are talking about is a different kind of a situation of two border situation or two front situation. It has nothing to do with that. This is a measure where additional forces have been deployed in order to seal the Pak-Afghan border so that no undesirable activity across the border takes place.
* As to the status of the Taleban Embassy in Islamabad, the Spokesman observed:
As I told you the situation is constantly under review. The moment a decision in this regard is taken, we will let you know.
* To a question pertaining to the repatriation of Afghan refugees, the Spokesman stated:
You see, the refugees that are in Pakistan and majority of those people who have been displaced, even inside Afghanistan, have been because of the drought conditions, because of the economic conditions. Repatriation of refugees is a very complicated process number one. Number two, in order to repatriate refugees back to Afghanistan situation of complete peace and stability is a must. At the moment, the situation is still in turmoil. However, Pakistan is of the view that the Afghan refugees should be repatriated back to Afghanistan as soon as possible and that the UNHCR and the international community should facilitate that repatriation. The condition is all the time under review, as soon as there are conditions that these refugees can be repatriated, it is our understanding with the UNHCR and with other UN agencies that these refugees will be repatriated.
* When asked as to how many Pakistani were killed in Afghanistan, the Spokesman replied:
I understand that UN delegation was to leave for Afghanistan today. They will enquire about that when they return from Afghanistan we will get some information about it.
* Asked whether the government of Pakistan was in touch with Iran, the Spokesman stated:
We have had discussions with Iranian leadership about the situation in Afghanistan, about the course of action that the two countries should follow in Afghanistan, how to bring about or facilitate the UN in establishing a broad-based multi-ethnic representative government in Afghanistan so that permanent peace and stability can prevail in Afghanistan. These are the subjects on which the discussions have taken place with the leadership of Iran.
To a related question he stated: We have had no recent contacts with the leadership of Northern Alliance so far.
* To a similar question and a query about diplomatic activity in the last twenty-four hours, the Spokesman added:
Well, the United Nations is discussing the subject of the establishment to bring about a meeting of Afghan groups. The venue and the date is under discussion. Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi is making efforts in this regard. You may have seen his recent interview also which came on the CNN, saying that he is discussing with all Afghan parties, he is in touch with them in order to get them to agree to a particular venue and the date. So the efforts are going on. As far as the diplomatic activity is concerned, the diplomatic activities is going on all over the world, I can brief you about the diplomatic activity or the contacts that we are conducting on a specific question but I can't recount all that has happened in the last twenty-four hours on at the diplomatic scene. If others are in Peshawar or meeting some groups, I think you need to direct those questions to those particular groups or individuals who are making those contacts.
* When asked to specify the last contact with Northern Alliance, the Spokesman stated:
Well, we have been constantly in touch with the opposition and with different Afghan groups. If you specifically mean the group of Northern Alliance which is in Kabul at the moment, there hasn't been a contact for about a year or something like that.
* Whether the current polarization in Afghanistan could lead to civil war, the Spokesman commented:
We hope that with the activities of the UN to get all the different Afghan groups together to discuss future dispensation in Afghanistan the situation which may lead to civil war in Afghanistan would be avoided. That is why we have called for the urgency in hosting a meeting of the various Afghan groups so that a broad-based multi-ethnic representative dispensation is in place in Kabul as soon as possible, without any loss of time, because should this not come about quickly there are possibilities that what happened in the past may be repeated. We fervently hope and the international community is intent on that and so is Pakistan, that that kind of situation should be avoided.
* When asked if his answer was optimistic or pessimistic, the Spokesman said:
This is an optimistic answer, we are quite confident that very soon the UN will be able to get all the Afghan groups together to discuss the future of their country and quickly have a broad-based multi-ethnic dispensation, even the interim government in place quickly. The international community is also giving full support to the UN to achieve that objective and the indications that we have is that the Afghans groups also are very keen that the past mistake would be avoided this time. So I express this hope certainly with optimism.
* When asked about the participation of Taleban in the broad-based government, the Spokesman said:
Our position has been that all those Afghans who wish to make a new start in this process of the formation of a broad-based multi-ethnic government should be given a chance to participate in that.
* When his attention was drawn to a report of Iranian news agency that Osama Bin Ladin had taken refuge in Pakistan and how can a guarantee be give that he had not, the Spokesman stated:
You have to trust my words for that, nothing else. We have given a statement, we have stated that he is not in Pakistan.
* To a question whether Taleban will wage a guerrilla war and that there is a chance for civil war, the Spokesman said:
The Taleban have received such a lot of setback that I donít know what their future position will be. What is at the moment the question for worry is that the various groups now in control in various parts of Afghanistan, that they should all be brought together, under the UN umbrella, so that they can agree to a dispensation in Afghanistan which is acceptable to all Afghans.
The Spokesman further added: I cannot say anything about the future. If there is a stable government in Afghanistan, if there is a government which all the Afghans support I think that kind of possibility will be extremely diminished.
* When his attention was drawn to a report in the newspaper that Pentagon was considering to establish a military command in Pakistan, the Spokesman stated:
We have not received any such request.
* When asked to give the number of civilian and terrorists casualties inside Afghanistan and whether Pakistanís Afghan policy has failed, the Spokesman observed:
About your first question, we do not have any exact statistics. For your second question, there is a changed situation in Afghanistan. Pakistanís policy as far as Afghanistan was concerned in the past also, and I would invite you to check all the government statements, was that there should be a broad-based multi-ethnic representative government in Afghanistan, freely negotiated by the Afghans themselves. In that effort of the international community and the UN Pakistan gave full support. Pakistan engaged with the Afghan parties on its own also to persuade them to come to the negotiating table. Pakistan gave full support to the UN and OIC efforts. Pakistan took an active part in the 6+2 group, in order to help the Afghans to reach an acceptable broad-based government through the process of negotiations. Pakistanís policy still remains the same. If you are hinting at Pakistanís recognition of the Taleban government, the fact was that Pakistan has recognized always any entity which controls the capital and a major part of Afghanistan that has been Pakistanís consistent policy and continues to be that.
* Whether the Government was planning to apprehend those Pakistanis who were fighting in Afghanistan when they returned, the Spokesman stated:
They will be treated under the law.
* When asked to comment on an Iranian newspaper adverse comment on Pakistan at the time when Iranian Interior Minister was visiting Pakistan, the Spokesman said:
Pakistan and Iran have very close and brotherly relations. A newspaper report, an agency report, one misguided comment by somebody, does not mean that that is the Iranian governmentís policy or that means that this is a reflection of Iran-Pakistan relations. Pakistan and Iran have very close relations. There have always been very high level meetings between the two countries and they will continue to do so.
* To a question with regard to the Northern Alliance refusal to accommodate foreign troops in Afghanistan, the Spokesman stated:
Our position is that Kabul should be de-militarized, a multi-national force should take over control of Kabul so that the interim or broad-based government that is to be put in place can function freely, and the discussion for future of Afghanistan can take place in a peaceful atmosphere. This is Pakistanís position.
To a related question he said: What the Northern Alliance say, I cannot comment on that. I can only tell you what the government of Pakistanís position is and besides, I have seen reports that some elements of forces from some countries are already present inside Afghanistan.
No opening statement was issued.
QUESTION - ANSWER SESSION:
The following issues were discussed during the question-answer session:
* When asked to confirm certain media reports that US planes have started bombing Pakistani territory, the Spokesman said:
As far as we know, no bombs have fallen on the Pakistani territory. There are some reports that some bombs fell inside Afghanistan near the Pakistani territory but not on the Pakistani territory.
The DG ISPR added: The information we have that although they were close but were they not inside Pakistani territory.
* When his views were sought on Vendrellís statement to exclude Pakistan and Iran from the proposed multi-national force in Afghanistan, the Spokesman stated:
For the moment we donít have any proposal, I donít think the UN has any proposal about constituting a multi-national force, so when that subject is discussed then we will see who will be a part of this UN force and who will not be a part of this UN force. He may have expressed his own opinion. As far as our knowledge is, so far the UN has not started discussing the constitution of a UN peace-keeping force.
* To a question with regard to Pakistan and ICRCís role in the release of aid workers from Afghanistan and the details of rescue operation, the Spokesman stated:
The ICRC was involved. You can get the details from the ICRC about that. Pakistan was not involved in it at all, except that the helicopter landed in Islamabad and the workers were brought here.
* When his attention was drawn to a statement by Secretary of State Mr. Colin Powell that Pakistan joined the international coalition only when it was threatened, the Spokesman stated:
To the best of my knowledge never any such threat or statement has ever been made. This particular statement that you are referring to one would have to verify whether the Secretary of State did utter these words or not, because, sometimes the accuracy of reporting becomes a little difficult. We will have to verify this. Since the time Pakistan started discussing this subject, Pakistan became a partner of the coalition on a principled position to join the international community in fight against terrorism. It was a principled position taken by Pakistan not because of any threat nor because of any rewards or anything. It was a principled position. Pakistanís position always has been against terrorism and Pakistan has always supported the drive of the international community against terrorism.
* On a philosophical query as to how one could reconcile differences between the East and the West, the Spokesman remarked:
Yourís not a question, itís statement. I suppose you can comment on a situation whichever way you want to that is your particular point of view. I think the international community is constantly talking about and meeting and interacting with each other to build a world free of strife, a world which is peaceful, a world where all nations have good understanding with each other. I think the purpose of UN is that also. As far as your question when we started which I think was the question, and later became a commentary, was about the broad-based government. You would notice that the Security Council has passed a resolution only day before yesterday, they are seized of the matter. The international community has given a commitment that the UN should be supported in its efforts to have a broad-based representative government in Afghanistan and there is no reason to be despondent and no reason not to be optimistic that this time Inshall Allah the international community will succeed.
* When asked whether the American used nuclear weapons in Afghanistan, and that the American have been briefing Pakistan daily, the DG ISPR stated:
I think you have been misled. The people who have been briefing you have no idea what they are talking about. But let me add to this. The fact of the allegation that you made that there are daily briefings carried out, let me clarify this. What we had said was that at the beginning of the campaign the tactical or the operational plan that was to be launched by the coalition forces was not shared with Pakistan, and I still maintain that. There is no one trying to mislead you as far as we are concerned, but the information that you got from some as you say, a retired officer, is absolute devoid of facts.
* When his comments were sought that the US Government had given US$ 73 million to Pakistan for strengthening its borders with Afghanistan, the DG ISPR stated:
I have no idea. I donít think that 73 million dollars have come into Pakistan as yet.
The Spokesman added: The Interior Ministry will be discussing this subject because the border controls come under the Interior Ministry and once this amount is made available I think they would be making specific requests about exactly what they want, but most of the equipment would be of a nature that would strengthen their ability to patrol the border better, to control the border better, so that this large rugged and difficult to control border can be better managed.
* To a question that Pakistan Army units were going to the Pakistan-Afghan borders, the DG ISPR replied:
There have been beefing up of a scouts and our border security forces, which are made up of second forces under the Ministry of Interior. There has also been movements of some troops, no tanks at all, that was incorrect report, to supplement the scouts or the Frontier Constabulary at the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The aim of this is to make sure that the border is sealed and nobody moves across the border into Pakistan without valid documents and that something that was reviewed today there was a meeting which reviewed the internal security situation as well as the situation which has arisen because of whatís happening in Afghanistan and this was a high-powered meeting. I can just read out to you that the participants were given comprehensive briefings on the impact of the recent developments in Afghanistan, on the situation along the western borders, and influx of refugees which may be expected. The meeting was informed of the coordinated steps that have been taken including the deployment of regular troops, civil armed forces, scouts and other assets for ensuring the security of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. It was reiterated that on no account or pretext would anyone be allowed to break the law of the land and all violators would be dealt with firmly in accordance with the law. Thatís the gist of what happened today.
To a related question the DG ISPR added: Yes, the President of Pakistan chaired it, Governors of NWFP and Balochistan, the Minister for Interior, the Vice Chief of Army Staff, Corps Commanders of Peshawar and Quetta and other senior civil and military officer attended.
* To a question with regard to UNís endorsement of Mr. Rabbani as the President of Afghanistan, the Spokesman replied:
Well, as you know, despite their ouster from Kabul, the United Front Government had retained their seat at the UN and they still retained their seat at the UN.
* Asked whether the Government still recognized the Taleban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, the Spokesman observed:
The situation is constantly under review and as and when there is need to change the situation as it existed in the past, we would take a decision in this regard.
* When asked about the composition of troops deployed on the Pak-Afghan border, the DG ISPR stated:
Not a very large number but regular troops have moved. We donít go into details of how many and when they move, but they have moved in certain areas to ensure that there is sealing of the borders.
* Asked whether the objectives of bombing in Afghanistan had been achieved, the Spokesman stated:
This was discussed in details, I think General Rashid Queshi talked about it in detail yesterday also, but I will repeat that again. All the objectives have not been achieved. Partially, yes, Taleban have received a setback. This was also an objective. The objective was apprehending the terrorists, destroying the Al-Qaeda network and the supporters of those terrorists. The bombing was directly related to hitting the positions where the Taleban troops were deployed. In that tremendous bombing change has occurred. Taleban have lost a lot of territory. You have also seen that because of that the bombing has been reduced considerably, compared to what was before. When those objectives of the international coalition against terrorism will be achieved, I really cannot say definitively, it is very difficult for any body to predict. As far as the bombing is concerned, again a lot depends on how the military situation is developing. If the same way the collapse carries on further perhaps the bombing will be stopped completely perhaps. I not being a military man, cannot really say anything about exactly when the bombing will stop. But certainly the objectives so far have not been achieved.
* Asked whether the Group of 21 was an extension of the Group of 6+2, the Spokesman remarked:
About your first question, what you are talking about is the group of 21. This is not the expansion of 6+2, 6+2 is a separate group. Group of 21 existed a long time ago. It used to hold its meeting for four/five years ago. This group since some time has been dormant. We are also a member of that group. That group has decided to hold a meeting to look at the situation. When that meeting is held we will also be participating in that meeting and we will see how it is reviewing that. 6+2 is a separate group. This is not an expansion of 6+2. Just as Security Council is also constantly reviewing the situation on Afghanistan and discussing Afghanistan. This group has been lying dormant for some time. Now it has called for a meeting. When the meeting is held we will able to tell you more about it.
To a related question the Spokesman added: No, 6+2 has been given the preference. It just held a ministerial level meeting. The group of 21 is going to meet at a junior, officials level. The 6+2 has just met at the ministerial level. Secretary General attended that meeting, Lakhdar Brahimi briefed that group, the group is active, the group is there, the other group has been holding its meeting in the past. Let us see what they wish to discuss. There are many aspects, tomorrow if the General Assembly wishes to discuss the Afghanistan situation would we say what is the need for having a meeting when the 6+2 is there. There are different groups. OIC has also discussed the Afghanistan situation. It may hold another session for discussing Afghanistan situation. Let us not get too excited about it. The group of 6+2 is there, it is functional and itís not being expanded.
* On an additional query, the Spokesman added:
The 6+2 group is a very useful group. It has held a ministerial level meeting just recently, the Secretary General has attended that meeting. It is the group that has discussed the Afghan situation, it is the group which is the main factor behind the UN efforts. The entire international community is helping the UN in finding a solution to the Afghan problem towards having a broad-based government but the principal role is being played by the 6+2 and the Security Council.
* When his attention was drawn to Indian Defence Ministerís allegation that there was massive troops deployment by Pakistan, the DG ISPR stated:
If Mr. George Franendus has said this then he is very ill informed.
* Regarding latest UN resolution to establish a transitional administration, the Spokesman stated:
The transitional arrangement will be discussed when the meeting that Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi is trying for, of all the Afghan groups meets at a particular location. They have not yet decided even about a particular location. We hope that in the next few days the Afghan groups when they meet, they will decide what kind of an interim arrangement they wish to have. As the resolution has also called for and we have also talked about it and everybody else have also talked about it, the interim arrangement as well as the permanent arrangement whatever it is, has to be broad-based multi-ethnic and chosen by the Afghans themselves, the UN will only be a facilitator. The Afghans themselves will decide that how long that interim arrangement should be, should it be for two days or two years, whatever time they want to have, it is for them to choose. The international community and the UN will help the Afghans in that process.
Of course, the Afghans groups and the UN is trying very hard that all the Afghan representatives, which will include the various prominent leaders, the Zahir Shah camp, the initiative that was taken by Pir Galani, representatives from there, and representatives from inside Afghanistan and the Northern Alliance, all those who want to have a broad-based multi-ethnic representative dispensation in Afghanistan would be meeting there and would be discussing that and the sooner this meeting gets on course the better it would be for the ceasesion of hostilities and for the establishment of peace in Afghanistan.
* Asked as to who will represent the Pashtoons, the Spokesman stated:
The Pashtoons of Afghanistan will decide about that.
* When his attention was drawn to a UNHCR report anticipating influx of refugees and possible incursion by Al-Qaeda and Talebans the Spokesman stated:
Just now, General Qureshi talked about the increase in border security, the more vigilance that the government is exercising along the border. The reason is that we do not want any people, undesirable elements or any sort of people, except for those who have valid documents cross at the specified check posts from where crossings take place under supervision that they do not get a chance to cross into Pakistan.
When asked whether there were any targets and when would they be achieved, the Spokesman said: Inside Afghanistan, yes, there are targets, attempt have been made, progress has been made I am quite sure that once those targets are achieved, it would become pretty obvious that the targets have been achieved.
The DG ISPR added: May I restate, that no refugee will be allowed into Pakistan except the extreme humanitarian cases. All others who enter Pakistan will be proceeded against according to law. Now, that answer what Pakistan will do. It also answers that we will not allow people to enter Pakistan, and if some do, they will be proceeded as per law.
The Spokesman added: You may have noticed that about 80,000 refugees that have crossed into Pakistan over the last seven or eight months because of the drought and everything. They have been put in special camps. They have been taken notice of. They have been classified as the externally displaced people. People might manage to cross over from certain areas but they will be apprehended. Vigilance is being exercised.
* On a statement that because of different rules and legal position the Pakistani tribal belt was a safe haven for the Talebans, the Spokesman said:
There are separate rules for the tribal areas, but the authority extends to tribal areas, there are the scouts, there are the para-military forces under the Interior Ministry, there are the political agents, there is a whole administrative machinery inside tribal areas, it is not just a wild area without any government administration, so the writ of the government is definitely there. It is not the same kind of an administration as it is in the settled districts, but the administration is there.
The DG ISPR added: I think we need to clarify your point about tribal areas being great supporter of the Talebans, I disagree with that. Let me tell you that all tribal elders and tribal leaders residing in Pakistan were called and an exchange of views was done by the President with them. And let me reiterate here, not one of them was what you say a great supporter of the Taleban and they agreed totally with the position that Pakistan Government had taken. In fact, just to share with you, many of them cribbed and had lot of points against Afghans who had come into Pakistan as refugees and had actually usurped some of their areas and their land. They are very upset about that. So I disagree with what you said.
* Whether Pakistan was contemplating to lodge a protest with the US for bombing its territory, the DG ISPR stated:
We have gone on ground, we have found out exactly where they landed, they are close to the border they not in Pakistan territory.
To a related question he added: the posts you are talking about do exist but they did not land inside Pakistanís borders.
* Regarding Pakistanis fighting inside Afghanistan, the DG ISPR stated:
We have heard such report but there is no way to verify those. Yesterday, the Spokesman said that UN had been informed and Pakistan is in constant touch with the representatives and is making them aware of what we hear. They are the ones since we have no presence inside Afghanistan, so itís very difficult for us to verify or do anything about. The UN is what who were informing.
The Spokesman added: I told you yesterday we have asked the UN to verify these reports that we have heard that some Pakistanis have been killed in Afghanistan as soon as we have some verification, we will let you know about it.
There were no opening Statement.
QUESTION - ANSWER SESSION:
The following issues were discussed during the question-answer session:
* When asked to comment on the visit of American Special Envoy and his meeting with Foreign Secretary; to evaluate the recently concluded visit of President Musharraf and whether there had been any defence deal between Pakistan and USA, the Spokesman stated:
Your first question I will answer very briefly, we will be issuing a press release on that also. Mr. Dobbins met the Foreign Secretary this morning, detailed discussions were held about the situation in Afghanistan, both sides agreed to the need of a broad-based multi-ethnic government to be put in place in Afghanistan and reaffirm their support to Mr. Brahimi and UN efforts in this regard. Mr. Dobbins will be holding further meetings later in the evening at the Foreign Office and I understand he intends to visit Peshawar tomorrow to meet the Afghans residing there and so on.
To the second question the DG ISPR stated that President Musharrafís visit to the US, to attend the UN meeting, was very very successful. It started from Pakistan and en-route be met the leadership of Iran in Tehran, then to Turkey at Istanbul after which the visit included his visit to France where he met the President of France, after which he went to London where Prime Minister Tony Blair had invited him and finally to New York. On the way back again he had a stopover for some time to meet the Turkish Prime Minister in Istanbul. Overall it was very very successful and very very good visit in which exchange of views took place with various leaders of countries and what I would like to say here, that there was total convergence and unanimity of views on all things that were discussed, especially Afghanistan where detailed exchange of views was done and matters relating to relationship between the two countries whether Pakistan-France, Pakistan-UK, Pakistan-USA, Pakistan-Turkey and Pakistan-Iranian relations were discussed. There were four parameters that were given out by President Musharraf, and even in the UN, I think, the representative of the UN Mr. Brahimi has included those in his search for a political dispensation for Afghanistan. So, therefore, just overall of the overview, if I have to give that, was an extremely successful and very fruitful visit. As to details of defence purchases, no details were discussed of defence purchases. This was a visit where mutual relations between countries were discussed at the overall conceptual level and no details of what is to be bought or what is not to be bought, including defence purchases, were discussed. So that probably answers what you wanted to know.
* When asked if the changed scenario in Afghanistan posed a threat to Pakistanís security and whether appropriate measures were being taken to ward-off such a threat, the DG ISPR replied:
I think there is a slight inaccuracy in what you said. I donít think the Northern Alliance, that you talk about, are actually combination of the Uzbeks, Tajiks and the Hazarahs which are ethnic communities which form Afghanistan and the majority of the people of Afghanistan are the Pushtoons with about 50-55% of the Afghan population. I donít think there is any movement South by the three ethnic communities that you spoke about that originally got together as a Northern Alliance. I donít think they are posing any threat to Pakistan, neither is that their intension. Yes, there have been certain forces which have come into Kabul the UN has taken note of that and I think, the UN will be taking care of a future political dispensation which is going to be broad-based, multi-ethnic according to the wishes of the Afghan people. And that is exactly what President Musharraf has been saying for quite sometime now. I donít think that there is any threat to Pakistan from any side.
* Asked whether the US Special Envoy had brought in new propositions, the Spokesman stated:
The purpose of the visit is not to bring any proposition, it is to discuss the Afghan situation and to discuss how the two countries can help the international community and the UN to bring about and speed up the political process so that a multi-ethnic broad-based government, chosen by the Afghan themselves, can be put in place in Kabul.
* Whether the Northern Alliance purported plan of a government in Afghanistan ran counter to Pakistanís position and why would the Northern Alliance share power when they were already controlling 75% of Afghanistan, the Spokesman stated:
As far as your first question is concerned, the international community has called for the UN to put a process in action through which the Afghans can freely chose a government for themselves. This is what the 6+2 has also called for, this is also what the Security Council has called for in its latest resolution which was adopted yesterday and if you like I can give you some more details about that resolution although that resolution should be available, but I have it with me and if you wish I can read out some relevant portions from it. It is also calling for a broad-based, multi-ethnic dispensation it says e.g. in its first operative paragraph "expresses its strong support for the efforts of the Afghan people to establish a new and transitional administration leading to the formation of a government both of which, that is the transition as well as final, should be broad-based multi-ethnic and fully representative of all the Afghan people and committed to peace with Afghanistanís neighbours". So I think this is a very important resolution and the international community has given its commitment. We hope very soon that process will be on its way so that this particular desire of the international community and more than that, of the Afghans themselves can be realized. And this in fact also sort of covers your military aspect of the question but I think General Qureshi would like to give you some more details.
The DG ISPR added: I think there are again certain perhaps wrong information that some people may have acquired. From what we know, no ethnic community controls 75% of Afghanistan. There have been areas in the Pushtoon dominated areas where local tribes and local tribal elders and leaders or commanders, whatever you would like to call them, have risen up or moved against what was initially called the Taleban government, and they have taken control of their areas or districts, whatever. So, therefore, although they may be 75% of Afghanistan territory-wise which is not under Taleban control, yet it is not under any one ethnic control, so we have local people who come up and who have taken over that area, thatís one. Secondly, I think, by and large, all Afghans who have been through this turmoil for over 20 years, I think, there is a realization within the Afghan people that no one ethnic community has brought peace to Afghanistan and all of them, I think most of them, feel that it has to be a broad-based, multi-ethnic government which represents all ethnic communities of Afghanistan. I donít think there is a danger of someone taking over control. I think there seems to be a realization overall in Afghanistan that they need to agree on a dispensation.
To a related question the Spokesman added: the international community has given a call for all Afghans to form a broad-based government. Mr. Brahimi is continuing his efforts and I think he plans to have some kind of a meeting with different Afghan groups shortly, I do not know exactly the date or details of it, but at that particularly time all these groups, including the Northern Alliance would be participating in that meeting. Let us first wait till that situation arises. To jump at the conclusion that they have said no to the process I think would be wrong, because even the Northern Alliance has given this commitment that they want to have a broad-based multi-ethnic government in Afghanistan.
* When asked if the government had enhanced vigilance on its borders to prevent possible incursion by Al-Qaeda or Talebans into Pakistan, the DG ISPR replied:
First of all, I donít think Al-Qaeda or Taleban leaders would like to come into Pakistan, thatís my assessment. However, yes, Pakistan government has taken measures and there is an increased vigilance on the borders, nobody is allowed to enter Pakistanís territory, except people who are first of all found to be not involved in the sort of activities that were going on whether Taleban or Al-Qaeda and people who have valid documents or people who are under extreme problems, like the injured, women and children as we said before. So yes there is increase vigilance there is increased efforts to ensure no such person enters Pakistan.
* Asked whether President Musharraf was less concerned about the US bombing in Holy month of Ramadan, the DG ISPR stated:
From the way things are turning out, it seems that perhaps before Ramadan the military objectives that were identified earlier hopefully should be achieved. At the same time, I donít there is any great concern that President Musharraf has, he did voice his concern, he conveyed it to the coalition partners, the coalition partners have taken into consideration and obviously, the fact that military objectives have to be achieved that is the realization that we also have.
* To a question about the status of Pakistanis detained in USA, the Spokesman stated:
We have tried to check, there are different figures really. The main thing is what was confirmed is to us by the Embassy was that why the figures in the press and then with the embassy differ because some time the cases are not reported, some time one hears about it, goes to the INS their immigration services for information, there are some times delay in reply to our queries and so on. Because of that there is a difference between the figures that the mission has that the figures that have come in the press. The reports talk of a much larger number than the reports that have been confirmed to the mission. The reason being, as I said, that when we see these reports or some cases are reported to us, either we see it in the press or some individuals approach us, then we get in touch with the authorities and till the confirmation comes one cannot really give accurate figures but the fact remains, that each and every case that comes to Embassyís knowledge or the Consulatesí knowledge is immediately taken up with the American authorities.
To related question the Spokesman stated, the figure is about I think between 50 and 100 cases, some thing like that.
* Asked whether the government was undertaking measures about the Pakistanis killed in Afghanistan and if government would be receptive to grant asylum to Mulla Omar, the Spokesman stated:
As far as the reports about some Pakistanis having being killed in Mazar-e-Sharif, we have seen those reports. We have no presence in Afghanistan, we have requested the UN offices here to verify these reports and to find out about the accuracy of those reports. The UN is now planning to move into Afghanistan hopefully very soon because if you may recall, they had also pulled out their office from Afghanistan and all their functionaries from Afghanistan. We are trying to ascertain the correct position and the correct situation and once we have some accurate reports in this regard we will take further action.
Your second question this was brought up yesterday also, the border of Pakistan is closed and we are exercising extreme vigilance not to allow any unauthorized person to cross the border, nobody whether a foreigner or an Afghan national is being allowed to cross the border, except for those extreme cases of women and orphans and some terribly sick people, so there is had need for any apprehension in that regard.
* When asked to evaluate the ethnic polarization in Afghanistan, the Spokesman stated:
The fighting was going on between the Taleban and the other forces, it does not mean that it was going on against Pashtoons as such, granted that Taleban were predominantly of Pashtoons origin and Pashtoon ethnicity. At the moment, in large Pashtoon areas as the reports are coming in the local tribal elders are forming their own shuras and their own governments there. So, I do not think that there is any need to worry about large scale ethnic clashes inside Afghanistan.
* When his reaction was sought on a statement by the British Defence Secretary wherein he had equated the Kashmiri struggle with terrorism, the Spokesman stated:
Calling the indigenous struggle in Kashmir as terrorism is unfortunate and a travesty of facts. Everybody knows that the struggle that is going on in occupied Kashmir is indigenous. If anything, the helpless people of Kashmir are being subjected to coercion and state terrorism. This is what the international community should take note of. The facts on the ground are that this struggle is indigenous, the facts on the ground are that this struggle has started only because the people of Kashmir have been denied their right to self-determination, which was promised to them in the UN Security Council Resolutions and by the Indian leaders themselves. They waged a peaceful struggle for a very long time in order to realize that fundamental right which had been promised to them. Now lately when the coercive measures started, as a reaction to those measures the freedom struggle has accelerated and increased and has become more assertive. But the fact of the matter is that this is an indigenous struggle. This fact can be verified by people like you to go and visit Kashmir and verify for yourselves that those thousands of graves of the martyrs which are lining the graveyards of the valley that those are sons of the soil, their relatives are living there, these are not people who have gone from across the border. The international community should take note of that and should do something so that this long outstanding issue is resolved as quickly as possible.
The DG ISRP added that one may ask this question that indigenous people of Indian occupied Kashmir who have risen up and are asking for the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution how can those people be termed as terrorists. Terrorists should be those people who are going against the UN Security Council Resolutions which is the Indian state.
* When asked whether Pakistan was thinking in terms of withdrawing its logistic support to the US, the Spokesman stated:
Being part of the coalition, Pakistan has given some logistic support and intelligence sharing etc. and when it needs to be reviewed, it will be done.
* To a question with regard to the time frame by which the American military operations in Afghanistan would be terminated, the Spokesman stated:
You would notice that the bombing has reduced considerably, number one. Number two, you would know when these objective are achieved, an announcement to that effect would be made by the coalition partners that the objectives have been achieved. You would get to know that. Now to describe a timeframe from now, when these objective would be achieved, is going into the realms of speculation I would say, because this is a very difficult objective. It is not an easy objective Concerted efforts are being made by the international community to achieved those objective. When they are achieved an announcement to that effect would be made and you would get to know.
The DG ISPR added: there is no conquest of Afghanistan that is being undertaken. I think that is a twist of facts and one should avoid that. There is no conquering of Afghanistan that any forces doing there. There is a movement there in the military operation against terrorists and people who support that terrorism. So therefore, I donít think we should call that a conquest of Afghanistan.
* When his attention was drawn to Pak-Afghan Defence Council leadersí statement that capture of Kabul by Northern Alliance was a failure of Pakistanís foreign policy, the Spokesman stated:
Northern Alliance military movement is not the ultimate step towards the Afghanistan situation. It is evolving, developing and I have read out the Security Council Resolution and mentioned about Mr. Lakhdar Barahimiís efforts in this regard. There is international consensus over a broad-based multi-ethnic government, chosen by all Afghans without outside interference.
The DG ISPR added: the aspect that you spoke about the ethnic community that forms the Northern Alliance, frankly I think that there is a realization which we shall see in the forthcoming time that is to bring peace to Afghanistan, all Afghans in Afghanistan have realized that in order to bring peace to Afghanistan, there has to be a broad-based multi-ethnic political dispensation. We hope and thatís the hope of the UN, those are the efforts that they are trying to make in order to peace to prevail in Afghanistan there will be a multi-ethnic broad-based government.
* When asked whether the government was taking additional security measures at the Pak-Afghan border, the DG ISPR replied:
The first two areas that you spoke about, additional forces as far as the Scouts are concerned we have the second line of force of the Ministry of Interior which looks after the various posts on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. They have been beefed up. There is additional and increased vigilance and we are trying to do our best in whatever way we can to ensure that the porous borders are controlled.
"Let's not mix the two: domestic extremists and those involved in the Kashmir struggle. We should differentiate clearly between the two. But if any organization found involved in domestic extremism, we will take action against it. But Oct 1 incident in Srinagar was, in my own view, also a terrorist act. I condemned it."
-- President Pervez Musharraf, New York, November 13
We have seen reports of the tile withdrawal of the taliban from Kabul and its takeover by the forces of the Northern Alliance.
It is hope that calm prevails and bloodshed is avoided, Pakistan holds to the view Northern Alliance forces must not occupy Kabul.
Pakistan would like to see all early return to durable peace and stability to Afghanistan, Past experience has clearly demonstrated that no single group or a broad based multi-ethnic representative political dispensation acceptable to all Afghans ,and at peace with all its neighbors established under the auspices of the United Nations would be the best guarantee for peace in Afghanistan as well as for its utility and territorial integrity. The United Nations and the Six-plus-Two two group should redouble their efforts in this regard.
Pending the establishment of such a political dispensation chosen by tile Afghans themselves, Kabul Should remain a demilitarized city under the control of a UN peace-keeping force or multinational force, authorized by the UN Security council.
13 November 2001
Statement by Mr. Abdul Sattar, Foreign Minister of Pakistan at the Public Meeting on "Afghanistan" in the Security Council on 13 November 2001
I am grateful to you and the distinguished Members of the Security Council for this opportunity to make a statement on the situation in Afghanistan. This morning, we listened with attention and respect to the statement of the Secretary General envisioning a hopeful evolution in Afghanistan. The process proposed by Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi testifies to his insights into the problem in Afghanistan. At the Six-plus-Two Meeting yesterday, Pakistan joined in pledging full support for the sovereignty and independence of Afghanistan, and its unity and territorial integrity. An interim administration of the Afghans for their country needs to be urgently facilitated.
We greatly appreciate that the Security Council Members are intensely engaged in efforts for bringing peace to Afghanistan. These efforts have assumed greater urgency as the situation in Afghanistan is evolving fast. Afghanistan and its people deserve an end to their travail. For over two decades they have suffered at the hands of both man and nature. They have been victims of foreign intervention and internecine war, ambitions of warlords and irrational obsessions of Osama Bin Laden who has abused the Afghan tradition of hospitality to spread terror across the globe.
The terrorist attacks of 11 September, killing thousand of innocent people in New York and Washington provoked righteous condemnation by the United Nations. Pakistan joined the world community in expressing our grief and condolences. We also followed words with actions and joined the coalition for the war against international terrorism in order to bring perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of the outrage to justice.
The military action has inflicted unintended suffering on innocent people in Afghanistan. We grieve for them, too. We believe that the military action will be as short as possible and that the achievements of its objectives will also pave the way for bringing an end to the suffering of the Afghan people.
In his speech to the General Assembly on 10 November, President Pervez Musharraf called for the military strategy to be combined with political and humanitarian strategies to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan as well as relief and reconstruction to its people.
The United Nations has long endorsed the principle that the government in Afghanistan should be broad-based, representative and multi-ethnic. Pakistan has emphasized that for stability the government should be representative of the demography of Afghanistan. The political strategy should ensure the unity and territorial integrity of Afghanistan. The process of formation of the post-Taliban government should be home-grown as far as possible with the United Nations and OIC providing needed facilitation. Another important principle to be kept in view is that the new government should commit itself to implementation of Security Council resolutions. In the interest of peace and stability in the region, it should maintain friendly relations with all the neighbours of Afghanistan. We are happy to see that these ideas are fully shared by the Six-plus-Two Group and are the basis of the plan prepared by Ambassador Brahimi.
Afghan groups have become more active since early October. The Northern Alliance entered into an agreement with King Zahir Shah for the formation of an interim government.
On October 24-25 the Assembly for Peace and Unity of Afghanistan held a large conference of more than 1500 Afghan notables, including Mujahideen leaders and commanders, influential Maliks of powerful tribes, and dignitaries of ethnic communities. The conference adopted a resolution in favour of the traditional Afghan process of a Loya Jirga for the formation of a government of peace and unity. It envisaged an important role for King Zahir Shah in efforts to end the crisis. The King expressed appreciation for the conference as a beneficial opportunity for an intra-Afghan dialogue aimed at forging national unity.
The military situation in Afghanistan is changing at accelerating pace. The Northern Alliance forces have claimed control of large territory, and are reported to be pressing on Kabul.
It is particularly important at such moment to retain political objectives in focus. The hope of forming a broad-based, multi-ethnic government is at stake. We would, therefore, urge acceleration of political action, to convene a meeting of eminent and influential Afghans as soon as possible for the formation of a broad-based, multi-ethnic interim arrangement. In this regard, we endorse the four-step approach proposed by Ambassador Brahimi. However, speed is of the essence. Withdrawal of the Taliban from Kabul has created a dangerous political vacuum. Unless the United Nations is able to put together a political dispensation which is representative of all segments of the Afghan population, conflict and turmoil would continue to afflict that unfortunate country.
For such an interim political dispensation and administration to play the expected role for the peace, stability and unity of Afghanistan, it would be vital for it to move to Kabul, the capital and the symbol of unity of the State.
Peace and security of Kabul should have to be secured. A multi-national force should be created with the coalition providing back up support.
Fears have been expressed of reprisals and even ethnic cleansing in parts of Afghanistan. Such a disaster needs to be prevented. Otherwise, hopes of preserving the unity of Afghanistan could suffer a mortal blow.
Pakistan hopes that peace in Afghanistan would be followed by international efforts for rehabilitation and reconstruction in Afghanistan. Only thus can we in Pakistan hope for the refugees to return to their country.
In addition to the military and political strategies, there is a need to urgently address the grave humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. This requires urgent concerted and coordinated efforts, supported with generous funding, to address the needs of the Afghans not only in refuge camps but also inside Afghanistan. This involves the delivery inside Afghanistan of humanitarian assistance to the people in their home localities. It also involves the setting up of camps inside Afghanistan to provide emergency support and assistance to internally displaced persons.
Except for Afghanistan itself, no country has suffered more than Pakistan as a result of turmoil in Afghanistan. For more than two decades we have provided asylum to over three million refugees. The economic and social burden on Pakistan aggravated after 1989 as world assistance for their maintenance dried to a trickle. The refugees entered the labour force, displacing Pakistanis and increasing unemployment in our country. We are not in a position to open our borders for all those who may want to enter Pakistan in search for food and relief. Despite restrictions, over 80,000 Afghans have crossed into Pakistan in the past two months. Opening of the borders will bring a massive influx of refugees into Pakistan, which we cannot afford. There are more than one and half million internally displaced persons in Afghanistan and around 5 to 7 million vulnerable people. It is, therefore, essential to provide assistance to the need Afghans inside their own country. However, Pakistan continues to allow the vulnerable Afghans and injured civilians, women and children to be housed in refugee camps close to the border in Pakistan on a temporary basis. Pakistan, for its part, will continue to do whatever it can to alleviate the hardship of the Afghans.
Once peace returns to Afghanistan, humanitarian relief has to be sustained. No peace process can work without commensurate support to rebuild and rehabilitate this war-ravaged nation. The need to concurrently evolve a comprehensive post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation plan is, therefore, equally important which will be put in place as soon as peace returns to Afghanistan. It is imperative for the international community to immediately begin work on this plan and arrange the necessary finances to support and sustain it. Any reconstruction effort in Afghanistan must, at the minimum, entail the restoration of water management systems, reviving of agriculture, reconstruction of the infrastructure, rebuilding of institutions as well as the continued humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people. To this end the President of Pakistan proposed the establishment of an "Afghan Trust Fund" under UN auspices to assist in humanitarian relief as well as national reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in Afghanistan.
This time, the international community must not walk away from Afghanistan. It must demonstrate the political will and the determination to engage and help the Afghan people in rebuilding peace and the economy of their country. We disappointed the Afghans in the past. The negative consequence of that neglect is clear for everyone to see. We must not repeat that mistake.
Before concluding, Mr. President, I wish to reiterate Pakistanís commitment to full cooperation with the United Nations in its efforts to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan.
I thank you, Mr. President.
13 November, 2001
Following is the text of the joint statement issued after the meeting between US President George W Bush and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf:
"President George W Bush and President Pervez Musharraf met New York today and reaffirmed the strength and vitality of the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and the United States. The two presidents expressed the conviction that the global coalition against terrorism is essential for the elimination of the Taliban regime and the al-Qaeda network and those who harbour them.
President Musharraf welcomed the clear commitments expressed by President Bush to continued active United States engagement in Pakistan and the entire South Asian subcontinent. President Bush and President Musharraf reaffirmed the benefits of 50 years of friendship and close cooperation between Pakistan and the United States and recalled the pivotal role of the Pakistan-US alliance in the triumph of the free world at the end of the Cold War.
They welcomed the revival of this longstanding partnership and expressed their conviction that it would constitute a vital element in the construction of a durable structure of peace, stability, economic growth and enhanced prosperity at the regional and global level.
They also held wide-ranging discussions on the current anti-terrorism campaign and exchanged views on bilateral, regional, and international issues. President Musharraf strongly condemned the terrorist attacks of September 11 and conveyed the sympathy and solidarity of the people and Government of Pakistan to the people and Government of the United States.
President Bush recognised Pakistan's role as a frontline state in the global campaign against terrorism and expressed gratitude for Pakistan's vital support in the international campaign. Both leaders agreed to continue their ongoing excellent cooperation and to pursue a coherent and coordinated diplomatic, political, military, economic, financial and humanitarian strategy to eliminate terrorism.
President Bush stressed that the United States and Pakistan are friends of long-standing and that Pakistan is a great Islamic nation. He emphasised that the United States has great respect for Islam and noted the fast growth of the Islamic community in America. President Bush stated that our campaign is against those who pervert a great religion in the service of evil.
President Bush and President Musharraf also discussed means of easing the plight of the Afghan refugees. President Bush recognised the leading role that Pakistan has played in receiving and caring for Afghan refugees and emphasised that the United States is the largest foreign donor of humanitarian aid. Even tonight, using our military resources, United States planes are dropping badly needed food supplies to the Afghan people.
The two presidents agreed that the international community will have to provide sizeable and sustained resources for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. They also affirmed their support for the efforts of the United Nations, Secretary-General Annan, and Special Envoy Brahimi.
They agreed that peace and stability in Afghanistan can be achieved through the institution of a broad-based, multi-ethnic, representative government, established through consensus among Afghans, and evolved under the auspices of the United Nations. They also acknowledged that Afghanistan should enjoy friendly relations with all its neighbours and be a link between Central and South Asian and free from the scourge of terrorism and drugs.
President Musharraf welcomed President Bush's decision to lift a number of sanctions that allow the resumption of cooperation with Pakistan. They agreed that the bilateral relationship is built on the shared interests and values of the American and Pakistani peoples. President Bush welcomed the efforts that the Pakistani citizens are making to support the coalition against terrorism.
Affirming their commitment to Pakistan's economic stabilisation and revival programme, President Bush pledged to promote economic assistance to Pakistan. President Bush confirmed that he will extend support to enable Pakistan to respond to the economic challenges it confronts.
The two presidents discussed ways to make good on the enormous potential for increased trade and investment between Pakistan and the United States and agreed to enter into extensive talks regarding economic issues. President Bush affirmed that the United States is committed to working with the international financial institutions to provide additional support for Pakistan. Financial assistance, debt relief, greater trade and investment opportunities and sound Pakistani economic policies should assist Pakistan in its efforts to spur sustainable economic growth. Additionally, President Bush undertook to consider ways to respond to Pakistan's market access expectations.
President Bush and President Musharraf discussed a broad range of regional security issues. Both underscored the importance of Pakistan to have a successful transition to democracy in 2002. President Bush and President Musharraf agreed to continue and expand defence consultations. President Bush welcomed President Musharraf's commitment to hold elections by October 2002 and to build a stable, democratic and prosperous Pakistan, in which the rights of all Pakistanis are fully protected.
President Bush and President Musharraf expressed shared concern about the threat to global stability posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction. They agreed on the need for a comprehensive approach to counter these threats, including enhanced non-proliferation measures at the global and regional level. President Musharraf looked forward to further discussions with the United States on these issues.
The two leaders discussed ways to promote stability in South Asia. President Bush praised President Musharraf's recent call on Prime Minister Vajpayee of India. President Bush and President Musharraf agreed that India and Pakistan should resolve the Kashmir issue through diplomacy and dialogue in mutually acceptable ways that take into account the wishes of the people of Kashmir.
President Bush and President Musharraf resolved to work together closely to expand bilateral and regional trade. They agreed that launching a new global trade round in Doha is a top priority for both nations. They confirmed their commitment to achieve open markets in South Asia, including using the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation's (Saarc) full potential more effectively. The two leaders agreed that the United States will continue to take steps to strengthen Pakistan's economy. They agreed that the United States and Pakistan can accomplish great things together and that the American and Pakistani people look forward to building peace, stability and prosperity, both in South Asia and around the world.
Source: The News, Islamabad, November 12, 2001
Following is a transcript of the joint Press conference of President Bush and President Musharraf in New York on November 10:
President Bush: Good evening. In our hour of need, just after the terrorist attacks on September the 11th, President Musharraf quickly condemned the evildoers. He's shown even greater courage and vision and leadership in the weeks since. Our nations share an urgent mission, which is to stop and defeat terrorism wherever it may exist. That mission is not directed against those who practice Islam. That mission is directed against evil people. We discussed ways to accelerate our progress in Afghanistan against al Qaeda and the Taliban. We also discussed our humanitarian efforts to help Afghans through the winter. And we spent time on the need to work together for long-term reconstruction of Afghanistan, once the Taliban no longer hold power.
Pakistan's efforts against terror are benefiting the entire world and linking Pakistan more closely with the world. The United States wants to help build these linkages. I've authorised a lifting of sanctions, and over $1 billion in US support. I will also back debt relief for Pakistan. I want to thank Senators Grassley and Baucus of our United States Congress for introducing legislation that will improve market access in the United States to Pakistan's products.
I'm pleased that the president is committed to restore democracy in Pakistan. Pakistan is a strong ally; President Musharraf is a strong leader, and the world is deeply appreciative for his leadership.
President Musharraf: Thank you very much, Mr President. It's my pleasure to be talking to all of you. Let me, first of all, say that I, myself, my government, and the people of Pakistan condemn in the strongest terms the wanton act of terrorism on the 11th of September against the United States. We condole with all the grieved. Having said that, let me right away say that Pakistan has taken the considered decision to be a part of the coalition, to be with the United States, to fight terrorism in all its forms wherever it exists. And let me also assure the President that Pakistan will remain committed to this -- to the fight against terrorism.
We also -- or I also see now the start of a dawn of a new era of a relationship between Pakistan and the United States. Pakistan will hope for a very sustainable and long-standing futuristic relationship developing between Pakistan and the United States; a relationship which we always have had in the past.
Having said that, let me say that I had very fruitful discussions with the President on Afghanistan and on the method of fighting terrorism. On Afghanistan, we have unanimity of views on a political dispensation, which needs to be encouraged through the people of Afghanistan, to be brought into Afghanistan. And we have, in addition, a humanitarian relief package that needs to be worked out. We have total unanimity of views on these.
Lastly, I did apprise the president of Pakistan's concerns and Pakistan's difficulties from the fallout of whatever is happening in our region. And let me very gladly say that the president showed total concern for it and also assured us, assured Pakistan to help out in the maximum possible way. I remain extremely grateful to the President for his concern for Pakistan and for his desire to assist Pakistan through the difficulties that we are facing at the moment. Thank you very much.
President Bush: The president has agreed to take some questions, and so have I. Both of us will take two questions from each side, starting with Mr Fournier of Associated Press.
Q: Thank you, sir. I'd like to ask both of you about the same topic. Secretary Powell suggested yesterday that the Northern Alliance shouldn't take control of Kabul. Does that mean you would discourage them from seizing the capital? And please explain what he meant when he said that Kabul should become an open city and use post-World War II Berlin as an example. And to you, Mr President, why don't you think Kabul should be taken by the Northern Alliance?
President Bush: Well, I think we share a common view that in order for there to be a country that is stable and peaceful on this good leader's western border, that any power arrangement must be shared with the different tribes within Afghanistan. And a key signal of that will be how the city of Kabul is treated. We will encourage our friends to head south, across the Shamali Plains, but not into the city of Kabul, itself. And we believe we can accomplish our military missions by that strategy. So it's a -- the Secretary -- I don't want to put words in the good secretary's mouth, but we believe a strategy that makes sense for the long run is one that is all encompassing. And a signal of that strategy will be how the city of Kabul is treated.
President Musharraf: Well, I agree with the President totally. Why I have been recommending that Kabul should not be occupied by the Northern Alliance basically is because of the past experience that we've had when the various ethnic groups were in hold of Kabul after the Soviets left. There was total atrocities, killings and mayhem within the city. And I think if the Northern Alliance enters Afghanistan -- enters Kabul -- we'll see the same kind of atrocities being perpetuated against the people there, against the populace there, which needs to be avoided.
Q: Do you agree with that rationale, President Bush?
President Bush: I said one question, now you're going with three. (Laughter.) Why don't you call on somebody?
Q: This is for President Bush. I ask my President questions at home. President Bush, your government and the US government in the past and currently has been proactively using the UN Security Council to solve problems in conflict areas. When will you invoke the UN Security Council to intervene on the issue of Kashmir, which is clearly an issue which is at the basis of conflict in South Asia?
President Bush: Well, we've had a very good discussion on this subject, and I assured the president that my country will do what we can to bring parties together, to have good, meaningful discussions on the subject so that we can come up with a solution.
Q: And United Nations involvement in it, Mr President?
President Bush: I think our involvement is exactly how I described it to the president.
Q: Mr President, Osama bin Laden says he already has nuclear and chemical weapons. Do you believe him, and where do you think he would get them from?
President Bush: The only thing I know certain about him is that he's evil. And I don't know what to believe about him, except that he wants to hurt Americans. I suspect he now wants to hurt the people of Pakistan. And we're not going to let him. We will do everything we can to stop him here at home, and we're doing everything we can to hunt him down and bring him to justice. Those kinds of statements he utters reinforce the coalition's efforts to bring him to justice, and that's exactly what's going to happen with Mr Osama bin Laden -- all the more reason for us to pursue him diligently and to get him. And that's what we're going to do.
Q: It's Pakistan's turn now. (Laughter.)
President Bush: Fine by me. (Laughter.)
Q: My question is addressed to President George Bush. Mr President, United States of America time and again has said that it is against -- eradicate all sort of terrorism. My question to you, Mr President, is when are you going to deal with the question of state-sponsored terrorism? My question is in reference to the Kashmir situation, first. And the other part of my question is, how do you view the personal contribution and role of Pakistan's leader, General Musharraf, in countering global terrorism? Thank you.
President Bush: Well, thank you very much. My government strongly condemned the terrorist attacks on October the 1st, strongly condemned them, as did President Musharraf. He condemned those attacks, as well. We share the same vision about terror, that it should not exist anywhere in the world. The president is working hard to strengthen Pakistan. He's got an education vision, which I find to be enlightened. After all, he's got a very brilliant woman running the education department of Pakistan.
The reason I bring that up is both of us work hard to make our countries hopeful and optimistic, and we recognise that a terrorist attack on either one of us will disrupt the lives of ordinary citizens, and disrupt our plans to bring prosperity and hope and opportunity for our respective countries. Thank you all very much. Have a good evening tonight in New York City.
Source: The News, Islamabad, November 12, 2001
No opening statement was issued.
QUESTION - ANSWER SESSION:
The following issues were discussed during the question-answer session:
* When asked to comment on the ground situation in Afghanistan, the Spokesman stated:
Well, as I have said earlier also about this, as far as the situation inside Afghanistan is concerned, our source of information is also the media reports. As you know that we do not have the personnel of our Embassy or Consulates inside Afghanistan since a long time so we are also dependent entirely on the media reports and I have seen the reports just as you have.
* When asked to comment on US-Pak relations after the meeting between President Musharraf and President Bush, the Spokesman replied:
As far as the relations with the United States are concerned, I would draw your attention to the joint statement that was released after the meeting which elaborately talks about the relationship. I have nothing more to add than that. I think it indicates the excellent state of relationship.
As far as Kabul is concerned, our position has been, as you already know, that the control of Kabul should be within an entity which is acceptable to all Afghans, a political dispensation there which is acceptable to all Afghans and remains our position. The dispensation should come about through an indigenous process, should be representative, should be multi-ethnic, should be reflective of the demographic realities of Afghanistan and should come in place without outside inference, the UN can play a role as an umbrella or an facilitating organization.
* When asked why Pakistan was opposed to the Northern Allianceís entry in Kabul, the Spokesman said:
Pakistan does not oppose anybody. Pakistanís position is that no single faction or group or body should be in control of Kabul because of our past experience. And you know the past history. I donít have to go into those details. You know what happened in Kabul, in Afghanistan, because there was an entity which was not acceptable to all Afghan. We know about the civil war and the war lordism that Afghanistan and its people have suffered. It is the past experience which tells us and the recent history of Afghanistan which tells us that care should be taken that an entity that controls Kabul is acceptable to all Afghans, it should go there through a process that all Afghans have accepted. This is not a personal prejudice or anything, it just that one should avoid future blood-shed, one should have stability in Afghanistan. The entire international community desires peace in Afghanistan and in order to achieve that we should look at what went wrong in the past and try not to repeat those mistakes.
* On a comment that Pakistan had been sold off cheaply to US, the Spokesman stated:
I think you have given an entire political commentary rather than a question. Pakistan joined the coalition under certain principles, a stand against international terrorism, yes, there is no parliament but the President did go through an elaborate process of consultations. There is as you know wide spread public opinion inside Pakistan, a very large majority which has supported the governmentís decision. The appreciation expressed by the international community over this decision is also quite obvious. You have seen the number of important visitors that have visited Pakistan, the countries who have been very forthcoming in support of Pakistanís correct decision. As far as economic cooperation is concerned, President Bush in his press conference after meeting President Musharraf has promised over one billion dollars. What are the details of it, I am sure that Finance Ministry if you direct this question to them when the delegation returns, they would be able to provide the details. Unfortunately, I cannot provide these details. From all accounts, the decision that President Musharraf and the government of Pakistan took as far as joining the international coalition is concerned was a wise and correct decision, it was based on principles. Pakistan is against terrorism in its all forms and manifestations. Pakistan has itself been a victim of terrorism and we would certainly like to continue our fight against terrorism along with the international community and this includes all forms of terrorism.
* When his attention was drawn to a news item that more restrictions had been placed on the movements of Mullah Zaeef, the Spokesman stated:
This is incorrect. The position remains as it was before. Mullah Zaeef is there in his Embassy and he is performing his functions normally as he used to do.
* When asked to comment as to what was Pakistanís position vis-à-vis Northern Alliance success and the continued recognition of the Taliban, the Spokesman observed:
Pakistanís position in the past has been that anybody who is in control of Kabul and controls majority of Afghanistan we recognize that as a government in Kabul. When the situation changes, when the situation present itself, Pakistan government will take a decision in this regard, at the moment the position remains as it was before.
* When his attention was drawn to a report that Northern Alliance had been officially allowed to set up its office in Peshawar, the Spokesman replied:
Not that I know of. No, Itís incorrect.
* When asked to comment on a demonstration held in New York by Pakistani-American against Pakistan Embassy, the Spokesman said:
Regarding the demonstration I canít say anything as I donít know if there was any demonstration. I have to ask for the report from the Embassy and our Consulate. Whereas my earlier claims are concerned, we have been in touch with the Embassy of the United States in Islamabad. Similarly, our Embassy and Consulates in the US have been taking appropriate action and are constantly in touch with the local authorities and are doing their best. These are the reports we have got from our Missions, these are the reports that I am giving you about what the Ministry has done. As far as some other people not being satisfied, the Embassy will continue to remain in touch with them and try to resolve the problem as best as it can.
* When asked to define the present status of the Afghanistan Embassy in Islamabad and was there any plan to deploy peace forces in Afghanistan, the Spokesman observed:
As far as the UN plan is concerned we do not yet know the details about what plan the UN is preparing. They have not yet present one as far as I know, when they present one we will get to know about it. As far as the status of the Embassy here in Islamabad is concerned, the status is the same as it was before.
* When asked if he anticipated any blood-shed in Kabul in face of Northern Alliance success, the Spokesman stated:
I cannot comment on that situation because I do not know exactly what is happening in Kabul, whether the Northern Alliance is entering, what is the strength of Taleban inside Kabul, what are their military plans. Itís really will be speculative on my part to comment on that. We will see as the situation is unfolding itself.
* To another question as to how many Pakistanis were detained/deported from the US, the Spokesman observed:
I will have to check on that and come back to you tomorrow whether we have the details or not, because all I know is we have received information from Embassy that the Embassy as well as the Consulates are looking into these complaints and are trying to do as much as possible to help the Pakistani community there.
* Asked whether the rapidly transforming situation in Afghanistan required a new political dispensation, the Spokesman stated:
That is why the United Nations Secretary General has appointed such a senior representative so that the UN can be the facilitating mechanism to help Afghans reach a broad-based mechanism which can then be put in place in Kabul. These things take their own time, they have their own dynamics, we hope that the UN will move quickly. The 6+2 group is meeting today in New York they will come out with some position in this regard. The Secretary General Representative is back in New York after his consultations in Pakistan, Iran and in Rome that he would probably may have a plan. It is just that the UN is doing its best, as best as possible.
* When asked to define Pakistanís role in case the UN peace forces are deployed in Afghanistan and whether the UN had no mandate regarding future political dispensation there, the Spokesman stated:
As far as peace keeping forces are concerned, when the UN comes up with the proposal then we will look at it and examine it, when it is presented, before that I really cannot say much about that what kind of a proposal do they have in mind. As far as your question that UN has no mandate to put up a political dispensation in Afghanistan, the UN mandate is to facilitate the political process not select a government for Afghanistan. Obviously, so he was right when he was saying that UN is not going to go and form a government in Afghanistan. The UN is going to help the Afghans through some process, reach a consensus so that we have a representative broad-based government.
* When his attention was drawn to military developments and consequent physical bifurcation of Afghanistan and possibility of Pashtuns ending up as a minority, the Spokesman said:
First of all the military situation is unfolding itself. This is what makes it all the more important that quick moves should be made for a political solution of the Afghan situation. The Afghan situation cannot be resolved militarily. You have seen what has been happening in the past because there have been attempts by one group or the other for a military solution. We have always maintained that there has to be a political solution. It has to be a solution arrived at by the Afghans by themselves without outside interference. The political situation is what will resolve the question inside Afghanistan. So talking about bifurcation of Afghanistan is more in the realm of speculation than in the reality. Afghans have not yet met to decide what they wish to do with their country.What kind of a government they wish to have. That is a process which will be facilitated by the UN so that the Afghans can reach a political decision as far as the future of their country and as far as the future government in their country is concerned. The entire international community and all the Afghan groups, wherever one has seen the statements, are unanimous about maintaining the integrity and unity of Afghanistan. One has not heard anyone talking about bifurcation or division of Afghanistan. All the groups, even when they were fighting each other, maintained that the unity of Afghanistan should remain and should be maintained and Afghanistanís integrity should be safe-guarded. The international community also believes in that. So when a political solution is reached, hopefully it will be within the context of a united Afghanistan and in which all the ethnic communities will be adequately represented.
* Asked if Afghanistanís neighbours were receptive to incorporate changes in their Afghan policies in view of the recent developments in New York, the Spokesman stated:
The international community, and if you look at the position which has been articulated by all the countries, is that they want a political solution, they want a political dispensation in Afghanistan which is chosen by the Afghans themselves. There is a unanimity on that. There is the unanimity on the UN playing a role. Even in 1998 when the Tashkent Declaration of the 6+2 was adopted, it had agreed about the unity of Afghanistan and the solution of Afghan problem through a political process. All the 6+2 countries had agreed that there should be a political process under the UN auspices to find a solution to the Afghan problem.
* When his views were sought on a possible takeover of Afghanistan by the pre-Taleban warlords and repercussions for Pakistan, the Spokesman observed:
Well, we still hope that a political process once it gets on the ground will be able to come up with a dispensation in Afghanistan which retains the unity and integrity of the country and which will be acceptable to all Afghans. Of course, if that political process does not come about then it will be surely a recipe for civil war and war lordism-Afghanistan has already suffered through that civil war, the Afghans have paid a very heavy price and I think all including these warlords would be wiser after that experience and would be able to realize that neither of them can really have their writ on the country and that they all have to cooperate with the UN in order to find a political solution in Afghanistan.
* To a question pertaining to Pakistanís closed-border policy with Afghanistan, the Spokesman observed:
Well, our policy remains the same. The situation on the border as far as Pak-Afghan border is concerned, situation of refugees on that border hasnít changed considerably. We still feel that humanitarian assistance should be provided inside Afghanistan because there is a huge vulnerable population and no country can accommodate that size of people who are in a vulnerable position. We hope that the humanitarian agencies, the NGOs, the UN agencies, WFP, they will redouble their efforts to provide assistance inside Afghanistan. As we have maintained in the past, there are possibilities of having camps for internally displaced people inside Afghanistan. It will be more cost-effective, it will be easier to maintain, it will be quicker to provide assistance to them this way. Our policy still remains the same that the border will remain closed, except for people of extreme humanitarian cases who would be allowed to cross the border.
* Regarding falling of cluster bombs inside Balochistan and conflicting reports regarding Pakistanís logistic support to US forces, the Spokesman observed:
Pakistanís support is only logistic no more than that. As far as reports of cluster bombs in Kharan they were some kind of flares, they were not bomb.
* Asked to comment on US Secretary of State statement to declare Kabul as an open city, the Spokesman observed:
Yes, there are different formulas. That probably will be the best alternative that Kabul is demilitarized, no group takes physical possession of Kabul. What way the security situation will be guaranteed can be looked at by the international community. I think because of the developing military situation, one should not become pessimistic about the political solution because even those who are involved in capturing territory at the moment have agreed to a political solution, have expressed wiliness to cooperate with the international community to find a political solution and the entire international community is determined to this time pay full attention to have a final political solution in the country so that peace and stability can return to Afghanistan.
* Asked to comment on a news item that two Pakistani nuclear scientists has been detained because of their connection with Osama Bin Ladin, the Spokesman said:
Itís not true.
No opening statement was issued.
QUESTION - ANSWER SESSION:
The following issues were discussed during the question-answer session:
* When asked to comment that the whole nation of Afghanistan being destroyed due to one Arab and intelligence agencies are unable to apprehend him and Benazirís allegation that the ISI was till helping the Taleban, the Spokesman observed:
About your second question, I have already said that these types of things are baseless and wrong. Pakistan is strictly adhering to all UNSC resolutions in this regard. We are not extending help to them, these are all baseless and wrong reports.
Regarding your first question, as far as the Government of Pakistanís point of view is concerned, Pakistan has joined the coalition against terrorism, it is extending support as far as combating terrorism is concerned. What is the methodology, how it is not being executed and what are the difficulties in it, I really do not have the means to comment on that, because I do not know what is the methodology as far as getting hold of Osama is concerned. As you know, before the military action started Pakistan tried its best, we sent a delegation to meet the Taleban authorities, we explained the gravity of the situation, we explained the need to come forward and help the international community to implement the UN Security Council resolutions.
* Asked if in his view Osama Bin Ladinís claim of having nuclear weapons has nuclearized Afghanistan, the Spokesman replied:
This is a claim by an individual. I think this is a question that should be put to that individual about the veracity of that claim, or to the person who has interviewed him. He might have a better knowledge I really cannot comment on that.
* Asked whether there was any connection between the arrest of Pakistani scientists and Osamaís claim, the Spokesman stated:
On this subject also the spokesman has repeatedly spoken about. There was no imprisonment. There was some questioning and that was all and it has got no relationship with that at all.
* As to what was the significance of UAE governmentís investment of $265 million in Pakistan, the Spokesman observed:
As you know, Pakistan has brotherly and very good relations with UAE and we have had very close economic cooperation with them. This is a very good gesture on their part. This is a brotherly act and they have come forward with investment in Pakistan at a time when we need it.
* When asked to comment on how could Pakistan or the international community reduce and alleviate the distress and miseries of Kashmiri people, the Spokesman said:
By resolving the Kashmir issue expeditiously and for that there are several methodologies that can be pursued. There is the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions. There is third country mediation or another entityís mediation. There is bilateral talks. Pakistan is ready for whichever methodology that is pursued or followed, but there is urgent need to resolve this long outstanding issue.
* In view of Osama Bin Ladinís possession of nuclear weapons whether Pakistanís nuclear assets were safe, the Spokesman replied:
Pakistan has an impeccable record of safety of nuclear material throughout its nuclear programme. I think the other day very recently, the Foreign Minister made a detailed statement on that subject and there is no need for me to add on to that statement. Pakistanís nuclear assets are in completely safe hands and there is nothing to worry about it.
* Asked whether the Government was in touch with the representative of Northern Alliance who was supposedly in Islamabad, the Spokesman replied:
I havenít heard anything. He hasnít contacted us if he is here. No, he hasnít.
* When his attention was drawn to a news report that Indian nuclear arsenal was more vulnerable than Pakistan, the Spokesman said:
I cannot speak anything about the Indian nuclear programme, I am sorry.
* When asked to comment on Northern Allianceís claims of gaining grounds and its implications on the future political dispensation in Afghanistan, the Spokesman observed:
Well, this is a situation where fighting is going on. Northern Alliance forces are fighting the Taileban and they have gained some ground. The question is not who is gaining ground where and how much, the question only is that whatever future political dispensation that comes about in Afghanistan should be broad-based and should include all different groups and factions and parties and leaders in Afghanistan. It should be representative of the Afghan society, it should be representative of the demographic character of Afghanistan and it should be acceptable to all Afghans. At the moment only a battle ground situation and there is really nothing that could cause worry as far the situation is not going to influence the future dispensation in Afghanistan. Because about that King Zahir Shah is active, Pir Gilani is active and more than anything else, UN Special Representative is active in this behalf.
* To a question that what happens if Kabul falls, the Spokesman observed:
Well, we will see when Kabul falls then we can comment whether who takes Kabul and how they take Kabul.
* To a question regarding Pakistanís apprehension that Kabul might fall into the hands of one group, the Spokesman replied:
We have stated earlier also that allowing any one faction or group to take control like this would not be a solution to the problem inside Afghanistan. The civil war will continue and the turmoil will continue, and care should be taken that whatever entity that takes control of Kabul is acceptable to all Afghans.
* When asked to reply ĎYesí or ĎNoí whether Pakistan welcomes the fall of Mazar-e-Sharif, the Spokesman said:
Pakistan government would like a permanent solution of the Afghan problem so that a government which is broad-based, multi-ethnic and acceptable to Afghan people is established there. Talking about one battle theater here and one battle action there, I donít think there is any need for that.
* Whether it was possible that Osama might have obtained nuclear weapons from the West, the Spokesman stated:
That would require me to conjecture and I really would not like to make a conjecture. This is a question which should be put to those who are concerned with the safety of their nuclear programme and nuclear weapons. As far as are we are concerned, our nuclear assets are in completely safe hands and there has been since Pakistan started its nuclear programme a long time ago for power generation, there has not been a single instance of any kind of leakage in that.
* When asked to comment on the arrest or deportation of more than 300 Pakistanis from New York and whether the government was taking appropriate measures, the Spokesman replied:
We have responded to this query earlier and I would like to reiterate that we have been in touch with the US in this regard and appropriate measures have been taken by the government, as well as our Embassy and Consulates in the United States. I do not agree with the view that Pakistanis are being singled out for deportation. Immigration laws are applied uniformly.
* Asked to comment that how come the Government was not initiating any action against the US Embassy in Islamabad as they were also issuing offensive statements against the Taleban, the Spokesman said:
The international community is taking action, in fact the international coalition is taking action with regards to terrorism emanating from Afghanistan. There is unanimous resolution passed by the Security Council. If there are statements which relate to the execution of that particular resolution then I donít think that statement violates the third country rule.
* Asked whether he agreed that in view of Osma Bin Ladinís claim it will be difficult for Pakistan to defend its position regarding safety of its nuclear assets, the Spokesman replied:
I donít think so.
* Asked to identify statements which can lead to third country rule violation, the Spokesman added:
When a statement of that nature comes we will take notice of it, I can assure of that.
* If the Government was contemplating any change in its policy vis-à-vis the Northern Alliance and its earlier policy of a broad-based government in Afghanistan, the Spokesman stated:
Pakistan still maintains that there is a need to evolve a home-grown political process in Afghanistan through which a broad-based, multi-ethnic and representative government could be established in Afghanistan. There should be no outside interference and the UN should help facilitate the process.
* When asked to comment whether Pakistan was satisfied with the United Nations efforts to have the broad-based government in Afghanistan, the Spokesman stated:
It is a difficult situation you should realize that this subject of achieving durable peace in Afghanistan and establishing a broad-based stable government in Afghanistan has eluded the international community for the last almost nine/ten years. United Nations has been active in this part. We are quite confident that the UN now has started these efforts with renewed vigor, that the international community has now particularly taken notice that there is an urgent need to help the UN in achieving that objective and this time the efforts of the international community are far more concerted and far more active than have been in the past. We feel that Insha Allah very soon Mr.Lakhdar Brahimi will be able to achieve positive results.
* Asked to identify specific role of Pakistan for the establishment of a broad-based government in Afghanistan, the Spokesman stated:
It is a difficult subject. Afghanistanís internal situation is very complicated. You know that there are various Mujahideen groups who have been fighting each other, there has been various political leaders who donít agree with each other, it is a difficult situation. The entire international community has to put its hands together to help Afghans achieve that objective and whatever help in this regard is required, Pakistan is going to extend that help. In that respect as you saw, King Zahir Shah sent a Special Envoy, we held detailed discussion with him. The Afghans living here recently held a convention in Peshawar, which was also an effort towards that direction there. Mr.Lakhdar Brahimi visited here and held extensive talks. He called on the President, Foreign Minister and had two detailed meetings with the Foreign Secretary. So we are doing our best to help the UN and the international community in resolving this problem. It is a complicated and a difficult issue and it will require a lot of efforts and we should not lose hope and should continue our efforts.
* Asked whether the government has obtained guarantees from the Taleban for the safe passage of relief supplies to the refugees inside Afghanistan, the Spokesman stated:
We havenít yet received any specific feed back. We are waiting for a reply. You see our position has been that the situation in Afghanistan, particularly the situation with regards to food supply is rather precarious and a large number of Afghans, the UN estimates are between five to seven million, are going to be in a vulnerable position. Obviously, all of those Afghans cannot cross the border into other countries to find refuge, to find food and shelter. It would be far more cost effective as well as far better for displaced people themselves that help is provided to them at their door-steps so that they are not obliged to leave their homes. Those who have been forced for one reason or the other to leave their homes can be accommodated in camps established inside Afghanistan. That again will be a cost-effective method to provide assistance to them right inside Afghanistan and this is what we have advised the UN humanitarian agencies including the UNHCR and in that respect we have also contacted the Taleban authorities and we have asked them to identify certain areas where camps can be established and the apprehension of the international community about the security etc. can be allayed. They have promised to get back to us, the UN agencies are also in touch with the Taleban authorities and I am sure they will be able to work out some kind of an arrangements.
* Asked to give his views on a news item that the UN has earmarked $640 million to certain NGOs associated with relief work in Afghanistan and recruitment policy of those NGOs, the Spokesman stated:
I am really not aware of exactly how many NGOs have been engaged for this purpose but you know that another Ministry handles the subject but I can get in touch with them and get further details from them and the rules that govern the number of people working for those NGOs and the composition of those NGOs, I really will have to get back about that matter.
* To another question that the agenda of Ďcollective war against terrorismí was also applicable to Palestine and Kashmir, the Spokesman replied:
I think the international community is united against this action against terrorism and it should be directed towards eliminating terrorism from the world. I think these are subjects about which also the international community is cognizant and is taking action. There are no terrorist groups operating inside Kashmir and Palestine. These are struggles of indigenous people. There is no question of terrorist groups. We have always spoken against state-sponsored terrorism and we have asked the international community to take notice of that.
* When his attention was drawn to Indiaís protest against manhandling of its diplomat by Pakistan, the Spokesman observed:
These are totally baseless reports and we have already rejected these.
"Pakistan has taken a very deliberate, considered decision to be part of the coalition... We will remain part of the coalition till the attainment of the strategic objective that we have set for ourselvesÖOne would certainly hope that the military operation comes to an end as fast as possible...before the month of RamazanÖBeyond that I would just like to say that the sensitivities of the month of Ramazan have to be considered in the decisions of the military campaignÖWhat is missing is accurate intelligence which is delaying the issue. The moment accurate intelligence is available I am sure the operation can be curtailed to a minimum."
-- President Pervez Musharraf, London, November 8
There were no opening statement
QUESTION - ANSWER SESSION:
The following issues were discussed during the question-answer session:
* When asked to confirm whether the Taleban have been asked to wind up their Consulate in Karachi, the Spokesman replied:
We have asked the Afghan Embassy to withdraw the personnel from Afghan Consulate in Karachi. For the moment, this is the only announcement I have to make. All personnel from the Afghan Consulate at Karachi to withdraw, except for the caretaker staff to look after the property. I have no further comments on it.
* To a related question, the Spokesman replied:
They have to be withdrawn. Naturally, they will go back to Afghanistan. The Afghan Consulates in Quetta and Peshawar are functioning.
* To another identical question, the Spokesman said:
Well, when the personnel are withdrawn the Consulate is closed automatically. Only caretaker staff to look after property. The Consulate is not functioning there.
* When asked to comment whether the Government was also contemplating to impose a ban on USIS because of their anti Taleban propaganda in the country, the Spokesman observed:
If something is brought to our notice then we will make a comment on that, at the moment no.
* Regarding anti-Taleban forcesí advance toward city of Mazar-e-Sharif, the Spokesman stated:
No, we donít have any independent source of information there, because we have no means of getting information from there.
* When asked to confirm whether the US government has asked Pakistan to provide its ground troops for operations against Taleban, the Spokesman observed:
It is a baseless report. No truth in it.
* When his attention was drawn to Taleban Ambassadorís accusation that the US Embassy was also violating third country rule, the Spokesman replied:
The third country formula is applicable uniformly. If an instance about any country is brought to our notice, it will have to be examined and looked at. At the moment we have no such information.
* Asked if he agreed with the observation that Talebanís fighting capabilities were eroding, the Spokesman said:
We canít say anything. As the action is going on inside Afghanistan, we donít have any other information except the one you have seen on the media channels.
* Asked to comment whether Afghan Ambassador was allowed to grant interviews to various newspapers etc, the Spokesman stated:
Once again let me clarify the point which I have done umpteen times before. I would say that he has been asked to observe the third country rule which is speaking against any other country utilizing his diplomatic status on the Pakistani soil. You see, diplomats have certain privileges and along with those, there are certain responsibilities. Those have to be observed.
* When asked to comment on a news item which claimed that some cluster bombs have fallen inside Pakistan, the Spokesman remarked:
We have seen the reports. We have asked for the veracity or otherwise of those reports. As you know the report mentioned some area which is a remote area in Balochistan. We took note of the report and we have asked for the verification of those reports and we will get back to you as soon as we will get something on it.
* Asked as to why was he reluctant to share the information about the closure of Afghan Consulate in Karachi, the Spokesman replied:
No. Itís a decision that has been taken. There is no reluctance to share anything. For the moment there is nothing more to say on the subject. In fact, purpose of these daily briefing is to interact with you and keep you well informed about whatever we can inform you about. So whenever there is something more I promise you that I will let you know. For the moment letís drop the subject.
* Asked to highlight the salient features of President Musharrafís meetings which he held on way to the US, the Spokesman said:
The Presidentís spokesman is accompanying him I have not received any details about the meetings I am sure the spokesman will be briefing the media there and the reports will be arriving here about the contents and the details of those meetings I am sorry that I have not received any reports about the nature of discussions, but you can imagine that the discussion would be about bilateral relations, the situation in Afghanistan and related issues.
* The latest situation on border-crossing issue was another question to which the Spokesman replied:
No, there arenít even media reports today about any people having crossed, so I presume that there arenít any. We have no report. We are trying to control the border, we have controlled the border and as far as we know there have not been any crossings.
* Asked if 9 November was declared as a holiday in view of the strike call, the Spokesman stated:
No, if you look at the governmentís calendar of holidays which is normally announced towards the end of December of the year before, this date was listed as a holiday. It had been announced in the last week of December 2000 that it will be observed as a holiday in the year 2001. It has not been a sudden announcement of a holiday.
* Asked as to how would he characterize the relationship between Pakistan and Taleban after the closure of Consulate in Karachi, the Spokesman stated:
Their Embassy is still open in Islamabad.
* Asked whether the window of communication with Taleban was still functional after the imposition of the ban on their press briefing, the Spokesman replied:
The window is there. It is open. I donít think they canít communicate with the media. Who has said that they canít communicate with the media. We have just reminded them of the third country rule, thatís all.
* When asked to divulge the proposed agenda between the President and President Bush and if there was possibility of a meeting with Prime Minister Vajapayee; the Spokesman observed:
So far nothing on the cards as far as the meeting with the Indian Prime Minister is concerned. As far as the agenda with President Bush is concerned, the President will have a meeting with him. Obviously, all important subjects will be discussed during that meeting. Those subjects in brief would be bilateral relations, the situation in Afghanistan, the international fight against terrorism and Pakistan-India relations etc.
* When his comments were sought on a news item that Pakistan had closed down its nuclear reactors, the Spokesman said:
I havenít heard any such reports. This report is wrong.
* On an observation that President Musharraf in his recent statements has critized the US air strikes on Afghanistan, the Spokesman replied:
Pakistanís consistent position has been that the strikes should be short and targeted and they should avoid civilian casualties. This is the position and this remains the position.
* To a question regarding high security alert on the eve of the Presidentís departure, the Spokesman stated:
I am not aware of the shutting down of mobile telephone. But if you are more interested in the details etc, you should direct your queries to the Interior Division who might be able to give more details. Presidents have certain security protocol and it is observed.
* To a question as to some issuing criticism of the Taleban and no action taken against them under third country rule, the Spokesman observed:
Well the criticism that comes is really with relation to the Security Council resolutions and the OIC resolution where the International community has agreed and there is a coalition to fight against terrorism and elements that are harboring the terrorists. Whatever criticism of Taleban that is related in respect to the action that is being taken under the Security Council resolutions is valid criticism.
* To another observation that thousands of people were entering Afghanistan and Pakistan was having difficulty legally there, the Spokesman said:
First of all your contention that thousands of people were entering Afghanistan from Pakistan is wrong, I would contest that. I donít know what is the source of your information. As for as we understand this report is incorrect. Second, you know that tribal areas have their own rules and regulations for its administration. Third, Pakistan has closed the borders and it is not allowing anybody without valid documents to cross from either side.
"One would certainly wish that the operation does not go on during Ramazan because it will have definite negative effects on the Islamic world. This is a point I will discuss with President George W. BushÖ The operation should be more targeted and it should finish as soon as possible. It should not have any collateral damage or (civilian) casualtiesÖ We will discuss three strategies: military, political and rehabilitation of Afghanistan. The three strategies need to function togetherÖ I certainly oppose any plan to divide Afghanistan. That is most unnatural and unpractical. There has to be a broad-based government based on multi-ethnic lines taking into consideration the demographic composition of the country and every solution has to be home-grown by the people of AfghanistanÖ We will not lodge a specific demand, but our partners in the international coalition are aware of our economic problems and are helping usÖ Pakistan is a very moderate Islamic countryÖ The differences found in the world must be settled on a foundation of justice and under the fairness and guidance of the United NationsÖ Terrorist actions are inspired by extremist ideas and, to truly wrestle against them, considered decisions and measures by the Islamic world are needed."
-- President Pervez Musharraf, Istanbul, November 7
"All the neighbouring countries, the UN and the international community are endeavouring to find a solution to end the civil war. There is unanimity among all the nations that under the UN, everyone should help the Afghan groups to find a solution for a stable governmentÖ Both are fighting each other and are pretenders (to the seat of power). But neither the Northern Alliance nor the Taliban want the disintegration of Afghanistan."
-- Aziz Khan, Spokesperson Foreign Office, Islamabad, November 7
"The very fact that I'm sitting comfortably here talking to you, leaving my country for seven days, shows that all these perceptions (regarding a coup) are misplacedÖIn a population of 140 million, one or two thousand is absolutely meaningless, I'm not at all disturbed. This is only being done by a very small minority of religious extremistsÖCivilian casualties ... must be avoided as much as possible. It is being perceived, in the whole world, as if this is a war against the poor, miserable, innocent people of AfghanistanÖThe magnitude of the (military) objective to be achieved is not great at all. It is very minorÖConcentrating exclusively on the Northern Alliance will not lead to a solutionÖAt the moment, all effort appears to be one-sided through a minority coalitionÖOne has to take the Pashtuns as a whole and within the Pashtuns we need to see who are the extremists and who are the moderatesÖThere are a lot of moderates who need to be included in a political arrangement. I would not call them Taliban."
-- President Pervez Musharraf, Paris, November 7
"Can these Jihadis harm the US fighter planes dropping bombs from the height of 30,000 feet with their revolvers and gunsÖThe US armed forces could launch the same operation from the Arabian Sea even if they had not been given bases by the Pakistani governmentÖWe realise that property was being destroyed in Afghanistan and bombs were killing civilians that was why President Gen Pervez Musharraf had condemned the attacks on civilians at international level. But why people in Pakistan are trying to damage state's property by staging demonstrations and misleading the innocent people of the countryÖFollowing the announcement of wheel-jam strike call, I contacted JI Amir Qazi Hussain Ahmed by telephone, suggesting him to avoid misleading the nation and not to get involved in activities harmful to the interests of the country."
-- Moinuddin Haider, Interior Minister, Islamabad, November 6
"For those who have crossed the borders or are in extreme condition or are old, women or children Pakistan will allow the help and then they will be repatriatedÖThe government policy is that no Pakistani would be allowed to cross into Afghanistan without proper documents. It is not true that thousands of people are crossing over thereÖThere should be a broad-based Afghan government where everyone gets representation and there is no supremacy of one group. Under the UN umbrella the Afghans can choose their government for themselves."
-- Aziz Khan, Spokesperson of Foreign Office, Islamabad, November 6
"If one is lucky, one may be able to get hold of him (bin Laden), but the chances of tracking down and approaching anyone in the Afghanistan landscape are slimÖI also think that because of the bombing, the Afghans who were not fond of the Taliban are likely to join with its supporters to resist the foreign forces. Removing the Taliban through military means is more difficult than internally."
-- Asad Durrani, Pakistan's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Quoted in Reuters, November 5
The Statement of the Foreign Minister:
The Foreign Minister gave the following statement:
Well informed governments are already quite well-aware that Pakistan maintains strong controls and safe-guards on our strategic programme. However, some foreign commentators seems to lack information and knowledge and for their benefit and that of the public at large I have decided to issue a statement:
First Pakistan has impeccable record of custodial safety and security free of any incident of theft or leakage of nuclear material, equipment or technology. The credit goes to the Armed Forces which are guardians of Pakistanís strategic assets. Similarly, the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission has an unblemished record of safety and security of the nuclear power plants and other civilian projects which are under safeguards and subject to periodic inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The Government has constantly maintained, developed and upgraded command and control systems and custodial security procedures. It has invested requisite financial and personnel resources in order to devise and apply ironclad measures to deal with all contingencies of threat to strategic assets.
Safe custody in storage is ensured by dedicated formations of specially equipped forces. A Strategic Force Command has been established for each of the three Armed Services. Clear chains of responsibility have been prescribed and enforced to ensure that strategic weapons cannot be deployed without due authorization. Stringent measures have been enforced to minimize risks of accidental, unintentional or unauthorized launch.
In February 2000, the Government established the Strategic Plans Division as Secretariat for the countryís strategic programme. Under the direct command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Pakistan Armed Forces, it develops and devises policies and procedures to ensure custodial security and command and control, and to oversee their implementation. Its recommendations as to policy are considered and approved by the National Command Authority, which is chaired by the President.
The Armed Forces of Pakistan are known for their professionalism, discipline and institutional strength. Any apprehension that the assets might fall into the hands of extremists is entirely imaginary Ė a product partly of distortion caused by TV images magnifying the sights and sounds of protesters.
The vast majority of the people of Pakistan support the State policy. Moderate and rational, they understand that our policy is founded in principles of law and world consensus, and it serves the national interest of Pakistan.
Demonstrations signifying compassion for innocent victims of stray bombs have been larger in Pakistan because of deep feelings of sympathy with the Afghan people with whom we share affinities of geography, history and culture. It is illogical to interpret such a natural reaction as danger to the stability of the State or the Government.
* When asked to elaborate the list of measures to be taken , the Foreign Minister said:
This is a programme that is constant and regular if you are thinking in terms of recent measures these go back to last year when the President then Chief Executive established a Strategic Plans Division which is the Secretariat of the custodial safety and control programme.
* When asked to elaborate the reaction of certain commentators, the Foreign Minister said:
Well informed governments are fully aware but there have been few reports and articles in a prestigious journal which seems to be somewhat scaremongering in its tone so I thought it is necessary particularly at this time to reassure all of us in Pakistan as well as our friends outside that they should have no apprehension whatsoever with regard to the safety and security of our modest programme.
* When asked to comment whether US has offered to provide Pakistan some technological support for command and control, the Foreign Minister stated:
I think the President of Pakistan has referred to this point namely that when Secretary of State Mr. Colin Powell was in Islamabad he made an offer of assistance in the way of inviting Pakistani officials to see how safety and security is ensured in the United States.
QUESTION - ANSWER SESSION:
The following issues were discussed during the question-answer session:
* When his attention was drawn towards a report quoting Saudi Prince that if the American attacks are not stopped during Ramadan there may be coup against General Pervaiz Musharrafís government, the Spokesman said:
We dismiss the report you have quoted. As you know the situation in Pakistan is totally peaceful and under control. Even that small minority which was staging protest is diminishing now. Things are totally under control so there is no veracity in such kind of speculative reporting.
Replying the same question the DG ISPR said we have seen in the recent past a lot of incorrect or really speculative conclusions that people have reached through various means.
He added: one is not sure who made these statement and second thing that one is not sure about what was meant by this. I think the people of Pakistan totally understands what the situation on ground is and I am talking about the majority, that the 99.9% majority of Pakistan. If you see the people who have been involved in the demonstrations in the past you take all of them, all over Pakistan together at any one day, there have not been 0.01% of the people who demonstrated at any one time so therefore, it is very surprising and odd that such a statement has been made.
In reply to another question about the arrest of Javed Hashmi DG ISPR said: I do have this information, he has been arrested by the NAB , the Regional Accountability Bureau in Lahore, I think the reason is that he has assets beyond he can account for.
* In reply to a question about the negotiations with the Taliban, the Spokesman said:
Enough chance and time had been given. The action is a consequence of a unanimous Security Council resolutions of 1999, 2000 asking for handing over of Osma and other terrorists. The present action is also as a consequence of UN Security Council Resolution, OIC resolution and enough time lapsed to take action on that resolution before the military action started.
* In reply to a question about the movement of Pakistani troops near the Pak-India border and some intelligence reports of India, the DG ISPR said:
The Indian armed forces have very weak intelligence if that is the conclusion they have reached. But on a more serious note they are trying to put the blame on Pakistan what they have done. They were surprised by the level of information that we had of their movement and we had information of their plans to have an Indian airliner hijacked to a Pakistani airport and have it blown up here. This information we had before it happened. Also we came up with the information of their troops and they are quite taken aback by the level of information that we have about their movement. This now seems to be a belated effort on their part to put the blame of the raising of tension they have done including the firing on the Line of Control to put the blame on Pakistan
* In reply to questions about the meeting between Brahimi and Taliban Ambassador and Brahimi mission, the Spokesman said:
The discussions between Mr.Brahimi and the Taliban are a matter for them to resolve. We did not raise the subject. It pertains to the Taliban and the United Nations. Your second question, we have not heard of any plan circulated by him, he had come over here for discussions regarding the developments in Afghanistan, the situation in Afghanistan, the peace process through which a broad-based multi-ethic representative government could be established there. These were the subject discussed. And the post-military-action reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan. These were the subjects that we discussed with him and these discussions will continue in future. You must realize that it is a complicated and difficult subject, peace in Afghanistan has eluded the international community since the withdrawal of Soviet troops from there and these efforts will continue.
* In reply to a question that yesterday Taliban Ambassador has questioned the UN role for setting up governments in sovereign states and on what grounds Pakistan is supporting Brahimi initiative for a broad-based government in Afghanistan , the Spokesman stated:
You know that the situation in Afghanistan is a very complicated situation. The role of the international community and the UN is going to be as a facilitator to bring together the various factions who have been fighting each other. The peace that has eluded that country, the situation that prevails in that country to bring all those groups together so that through an indigenous process, without outside dictation, by the Afghan themselves, a durable government which is acceptable to all Afghans which represents the demographic characters of Afghanistan which represents all communities in Afghanistan which is broad-based and multi-ethnic can be established there. The situation in Afghanistan poses a threat not only to the country itself but to the entire region and the world.
* When asked that Mr.Colin Powell time and again asked for exercising restraint by India and Pakistan , and some unwanted comments by Indian leaders and journalists, the DG ISPR said:
This point was brought out except for the one element of the nuclear weapons and the other churis and bangles and Karas. I donít think this needs response at all. I think responsible people understand what is meant for perhaps their local public and what is sensible so I donít think there is need to respond to this.
* In reply to a question as to how many people have been deported since 11 September, the Spokesman stated:
I havenít seen any reports about any deportation in todayís papers, yesterday there was a report You know that we had announced earlier also that the border is closed with Afghanistan only those with legal documents or those allowed for extreme humanitarian consideration are being allowed. Others crossing over illegally will be deported. Apart from that those refugees who have been given refuge in Pakistan if they indulge in activities that do not go with their refugee status they will be deported. Some of them did that and they were deported. I do not know the exact number but we can find out for you.
Custodial Controls of Strategic Assets are Ironclad
In order to reassure world community that Pakistan's strategic assets are under foolproof custodial controls, it is necessary to respond to concerns expressed in some foreign journals.
Pakistan has an impeccable record of custodial safety and security free of any incident of theft or leakage of nuclear material, equipment or technology. The credit goes to the Armed Forces which are guardians of Pakistan's strategic assets. Similarly, the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission has an unblemished record of safety and security of the nuclear power plants and other civilian projects which are under safeguards and subject to periodic inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The Government has constantly maintained, developed and upgraded command and control systems and custodial security procedures. It has invested requisite financial and personnel resources in order to devise and apply ironclad measures to deal with all contingencies of threat to strategic assets.
Safe custody in storage is ensured by dedicated formations of specially equipped forces. A Strategic Force Command has been established for each of the three Armed Services. Clear chains of responsibility have been prescribed and enforced to ensure that strategic weapons cannot be deployed without due authorization. Stringent measures have been enforced to minimize risks of accidental; unintentional or unauthorized launch.
In February 2000, the Government established the Strategic Plans Division as Secretariat for the country's strategic programme. Under the direct command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Pakistan Armed Forces, it develops and devises policies and procedures to ensure custodial security and command and control, and to oversee their implementation. Its recommendations as to policy are considered and approved by the National Command Authority, which is chaired by the President.
The Armed Forces of Pakistan are known for their professionalism, discipline and institutional strength. Any apprehension that the assets might fall into the hands of extremists is entirely imaginary -a product partly of distortion caused by TV images magnifying the sights and sounds of protesters.
The vast majority of the people of Pakistan support the State policy. Moderate and rational, they understand that our policy is founded in principles of law and world consensus, and it serves the national interest of Pakistan.
Demonstrations signifying compassion for innocent victims of stray bombs have been larger in Pakistan because of deep feelings of sympathy with the Afghan people with whom we share affinities of geography, history and culture. It is illogical to interpret such a natural reaction as danger to the stability of the State or the Government.
"Keeping in view the national interest, the government took a conscious decision to join international community in its fight against terrorism to demonstrate to the world that we are a responsible nation."
-- President Pervez Musharra, Islamabad, November 1