Media Briefing by the Spokesperson on the Year End Review 29 December 2022

by: Ch Muhammad Natiq:
Assalam-o-Alaikum, welcome to the Foreign Office and thank you for joining us for the Year End Briefing. Before I formally begin, I would like to extend season’s greetings to you and your families, and our best wishes for 2023. The year 2022, was an active year for Pakistan’s diplomacy. Our diplomatic efforts were aimed at enhancing Pakistan’s international profile and revitalizing our external relations in protecting Pakistan’s interests.
Throughout the year, there was an enhanced frequency of high-level exchanges with Pakistan’s friends and partners with increased in-person meetings and interactions as the world moved out of the Covid related restrictions. During the first quarter, the former Prime Minister visited China and Russia. He was accompanied by a former Foreign Minister who also undertook visits to Romania and Spain.
Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari undertook visits to countries in Asia, Europe and to the United States. High-level visits exchanged with Afghanistan, Austria, China, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Germany, Iran, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Turkey, Tajikistan, Togo, UAE, United States and Uzbekistan helped develop important understandings with these countries.
The visits of the UN Secretary-General; Secretary General of OIC; Secretary General of SCO and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to Pakistan also contributed to enhanced cooperation between Pakistan and these organizations. Pakistan continued to pursue its active multilateral diplomacy in 2022 — both in an individual capacity and as a member of international groupings.
We are encouraged by the results of our diplomatic efforts in multilateral settings, the most important of which was Pakistan’s success in coming out of the FATF grey list in October 2022. Another important achievement was the establishment of the Fund for Loss and Damage at COP27 for developing countries. Pakistan followed a policy of enhanced engagements with our close partners and friends. We reinforced our traditional partnerships with China, Türkiye, Saudi Arabia and the Islamic world. These relationships are based on mutual trust and friendship and are characterized by a tradition of robust dialogue and exchange of bilateral visits.
There was a revival and rejuvenation of political and sectoral dialogues with all partners through high-level engagements, which allowed the institutionalization of relationships. During the last year, Pakistan held bilateral dialogue mechanisms with Argentina, Ethiopia, European Union, Hungary, Indonesia, Kyrgyz Republic, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Türkiye, and Uzbekistan. This also included the first-ever dialogue with Luxembourg.
Foreign Minister co-chaired the first Ministerial meeting of the Joint Sub Committee of the Political and Security pillar of the Saudi-Pakistan Coordination Council. Bilateral dialogues with the US were held on Climate Change, Health, Energy, Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). Pakistan and the European Union launched a Dialogue on Migration and Mobility which would open avenues for legal migration from Pakistan to the EU member countries.
An agreement was reached to establish a bilateral Joint Ministerial Commission with Indonesia. We saw positive momentum in relations with the United States, especially with the visits of the Foreign Minister of Pakistan in September and December. A Senate-confirmed Ambassador was appointed by the United States to Pakistan after four years. The United States agreed to our long-standing request for the provision of military hardware. We are confident that the de-hyphenation of relations would further contribute to the strengthening of our bilateral relations.
We continued to cooperate and engage with our partners in Europe on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest. Our focus was to develop deeper economic collaboration, cooperate to confront climate change and find opportunities in higher education and employment. We are also engaged in discussions with the European Union on the extension of the GSP Plus Programme and on green partnerships for climate change.
Foreign Minister attended the 29th Ministerial Meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Cambodia from 4-6 August 2022. He also visited Indonesia and Singapore. Pakistan’s relations with Africa are seeing a positive trend in terms of bilateral trade and political, parliamentary, military and security cooperation. Pakistan opened new Missions on every Coast, including Djibouti, Uganda and Ghana while Ethiopia opened its resident Embassy in Islamabad.
Our bilateral trade and business-to-business relations with Africa over the last six months have also registered record increases. Similarly, the remittances from Africa have reached a high of over USD 400 million. PIA and Ethiopian Airlines agreed on code-sharing which would directly connect Karachi with Addis Ababa.
Our region remains an important focus of our foreign policy. Pakistan has consistently expressed its desire to see a peaceful, prosperous, stable and connected Afghanistan. We wish that Afghanistan emerges as a trade and energy-connectivity conduit to our region. Since 15 August 2021, Pakistan has pursued continuous and practical engagement with the Interim Afghan Government. The first high-level visit to Kabul this year was that of the National Security Adviser in January.
Foreign Minister of Pakistan Bilawal Bhutto Zardari met Acting Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi, on the sidelines of the SCO-CFM held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on 29th July 2022. On 29th November 2022, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar, undertook a day-long visit to Kabul where she held meetings with the Foreign Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce and Industry of Afghanistan.
As a firm adherent of a regional approach to the situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan participated in meetings and mechanisms aimed at promoting peace in Afghanistan including Meetings of the Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan as well as Troika Plus in March in China. Pakistan also participated in the Moscow Format talks held in Moscow on 16th November.
We have had some incidents on the border with Afghanistan. Our Head of Mission in Kabul was attacked on 2nd December 2022. We have increased the security of our diplomats and Missions in Afghanistan. Mr. Ubaid-ur-Rahman Nizamani is in Pakistan for consultations. We are engaged with Afghan authorities on issues related to security and border management. Afghanistan has given certain assurances and we hope the promises made will be honoured.
We are also disappointed at the recent decisions taken by the Afghan Interim Government about women’s education and participation in public life in Afghanistan. We have strongly urged Afghanistan to revisit its decisions. We have emphasized the importance of equal access to education for all segments of society. During the high-level engagements with countries in Central Asia, Pakistan developed close understandings with these countries to enhance regional connectivity and cooperation in energy, transport and infrastructure.
As Pakistan faced unprecedented flooding this monsoon, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our Missions abroad have worked together with our international partners to support national efforts for post-flood rehabilitation and reconstruction.
We are grateful to all countries and international organizations that came forward with humanitarian assistance including Belgium, China, Denmark, the European Union, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Iran, Jordan, Malaysia, Nepal, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tajikistan, Türkiye, Turkmenistan, UAE, UK, USA, Uzbekistan, ADB, UNICEF, UNHCR, World Bank and WFP.
Following the devastating floods, Pakistan launched the Flood Response Plan (FRP) 2022 and the Urgent UN Flash Appeal in collaboration with the United Nations. This helped in securing life-saving and critical humanitarian support for the flood affectees.
The UN Secretary-General, who undertook a personal visit to the flood-affected areas in September, has been a strong supporter for support to Pakistan’s relief and recovery efforts. With the Prime Minister of Pakistan, he will co-host an International Conference on Climate-resilient Pakistan in Geneva on 09th  January 2023, to galvanize support for Pakistan’s recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction in a climate-resilient manner.
Climate Change has become a key pillar of our foreign policy which has been reflected in our bilateral and multilateral engagements. Pakistan delegation was led by the Prime Minister to COP 27 in November 2022 in Sharm El-Sheikh. A key outcome of the conference was the decision to establish a “Fund for Loss and Damage”. Pakistan was the chair of G-77 and China took a leadership position in the negotiations on behalf of the developing countries.
This year, Pakistan was leading two important groupings – OIC CFM and G77 and China – the largest international grouping of developing countries.
Pakistan hosted the 48th OIC Ministerial conference in Islamabad on 22-23 March 2022 which brought together OIC members and observers at senior levels. Twenty-Four Foreign Ministers attended the CFM.
The CFM focused on key priorities such as countering Islamophobia, recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, diverse matters of peace and security, economic development, cultural and scientific cooperation and revitalizing the role of OIC. Palestine and Jammu and Kashmir dispute were the core issues on the agenda of the Conference.
As the Chair of OIC, Pakistan also played a lead role in a unanimous proclamation by the United Nations General Assembly of 15th March as International Day to Combat Islamophobia.
In its capacity as Chair of the Group of 77 and China, Pakistan served as the collective voice of the Global South to promote international peace and security, sustainable development and human rights, and uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. It also galvanized support for the establishment of the “Fund for Loss and Damage” at COP 27 in Sharm el Sheikh.
The Prime Minister of Pakistan attended the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York where he and the Foreign Minister held important meetings. Foreign Minister also hosted a meeting of Young Foreign Ministers in New York.
Pakistan continued to participate actively in the regional organization including CICA and SCO. Participation of the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister in high-level events of SCO and CICA offered opportunities to present Pakistan’s viewpoint on important national, regional and global issues and underline our desire for enhanced regional connectivity and cooperation to help unlock the political and economic potential of the region.
Pakistan was removed from the FATF Grey List after 52 months of rigorous scrutiny. Pakistan’s removal from the Grey List marked the completion of two very challenging and complicated Action Plans and a high degree of effectiveness of our Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime, which is irreversible and robust.
Pakistan continued to pursue a policy of peaceful neighbourhood, based on mutual respect and sovereign equality, with all countries of the South Asia region in the case of India, we consistently maintained that bilateral relations cannot fully normalize until the resolution of the outstanding disputes, especially the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
However, a Hindutva-inspired nationalist government continues to act as a regional bully and create hurdles in the development of normal bilateral relations. Its suppression of minorities and the people of IIOJK is a matter of great concern for Pakistan. In 2022, we invited the international community’s attention towards the Indian involvement in terrorism directed against Pakistan. In that connection, we recently released a dossier on the Indian involvement in the Lahore attack in June last year.
The year also witnessed the incident of the firing of an Indian supersonic missile into Pakistani territory on 9th March 2022. The incident revealed technical lapses and systemic loopholes of serious nature in India’s handling of its strategic weapons. The irresponsible Indian action is yet another threat to the peace and security of the entire region. Pakistan demonstrated exemplary restraint, which is a testament to its systemic maturity and abiding commitment to peace as a responsible nuclear state.
The 48th Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers took note of the incident and adopted a resolution, calling on India to refrain from any action, which may aggravate the security situation in South Asia.
Notwithstanding the prevailing tensions, the Ceasefire Understanding of 2003, reaffirmed in February 2021, was upheld at the Line of Control in the interest of regional peace. As a humanitarian gesture, Pakistan allowed India to transport consignments of wheat for the people of Afghanistan. In addition to the Kartarpur Corridor, Pakistan facilitated visits of Indian pilgrims to different shrines under the Bilateral Protocol of 1974.
Pakistan’s relations with other South Asian countries Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh witnessed positive developments. Pakistan is keen to strengthen the existing multifaceted cooperation with these countries. In this context, Foreign Minister held important meetings with the Foreign Ministers of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives on the sidelines of important multilateral events and conferences.
During 2022, India continued to use its military might to suppress the Kashmiris’ struggle for their rights and liberty. Throughout the year, Pakistan raised its voice for the people of Kashmir at all relevant bilateral and regional forums. It called for an end to grave human rights violations in IIOJK and for a just resolution according to the wishes of the Kashmiri people and the relevant UNSC resolutions.
The 48th Session of the OIC Council of Ministers, and the OIC Contact Group on Jammu & Kashmir adopted important resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir dispute and agreed on an Action Plan. OIC Secretary General’s first-ever visit to Muzaffarabad and LoC, on 11th December 2022, was another manifestation of the Organization’s continued concern about the situation in IIOJK.
Going forward, Pakistan will continue to make all possible efforts for the settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.