Foreign Office Press Briefing: Opening Remarks for the Press Briefing by the Spokesperson.

by: Ch. Muhammad Natiq.
At the outset, I would like to extend best wishes to all of you for a blessed Zil Haj and a blissful and spiritually rewarding Eid-ul-Adha. May Allah Almighty accept our prayers and sacrifices.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Recently, you have seen significant diplomatic activity and engagement, particularly with China and the United States. Let me begin by the visit to Pakistan from 29-30 June of His Excellency Mr. Yang Jiechi Member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Director of the Central Commission on Foreign Affairs of the CPC. During the visit, Director Yang held delegation-level talks with the Foreign Minister, called on the Prime Minister and had a meeting with the Chief of Army Staff.

The various meetings

  • Highlighted economic cooperation as a mainstay of the wide-ranging Pakistan-China partnership.
  • Underlined that as a flagship of the visionary Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), CPEC had transformed Pakistan’s economic base and strengthened its capacity for self-development.
  • Reaffirmed the Government’s resolve to accelerate the pace and complete CPEC projects at the earliest.
  • Expressed satisfaction at the expanding defence and security cooperation between Pakistan and China that was a factor contributing to regional peace and stability.

During the visit, Pakistan extended a note of thanks to China for:

  • Renewal of the RMB 15 billion (the US $ 2.3 billion) syndicate facility.
  • Support and assistance to Pakistan’s efforts towards preventing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing millions of vaccine doses as well as protective and medical equipment.
  • Facilitating the return of Pakistani students to resume their on-campus studies.

The two sides concluded several Protocols and MoUs. The Chinese side announced the roll-over of $2 billion SAFE deposits. It was also conveyed that China would export 200,000 MT of urea fertiliser to Pakistan.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Yesterday, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had a telephone call with US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken. You would have seen our detailed PR on it. The Foreign Minister and the Secretary of State reaffirmed their mutual desire to further strengthen bilateral ties by expanding engagement in trade, energy, health and security, to deepen Pak-US ties marking 75 years Anniversary of our diplomatic relations and appreciated the importance of frequent high-level exchanges in sustaining positive momentum in bilateral ties.

In this regard, the Foreign Minister appreciated the ongoing visit of the US Special Representative on Business and Commercial Affairs, Dilawar Syed. Foreign Minister also took the opportunity to request the US to ease the issuance of visas for Pakistani nationals including students, businesspersons and professionals. On the regional situation, they discussed the need for continuous engagement with the Interim Afghan government to deal with the dire humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. The two leaders agreed to maintain sustained engagement in future.

Earlier, on 1st July 2022, the US Special Representative on Business and Commercial Affairs Mr. Dilawar Syed called on the Foreign Minister. The Special Representative’s visit is a manifestation of the importance that both countries attached to improving trade and commercial relations The Foreign Minister acknowledged his role in improving business contacts between the two sides, and emphasized the importance of visits in deepening and expanding the relationship, in particular trade and commercial ties.

Also on 1st July, FM Bilawal Bhutto Zardari virtually addressed members of the US Congress. FM thanked them for their support towards Pakistan and invited them to visit Pakistan. The Foreign Minister lauded the recent momentum in bilateral engagement on climate change, energy, health, security and trade. He expressed a desire to further deepen bilateral ties, particularly through economic cooperation. He stressed the need for more people-to-people, business-to-business and parliamentary engagements between the two countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
On 30th June, EU GSP+ Monitoring Mission called on FM Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. During the meeting the Foreign Minister highlighted that:

  • GSP+ as a mutually beneficial undertaking has helped expand Pakistan-EU trade.
  • Pakistan remained committed to 27 GSP+ related Conventions & hoped for the successful completion of the 4th biennial review.

On 30th June Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari received a telephone call from UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed bin Al Nayhan, who offered condolences on the passing away of the Foreign Ministers’ grandmother.
During the week, the outgoing German Ambassador Bernhard Schlagheck paid farewell calls on the Foreign Minister and the Foreign Secretary.

The UK High Commissioner, Ambassador-designate of Turkiye, Ambassador of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the US Ambassador called on the Minister of State, Hina Rabbani Khar during the week. FS Sohail Mahmood also received Ambassador-designate of Turkiye, Australia and Bhutan.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
On 1st July, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in partnership with Serena Hotels and Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Association organized a Mango Festival at Serena Hotel. The event showcased Pakistan’s superior and diverse quality of mango production, its place as a leading exporter of Mangoes around the world and the sheer number and variety of culinary delicacies that can be crafted using Mango as a lead ingredient. The event was widely attended and appreciated. It was organized under Ministry’s Public Diplomacy initiative and was a part of the series of activities and events being organized throughout the year to celebrate 75 years of Pakistan’s Independence.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari graced the event as Guest of Honour. Heads of Diplomatic Missions in Islamabad participated in the event. In his remarks, the Foreign Minister highlighted the significance of the festival as part of the events celebrating the 75th anniversary of Pakistan’s Independence. The Foreign Minister underscored that ‘Pakistani mangoes are the best in the world and are popular due to superior quality and the diverse varieties being grown in Pakistan. It was highlighted that Pakistan’s missions abroad were organizing mango tasting festivals in their host countries and showcasing the variety and richness of the Pakistani mangoes abroad as well.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
On 1st July, the Indian Charge d’ Affaires (Cd’A) in Islamabad was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a strong demarche was made on the Indian government’s blocking of access to the content of 80 accounts on Twitter including withholding accounts of Pakistan’s diplomatic missions in Iran, Turkey, Egypt, UN-New York and the national broadcaster Radio Pakistan, by activating geo-blocking and deplorable internet censorship laws.

The Cd’A conveyed that these Indian actions were against international standards, obligations, norms, and framework of the flow of information and reflected the alarming pace of shrinking space for pluralistic voices and curbing of fundamental freedoms including expression and speech in India.

It is ironic that the world’s so-called largest democracy was exercising censorship, central controls and legalization of majoritarian politics at the expense of democratic ideals like freedom, choice and access to information.

We call upon the Indian government to stall this slide towards totalitarianism and act responsibly in the comity of nations. We also call upon the people of India to demand accountability for the blatant majoritarianism exercised by their government as an instrument of state policy.

The international community must prevail upon India to reverse its actions that curb free speech and fly in the face of sacred principles enshrined in the UN Charter for the good of humanity. Moreover, social media platforms need to demonstrate their commitment to safeguarding fundamental freedoms of speech and expression and abide by international norms and standards that ensure the continuing integrity of the digital communication interface. Twitter is also urged to reverse the withholding of our 4 official, verified digital assets that are not in contravention of any local or international laws.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Coming over to the situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).
It is no surprise that during the week a dozen Kashmiri youth were arrested in continuing cordon and search operations. India must realize that despite applying all tools of oppression and using state terrorism as a policy, it has failed to subjugate the will of the Kashmiri people.

We once again call upon the international community, particularly the United Nations and human rights organizations, to investigate the persistent extra-judicial killings of Kashmiris by Indian Occupation Forces and bring the perpetrators of these heinous crimes to justice.

Pakistan will continue to support the Kashmiri people in their just struggle against Indian occupation till the realization of their inalienable right to self-determination as promised to them by the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.

I thank you and am happy to take questions on these or other foreign policy-related developments.

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