October 04, 2001

Transcript of the Press Conference

Addressed by the Foreign Office Spokesman

QUESTION - ANSWER SESSION:

* When his comments were sought on a so-called incident of hijacking in India the other day, and if India could stage more such dramas to malign Pakistan and to win sympathies of the world against so-called Islamic terrorism in that country, the Spokesman said:

It was a total farce. We have noted and the world must have also noted the enthusiasm with which the Indian media tried to exploit this farce to malign Pakistan and the Kashmiri freedom movement. This surely is very regrettable and demonstrates the hostility which we so regularly experience on the part of the Indian media and many officials.

* Asked whether Pakistan considered that the evidence brought out by the US was sufficient or that needed to be further supplemented, the Spokesman said:

We have seen the material that was provided to us by the American side yesterday. This material provides sufficient basis for indictment in a court of law. You would also recall that earlier the UN Security Council resolutions had demanded that Mr. Osama Bin Ladin should be handed over for trial in a court of law. You must have also noted the comments made by the Foreign Minister yesterday on this subject. In our view there is a need that the evidence should be shared internationally. We also understand that the US investigations are continuing; so whatever they have provided may subsequently be supplemented by additional material.

* When asked about the total number of Afghan refugees present in Pakistan and how much more could be expected, the Spokesman said:

The figures that we had before the current crisis was close to 2.5 million. We had over two million Afghan refugees until late last year. Then because of drought conditions, compounded by the sanctions and the conflict, we received another over 200,000 Afghan refugees. So in our estimation, more than 2.5 million Afghan refugees are in our country. There have been a constant influx of refugees through mountain trails although we have closed our border on all the established entry points. According to one of the reports it is in the range of about 800 persons every day.

I cannot really give you an exact figure, because it is a very large number of people who are trying to come into Pakistan or have already entered our country. Our major concern in this regard is how to take care, and we are very closely coordinating with the UNHCR and other international humanitarian organizations in that regard.

* Asked as to how Islamabad categorized its relationship with Kabul at the moment, the Spokesman said:

We do not have any presence, diplomatic or otherwise in Afghanistan. The Afghan Ambassador and their Embassy are still in Islamabad. They are also serving as a contact point with the international community. Only three days ago, UN Under Secretary General Mr. Oshima made a request to Ambassador Zaeef to allow the WFP food trucks into Afghanistan. The British Ambassador has also met the Afghan Ambassador. We do not know what transpired in their meeting, but it may have something to do with the British journalist who is in the Talebanís custody in Kabul. So the presence of the Afghan Ambassador is serving as a contact point for the international community.

* When his attention was drawn to certain media reports that the suspects of 11 September events were alleged to have traveled and received funds through Pakistan, the Spokesman stated:

In the material that has been given to us by the American side, we did not find any such references.

* Asked if the material provided by the US concerned the 11 September incidents or had also got some relevance to earlier events, the Spokesman said:

The material related to both the 11 September incidents and to earlier events.

* Asked to elaborate the Foreign Ministerís remarks that the evidence should be shared internationally, when it had already been shared with NATO countries and Pakistan, and if that meant that the information should be placed before the OIC, the Spokesman observed:

It is for the United States to exercise its judgment on this question. We are not the ones who would be giving judgment on this subject. We think that there would be an advantage if the evidence is publicized, because it would strengthen the case of the US in taking appropriate actions against those responsible for the terrorist acts. But again there are sensitivities involved regarding confidentialities of the various aspects, and the judgment has to be exercised by the US to the extent that they want to share it internationally.

* Asked if Pakistan would like to take the Taleban into confidence with regard to the evidence provided by the United States, particularly when it had been found sufficient for indictment of Osama Bin Ladin, the Spokesman said:

As regards the question of approaching the Taleban, again we have not been asked to do so, and we will not do so. It is for the US side and the Taleban to get in touch with each other with regard to this matter.

* When his attention was drawn to Afghan Ambassadorís recent remarks that the US should talk to them directly and not through Islamabad, the Spokesman stated:

Pakistan was not talking to the Taleban leadership on behalf of anybody. The message which was sent through the high level delegation related to the gravity of the situation, what the international community expected from the Taleban leadership, and that there was a need for them to be responsive to this demand of the international community. Further, it underscored the urgency of the matter. We were not acting on behalf of anybody. We were acting on our own, because as stated earlier, we care for Afghanistan as a friend and a neighbour.

* When his attention was drawn to Indian Foreign Ministerís complaint to Mr. Tony Blair of Pakistanís alleged involvement in recent terrorist acts in India, and to the hysterical statements by Indian Home Minister and Farooq Abdullah threatening attacks inside Azad Kashmir on so-called terroristsí camps, the Spokesman said:

To the question regarding the threats by the Indians, the simple answer is what was given by the President himself in his address to the Nation. Pakistan is fully prepared to defend itself, every inch of its territory and that also applies to Azad Kashmir.

* When his comments were sought on some media reports that some Arab nationals and others, associated with certain NGOs were being expelled from Pakistan, the Spokesman said:

We are looking into the credentials of all expatriates, associated with NGOs working in Pakistan. This is a part of the restrictive visa policy we have put in force, following 11 September developments. As I have sated earlier, we have discontinued forthwith issuance of visa on arrival. Now only our Embassies can issue visa and for that also they have to make a reference to Islamabad.

* Asked as to how he viewed the scenario after the Taleban, and what were the basis of Pakistanís confidence with regard to a friendly set-up in Afghanistan, the Spokesman said:

As regards a government in Kabul which is representative of all segments of the Afghan population, something which the UN and the OIC have been making efforts to promote, we are sure such a government will always be friendly to Pakistan. Because they would realize that interests of Afghanistan and Pakistan converge. And here I may also say that relations between the people of Afghanistan and the people of Pakistan are centuries-old and very close and friendly. This in fact will be reflected in the attitudes of any government which is acceptable to all segments of the Afghan population. So we are quite confident that a government which is able to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan will also strives for friendly relations with Pakistan. As for as Pakistan is concerned we would certainly like to have friendly relations with governments in Afghanistan. It has been our consistent policy in the past, as well.

* Asked if Pakistan had been consulted with regard to the UN efforts for a broad-based government in Afghanistan, the Spokesman said:

The UN has been making efforts for quite some time and the UN Secretary Generalís Special Representative Mr. Vendrell has been consulting the Afghans including the Taleban. He is based in Islamabad and has also been in touch with us.

* Asked if Pakistan would be considering to de-freeze the accounts of Al-Rasheed Trust and direct the State Bank to revise its advisory in that regard, as the Trustís name had not been reflected in the papers provided by the US, the Spokesman stated:

Al-Rasheed is one of the 27 entities whose assets have been frozen by the US government and the European governments. As a follow-up of that, the State Bank has issued an advisory to our Banks who have world-wide businesses to take steps in their own interest. However, on the question of Al-Rasheed we have approached the US side.

* To a question regarding how Osama bin Ladin can be tried and in which country, the Spokesman said:

I may say that this is a UN Security Council decision and naturally the governments are required to implement it. As regards the modalities of implementation, it is not for Pakistan to be describing or defining them. It is for the UN Security Council to do that and it is for the concerned governments to be responsive to what the Security Council has demanded.

* Asked if there was a possibility of sending another delegation to the Taleban in the wake of latest developments as Pakistan had seemingly turned back on them, the Spokesman said:

Such a move has not been planned. But as the situation is evolving very rapidly, I cannot rule out anything. Their Ambassador is still in Islamabad. Of course, he can discuss any matter with us or with the representatives of other governments who are present in the capital.

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