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Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesman on 03rd May 2013

(2013-05-03) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.]
 
Opening Statement:
As you are aware, the Government of Pakistan has expressed its deep concern that a Pakistani prisoner, Sanaullah, who was serving life imprisonment in a jail in Indian Occupied Kashmir, was attacked this morning and as a result has received grievous injuries. Upon receipt of this information, the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi has sought immediate consular access to visit Sanaullah who is presently in hospital in Jammu and in a critical condition.
 
We have called upon the Government of India to take all measures to ensure that Sanaullah receives the best medical treatment available, investigate the matter thoroughly and punish the perpetrators of this atrocity.
 
We have also reminded the Government of India of its responsibility in ensuring the safety and security of all Pakistani prisoners lodged in the Indian jails.
 
I would further like to inform you that the Foreign Secretary spoke to the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad today to ask for evacuation of Mr. Sanaullah to Pakistan for treatment in our hospital. Our High Commissioner in New Delhi is also making a similar request to the Indian authorities there.
 
We have also called in the Indian Deputy High Commissioner to the Foreign Ministry and lodged a protest at the attack on Pakistani prisoner and requested immediate consular access and his best possible medical treatment. We have also asked for his evacuation to Pakistan for treatment in Pakistan and to be close to his family members. We have also called for the two governments to make maximum use of the existing mechanisms to address the issue of safety and security of prisoners.
 
 
Question
Pakistan provided consular access to Indians immediately after Sarabjit incident, why there is a delay in case of Sanaullah? There is also a judicial committee on prisoners between the two countries, has the matter been taken to it?
 
Answer
Consular access has been agreed in principle. We are waiting for further details about the venue where consular access would be granted.
 
As for your second question, the judicial committee is a regular mechanism and certainly matter would be taken to it.
 
Question
It seems that the attack on Sanaullah is in retaliation to Sarabjit incident. There is apprehension that this alarming situation has a potential to derail relations between the two countries. How do you respond to it?
 
Answer
Sarabjit was injured as a result of the scuffle between the prisoners. On the other hand, Sanaullah seems to be victim of a direct assault coming in the wake of the death of Sarabjit Singh.


On the larger issue, we are convinced that Pakistan and India must have good neighborly relations. Such incidents are unfortunate but must not derail the dialogue process which should remain uninterrupted.
 
Question
Under the Armed Forces Special Act, innocent Kashmiris are being tortured. What is your take on it?
 
Answer
Pakistan has always extended political, moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people. We have also called for protecting the human rights of the Kashmiris and stressed the need to stop the high handedness of the security authorities in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. We believe that the voice for right to self determination cannot be suppressed by the use of force.
 
Question
It seems that the same script is being repeated as happened at Kot lakhpat jail. Pakistan cooperated well in case of Sarabjit. What is the level of cooperation from Indian side?
 
Answer
As you all are aware, right after the injuries Sarabjit was taken to one of the best hospitals in Lahore and a full medical board treated him. Indian High Commission was provided immediate consular access and later regular consular access. The family of Sarabjit Singh was also issued visas instantly and offered a room in the hospital. We also facilitated in the quickest possible time the repatriation of the dead body. The Indian Foreign Secretary had called the Pakistani Foreign Secretary yesterday to appreciate all the steps that Pakistan had taken.  I hope that we would receive similar positive response from the Indian side in the case of Mr. Sanaullah.
 
Question
After attack on Sarbajit and in retaliation, Pakistani prisoners have been attacked. Has Government of Pakistan issued any travel advisory to the people of Pakistan visiting India in the wake of hostile statements coming from Indian politician and members of parliament? Do you demand from Indian government to provide security to visiting Pakistanis?
 
Answer
It is our expectation that security will be provided to all Pakistanis visiting India. On the travel advisory I would need to check with our relevant colleagues.
 
With regard to provocative statements from Indian leaders, Pakistan continues to pursue a policy of restraint and responsibility. We have asked the Indian government to ensure that Mr. Sanaullah gets the best medical treatment available, the matter is investigated, and he is evacuated to Pakistan. On the larger issue of security of prisoners, we believe that we need to effectively utilize the existing mechanisms, namely Judicial committee on prisoners, Consular Agreement, and Home / Interior Secretary level talks.
 
Question
Sarbajit was convicted on charges of spying and involvement in terror attack in Faisalabad in 1992. He was later on sentenced to death. Now when he is dead the government of Indian Punjab and the central government of India has announced reward for this family. It appears to us as if he is being rewarded for killing innocent Pakistanis. Have you taken up this matter with the Indian government?
 
Answer
Sarbajit Singh was involved in act of terrorism in Pakistan resulting in the loss of many innocent Pakistanis. He was later on tried and convicted as per the law of Pakistan. Due legal process took its course. In our view, he is what was pronounced in our courts.


Question
Don’t you think that reward given to Sarbajit family is setting a precedent for other Indians to come and kill innocent Pakistanis? 
 
Answer
We will be talking to the Indian government on all aspects including the ones that you are mentioning, through appropriate forums and channels.
 
Question
How many Indian prisoners are in Pakistani jails and vice versa? The spokesperson of the Indian Government have mentioned that there are 250 fisherman in Pakistani jails and there are other detained Indian in Pakistani jails and they have shown concerns on that.   
 
Answer
There are approximately 500 to 600 Indian prisoners (fishermen and civil) in Pakistani jails and the approximately the same number of Pakistani prisoners (fishermen and civil) in Indian jails. These are our estimates as exact figures are not available.
 
Question
Do you think that Pak-India relations are on razor edge? There have been number of issues in the recent past including LoC violations, then Sarbajit and now Sanaullah issue?
 
Answer
We have always stressed the need for two countries to maintain a sustainable, uninterrupted, and uninterruptable structured dialogue. We have a Composite Dialogue process between the two countries and we think that it should not be stopped or slowed down. We also feel that the issues you have mentioned can be adequately addressed as part of the Composite Dialogue process. In our view, the two countries should take every step within our means to normalize and improve our relations for the betterment of the people of two countries and peace in the region.
 
Question
On the western borders how badly have these recent clashes affected Pakistan-Afghanistan relations.
 
Answer
As you are aware yesterday we had protested on an unprovoked firing incident that took place on May 1, 2013 at 2145 hours from the Afghan posts on the Pakistani Gursal post. Pakistan security forces exercised maximum restraint and two sides are in touch through military channels.
 
The Pakistani post in Gursal is part of our efforts to have effective border management. We believe that a better border management can help interdict cross border undesirable activity. We expect that Afghan authorities would also cooperate with us in effective border management
 
Question
Do you have any information when Sanaullah was captured and when he was convicted and for how long has he served his term? Do you know the charges?
 
Answer
Mr. Sanaullah was convicted in India in 1996. Our High Commission in New Delhi was granted consular access after ten years in January 2006. I understand he was serving life imprisonment. I do not have details of charges against him.
 
Question
There is a general impression that Indian government is dominating Pakistan and Pakistani government is on defensive. Is it policy of government of Pakistan? Especially in the wake of heroic treatment given to Sarbajit after his death?
 
Answer
Sarabjit was a convicted terrorist. We have shown restraint and responsibility because we want good neighbourly relations with India in the larger interest of peace for the two countries and our region.  
 
Question
My question relates to the recent attacks from Afghan side. As you know our border with Afghanistan is porous. Is there any planning to seal borders due to the upcoming elections?
 
Answer
The security during the elections is being handled by Ministry of Interior and by Pakistan Army. I understand that both would be in a better position to answer these questions.
 
Question
My question also relates to the Pakistan-Afghan border, there are reports that Pakistan army conveyed its reservations that security situation on the Afghan side is not desirable and Afghanistan should stop infiltration from their side. Are you sure that we have not asked the Afghan side as we used to do in the past?


My second question relates to Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, there are reports that Indian government wants to join this project. Have we received any formal request from the Indian side?
 
Answer
As already indicated, we have stressed to the Afghan side the need for effective border management to check cross border infiltration.
On Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, we have seen the reports. We would examine and respond as and when we are approached.
 
Question
Would you give us latest figures how many election observers have arrived so far in Pakistan?
 
Answer
A total of 355 foreign election observers would observe elections. They are from 12 countries and 3 organizations (European Union, National Democratic Institute and Commonwealth).
 
Question
We have seen that in India-Pakistan relations the response is always tit for tat. Like in the case of Sarbajit and Sanaullah. What steps government of Pakistan is taking to prevent such incidents in future?
 
Answer
I have already replied this question in detail. It is our view that the Composite Dialogue between India and Pakistan should continue without interruptions in order to address all bilateral issues and improve relations between the two countries.
 
Question
You have issued three press releases on Sarbajit Singh but you have not used the word spy or terrorist. Why Foreign Office shown restraint on that?
Secondly, there is no agreement on transfer of prisoners between India and Pakistan, do you think such agreement can be beneficial for both the countries?
 
Answer
On your first question, we have been very clear. Sarbajit Singh committed an act of terrorism, violated our law and was imprisoned after due legal process. He was a convicted terrorist.


On your second question, we already have three mechanisms between India and Pakistan in place to discuss issues relating to prisoners as well as other mutually acceptable proposals.




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