Pakistan's foreign ministry says its time for country to move on, leave debate to explain interference or conspiracy
By Zahid Shah
ISLAMABAD (TSAT) - Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman said that its time for the country to move and leave the debate to explaine interference or conspiracy.
During his weekly briefing, most journalists asked questions to explain the “interference and conspiracy” which is under discussion in the country since former Prime Minister Imran Khan claim that the US hatched a conspiracy against his government and ousted him from power.
The following is a transcript of the spokesman Asim Iftikhar Ahmad briefing:
Question: After the NSC Meeting there were a lot of rumors making attributions to Ambassador Asad Majeed. Thereafter, a clarification tweet was also issued by the Ambassador. Was there any pressure/demand on him from some side? Interior Minister Rana Sanaullahhas also said that the cable was edited by the former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. What is the real situation? Can you share the details of the cable? (Aijaz Ahmed, GNN)
Supplementary Question: If there was no foreign intervention/conspiracy why was the US C’dA summoned? (Rashida Sial, AbbTakk TV)
Answer: I would like to briefly share the facts. I think it is important to recall that the matter has been discussed in two meetings of the National Security Committee (NSC). And the Communiqués of the two meetings complement each other. Let me recall that the 22nd April NSC Meeting discussed the telegram received from Pakistan Embassy in Washington. Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the US briefed the Committee on the context and content of his telegram. The NSC after examining the contents of the communication, reaffirmed the decisions of the last NSC meeting. The NSC was again informed by the premier security agencies that they have found no evidence of any conspiracy. Therefore, the NSC after reviewing the contents of the Communication, the assessments received, and the conclusions presented by the security agencies, concluded that there has been no foreign conspiracy.
That is the most authentic reference to the entire matter, from the relevant and competent governmental forum. I have nothing to add to that. The communiqués of the NSC meetings speak for themselves.
I think you mentioned about some media speculations or rumors about some statements attributed to Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan. They are baseless and totally incorrect. And there was no pressure of any kind on the Ambassador at any time. And there is no possibility of any editing of the communication. You also asked about the demarches that were made, and let me recall again that these were in accordance with the decision of NSC Meeting of 31st March which having deliberated the matter directed that Demarches be made through proper channel in keeping with diplomatic norms.
Question: Please clarify difference between ‘interference’ and ‘conspiracy’? Are they not the same? Please also clarify whether in this instance, it was ‘interference’ or ‘conspiracy’? (Mona Khan, Independent News)
Supplementary Question: It is being alleged that the Cypher was received on 7th March and till 27th March the Foreign Minister was not aware of it. It is being reported that a senior officer from the Ministry informed the former Foreign Minister about it. Who was that senior officer?(Naveed Siddiqui, Dawn News)
Supplementary Question: It is being reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not inform the former Foreign Minister about the cypher and held back its details.
Secondly, in the past the details of the demarches being issued by the Ministry were shared with the media. Can you share what was communicated to the US official in the demarche?(Mazhar Iqbal, PNN)
Answer: ‘Interference’ or ‘conspiracy’ - I think it is not for me to get into the meaning and semantics of these terms. It is quite clear the matter has been adequately and sufficiently discussed and addressed in the meetings of the NSC.
As for the action, as soon as the directions were received from the leadership, appropriate action was taken immediately.
Questions have been posed about the communication being withheld, etc. Let me state categorically that such assertions are unfounded. There is no question or possibility of hiding or holding back something like that. It was a Cypher Telegram, which is an accountable and classified document, whose handling and access are strictly in accordance with relevant cypher instructions and procedures. The Telegram was duly received at the Foreign Office and immediately distributed to the relevant authorities.
As for the exact contents of the demarche, I think it is not appropriate to mention that publically. It was decided by the NSC that demarches be made in keeping with diplomatic norms.
Question: Has the US side officially clarified their position on this issue?(Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)
Answer: You would have followed the various statements that have been issued by the US Officials. I don’t need to interpret those statements as they are before you.
Question: In the present situation, is there any threat to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan? Secondly, with this type of political narrative that is being propagated in the media these days, can the national interest of Pakistan be affected?(Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)
Answer: Pakistan has the full capability to defend and take care of its interests and ensure its stability and security. I think there is an element of trust and confidentiality which is central to conducting effective diplomacy. Such episodes carry potential of undermining our diplomacy and complicating our external relations. Therefore, we feel that the categorical statements from the National Security Committee, based on assessments from all stakeholders, where conspiracy has been ruled out, should put this matter to rest. We think that it is time to move on so that we get back to conducting diplomacy and concentrating on our important relationships in the best interest of Pakistan.
Question: During the recent visit of Prime Minister Borris Johnson to India there are many defense deals which have been signed between the two countries. This includes deals in the nuclear domain and equipment which is going to be provided to India. Is this a matter of concern for Pakistan and how will it destabilize the equilibrium in the region?(Saima Shabbir, Arab News)
Answer: We are reviewing the various agreements and details. As a matter of principal we do not comment on bilateral relations between third countries specifically as long as any agreement concluded is not detrimental to Pakistan’s interests. Any agreement that would exacerbate the situation or create an imbalance with regards to the strategic stability in the region, obviously that would be a point of concern.
Question: Can you clarify whether Ambassador Asad Majeed ‘briefed’ the National Security Committee or was there any enquiry?
Secondly, will the Ambassador continue his job? If yes, when will he assume the charge in his next place of posting?(Khalid Mehmood, Express News)
Answer: As it was evident from the communiqué of the NSC meeting, the ambassador briefed the committee. There is no question of enquiry. He briefed the Committee and provided his assessment.
As you know the Ambassador was routinely transferred after completion of his tenure in Washington and the decision about his transfer had been taken earlier towards the end of last year. His Agrement has already been received and appointment notified and he will be proceeding to Brussels accordingly.
Question: In the NSC Meeting communiqué it has been stated that there has been no conspiracy against Pakistan. Earlier, DGISPR has stated that there was ‘interference’ not ‘conspiracy’. What is the real issue at hand? Can you clarify with specific information?
Secondly, there has been an increase in terrorist activities in Pakistan from the Afghan side. A number of Pakistani soldiers have also embraced martyrdom. With the interim afghan government in place, it was expected that relations between the two countries would improve and such incidents would decrease in frequency. How would you comment? Has Pakistan registered its protest with the Afghan side regarding the martyrdom of the Pakistani soldiers?(Allah Noor, Mashqir TV)
Answer: On the second question, you would have seen our statement of 17th April. Pakistan and Afghanistan have been in regular touch on these issues. Pakistan and Afghanistan are brotherly countries. The governments and people of both countries regard terrorism as a serious threat and have suffered from this scourge for long time. We have felt the pain of Afghan people from a series of terrorist attacks in last few days. Therefore, it is important that our two countries engage in a meaningful manner through relevant institutional channels to cooperate in countering cross border terrorism and taking actions against terrorist groups on their soil including TTP as well as any other groups. We look forward to continued close engagement with Afghanistan for long term peace and stability in Afghanistan and to create an environment conducive for regional economic cooperation and connectivity.
Coming back to your other question, as I have earlier explained, this matter, the most authoritative determination of this matter, is before us in the form of two communiqués resulting from the meetings of the NSC. It is clear, based on that discussion, based on the assessment, and information provided by the premier security agencies that no evidence of any conspiracy was found.
Question: From an academic perspective, how does the Ministry differentiate between foreign interference and foreign conspiracy?
Secondly, the NSC, the government and yourself are reiterating that there was no conspiracy. Please clarify whether the Ministry would invite former Prime Minister, former Foreign Minister, former Information Minister and others to a briefing to make them understand that there is no element of conspiracy in the ouster of their government from power?(Shaukat Piracha, AAJ News)
Answer: You are stretching it a bit too much, and this is not an academic forum and I am not here to engage in academic discussion. What I have stated is not anything that I have said from myself - rather that is the result of the outcome of the two meetings of the NSC held on 31st March and 22nd April, and after an exhaustive discussion, briefings and assessment, the conclusion is before us. I do not have anything to add to that.
Question: Minister of State Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar in a televised comment to Shahzeb Khanzada in a program has said that Ambassador Asad Majeed in his telegram had written that a demarche should be issued and US side be asked to clarify their position as to whether the comments were made by the official concerned in his personal or official capacity. Why was the demarche delayed to 31st of March from 7 March? Was it a political or an administrative decision?
Secondly, yesterday we saw comments from Mullah Yaqoob the Taliban Defense Minister regarding alleged attacks by Pakistan, in Kunar. Do you have any comment?(Anas Mallick, The Correspondent)
Answer: On your second one, I have already responded to a related question earlier and don’t think there is a need to repeat.
On the first question, as I have said before, as soon as the directions were received from the leadership, appropriate actions were undertaken immediately.
Question: To what extent has the conspiracy and intervention narrative impacted Pakistan’s relations with the United States?
Secondly, where do these relations stand today?(Zargoon Shah, Geo News )
Answer: In responding to some earlier questions, I noted that such episodes do carry the positional of undermining our diplomacy and complicating our external relations. I also said that after the categorical statements from the NSC based on assessment of all stakeholders and briefings that were provided and where the conspiracy has been ruled out, should put this matter to rest. It is time for us to move on and get back to our core work that is conducting diplomacy and concentrating on our relationships with our partners. And the US is one of our key partners. Both sides are keen to build on the long-standing relationships between our two countries and to further strengthen and diversify this relationship.
Question: Minister of Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal in a public gathering commented that we do not want Pakistan to be Cuba or North Korea, we want to take path of South Korea, Malaysia and China. These comments were not taken well by the Cuban Ambassador to Pakistan who termed them disrespectful. How would you comment? (Jaleel Akhtar, Voa, Urdu )
Answer: I have not read the full statement and not aware of the context, am not in a position to comment on that. With Cuba, Pakistan has strong and friendly relations and we value these relations very much