Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi press conference - 5th Sep 2018 | Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf
Press Conference of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan today. “I will not be speaking on anything that will mislead the nation. I will present Pakistan’s perspective forward as that is my responsibility. And we presented this to the visiting US Secretary of State with dignity and respect. I’m sure you must have deciphered from the body language of the meeting that it ended on a high note. Secretary Pompeo has invited me to Washington and I will be visiting when I go to NY for the UNGA meeting in September. We will follow up today’s meeting and progress in the meeting in September. The atmosphere that we saw today was cordial because the US is also now reflecting on their way forward and strategies. They have also come to the consulting that the conflict in Afghanistan has a political settlement. And this is where we will see alignment and convergence between The US and Pakistan. Imran Khan has had this stance for over a decade now; one of a political settlement. Secretary Pompeo has said that their state department will lead this effort in collaboration with their other institutions. This is insight into their new strategy that the US has now opened up space for talks with the Taliban for a political settlement. The US does not want their footprint in Afghanistan for an indefinite time period. Of course a change of strategy of this nature can not have an exact timeline, but the will is very clear. We have also agreed to have very candid conversations, with concerns and perspective from both side on the table. There is no way forward without this. We understood what they want, and have also presented forward what Pakistan expects... in a mutually respectful manner. I spoke out to Secretary Pompeo and made him understand the mindset and new approach of the new government under PM Imran Khan. We want to see and review the polices with the US in a new light, and have an approach that involves our neighbors as well. Our agenda is one of the reforms, and the basis of that is the betterment of life for the common man. Our basis is regional connectivity, economic development. And this is the agenda of our foreign policy. My first visit out of Pakistan will be to Afghanistan. They are our neighbors, we are joined by geography, culture and tradition. Now we need to be each other’s support system and work together too. If Pakistan progresses, it will be beneficial to Afghanistan as well and vice versa. As we progress in talks with them, we will keep you informed. Our first conversation today was at the foreign office, and then at the PM Secretariat. The way we organized our format at the PM secretariat; our meeting had the PM, our Army Chief, DG ISI, and the US government and military reps to get all perspectives on the table. The purpose of this meeting was to remove the speculation that was there in the past in such meetings where there was considered to be a difference between civilian narratives and military narratives. Today, we have shown that we are all on the same page. Pakistan’s betterment is everyone’s first priority and that is what we will take forward from here. Pakistan will, of course, play its necessary role in the political settlement in Afghanistan. But if we want peace on one side, we also need peace on the other LOC where violations happen daily and it’s the common man who is affected. We need to identify who can play a role in bringing peace to this entire region. And after understanding this we can chart our a complete future course. The meeting will continue in Washington. I also told them, and they agreed, that there is no benefit of a “he said, she said” narrative. It only ruins the climate of talks. We have different perspectives, but we have shared objectives too. And our messaging and narratives are important in communicating this. Today we felt that we have created an atmosphere to reset our relations, and the lack of trust that was present has been broken which is a very positive development. The $300 million that was halted; this decision was made before this government came into power. The first tranche of $500 million had already been stopped, and there were talks that the funds were to be rerouted. But I decided not to bring this up in the meeting today. Our relationship is not just one of five and take. We are a proud nation, we have our own divinity where we have every resource at hand to be self-sufficient & feed our people on our own. There is a lot of space for us to earn a living on our own so I decided not to talk money and funds; instead, talk about principles and a relationship of mutual benefit and respect. Believe me, if our narrative had not set in with them, the atmosphere would have been different, your questions to me would have been different and the nature of Mr.Pompeo’s tweet before leaving would have been different. The telephonic conversation that happened previously was also quite positive and that continued today, but you saw that there was a twist given to it in reporting. The same speculation happened today before the meeting even ended today. We have an interest in peace in Afghanistan because peace in Pakistan is directly related to it. We have been allies, and we have had tensions. But our history shows when we have worked together, it has been in the best interest of both countries. We did this when we worked together to decimate Al Qaeda. I’m not going to attempt to paint a fake rosy picture. To say we have no differences would be wrong; but the point is what kind of an atmosphere should we build ? How to we move forward to solve those issues? Finger pointing will get us nowhere. The other way is to understand where the gaps are and where to bridge those gaps. I identified a lot of those gaps and presented it to them. Where our narratives are different on similar issues. But to move forward on this you need an atmosphere and an enabling environment. It can not happen on a solo flight and today marked the beginning of the creation of that that enabling environment. The issue of ceasefire at the LoC is a big concern. When it is violated, the common man is affected. Pakistan has presented all its concerns forward. I don’t want to give or take credit for anything. My priority is to present to you the nature of the environment in which conversations took place today. And our efforts will be to move this forward. You have seen that for the longest time, conversations had stalled. So we are now working to cover that gap in communication. It is in your knowledge; that our army has done successful operations and our people have given immense sacrifices to fight this war in the tribal regions. We have moved forward towards bilateral relations with Afghanistan. We now have a structure for conversations and relations with Afghanistan that we’re not there before. We are doing this. We are moving forward. But we need to be secure from our other borders as well so our attention and focus is not divided. What I saw in today’s meeting was an atmosphere of listening and understanding and one of moving forward. There was a difference of night and day between the meeting today and the one that happened last time. The purpose of the joint meeting was to have our political and military leadership with their political and military leadership. And some of the conversations regarding security concerns were military to military. This was important and it’s a good development. I told them that when we speak of security; we must keep in perspective that sanctuaries are also present in Afghanistan. There are many regions which are under Taliban control and where they have considerable influence. To perceive that all the violence is initiated from one end is absolutely wrong. Imran Khan’s 26th July speech; and my first presser post taking charge of the foreign office... if you focus on it, our priority is peace and to work for our people. We want to alleviate poverty, we want job creation, education for our children. This is our aim. But this can not happen till we do not have peace in the region and an environment that enables human development. I have tried to explain here today that before this government came in; there was a system of reimbursements that had been agreed on which were halted before we came in. The CSF is our money, it is not aid but I did not find it appropriate to bring this issue up today. The first country I want to visit is Afghanistan. The future of our country and the future of our children is linked to peace in Afghanistan so it is natural to go there. First of all; let’s understand what has been an impediment in our bilateral relations. It is only when we understand this can we move forward. This is the longest war in US history. The most expensive and longest; 17 years. Obviously they want a settlement there. And obviously it is in our interest to see a settlement there. We have to understand what’s blocking movement in that bilateral engagement; and that is Afghanistan. Not seeing eye to eye on Afghanistan. If there is movement there, there will be movement on bilateral side. The fact established that we have agreed to meet in Washington is already a step forward. Who was meant to pressurise who? This govt has come in with a mandate of the people. We are not going to be pressurised by anyone, not pressurise anyone. We need to carve pathways to move forward for the betterment of the people of Pakistan.