|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
PRESS CONFERENCE BY MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF PAKISTAN
A broad understanding had been reached on the establishment by the Secretary-General of a commission of inquiry into Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, Pakistan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs said at a Headquarters press conference this afternoon.
Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi said he had met with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today regarding the Pakistani Government’s request for an independent inquiry commission on the former Prime Minister’s assassination. That request, sent last month read: “The Government of Pakistan has requested the Secretary-General to establish an international commission for the purpose of identifying the culprits, perpetrators, organizers and financiers behind the assassination of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto with a view to bring them to justice.”
During today’s meeting, the Secretary-General had responded positively to the request, Mr. Qureshi said. Broad understanding had been reached on the nature of the proposed commission; funding modalities; composition of the commission; unhindered access to all sources of relevant information; and elements to safeguard the commission’s objectivity, impartiality and independence. Mr. Ban had indicated, however, that further consultations with Pakistan and others within the United Nations were required to examine the commission’s modalities and structure.
Accompanying the Foreign Minister was Munir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, who said “What is concrete is a broad understanding on some very difficult issues.” Further details still had to be fleshed out.
While no decisions had yet been made on who would head the commission, there was an understanding that its members would be eminent, internationally respected figures, he said. The Secretary-General would consult with the Government of Pakistan and other members of the United Nations in naming the commission’s members.
Mr. Qureshi said the report of the commission would ultimately be shared with Parliament, adding that Pakistan expected that the review would not be open-ended, but would be conducted in the shortest possible time.
The Minister said he had also met with the members of the Security Council, including the permanent five, and their response had been “positive, sympathetic and very supportive”.
He said he had, in addition, participated in yesterday’s Security Council debate on Afghanistan, noting that Pakistan would be the first to feel the impact of any improvement or deterioration in the neighbouring country. The Minister had held a “frank, cordial, friendly and engaging” meeting with Rangin Dâdfar Spantâ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, and there had been an understanding of each other’s point of view.
Mr. Qureshi said he had also had a chance to meet with Permanent Representatives of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) countries. Pakistan had chaired the thirty-fourth conference of OIC and had played a role in arriving at a new charter for that body. Further cooperation and consultations were required to make OIC a more effective forum.
Asked about recent deployments of the Pakistani army and possible collaboration with United States forces, Mr. Qureshi reiterated his country’s “consistent” policy that only Pakistani forces would operate within the country. The army had never been withdrawn from the tribal areas, even as the Government had entered negotiations with tribal elders and politically influential figures in the Swat and other regions, both to isolate the extremists and to win grass-roots support for its actions in the tribal areas.
The current Government had reviewed the strategies employed by its predecessor and had adopted a more “comprehensive, multi-pronged strategy” through consultations with its coalition partners, he said. That strategy included political engagement, social and economic development of the area, and the use of force as and when required. The Government had sent a message to the extremist elements that it wished to engage positively and they would have to honour the agreements they had signed. When there were violations of that agreement, the Government reserved the right to take action.
Asked about his country position on Iran’s nuclear programme, he said Pakistan had always requested all sides to show restraint, stressing that the matter should be handled carefully and resolved through negotiations. As a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Iran had a right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, but it should also honour and respect world opinion and address the concerns raised about its programme.
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