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Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 29 December 2016

(2016-12-29) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.]

Opening Remarks

Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum

Today's briefing is this year's last. I wish to avail of the opportunity to express deep appreciation on behalf of this Ministry and on my own behalf for your cooperation in promoting Pakistan's national objectives and disseminating country's viewpoint on regional and global issues of common concern and interest, both at the domestic and foreign fronts. It was heartening to see how our media stood united when it came to country's interest and prestige. I wish to specially mention the national spirit that the media has exhibited on the issue of Kashmir. During the last over five months, our media has very objectively, effectively and constantly given coverage and highlighted the plight of our Kashmiri brethren in Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK). They have been subjected to worst brutalities in living memory by the occupying forces of India. I wish you all a very happy and blessed New Year 2017!

During last one week, Indian occupation forces used brute force on peaceful protestors in IoK, which resulted in the injuries to several hundred Kashmiris, including over two dozen journalists. Continued confinement of Kashmiri leaders and inhuman treatment meted out to them is condemnable. Night raids and arbitrary arrests of innocent Kashmiris continue. Occupying forces, joined by the terrorist organizations such as RSS, Vishwa Hindu Prasad, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal and other terrorist elements are engaged in the drive to change the demography in Indian occupied Kashmir, which is a blatant violation of UN Security Council's Resolutions on Kashmir and fundamental human rights. We condemn unabated violation of UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir by India.

Inauguration of Chashma-III nuclear power plant is yet another important landmark in Pakistan's drive towards meeting country's ever growing energy demand and further strengthening of Pakistan-China friendship and mutually beneficial relationship. 6th meeting of Joint Cooperation Committee on CPEC is being held in Beijing today.

I congratulate Dr. Rashid Chotani on winning the United States of America's 'Scientific Achievement Award 2016' and making us proud.

Media report about an Iranian merchant ship, named MV Joya, with Pakistani crew aboard being hit by a rocket in Yemeni waters, is in circulation for 10 days. Similar news was circulating in the first week of this month. As we did previously, on our instructions our diplomatic missions concerned made efforts to verify the news but the occurrence of the incident could not be established. We also approached the Yemeni Embassy here but they also could not confirm it. We noted that there had been no official or unofficial statement from Iran as well. We heard that the gentleman who initially broke the news also later said that the news could not be confirmed. Efforts are still on to verify the report.

Now the Floor is open for Questions

Question

You have rightly mentioned the plight of Kashmiri people and Indian occupation forces' genocide of Kashmiris in IoK, but according to some media reports that there are no obstacles in India's way to become the member of NSG. Also, would you like to overview the Pakistan's efforts for NSG membership? Why the international community is not taking notice of the situation in IoK? (Syed Mohsin Raza - Asas Group of Papers)

Supplementary Questions

My question relates to Grossi's report, which is in circulation in media that has put forward certain rules on basis of which India can be included in the NSG and not Pakistan. Your comments! (Shaukat Paracha - Aaj TV)

US, France, UK and Russia support India's inclusion into NSG, which may lead to a favourable decision for India. Your comments please! (Amjad Ali - PTV News)

Answer

As I understand, the first question has two aspects. One relates to Indian brutalities in IoK, in a way it has relevance to the Indian aspirations to the position of responsibilities. India, which speaks about democratic norms has no high moral ground as it is involved in blatant violations of UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir committing genocide and crimes against humanity of the worst sort. These activities are also a clear violation of UN Charter. This has already been raised in the media briefing in the past that a country, which shows no respect for human rights, constantly violates UNSC resolutions and the UN Charter aspires to become a member of NSG or UN Security Council. India's atrocities in IoK against defenceless Kashmiris are known and India should be call to account. Our position is very clear in this regard. We have also constantly highlighted India's gross human rights violations in IoK, which are unprecedented in living memory, and are being carried out for a very long time. What you saw in the last five months is a continuation of the struggle for self-determination movement of Kashmiris for the past several decades. Current phase of uprising is the aftermath of extra judicial killing of Burhan Wani on 8th of July 2016. The Indian brutalities that ensued on the peaceful demonstrators is before us.

On NSG, Pakistan has always had a principled stance. We seek criteria-based and non-discriminatory approach. Pakistan has consistently highlighted its strong credentials that meet NSG criteria. Our efforts towards our application for membership are continuing.

With regard to Mr. Shaukat Paracha's question, first of all let me make it clear that the Grossi proposal is an internal document of the NSG, which has not been shared with us. We understand that the NSG countries are still discussing the document and there is no consensus on it within the NSG. What we have been able to gather from media reports and public commentary on the Grossi proposal, by experts like Daryll Kimbal, is that the proposal seeks to propose the 2008 NSG exemption for India as a requirement for NSG membership. This would be clearly discriminatory and would contribute nothing in terms of furthering the non-proliferation objectives of the NSG.

Pakistan continues to stress the imperative for a non-discriminatory criteria-based approach for NSG membership of non-NPT states in a non-discriminatory manner. Such a criteria-based approach will further the non-proliferation objective of the NSG as well as the objective of strategic stability in South Asia.

As for the question by Mr. Amjad Ali, there are certain states which have expressed their support for the Indian membership. However, no NSG member has opposed Pakistan's principled position for a non-discriminatory criteria-based approach. In fact, there is growing traction for Pakistan's position. We are reaching out to all NSG members, which are increasingly acknowledging the merits of our argument for stronger standards for IAEA safeguards and other non-proliferation measures, which can plug the loopholes left in the 2008 exemption for India.

The NSG is at a critical juncture. NSG members bear a heavy responsibility. It is important for the credibility of the NSG and the future of the non-proliferation regime that the NSG be seen as a rule-based organization rather than a grouping which is driven by commercial and political considerations that trump its non-proliferation objectives.

Question

India is trying to divert the flow of western rivers in yet another violation of Indus Water Treaty. Your comments please! (Khawaja Nayaar Iqbal - Kashmir Post)

Answer

We have talked about this issue a number of times. You may like to refer to my previous replies on this issue. Let me add that we are closely monitoring the situation and we will respond accordingly. The international community should take notice of Indian activities and statements that are indeed a violation of India's obligations and commitments under the Treaty. IWT has a comprehensive mechanism for dispute resolution and Pakistan adheres to that mechanism. It is binding on both India and Pakistan and has no exit provision.

According the sub-provisions (3) and (4) of the Article XII of the IWT, the Treaty cannot be altered or revoked unilaterally. The essence is that we have noted this issue with concern, and raised it on appropriate occasions. You may get further details from M/o Water & Power.

Question

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet wished his Pakistani Prime Minister counterpart Nawaz Sharif on his birthday. Pakistan has recently released 220 Indian fishermen as a gesture of goodwill. How do you sum up India-Pakistan bilateral relations in 2016, and what future course can you predict in these relations? (Tariq Mahmood - SAMAA TV)

Answer

As envisioned by our Prime Minister, Pakistan sincerely adheres to the policy of peaceful neighbourhood and shared prosperity. We remain committed to amicably resolving Kashmir dispute and all outstanding issues with India. Unfortunately, our positive overtures have not been reciprocated by India. UN has a responsibility to ensure resolution of Kashmir dispute and peace in the region. We hope that international community, particularly the major powers, will play their due role to that end.

Question

What is Pakistan's view on the recent UNSC Resolution on Israel? (Shahid Maitla - ARY News)

Answer

Regarding the UNSC Resolution, I understand your reference is to the Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories. In this context, our position is very clear. We want to see a lasting peace in the Middle East based on international law and relevant UN Resolutions. With regard to your reference to the demographic change, which India is trying to bring about in the IOK, I have already made a point in my opening statement that India is blatantly violating the UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir.

Question

When and where the next trilateral talks between Pakistan, Russia and Pakistan will be held? Will any regional country be invited to join the talks? (Sheeraz Asghar )

Supplementary Question

You said in your opening remarks that this will be the last press briefing of year. Can you please highlight the role and achievement of Pakistan's foreign office, particularly as India has launched a campaign to isolate Pakistan. Also, the recent trilateral meeting in Moscow for peace and stability in Afghanistan was denounced by Afghanistan as the latter was kept out of the meeting. Your response please! (Mudassir Hussain - Khyber News)

Answer

I will respond to second part of Mr. Muddasir's question first. The meeting between China, Pakistan and Russia is in continuity of an existing trilateral mechanism. There are many other regional trilaterals. The trilateral meeting is aimed at holding informal discussions on issues of regional peace and stability including the situation in Afghanistan. The meeting has also invited Afghanistan to join the process. So we hope that Afghan concern has been addressed.

Your question regarding summing up of Foreign Office's achievements, we leave it for an appropriate occasion to give a detailed run-down of the progress made on the foreign policy front.

You mentioned about isolation. Let me repeat what I have also previously said on the issue. How do you define isolation? If isolation is that a country is at loggerheads with you and campaigns against you being isolated, do you really get isolated? One should look at the bigger picture in the larger context in which things are happening. Look at the high political visits to Pakistan and our leadership's visits to the important capitals. Assess the political developments that are taking place in terms of important relationships that major powers are developing with Pakistan. Look at Pakistan's economic indicators and the progress Pakistan has achieved. In this backdrop, the concept of isolation is absurd.

On Sheeraz's question, I am not aware of it. I believe it is an ongoing process and the consultations will continue.

Question

Hurriyat leaders have strongly protested PDP led Government in IoK's letter to Indian Home Ministry, calling on the latter to issue identity certificates to non-local Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir. This means the puppet Government in IoK is complicit in India's nefarious designs to change the demographic of IoK forever. Will Pakistan take up the issue with the UN being a violation of UNSC resolutions on Kashmir? (Fakhar Rahman - Turkish News Agency)

Answer

I have already made a reference to the issue in my opening remarks. India has been constantly violating the UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir. All such measures by India are taken up by us with the UN. We also call upon the international community to take note of violation of the UNSC resolutions on Kashmir by India and ensure that India fulfils its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions.

Question

This year, Indo-Pak relations remained strained in the wake of Pathankot and Uri attacks, tensions on LoC and WB, India's provocation on Indus Water Treaty, and Indian human rights violations in IoK. Are you hopeful of Pakistan-India relations in 2017? (Tariq Sial - Daily Times)

Answer

In part, I have already responded to your question. I have said that as envisioned by our Prime Minister, Pakistan adheres to the policy of peaceful neighborhood and shared prosperity. We have talked about regional connectivity as a sincere effort towards building confidence, trust and mutual benefit between regional countries.

With regard to India's belligerent posture towards Pakistan in the recent months, you will find that it is all related to India's brutalities in IoK. What started off as yet another episode of self-determination movement in IoK in the wake of Burhan Wani's extra judicial killing, that was ensued by unprecedented violations of human rights in living memory. These blatant violations have also attracted international community's attention. India is desperately endeavoring to deflect international community's attention from its atrocities on defenceless Kashmiris. Its attempts to heighten tension on LoC/WB and hostile posturing against Pakistan must be seen in the backdrop of Indian brutalities in occupied Kashmir.

Let's not forget that Kashmir remains the main bone of contention in Pakistan-India relations. We remain committed to pursuing our policy of peaceful neighborhood and resolving the issue of Kashmir and all other outstanding disputes amicably. We also believe that whenever conflicts impede regional development and endanger peace and stability, it is the responsibility of UN and the international community to ensure peaceful resolution and amicable solution of all disputes.

Question

My question is related to Dr. Aafia Siddique's release. We understand that during the transition in American leadership, there is a possibility of securing release of certain prisoners on humanitarian grounds. Is Pakistan considering writing to the outgoing US administration about this case? Also, Dr. Aafia's family is reported to have said that, according to State Department, Pakistan has never officially written to the US administration for Dr. Aafia's release. Your comments please! (Shahid Ajmal - SABAA News Agency)

Supplementary Question

Would you tell us about the amount given to Hussain Haqqani to hire lawyers in Dr. Aafia Siddique's case? (Akhtar Saddique - Daily Ummat Rawalpindi)

Answer

As to the second question, I am not aware of it.

Regarding the first question, I believe Dr. Aafia Siddique has been awarded sentence of almost 80 years. Pakistan has made sincere efforts all along. We had hired lawyers, and our Embassy officers regularly visit her. This issue has been raised many a times at high political level during bilateral meetings. To suggest that we are not taking up this matter with the US is not correct. We are still extending all consular assistance to her. What you said with reference to transition in the US leadership, I do not have any comments to offer.

Question

My question relates to the recent trilateral meeting held in Moscow. I understand that the trilateral meeting saw ISIS as a rising threat to the peace in Afghanistan. Can you please tell whether any specific steps were agreed upon to counter the threat of ISIS in Afghanistan. (Rabia Pir - VOA)

Supplementary Question

I know that this question has already be asked earlier, would you once again respond to Afghan Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's statement stating that it is for the Afghan government to decide on the future of Afghanistan. (Ali Hussain - Business Recorder)

Answer

As to the question of Ms. Rabia, I do not have the details of the trilateral meeting. The joint press release states the growing presence of ISIS in Afghanistan as a major concern with implications for the regional countries.

On the second question, you have to see it in the backdrop of the efforts towards reconciliation for peace and stability in Afghanistan. There are many initiatives in the context of efforts to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan. There are also other trilateral and initiatives like the Heart of Asia and QCG, in which membership varies, but they all talk about how lasting peace and stability can be brought about in Afghanistan. Related to the situation in Afghanistan are the concerns about the impact of instability on the regional countries. What has been discussed at the trilateral may also be seen in this backdrop.

Question

Recently, Ashraf Ghani has openly said at Heart of Asia Conference, that Afghanistan does not want Pakistan's pledge of another 500 million dollars at the Brussels Conference. Will Pakistan still commit to such a pledge? (Rabia)

Answer

I believe that I have responded to this question in the past also. Pakistan's commitment is to the people of Afghanistan. We believe that peace and stability in Afghanistan is not only important for Pakistan but also for the entire region. That is why we have already extended US$ 500 million for the development projects in Afghanistan - in health, infrastructure and education sectors - which have helped the Afghan people. This time also, at the Brussels Conference, Pakistan has remained committed to its spirit of genuinely helping the Afghan people, by pledging another US$ 500 million in development assistance.

Question

India, after its violations in IoK, has now threatened to divert western rivers in violation of Indus Water Treaty. What is Pakistan's view on this? (Shakeel Kalyana - Daily Relations)

Answer

I have already responded to this question. If you want further details, please contact Ministry of Water & Power or Indus Water Commissioner.

Question

Can you please confirm if Federal Minister Khurram Dastgir is going to Iran, and if so, what will be his agenda? (Fida Hussain - Radio News Network)

Answer

I suggest that you seek comments from Ministry of Commerce & Trade.