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Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 20 April 2017

(2017-04-20) [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


I offer my profound condolences to Mr. Zafar Hashmi, Chief Reporter Dunya News on the sad demise of his beloved father yesterday. May Allah rest the departed soul in eternal peace and grant fortitude to the bereaved family to bear the irreparable loss, Ameen!

Will of Kashmiris in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir was clearly visible in their outright rejection of sham elections there. Our Prime Minister, while calling upon Int'l Community to stop Indian atrocities in IOK, rightly said that 'use of brute force against innocent Kashmiris, who refused to participate in the sham elections, cannot suppress their human urge of freedom.' Harrowing stories from Indian occupied Kashmir continue to raise concerns in Pakistan.

Last week, Indian Home Minister claimed that Indian government will control the situation within a year and showed his determination to do with whatever it takes.

The important developments that have followed this warning are:

Operation against Educational Institutions: Indian occupation forces have launched an all out war on Kashmiri students. They have attacked women education institutions as well. A dozen colleges have been attacked, injuring thousands of students - both boys and girls. It is pertinent to mention that almost all the Kashmiris, who have been slain by the occupation authorities in IOK, were students - a large number of them with Masters degrees in science or social sciences.

Open violation of human rights: Displaying complete disregard for the UN Charter and International Covenant and Conventions and challenging the International Community. Recently, 'leaked' several videos, openly showing use of human shield, beating, abusing and humiliating Kashmiris in the IoK by the occupation forces, is a manifestation.

Social Media is being banned to ensure that 'reports of crimes against humanity committed by Indian occupation forces do not go out of IOK.

Indian brutalities, murder and blinding could not deter Kashmiri pro-freedom struggle and spirit. We remain committed to extending our unflinching moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris.

Visits of dignitaries and high-level delegations from various countries and International forums continued. We have kept you updated on the outcome through press releases.

Now the Floor is open for Questions


Question

I want to ask you this question that Indian spy and terrorist, who was arrested from Pakistan - Commander Kulbhushan Jhadev, his case has been thoroughly followed by the Indian Government and media to the extent that they have summoned our diplomats. I want to ask that we had huge tragedy that was of Samjhauta Express terrorist attack in 2007. It was a big terrorist activity. Did our diplomatic mission approach or Foreign Office summoned any Indian diplomat in this regard? So, that they share with us details of the investigations and punishments to RSS terrorists, Swami Aseemanand and Col. Purohit. When will they be sentenced and what is the status of their case or has it been set aside? (Sheeba Mahar - Daily SAMAA)


Supplementary Question

Indian Ministry of External Affairs has summoned Pakistani Deputy High Commissioner and they have protested on the death sentence of Kulbhushan Jhadev. They have also requested for the Consular access. What is your take on this? (Tariq Sial - Daily Times)


Answer

I think I have been briefing you people on the efforts that we are putting in to get the information about the Samjhauta Express terrorist attack. You have rightly pointed out that. We have taken up this issue but I need to check back. I cannot give you response off-the-cuff whether we have summoned anyone from the Indian High Commission and if we did so, when? I need to note this question and we can get back to you with a reply. Your question was specific to the summoning aspect and as to what we have done, so far. We did take up the issue of Samjhauta Express terrorist attack on numerous occasions with Indian leadership as well as through diplomatic channels seeking information of proceedings of the investigations into that terrorist attack. Swami Assemanand, who was the Mastermind, made a confession in 2010, if I recall correctly. He also identified Col Purohit, who was then serving Indian army officer, who was also the head of a terrorist organization, Abhinath Bharat. He was an accomplice in the Samjhauta Express terrorist attack. Samjhauta terrorist attack was not the only terrorist attack but there were many other which were identified by SM Mushrif who was IG of Maharashtra and he wrote a book entitled: 'Who Killed Karkare.' The book reflects as to how RSS, in connivance with IB and other government institutions and organizations have remained involved in a number of terrorist attacks, which they carried out themselves or staged in India and blamed on others including Pakistan.

I will check what the answer on your question and get back to you. Mr. Tariq you have mentioned about summoning of our Deputy High Commissioner on the issue related to Commander Kulbhushan. As he was summoned definitely to convey their reaction but this is not something new they did, it was a reaction after award of the death sentence to the Commander Kulbhushan, who is a spy and he made confessions that he was involved in terror financing, subversive and terrorist activities in Pakistan besides being a spy and indulging in espionage. Then regarding consular access we have said this earlier also that we have bilateral agreement on consular access and according to Art IV, in all such cases as the one of Commander Kulbhushan the request of this nature would be decided on the basis of merits.


Question

India has decided to put all bilateral interactions on hold over the death sentence to Commander Kulbhushan Jhadev. The meeting between Pakistan Maritime Security Agency and Indian Coast Guard which were postponed and even release of Pakistani prisoners who have completed sentences has been withheld. How do you see the Indian reaction to save a terrorist who has confessed to all his committed crimes? (Amjad Ali = PTV)


Supplementary Question

My question is regarding the sentence awarded to Kulbhushan Jhadev that the Indian media is saying that it is violation of Vienna Convention Art. 36 that he is not being given Consular Access. What is your take on this? My second question is that as summer season starts in Pakistan, foreign tourists will start coming to Pakistan for hiking and mountaineering. Has there been a special desk established in our missions for promoting tourism in Pakistan? (Fida Hussain - Radio News Network)


Answer

First the second question regarding tourism. There is a comprehensive policy for promoting tourism. In this regard guidelines are provided from time to time to the Pakistan missions abroad. There are different types of tourism such as 'Sightseeing', students of history come and see the historical places or heritage of Pakistan. There are set guidelines for issuing visas for trekking and mountaineering. For that activity there are authorized tour operators and those who facilitate trekkers and mountaineers. The contacts and website details of authorized people, who can arrange these expeditions, are available online and also our Missions Abroad. Those who are seeking to come to Pakistan for tourism may get the information from those sources.

As to your second question about Commander Jhadev, who is responsible for espionage, sabotage and terrorism in Pakistan, was tried according to the law of the land, in a fully transparent manner while preserving his rights, as per the Constitution of Pakistan. His sentence is based on credible, specific evidence proving his involvement in espionage and terrorist activities in Pakistan, resulting in the loss of scores of precious lives of Pakistanis.

The reaction from India, especially withholding the release of Pakistani prisoners, who have completed their sentences, for a spy and terrorist working against Pakistan's national interests, is disappointing. Inflammatory statements emanating from India are against international norms and will only result in escalation, serving no constructive purpose. Indian reaction should be seen in the backdrop of exposure of its state involvement in perpetrating subversive and terrorist activities in Pakistan.

I would once again underscore the point that Indian reaction must be seen in the backdrop of its exposure of involvement in terrorism and terror-financing in Pakistan.


Question

Prime Minister of Azad Jammu & Kashmir has asked the government of Pakistan to convince the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to carry out economic blockade of India because of rising atrocities in IoK. Will Pakistan take any initiative in this regard? (Khawaja Nayaar Iqbal - Kashmir Post)


Answer

OIC has always extended its unequivocal support to the Kashmiris for their right to self-determination in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions. There is also an OIC Contact Group on Kashmir.

Recently, a high ranking delegation of Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of OIC visited Pakistan and AJK from 27 to 29 March 2017. Regrettably, they were denied access by India in Indian occupied Kashmir. Their visit enabled them to get a clearer understanding of what was happening in Kashmir. Pakistan openly welcomed the delegation, and during their 3-day stay they met family members of victims of Indian atrocities. Moreover, OIC Secretary General also visited Pakistan recently and expressed deep concern over Indian brutalities and gross human rights violations in IoK.

The Government of Pakistan will continue to approach the international community including OIC and UN to bring to their notice the grave situation prevailing in IoK. We remain committed to extending moral, political and diplomatic support to oppressed Kashmiris in IoK, who must be given their legitimate right to self-determination, in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.

We remind the international community that much revered values of humanity, justice, freedom and international human rights must not be compromised for the political or economic expediencies.


Question

Fresh videos of Indian atrocities in IoK have come to fore which exposed the horrible practices of Indian occupation forces in Indian occupied Kashmir against the defenceless Kashmiris. Voices within India, including its media, have raised voice against these ghastly instances. Your comments please! Has Pakistan taken up this issue internationally also? (Shahid Maitla - ARY News)


Answer

The Indian brutalities have intensified, especially since 8 July 2016. The popular and indigenous demand for their right to self-determination has further intensified in the wake of brutalities unleashed by the Indian occupation forces. Hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris have thronged to the streets in IOK, peacefully demanding their inalienable right to self-determination. The Indian occupation forces have been using live ammunition and pellet guns against the protesters, as a result of which more than 200 civilians have been killed so far, and around 20,000 injured. The Indian occupation forces have mass blinded the Kashmiri youth, including women and children, by deliberately targeting their eyes with pellet gun shots. This is the first incident of mass blinding in human history as rightly pointed out in a British daily, The Guardian's 12-page article published on 8 Nov. 2016, which said: 'There is no recorded instance of a modern democracy systematically and willfully shooting at people to blind them.'

We strongly condemn the Indian barbarities in IoK and call upon the international community including the UN to take immediate notice of the gross human rights violations.


Question

Afghan Ambassador Zakhilwal hinted that a joint operation against TTP leader Mullah Fazlullah could be possible in near future. Has the Afghan side officially contacted Pakistan in this regard? Have they shared information about the whereabouts of TTP leadership? Has Afghanistan also extended such cooperation to hunt top leadership of JuA, especially after surrender of former TTP Spokesman Ehsan Ullah Ehsan?

Secondly, what is your reaction on North Korea's recent missile tests? (Essa Naqvi - Dunya News)


Answer

As to your first question, Pakistan has been stating that there are hideouts of JuA and TTP in Afghanistan from where they continue to launch attacks in Pakistan. We have urged the Afghan Government to take action against these terrorists.

On your second question, Pakistan regrets that DPRK continues to undertake actions in violation of its international obligations under the relevant UNSC resolutions. Pakistan expresses grave concern at the recent missile launches carried out by DRPK.


Question

First there are 50 Pakistanis detained in Libya, holding legal passports and Visas. According to information, six persons are in Massada, seven are in Karak and so on. Our embassy is helpless in their release. There is deplorable condition of our embassy there is no officer there, it is run by grade 15 officer.

Secondly, in Afghanistan mother of all bombs was dropped, was there a Pakistani or Taliban terrorist killed, has info been shared with us? (Abbas Yawar - Urdu Express)


Supplementary Question

In Afghanistan mother of all bombs was dropped, was there any environmental impact on Pakistan? (Anwar Abbas Waqt News)


Answer

As to Mr. Abbas Yawar's first question, I don't have information on this particular case of 50 detainees as of now. I have noted your specific query but let me reflect on the issue of Pakistanis' welfare abroad as a matter of policy. Pakistani living or working in a foreign country are required to follow the local laws. They are usually arrested when found in violation of the local laws. If there is an Embassy, it is our responsibility, which we fulfill, whenever we receive a report about detention of any Pakistani in any crime, we approach and request the host government to get the crime for which he or she is detained. And accordingly we take up the case with that government. The procedure also involves ascertaining of the person's antecedents whether he or she is a Pakistani or not.


Question

After the "do more" rhetoric of Obama Administration and the mounting pressure on Pakistan, do you think that the Trump Administration's policies towards Pakistan are any different from his predecessor? (Ayaz Gul - VOA)


Supplementary Question

Since the American Administration is increasingly concerned about terrorist activities, and its debilitating effect in the region, did Pakistan raise up the issue of Kulbhushan Yadav with the visiting US NSA, since his case is a testimony to India's active involvement in state terrorism and terror financing in Pakistan? (Tariq Mahmood - SAMAA TV)


Answer

This was the first high level visit from Trump Administration to Pakistan. It reflected the high importance the new administration attaches to its relations with Pakistan. We had issued the press release on the outcome of the visit. The larger context of the meeting was to reflect on the regional situation, with particular reference to situation in Afghanistan, and how Pakistan and the US could address the situation in Afghanistan together, and bring lasting peace to the region. The question of Kashmir in the context of Pakistan-India relations was also discussed, as the situation has raised concerns across the world. Pakistan wishes to build its relations with the new administration and on the basis of existing solid foundation, we want to take it the next levels.

As far as recognition of Pakistan's efforts towards fight against terrorism is concerned, the US and the entire world at various levels of political leadership have time and again recognized Pakistan's contributions, sacrifices and economic losses in the fight against terrorism. We draw no distinction, and have taken action against all types of terrorists, the manifestation of which is the improved security and economic situation in the country.

The US Commanders and Senior army personnel, who visited Pakistan recently and visited those areas in Pakistan that were previously considered terrorist infested areas, lauded Pakistan's gains made in its fight against terrorism. Not only did they leave satisfied, but they also made their views public.


Question

Indian media reported that US National Security Adviser H.R McMaster after talks with Afghan leaders in Kabul, has called on regional countries, including Russia and Pakistan, not to support the Afghan Taliban. Did he raise the issue and what was Pakistan's response? (Saima Shabbir - Bol News)


Answer

The purpose of McMaster's visit to Afghanistan and Pakistan was to gain perspective on peace and stability in Afghanistan as the Trump Administration is presently undertaking its review of the Afghan policy. In this regard, the two sides had a constructive exchange of views. Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US have a shared interest in promoting peace in Afghanistan.


Question

Reportedly, Prime Ministers of Pakistan and India may meet on the sidelines of SCO Summit despite the hostile environment between the two countries. Do you foresee any likelihood of such a meeting, as it is being said that the US leadership is pushing for such a meeting? (Asghar Ali Mubarak - Daily Mail Islamabad)


Answer

There is nothing on the table yet as SCO Summit is almost two months away. Nevertheless, we have consistently maintained that meaningful, result oriented dialogue, sustainable and constructive engagement to address all outstanding issues, particularly Kashmir dispute, is the only way forward. Hostility and escalation benefits none.


Question

During US NSA McMaster's talks in the Foreign Office, the subject of Daesh was raised, as we have seen several arrests in the past few days to this effect. My question is that we have previously said that Daesh has no footprint in Pakistan. However, there are these arrests especially on the Pak-Afghan border what steps are Pakistan taking to tackle this issue? (Naveed Akbar - Daily Dunya)


Answer

I have said this previously also that there is no organized presence of Daesh in Pakistan. What you are referring to are sporadic instances of a few volunteers who either do it for money or profiling. As far as the presence of Daesh in Afghanistan is concerned, it has been confirmed by the UN and US Commander John Nicholson in their recent reports. This is a matter of growing concern for many countries in the region, and has been a central issue at the recent meeting on Afghanistan in Moscow. There is a common concern that Daesh and other terrorist outfits are coming together and gaining foothold in Afghanistan and endangering regional peace and stability. Regional countries are mindful and considering ways to tackle the issue.


Question

In the case of kidnapped Colonel Habib Zahir we have heard reports about Indian involvement in the matter. Has Pakistan formally taken up the matter with India? (Saad Umar - Roze News)


Answer

As regards your question, you are aware that Lt. Colonel Retired Mohammad Habib Zahir has been missing since 6 April 2017 from Lumbini, Nepal where he went for a job interview. In view of the revelations about the fake emails and website he was contacted from, we cannot rule out foul play by hostile agencies in his disappearance. The government of Pakistan has taken up the matter of his disappearance with the Nepal Government with the request to trace him. An FIR each has also been lodged both in Islamabad and in Nepal.

We have also shared additional information with the Nepal government on 18 April 2017about the individuals who reportedly received him at Lumbini, made his hotel reservations and booked his tickets which we believe may be helpful in locating him. His family is very distressed and we hope that he is located at the earliest.


Question

What is the outcome of the Moscow talks? Is the Afghan Taliban also the part of it?

Secondly, Wall Street Journal has reported that Pakistan has deployed five thousand troops on Saudi-Yemen border and it will also fight against the rebels in Yemen. Has Pakistan changed its policy Yemen? (Ali Husnain - Business Recorder)


Answer

As to your second question, this is a media report and does not warrant any response.

Regarding the Moscow talks, it was about the situation in Afghanistan, and 11 countries participated in the talks including Afghanistan. There was a consensus that all participating countries were concerned about the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, particularly the growing presence of terrorist outfits, including Daesh in Afghanistan, and its implications on regional peace and stability. This also figured in Moscow talks. Participating countries discussed that there is urgent need to deal with the security situation in Afghanistan. The outcome was a common concern and understanding as to how the situation in Afghanistan should be dealt with.


Question

Whether a Pakistani Parliamentary delegation plans a visit to Afghanistan? (Rabia - Radio Mashaal)


Answer

I need to check the details.