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Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 18 May 2017

(2017-05-18) [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


During the last two weeks, since we last met, human rights situation in IoK has worsened. Killing of innocent Kashmiris continues with the human rights defenders looking the other way. Hindu terrorist outfit, RSS, has been stationing its activists and establishing its units in IOK, managed by non-Kashmiri RSS activists. RSS had slaughtered more than half a million Kashmiri Muslims in November 1947 together with Dogra and Indian occupation forces. Their increasing presence in IOK is to terrorize Kashmiris and deter them from participating in the self-determination movement.

Young Kashmiris, particularly the students are the target of occupation forces and RSS. Over 200 people including students were arrested while 500 people including boys and girl students were injured when Indian occupation forces subjected defenseless Kashmiris to brute force against protesting students in Srinagar, Ganderbal, Budgam, Kulgam, Baramulla, Kupwara, Islamabad, Pulwama and Shopian, districts. At least eight people were killed by Indian occupation forces in shoot out in IOK. We condemn killing of Kashmiris. Unable to control the popular uprising with even a million occupation forces, India is desperately trying to discredit the indigenous Kashmiri movement by portraying it, through propaganda, as terrorism, which the Int'l Community has vehemently rejected.

Indian occupation forces have been condemned by the civil society members globally for banning social media. They have also banned 34 TV channels including Arabic and Urdu news channels in IOK.

Continued illegal detention of APHC leader Masarat Alam Bhat, detention of Aasiya Andrabi, whose health, reportedly, is increasingly deteriorating and Fehmeeda Sofi, who were booked under the Lawless Law, Public Safety Act, and continued house detention of APHC Hurriyat Leaders Syed Ali Gilani and Shabbir Ahmad Shah is highly deplorable.

On May 17, the unlawful authorities put Mirwaiz Umar Farooq under house arrest to prevent them from addressing the seminar in connection with the Martyrdom Week to pay homage to prominent martyred Hurriyet leaders (Mirwaiz Molvi Muhammad Farooq and Khawaja Abdul Ghani Lone and martyrs of Hawal Srinagar). All Parties Hurriyet Conference Leader, Syed Ali Gilani, was not allowed to see his doctors, which is highly regrettable.

Pakistan, in line with its policy of extending moral, diplomatic and political support to Kashmiris, has sent a letter from the Adviser Sartaj Aziz to the UN Secretary General to apprise the latter on India plans of changing the demography in IOK and to seek UN intervention.

On foreign relations front, the Prime Minister has paid a highly successful visit to China for participation in the Road & Belt Forum during the current week. On the sidelines, he meet a number of countries leader including the leadership of China, Turkey, Belarus, Vietnam, Ethiopia and interactive with many other including Russian President.

Now the Floor is open for Questions


Question

Indian writer and journalist Arundhati Roy said that Indian atrocities in Indian occupied Kashmir are shameful. The Indian government could not suppress the indigenous movement of Kashmiris even if the number of army was increased from 0.7 million to 7 million. Your comments please!

My second question is that India has continued its "water aggression" against Pakistan by going ahead with the controversial Hydro power plants. Please share any latest updates with us. (Khawaja Nayaar Iqbal - Kashmir Post)


Answer

With regard to your second question, this is the subject dealt with Ministry of Water and Power. Please refer your query to them.

As to your first question, the atrocities and state terrorism in IOK against defenceless Kashmiris to suppress their legitimate indigenous movement for their right to self-determination, as promised to them in the UNSC Resolutions in Kashmiris, has attracted the global attention. Saner voices, even from within India, have been questioning Indian human rights violations in IOK. International Community needs to intervene to stop the bloodshed of Kashmiris at the hands of Indian occupation forces.


Question

As you know, ICJ will give its verdict with reference to Kulbushan Jhadev's case today. I need your comments on two things. First, the day Indian request was accepted in ICJ, Indian media played up the entire situation by falsely claiming that ICJ had granted stay order in the case. We have seen that ICJ did not reject this false claim of India, although the factual position was altogether different. When there is such an overt bias in ICJ towards one country, what expectation should we have regarding the verdict? Second, India has accused Pakistan of violation of Vienna Convention vis-a-vis Kulbushan Jhadev. What is your position on this accusation? (Shaukat Paracha - Aaj News)


Answer

As to your first question, common people and intelligentsia in Pakistan have already noted and there had been a lot of public discussions on the matter. There have been lengthy deliberations also. I do not wish to add anything.

With regard to your second question, let me reiterate that after India stood exposed in state sponsored terrorism, terror financing, spying and subversive activities, it has desperately tried to divert the world attention by presenting Kulbhushan's case from the humanitarian angle. India is trying to defend a person whose actions have led to the killing of scores of innocent Pakistanis.


Question

Yesterday, two Pakistani diplomatic employees were held up by NDS in Afghanistan. You registered strong protest in this regard also. What is Afghanistan's reaction so far?

Secondly, at the upcoming US-Arab-Islamic Summit in KSA next month, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is reportedly said to meet US President Donald Trump. What is the agenda of the meeting? (Riffat Masood - Radio Free Europe)


Answer

As to your first question, yes, the incident did happen and our Embassy immediately and forcefully took up the matter with Afghan government in Kabul. They have violated International Convention on Diplomatic Immunity. That's the reason why the Foreign Office summoned Afghan DHM. We also issued a Press Release to this effect.

On your second question, I don't have details about the meetings or their agendas so far.


Question

International Court of Justice will give its verdict in two hours time on Kulbhushan Jhadev's case and Pakistan has challenged the jurisdiction of ICJ. Whatever the decision of ICJ, is it binding on Pakistan? (Essa Naqvi - Dunya News)

Question added: Are there any past cases of this nature? (Amjad Ali - PTV News)

Secondly, a paper recently released by Harvard Kennedy School stated that India can build 2,600 nuclear weapons in future due to its unsupervised nuclear program and fissile material production. Please comment in the light of India's bid to become a member of NSG, and its impact on regional and international strategic stability? (Essa Naqvi - Dunya News


Answer

Answering your first question, I have seen some of the analyses in the newspapers. Pakistan has entered a Revised Declaration under Article 36(2) of the statute of the ICJ on 29th March 2017. This is a common practice. It is stronger declaration than the earlier that was entered in 1960. The process of revising the Declaration entailed an extensive and exhaustive process of multi-stakeholders consultations within the Government of Pakistan, spread over two years. The objective of this exercise was to better protect Pakistan's interest and at the same time continue to be a responsible member of the United Nations. Many clauses have been added to the earlier declaration including, excluding "all matters related to the national security of Islamic Republic of Pakistan", which in the current case totally excludes the jurisdiction of ICJ under Article 36(2) in our view.

As to Mr. Amjad's question, in the past, the ICJ has indicated provisional measures to prevent executions in three cases, based on the violation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. These included (i) the case of Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (Paraguay vs USA) of 9th April 1998; (ii) La Grand case (Germany vs USA) of 3rd March 1999; and (iii) Avena and other Mexican nationals' case (Mexico vs USA) of 5th Feb 2003.

As to your second question, we have examined the contents and conclusions of the paper released by the Belfer Center on India's fissile materials, fuel cycles and safeguards.

In the past few years, many international nuclear experts, think tanks and media reports have consistently raised concerns over the lack of transparency, absence of international safeguards, and the potential for diversion of unsafeguarded nuclear material for nuclear weapons in India.

This paper and other several reports corroborate growing concerns related to the use of nuclear material acquired by India from abroad in its existing and future unsafeguarded nuclear reactors, plants and facilities for development of nuclear weapons.

Cumulatively, such reports and papers substantiate an otherwise largely ignored fact i.e. India's nuclear weapons programme is the fastest growing in the world. The recent Belfer paper inter alia concludes that India has accumulated nuclear material for over 2600 nuclear weapons.

For a decade, Pakistan has been underscoring the risks of diversion by India of imported nuclear fuel, equipment and technology, received pursuant to civil nuclear cooperation agreements and the 2008 NSG waiver.

The concerns over diversion are neither new nor unfounded. India enjoys the rare distinction of diverting nuclear material, obtained on its peaceful use commitment, to its nuclear weapons programme.

The past and potential misuse of nuclear materials by India entails not only serious issues of nuclear proliferation but also carry grave implications for strategic stability in South Asia and national security of Pakistan.

NSG states have a responsibility to take into account these well-founded concerns while considering transfer of nuclear material to India and its NSG membership bid.


Question

Adviser Sartaj Aziz has written a letter to the UN Secretary General urging to take notice of Indian attempts to bring demographic change in IoK. Can you please share with us the details of the letter written to the UN Secretary General?

Secondly, Indian Spokesperson has, reportedly, confirmed a harsh condition imposed by India that for each medical visa case, a recommendation letter by the Adviser to confirm genuineness of the case is required. Can you confirm and comment on Indian move? Does Pakistan have any intention to impose the same condition on Indian citizens entering Pakistan? (Amjad Ali - PTV News)


Answer

We have issued a comprehensive press release in this regard which contains all the contents. The Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs has written a letter to the UN Secretary General highlighting the Indian attempts to bring demographic changes to Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IoK). The letter specifically points out the issuance of permanent residence certificates to non-residents, allotment of land to retired Indian army personnel, issuance of land to non-Kashmiris, the establishment of separate townships for Kashmiri pundits and settlement of West Pakistan refugees in IoK. These efforts are being made to try to convert the Muslim majority in IoK into a minority to preempt the results of the UN administered plebiscite.

The Adviser has stressed that the non-implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions is leading to a grave human tragedy in IoK. It is only by the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions that we will be able to end the immense sufferings of millions of Kashmiris in the Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir and bring peace and stability to South Asia.

As to your question regarding medical visas, most patients who were travelling to India from Pakistan were old people or young children with serious ailments requiring urgent medical attention. Despite paying for their treatment themselves, these patients are being deprived of their basic right to health, due to political consideration on the part of India.

India has recently made the issuance of every medical visa from Pakistan conditional to a letter addressed by the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs to the Indian Minister of External Affairs. While granting or denying a visa is a sovereign right of any country, this Indian move is unprecedented in inter-state relations.


Question

After US administration's intention to increase troops in Afghanistan, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met UK Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss sending more British troops for a proposed troop surge in Afghanistan. Pakistan has always opposed military solution. What is Pakistan's reaction? (Shahid Maitla - ARY News)


Supplementary Question

US is installing three thousand more troops in Afghanistan, and evolving its strategy, planning to increase its defence budget to US $ 23 billion. In your view, will this troops surge create stability or instability in the region? (Tariq Sial - Daily Times)


Answer

Pakistan has repeatedly emphasized the need for a peaceful resolution of Afghan conflict. We are of the view that there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict as the military option has failed to deliver in the past fifteen years. We believe that a lasting solution to Afghan conflict can be achieved through an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process. However, we understand that increase in US/NATO troops is being done for strengthening capacity building of Afghan security forces.

We understand that Afghan policy review by the new Trump Administration is still not complete. It is, therefore, premature for us to comment on the subject.


Question

Trump administration has once again raised the issue of Shakeel Afridi with Pakistan Government. Can you confirm this and what is Pakistan's response?

Second, the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is closed for the past 14 days. Are there any diplomatic contacts between the two Governments? When should we expect borders to re-open? (Rabia Pir - VOA Radio)


Answer

I'm not aware if the matter of Shakeel Afridi has been taken up as you suggest. Besides, this case is sub-judice. I can't comment on this at this point in time.

On your second question, I understand that there are consultations going on between the military personnel of both sides. The basic reason why border was closed was due to the unpleasant episode that led to loss of several lives. That is the reason why the people in those areas were evacuated and border was closed. Unless the issue is settled amicably and with mutual understanding from both sides, opening the border will endanger the lives of our people. Protection of our citizens' lives is our responsibility.

The joint survey was carried out by both sides. I am not aware of the outcome at this point in time. I think you need to wait. And, once that outcome is available, only in case of that we will be able to move forward and the subsequent action will be taken regarding the border. If there are more discussions required and at what levels and through which channels, whether it is diplomatic channel or the military channel, then it would be done accordingly. Both sides's relevant quarters are in touch with each other.


Question

Reportedly, RSS is holding its first meeting in Indian occupied Kashmir in July this year. RSS terrorists and its affiliates were already on a killing spree of defenceless Kashmiris. How do you interpret the RSS move? (Saima Shabbir - Bol News)


Answer

As I also mentioned in my opening remarks, RSS, has been stationing its activists and establishing its units in IOK, managed by non-Kashmiri RSS activists. RSS had slaughtered more than half a million Kashmiri Muslims in November 1947 together with Dogra and Indian occupation forces. Their increasing presence in IOK is to terrorize Kashmiris and deter them from participating in the self-determination movement. RSS is actively involved in changing the demography in IOK in violation of UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir.


Question

During the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, Gilgat Baltistan Chief Minister was not included as part of the Pakistani entourage. Was he left behind due to Indian influence? (Fida Hussain - Radio News Network)


Answer

CPEC is an economic development project, meant for the collective development and prosperity of the people of this region. Many countries stand to benefit from CPEC, which has would have economic for all. Your question is speculative and does not warrant any response. CPEC would not only benefit Pakistan and China but also the entire region.


Question

India is committing ceasefire violations and targeting civilian population on both sides of LoC. The AJK PM appealed to the United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to take notice of Indian firing and civilians' killing. What role is being played by UNMOGIP? (Shabbir Wahgra - PTV World News)


Supplementary Question

An AFP story of yesterday said that UNMOGIP was called to GHQ. Please comment! (Saima Shabbir - Bol News)


Answer

Responding to a second question first, Pakistan extends full cooperation to UNMOGIP. The job of UNMOGIP is to monitor situation on the LoC and Working Boundary. In case of ceasefire violations, military authorities invite them for survey of the area so that UNMOGIP team can witness firsthand the incident reported, and make their report, accordingly. MO Directorate deals with the UNMOGIP in such matters.

As to the first question by Mr. Shabbir, Indian occupation forces are continuously engaged in ceasefire violations on the LoC and the Working Boundary. The villages and populated areas are continuously being targeted by the Indian occupation forces. India has deliberately escalated tensions at the LoC and the Working Boundary in order to try to divert the international community's attention from the grave situation in IoK. Pakistan has no desire to escalate the situation and we have reacted with maximum restraint. However, the Indian belligerent attitude is a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation.

In order to ensure peace and tranquility at the LoC, the mandate of the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) is crucial. UNMOGIP has the mandate to monitor the ceasefire violations at the LoC and Working Boundary, in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions. Pakistan has always extended full cooperation to the UNMOGIP. On the contrary, India limits its movement and provides limited access, which is a violation of UNSC Resolution on UNMOGIP mandate.


Question

There have been media reports of a number of Pakistanis currently held in Turkey by the ransom mafia, what efforts is Pakistan is undertaking for their rescue and safe repatriation? (Sohail Rasheed - SAMAA TV)


Answer

Our Missions in Ankara and Istanbul are in contact with the Turkish authorities, as soon as any details are available, I will inform you.

Question

These days we are seeing a lot of social media videos, wherein Pakistani prisoners held in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia talk about their plight in the jails and request Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Government of Pakistan to intervene. Earlier, a private channel also showed thousands of women in a prison in Saudi Arabia, whose fate was unknown. Is Ministry of Foreign Affairs aware of this, and what efforts are it making towards this end? (Changez Khan Jadoon - ATV Khyber)


Answer

Let me first inform you that Pakistan Missions abroad extend consular assistance to all its nationals in comprehensive and regular manner. At any given time, we are fully aware of the number of people imprisoned in the respective countries' jails, and the crimes for which they have been detained. Whether it is our Mission in Jeddah or Riyadh, the Community Welfare Attaches and Consular Assistants at Pakistan's Missions pay regular visits to the prisons and detention centres for providing full support and consular assistance to the Pakistani inmates. In December, I gave a comprehensive statement on the efforts undertaken by our Missions to alleviate the plight of imprisoned Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia, which is available on MOFA's website. You may refer to that for more details.

At any given time, millions of Pakistanis are working in Saudi Arabia. A cyclical process is at work, wherein hundreds of thousands of laborers go to the Kingdom for work, and all most similar number of peoples return home upon expiration of work permits or end of job contracts. However, while most of the Pakistanis return home at the end of their tenure, a few abscond, and work illegally, which makes them vulnerable.

In most of the cases, wherein the matters of deportation of held or imprisoned Pakistanis is involved, Saudi Government extends support in their repatriation and also fully cooperates with our Missions.

One must understand that the presence of such people in jails is neither specific to Saudi Arabia, nor is limited to Pakistanis alone. However, our media must verify whether the videos you mentioned are genuine, or part of a propaganda. It must be kept in mind that Saudi Arabia would not hold or imprison nationals of other countries without any reason. I request the media to verify the authenticity of the videos before commenting on them and exercise caution in disseminating the unverified news.