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Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 02 November 2017

(2017-11-02) [Remarks by outgoing Spokesperson Mr. Nafees Zakaria] Before I leave the podium, I would like to thank all our media community. You have been very cooperative. Most importantly, I have observed that you have preferred national objectives and interests over and above sensationalism. I thank you very much for all the cooperation you have extended to me during my tenure. You have been the voice of Pakistan.


Opening Remarks


Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum Ladies & Gentlemen!


It is a pleasure to be with you today. We have just bid farewell to Mr. Zakaria with whom you have all had an excellent working relationship. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

Before we start our formal business of the day, let me share that I look forward to a frank and candid working relationship with all of you based on mutual trust and cooperation. I believe that in the interconnected, modern world of today, inclusivity and teamwork is the only way forward. My door is always open to all of you.

We saw international cricket return to Pakistan with the visit of the Sri Lankan Cricket team and now congratulations to the men in green who now top the ICC T- 20 ranking.

I shall start with our customary roundup of the happenings of the current week which has been quite busy. Putting words to action to a friend in need being friend indeed, Pakistan's Ambassador to Nepal Mr. Mazhar Javed handed over the cheque of US $ 1 Million, on 26th October 2017 to Prime Minister of Nepal, H.E Mr. Sher Bahadur Deuba on behalf of the people and Government of Pakistan in an expression of solidarity with our flood affected brethren in Nepal. We wish them courage and success in their rehabilitation efforts.

On 30 October, Pakistan also repatriated 68 Indian fishermen as goodwill, humanitarian gesture. Pakistan strongly believes that humanitarian issues should be facilitated to alleviate suffering and not politicized.

A one day National seminar on "Strengthening Strategic Export Controls by Internal Compliance" was held in Islamabad as part of the SECDIV routine outreach and awareness raising activities. The Foreign Secretary reiterated Pakistan's commitment to non-proliferation and disarmament, highlighted the continuing efforts, and stressed on promotion of export control culture through implementation of guidelines on internal compliance.

On 1 November, Pakistan and Iran held the first round of informal consultations on regional peace and security with a focus on the situation in Afghanistan. The two sides had a constructive exchange of views on the situation in Afghanistan, the global and regional threat of terrorism and ways and means for enhanced regional economic cooperation and connectivity.

Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir, Indian troops continued their atrocities unabated. This last month alone, Indian occupation forces have martyred 20 Kashmiris, critically injured 217 people including through use of pellets and teargas shells, and have arrested and detained 308 Kashmiris, mostly youth and Hurriyat Leaders and activists. There were at least 4 cases wherein Indian troops forcefully entered residential areas and dishonoured women, and 48 cases of looting and damage to properties during the month of October.

India's continues use of brute force and inhumane atrocities against innocent and defenceless Kashmiris in an attempt to suppress Kashmiris' legitimate indigenous struggle for their right to self-determination. We salute the resilience of our Kashmiri brothers and sisters, who are living and fighting for their just cause against all odds. With this reign of brutalities unleashed, India's sham attempt to appoint another interlocutor to bring peace in the Valley has once again exposed its maligned intentions

Other than Pakistan's political, diplomatic and moral support to the Kashmiris, it is essential to understand that this dispute and its expeditious resolution in line with the UNSC resolution, is crucial not only for Pakistan and India but for the stability and prosperity of the whole region and ultimately the world. The world today is connected and ignoring disputes in a seemingly distant part does not isolate us from its consequences.

We hope to see realization of this by the international community. It's essential that the human rights violations in IoK stop immediately followed by an expedited resolution of the dispute itself.


Now the Floor is open for Questions



[Before you begin, on behalf of all the Media people, allow me to thank Mr. Nafees Zakaria for his untiring efforts in propagating Pakistan's official narrative forcefully, and for always being available to us. We wish you the best of luck for your future assignment! Asghar Ali Mubarak - Daily Mail Islamabad]


Question

My question pertains to a new controversy between Bangladesh and Pakistan, regarding a controversial video clip that was uploaded on our website, and for which our High Commissioner in Bangladesh was summoned to their Foreign Office. Do you see any conspiracy behind a deliberate attempt to viral the video clip? This is a very sensitive issue keeping in view our relationship with Bangladesh. (Syed Mohsin Raza - Asas Group of Publications)


Answer

The issue came to our notice two days ago. Let me clarify that the video clip was uploaded not on our website, but on the High Commission's Facebook page by someone else. The video was immediately deleted, and we have tweeted about it from Spokesperson's official account yesterday. We sincerely hope that the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and Bangladesh will continue to move in the letter and spirit of the Tripartite Agreement of 1974.


Question

According to a BBC report, the Bangladeshi Government has demanded an apology from Pakistan following this episode. What is Pakistan's stance on this?

Secondly, US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson has once again said that US has given Pakistan another chance to fight terrorist safe havens on its territory. What are your views on this? (Naveed Saddique - Dawn News)


Answer

On your first question, the 1974 Tripatite Agreement between Pakistan, India and Bangladesh is the cornerstone for taking the relations forward between the countries. We expect our Bangladeshi brethren to adhere to it.

Pakistan has contributed with both blood and treasure in the fight against terrorism and made significant gains through its effective counter-terrorism operations. We reject baseless allegations of safe havens. We have repeatedly conveyed to the US leadership that it should refrain from making unfounded assertions. Secretary Tillerson has also appreciated the need for intelligence cooperation between the two countries.


Question

During Senate proceedings, there was mention of exchange of list of terrorists between Pakistan and the US, with 75 prisoners on one side and 100 on the other. Can you share more details? (Saad Umar - Roze News)


Answer

During the recent interactions with the United States, all issues of mutual interest including counter-terrorism and regional situation have come under discussion. I am, however, not aware of any specific list of prisoners/ terrorists as reported in the media.


Question

We had given a list of wanted terrorists to Afghan authorities. Is there any update on the list?

Secondly, has Pakistan taken up the issue of Mullah Fazlullah with the US, as he travels with full protocol in Afghanistan and is the mastermind of many terrorist attacks in Pakistan. (Rashida Sial - Abb Tak)


Answer

Afghanistan so far has not shared any update on the list.

Regarding Mullah Fazlullah, we have raised concerns on his ease of mobility within Afghanistan, and the fact that he has used Afghan soil to perpetrate terrorism within Pakistan, with Afghanistan, US and at all relevant forums. There are examples of terrorist attacks in various parts of Pakistan including Lahore, Sehwan Sharif, Parachinar and Quetta, and we have serious concerns about it.


Question

Have we traced the whereabouts of missing Afghan Deputy Governor in Peshawar? There are reports that he had no entry record at Torkham border while entering Pakistan. Has Foreign Office sought clarification from Afghan authorities in this regard?

Secondly, Afghan President's Special Representative sounded like an imperialist state's viceroy when he uncouthly said that Afghan Government will observe Pakistan for next three months before QCG could be discussed further. Your reaction to such a derogatory comment! (Shaukat Paracha - Aaj News)


Answer

Regarding your first question, Afghan Deputy Governor was on a private visit. No prior intimation was given in this regard. We were approached by the Afghan Embassy regarding the incident. All efforts are underway to trace his whereabouts.

On your second question, QCG is an initiative facilitating talks between Afghan Taliban under shared responsibility. QCG agreed that members will continue to work together for efforts for peace talks between the Afghan Government and the Taliban. In fact the QCG emphasized the need for Afghanistan to bring out its own national reconciliation plan for taking the Afghan reconciliation process forward. Spirit of QCG has not been to blame each other.


Question

Do you have any update on the QCG meeting held in Muscat last week? Also, there is a media report, another dialogue in the same spirit will be held in Dubai next week. Is Pakistan privy this dialogue? Your comments please! (Naveed Akbar - Daily Dunya)


Answer

Pakistan has always emphasized the need of Afghan owned and Afghan led efforts for bringing lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. Pakistan has welcomed and participated in all such initiatives, and will continue to do so in the future. Regarding the specific initiative you mentioned, I do not have any information on this.


Question

During his recent visit to Pakistan, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has also offered to help Pakistan resolve its disputes with India. Previously, we have seen that India opposes any third party mediation to resolve outstanding issues with Pakistan. How does Pakistan wish to pursue this offer? (Essa Naqvi - Dunya News)


Supplementary Question

Pakistan has out rightly rejected the Indian appointment of Dineshwar Sharma to negotiate Kashmir dispute with Kashmiris. All Parties Hurriyat Conference has also rejected his nomination. As DG South Asia, you have been observing this dispute for a long time. What is the way forward in your view? Does it need a comprehensive dialogue with all parties on board or is there some other solution? (Abid Khursheed - ATV)


Answer

The US has repeatedly stated in both private and public interactions that it wants to see de-escalation between Pakistan and India. We have welcomed these statements by the US officials since Pakistan has also been making consistent efforts to reach out to India with a view to lowering the temperatures. India, however, has repeatedly refused to engage bilaterally. It has resisted third country mediation, which indicates India's defiance to the peaceful means for dispute resolution, as envisaged in the UN Charter. The Jammu & Kashmir dispute can only be resolved through implementation of relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, which to date, have remained unimplemented. The people of IoK have been struggling for the just right to self-determination, as envisaged in the UNSC Resolutions, for the past 70 years.

The Jammu & Kashmir dispute has three parties, namely Pakistan, India, and Kashmir. All three parties must hold a dialogue under the ambit of UNSC Resolutions to resolve the dispute in an amicable manner. MOFA has already issued a press release regarding the appointment of Mr. Sharma.


Question

Although the international community has been constantly lecturing us to "do more", and even Afghanistan, a country that is reliant purely on Western aid, carries an aggressive and humiliating tone towards Pakistan and its institutions, Pakistan has been very docile and measured in its replies. Don't you think it is high time that we speak more assertively towards these derogatory comments emanating from Afghanistan and elsewhere? (Raza Khan - PTV World)


Supplementary Question

What is Pakistan's comment on India's first shipment of wheat to Afghanistan via Chabahar port bypassing Afghanistan?

Can you confirm whether US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, during his visit to Pakistan, held a separate meeting with the Army Chief? (Ali Hussain - Business Recorder)


Answer

The Foreign Policy of Pakistan is guided by the vision of our founding father Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, which envisages the concept of peaceful neighbourhood and friendly relations towards all countries of the world. Our official position on matters of national security and foreign policy is driven by this vision, and is carefully calibrated and well thought-out. One must realize that with immense power comes immense responsibility. Pakistan is a responsible and important country and conducts its foreign policy with other countries, responsibly and with dignity.

It is our consistent position that Afghanistan as a landlocked country has a right of transit access through any neighbouring country according to its needs. Transport of wheat and other commodities to Afghanistan is nothing new, as Pakistan has been traditionally providing goods to Afghanistan. On Chabahar Port, let me reiterate what the Iranians said earlier that Chabahar and the Gawadar Port are complementary in nature.

On the last question, I will need to check.


Question

State Department has given list of 20 terrorist organizations to Pakistan. Can we get the names of those terrorist organizations? (Shahzad Hasan - Royal News)


Answer

I will have to check.


Question

Pakistan's neighboring countries have developed an alliance against CPEC. Do you think that there are efforts underway on their part to disrupt CPEC? (Asghar Ali Mubarak - Daily Mail Islamabad)


Answer

We do not regard it as any kind of alliance against us. Our trade with Afghanistan, Iran and China continues as before. I have already mentioned that Chabahar and Gwadar port are complementary to each other.


Question

You mentioned in your opening remarks that the first informal consultation meeting between Pakistan and Iran was held yesterday. When will the next meeting be held, and will Afghanistan be included in this? (Rabia Akram Khan - Radio Free Europe)


Answer

Pakistan and Iran held the first round of informal consultations on regional peace and security with a focus on the situation in Afghanistan. The two sides had a constructive exchange of views on the situation in Afghanistan, the global and regional threat of terrorism and ways and means for enhanced regional economic cooperation and connectivity. I will need to check regarding the holding of the next meeting.


Question

You mentioned about the Pakistan-Iran consultation meeting. It is reported that Iran is constructing a concrete wall along its fence within its border, which may limit the number of entry points into Iran from Pakistan. Have they informed us about this development, or have both sides reached any kind of understanding regarding the issue?

Secondly, during the visit of Iranian President early last year, an understanding was reached by both sides regarding Iran's opening of four more crossing points into Iran. Is there any progress on the proposal, as some Iranian diplomats are quoted to have said that they will open a border post near Gwadar soon? (Faisal Raza Khan - 92 News)


Answer

The construction of any facility on the borders has to conform to the bilateral agreements between the two sides. There are clear guidelines under these bilateral agreements, which should be adhered to. Pakistan is closely engaged with Iran on this issue.

On your second question, I will revert back after ascertaining details.


Question

What is Pakistan's position on Catalonia getting its independence from Spain? (Salman Hashmi - Forensic Eye)


Answer

I will get back to you on this.


Question

How does the Foreign Office view the clubbing of the regional bloc namely India, Japan, US, Australia and some other European countries against China? How would you respond to Chinese Ambassador to US statement that "no one could contain China"? (Amjad Ali PTV News)


Answer

I would not comment on the statement made by Chinese Ambassador. Nevertheless, today's globalized world calls for cooperation and collaboration. We acknowledge the right of countries to make relations with countries of their choice. However, partnerships and alliances should not be directed against other countries. Every country has the right to peaceful development unless it threatens other's peace and security.


Question

You mentioned in your opening remarks that Pakistan has released Indian fishermen as a goodwill gesture. Do you have an exact number of Pakistani prisoners, currently held in Indian captivity? (Tariq Sial - Morning Jinnah)


Answer

On the exact number of fishermen, I will get back to you.


Question

A prominent Indian journalist, Latha Jishnu in recent article has unfolded the myth of India's largest democracy, saying that current BJP setup is abhorrent to secular democracy, and RSS based rule cuts the very roots of democracy in India. In this scenario, how long will the international community believe in unfounded tall claims of Indian democracy. Your comments please! (Tariq Mahmood - SAMAA TV)


Answer

I think the growing extremism and intolerance in Indian society is visible to everyone. Indian maltreatment of minorities, religious intolerance, and extremism are the sad reality of modern India. We see that in an array of cases including the controversy surrounding the Taj Mahal and increasing incidents of lynching by cow vigilantes etc.

Just this year, Amnesty International again condemned the hate crimes against Muslims, in India and I quote:

"The pattern of hate crimes committed against Muslims with seeming impunity - many of them in states where the BJP is in power - is deeply worrying. Unfortunately both the PM and the various CMS have done little to show that they disapprove of this violence. The BJP's campaign for cow protection appears to have emboldened vigilantes groups, who seem to operating in some cases with the tacit approval of state authorities. BJP leaders have ignored, or worse, even justified the attacks at times."

Similar criticism has come from other reputable international human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch. I think the international community is well aware of the myth behind Indian democracy, as is evident from the report above.


Question

It is apparent that US doesn't want peace in Afghanistan, but it is continuously threatening to act against Taliban and Haqqani network. On the other side, Afghanistan is also not serious to negotiate with Taliban. Have we conveyed anything to US that Afghanistan is not lending any solid offer to the Haqqani network?

Secondly, two weeks ago, Pakistani High Commissioner to India met India's External Affairs Minister and it was reported that Indian EAM requested that the visa of Kulbhushan Jhadev's mother be granted, and that Pakistan may take a softer stance on Kulbhushan Jhadev's case. Is there any possibility to grant her visa? (Shahid Maitla - ARY News)


Answer

Resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan is being discussed under the QCG process and we continue to update the media accordingly.

On your second question, it was just a courtesy call, and no specific issue was raised during the meeting. Matters related to Commander Kulbhushan Jhadev, a spy and serving Indian Navy officer, who was caught while perpetrating terrorism, terror financing and subversive activities within Pakistan, are under consideration.


Question

Reportedly, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has criticized the Congress party for echoing Pakistan's point of view on Kashmir. BJP Government has a mandate to suppress saner voices within India that are now acknowledging indigenous Kashmiri movement for self-determination. Your comments please! (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal - Kashmir Post)


Answer

The indigenous Kashmir struggle for the realization of the right to self determination granted to them through the UNSC resolutions does not require any validation. The reprehensible Indian state terrorism in IoK has failed to suppress it. Indian resistance to freedom of speech and diversity of opinion is a warning signal for India itself where growing intolerance and extremism are spiraling out of control. It is high time that the Indian Government realizes that its extremist and hard lined policy of Hindutva has completely failed.

It is also time for the international community to live up to its promises to the Kashmiri people, urge India to put a stop to the gross human rights violations of Kashmiris in IoK and expedite resolution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in line with the UNSC resolutions. This is essential for regional peace and stability. As I have mentioned before, there are three parties to the Jammu & Kashmir dispute. Meaningful and result oriented dialogue under the relevant UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir, is the only way forward for an amicable solution to the Kashmir dispute.

Needless to say, that it was Mr. Nehru, from the Indian Congress Party, who took the issue of Jammu & Kashmir to the UN Security Council.