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Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 09 February 2018

(2018-02-09) [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 Ladies & Gentlemen!

Indian Deputy High Commissioner, Mr. J.P. Singh was summoned to the Foreign Office over the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control on 4th February 2018 in Nezapir, Nikial and Karela Sectors, resulting in the shahadat of two innocent civilians, while injuring seven others, including two children. The Indian forces along the Line of Control and the Working boundary are continuously targeting the civilian populated areas with heavy mortars and automatic weapons.

So far in 2018, the Indian forces have carried out more than 190 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, resulting in the shahadat of 13 innocent civilians, while injuring 65 others. This unprecedented escalation in ceasefire violations by India is continuing from the year 2017 when the Indian forces committed more than 1970 ceasefire violations, resulted in Shahadat of 54 civilians and injuries to more than 200. The ceasefire violations by India are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation.

Indian occupation forces killed two Kashmiris including Rayees Ahmad Ganie (19-year old) and Musharraf Fayaz (10-year old boy) in Shopian in occupied Kashmir, while a young girl Samaya Jan, who has received bullets fired by Indian occupation forces is struggling for life in a hospital in Srinagar. Miseries of the people in occupied Kashmir have increased day by day as Indian occupation forces in Pulwama, Shopian, Islamabad, Kulgam, Srinagar, Baramulla, Kupwara, and Bandipore districts continue to terrorize by illegal house searches, damaging properties and beating the people without any provocation in day and at night. We highly condemn Indian atrocities and brutal acts, and call upon world human rights defenders to stand up for Kashmiris in IOK.

We are deeply saddened and shocked at the death of a Chinese national Mr. Chen Zhu, shot by unidentified assailants, in his vehicle, in Karachi on 5th February 2018.

Pakistan condemns the killing in the strongest possible terms. We are committed to taking all possible measures to apprehend the culprits and carry out a thorough investigation against the perpetrators of this crime. Pakistan attaches great importance to the safety and security of the Chinese nationals in the country.

His Majesty King Abdullah II, along with a high-level delegation is visiting Pakistan on the invitation of President Mamnoon Hussain. During his stay in Islamabad, His Majesty the King of Jordan would hold talks with President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.The visit would provide an opportunity to explore ways and means to further strengthen cooperation in diverse areas of mutual interest, particularly expanding bilateral trade and enhancing investments in Pakistan. The visit of His Majesty King Abdullah II has given a new impetus to the existing fraternal bonds between the two brotherly countries.

The Secretary General of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), H.E. Mr. Rashid Alimov visited Pakistan from 5-6 February, 2018. This marks the first visit of SCO Secretary General after Pakistan's full membership in SCO. He called on the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Minister for Communications, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission and the Foreign Secretary. In his meeting with the Secretary General, the Foreign Minister thanked him for facilitating Pakistan's bid for SCO membership. He said that Pakistan shares deep rooted historical and cultural links with the Member States of SCO. Its membership creates an opportunity for connectivity of critical overland routes for trade and energy in the SCO region.

A high level Pakistani delegation comprising senior civilian and military officials led by Foreign Secretary of Pakistan visited Kabul on 03 February 2018 to hold discussions with their Afghan counterparts, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai, on Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) - a joint action plan for cooperation in the areas of counter-terrorism and reduction of violence, peace and reconciliation, refugees repatriation and joint economic development. The meeting was held in a cordial environment and both delegations made some progress on the APAPPS. There are still important areas to be discussed and agreed upon, and both sides remain committed to continue their discussions to reach an agreement on the APAPPS. The next meeting will take place on February 9th (this afternoon) and 10th 2018 in Islamabad.

We are deeply concerned over media reports of a missile attack by Houthi militia towards Khamis Mushait on 5th February 2018. Pakistan denounces the repeated missile attacks on Saudi territory by Houti militia. These attacks pose a threat to the security of the Kingdom and the Holy Places. Pakistan reiterates its solidarity with the Government and people of the Saudi Arabia and renews its commitment to support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as well as to protect its Holy Places.

As you are aware a boat carrying migrants, which included Pakistanis capsized off the coast of Libya on 31st January 2018. As per a Pakistani survivor of the incident, 32 Pakistanis boarded the boat. Any figure circulating in the media except this, is mere speculation. The following is what we know so far:

1. 11 bodies have been recovered and identified and their relatives have been informed.

2. There are 02 bodies that have been found but their identity as of yet has not been confirmed.

3. Identification documents of 5 Pakistanis have been found, out of which one Mr. Rehmat Khan s/o Muhammad Inayat bearing CNIC No.34202-2896695-9, Passport No.VG4106952 is alive. The bodies or whereabouts (if alive) of the remaining 4 Pakistanis are unknown.

4. The 11 recovered and identified bodies will be dispatched to Pakistan, depending upon flight availability, most likely within the next 3 days.

Efforts of the Mission/Ministry

1. 2 officials of the Mission have been permanently deputed at Zawara where the dead bodies and documents were washed ashore.

2. The Ministry has deputed an extra officer from a nearby Pakistan Embassy (Egypt) to help in the identification and repatriation process.

3. An Emergency Libya Cell has been established in the Ministry to oversee and coordinate the identification and repatriation efforts.

4. Necessary funds have already been transferred to the Mission to keep the dead bodies in cold storage and also for their repatriation.

Details of contact person in Embassy of Pakistan, Tripoli, Libya

Muhammad Islam, Charge d'affaires a.i.

Cell: 00218-91-9663346

Cell: 00218-91-3402246

Whatsapp: 0092-332-7968635

Now the Floor is open for Questions

Question

Recently, India launched 104 satellites into space. Out of these, 21 are for intelligence gathering and defence purposes. Pakistan does not have any satellite in space. How do you see this development?

Secondly, India has test-fired its indigenously developed nuclear capable Agni-I ballistic missile. The Agni-I missile has a specialized navigation system, which ensures that it reaches the target with a high degree of accuracy and precision. Does Pakistan possess this technology? How do you see the Indian warfare mindset in the context of regional security? (Mateen Haider - Bol News) (Faisal Raza Khan - 92 News)

Answer

All states have the legitimate right to pursue peaceful uses of space technologies. However, given the dual-use nature of such technologies, it is essential that such pursuits are not directed towards a buildup of destabilizing military capabilities which can negatively impact regional strategic stability. Pakistan has been firmly committed to the avoidance of arms race in outer space.

As for the second part of the question, Pakistan has a robust space programme for peaceful applications and the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) is already operating a communications satellite PakSat-IR.

On your second question, we believe that maintenance of strategic stability at the regional level is a shared responsibility given its link with the objective of peace and development. The best way to promote strategic stability is through mutually agreed restraint measures, avoidance of arms race and the pursuit of destabilizing weapons systems. Pakistan remains committed to a policy of restraint and responsibility. In pursuance of this policy, Pakistan will continue to undertake all necessary measures to deter external aggression in accordance with its legitimate defence needs and region-specific threat spectrum.

Question

What is the exact number of Afghan refugees currently residing in Pakistan, and how many have been safely repatriated? What steps have been taken for their repatriation so far? Also, how are we ensuring that those repatriated do not return back to Pakistan? (Shabbir Waghara - PTV World News)

Answer

The matter of the safe and early repatriation of the Afghan refugees to Afghanistan with dignity remains a fundamental concern for Pakistan. We have repeatedly raised this issue with the Afghan Government and the International community.

Currently there are 1.4 million registered and an equal number of unregistered Afghan citizens living in Pakistan. SAFRON is in the process of finalizing a repatriation plan. We are also engaged with Afghan government, donors and other stakeholders for the smooth resettlement and reintegration of the returning refugees in Afghan society. SAFRON is also working on a visa policy, so that the returnees can have proper visa and documents if they want to come back to Pakistan. To address the issue of illegal crossover from Afghanistan to Pakistan, we are working on effective border controls. Pakistan will encourage and facilitate legitimate travel and trade while curbing illegal movement across Pak-Afghan border. You may seek further details from SAFRON, the line Ministry on the matter.

Pakistan has consistently maintained that Afghan refugees must be encouraged to return to their homeland through creation of necessary 'pull factors' by the Afghan Government, which include provision of housing, employment, well being and other basic amenities, that act as incentives for their comfortable and sustainable livelihood in Afghanistan.

Question

Regarding the recent killing of the Chinese national in Karachi, you said that investigations are underway. However, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal claimed yesterday that India is responsible for Chinese national's killing. What proof do we have of such a claim? If this is true, what measures will Pakistani Government take to raise the matter up with New Delhi? (Syed Mohsin Raza - Asas Group of Publication) )

Answer

Regarding statement by the Minister of Interior please consult his office for more details. However, the Indian State involvement in perpetrating terrorism in Pakistan is a known fact, the most recent example of which is the apprehension of the serving Indian Naval Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has confessed to his involvement in numerous terrorist incidents in Pakistan. It is regrettable that India has so far not given us any reply on how commander Kulbhushan Jadhav was in possession of the passport of Hussain Mubarak Patel, or any details of his retirement from Indian Navy. Also, had he retired prior to his apprehension?

Regarding the Chinese national's killing, it is highly unfortunate and condemnable. We will find the culprits very soon.

Question

A major Indian magazine ''Frontline'', acknowledged that India is engaged in a covert war against Pakistan and that Jadhav's arrest and conviction by Pakistan Army has underlined the need for New Delhi to review its policies. Your comments please!

Secondly, reportedly, Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav is undergoing trial on terrorism and sabotage charges. Can you confirm this report? Under what charges was he held guilty earlier? What will be the repercussions of this trial on his overall case? (Asghar Ali Mubarak - Daily Mail Islamabad)

Answer

Regarding your first question, Indian subversive and terrorist activities against Pakistan are well documented. Pakistan has also raised them with the UN and the international community. Commander Jadhav is just the last case in evidence. India needs to act as a responsible member of the international community and refrain from such activities which are against the UN Charter and inter-state norms and pose a threat to regional peace.

On your second question, Commander Jadhav, a serving Indian naval officer was tried by according to the law of the land in a fully transparent manner by the Field General Court Martial (FGCM) under section 59 of Pakistan Army Act (PAA) 1952 and Section 3 of Official Secret Act of 1923. He confessed before a Magistrate and the Court that he was tasked by the RAW to plan, coordinate and organize espionage and sabotage activities aiming to destabilize and wage war against Pakistan. He was awarded the death sentence which was confirmed by the Chief of Army Staff on 10 April 2017.

He was operating a wide network of terrorism, subversion and terror financing related networks in Pakistan. He will be dealt with, in line with the law of the land, for all his crimes accordingly.

Question

The Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat has said that ceasefire violations at the LoC are unlikely to ebb soon. He further said that Pakistan Army is suffering a lot more casualties and damages than India is on CFVs, implying that Pakistan has not been able to give Indians a 'befitting' reply. How do you comment on Indian Army Chief's statement? (Saad Umar - Roze News)

Answer

Statements like those from their Army Chief are reflective of the current mindset prevalent in India. They are also belied by the situation at the Loc and the WB where in 2018 to date Indian forces carried out more than 200 ceasefire violations, resulting in the shahadats of 13 innocent civilians, while injuring 65 others. This is a continuation of the unprecedented trend of CFVs in 2017 when Indian forces carried out 1970 ceasefire violations, resulting in the shahadats of 54 innocent Pakistani civilians and injuries to more than 200.

The Government and people of Pakistan believe in a peaceful neighborhood, which is essential for peace and development. Cooperation instead of conflict is the only way forward but this needs to be reciprocated by actions not words. Pakistan believes a peaceful neighborhood is the prerequisite for regional development. Our armed forces have shown exemplary restraint but they are fully capable of giving a befitting response to safeguard the motherland.

Question

Thousands of Afghan immigrants that have returned to Afghanistan are being accepted by their motherland due to the security situation in Afghanistan. In this scenario, how will they be stopped from coming back to Pakistan?

Secondly, Chinese companies are growing in Pakistan like mushrooms. While on the one hand, they are helping us, on the other hand, they are involved in abusing Pakistani laws. Your comments on this please! (Salman Hashmi - Forensic Eye)

Answer

Regarding your first question, our stance on Afghan refugees is in public domain. We accord highest importance to the return of Afghan refugees to their homeland with dignity. During the talks happening this afternoon with the Afghan delegation, as well as Foreign Secretary's recent visit to Kabul on 03 February 2018, the issue alongwith the matter of terrorist attacks launched on Pakistan through Afghan territory will be discussed. Any solution to the Afghan quagmire will have to take into account these two important matters. We have a long and porous Pak-Afghan border. Pakistan is committed to effective border management and has so far built border fencing along more than 160 km. Since it is a long border, mutual cooperation is essential to build fencing and develop check-posts on both sides of the territory, to which Pakistan is deeply committed. It is essential that Afghan conflict ends through an Afghan-led peace process. Only through this measure will terrorist sanctuaries and safe havens cease to exist in Afghanistan.

On your second question, I would not agree with your question regarding abuse of Pakistani laws by Chinese nationals. Crimes are committed by Pakistanis in China, which are being dealt in accordance with the relevant Chinese laws. Cooperation does not mean that any one is above the rule of law of the land, either here or there. The strategic partnership between Pakistan and China is long-lasting and beyond such incidents.

Question

A demonstration was held in front of Press Club with respect to Pakistanis currently imprisoned in China. Do you think that the Pakistanis are being held by China in reciprocity due to the recent ATM scandals in Pakistan, in which Chinese were held? Can you give the exact number of Pakistani prisoners currently held in Chinese jails, and categorized their crimes?

Secondly, Chief Minister of IoK Mahbooba Mufti stated on 2nd February 2018 that she wants to open Kargil-Ladakh road and also wants to become part of CPEC. Please comment on the statement! (Fida Hussain - Radio News Network)

Answer

There are 206 prisoners in China, out of whom 195 are serving prison sentence in drug smuggling cases and 11 in other crimes such as dangerous driving, robbery and fraud. There is no linkage between the arrests of Chinese nationals in ATM fraud case, with Pakistani prisoners who are currently held in detention here.

Foreign nationals convicted in heinous crimes such as drug smuggling, murder and rape are sentenced after legal process under Chinese judicial system including evidence, confessions and written statements by witnesses. The Pakistani Missions in China are providing consular access to these prisoners.

Pakistan and China are friendly countries. Our relations are based on principles of mutual respect, trust and non-interference.

On your second question, we are open to talks and dialogue with India on all matters, principally on the core issue of Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir, which must be resolved under relevant UNSC resolutions and the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

Question

Could you please share more details on the recent talks held with the Afghan delegation? For instances, the names of the officials involved during the talks and its agenda? (Khurram Shahzad - AFP)

Answer

The agenda of these talks is regarding Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS), which is a joint action plan for cooperation in the areas of counter-terrorism and reduction of violence, peace and reconciliation, refugees repatriation and joint economic development. The Afghan delegation to Pakistan will be lead by Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Mr. Hekmat Khalil Karzai.

Question

Reportedly, the Foreign Minister of Maldives is in Pakistan. What is the purpose of his visit? How does Pakistan see the recent political crisis in Maldives, and the fact that their Government sent the Foreign Minister first to Pakistan?

Secondly, for the first time in two years, Pakistan led a delegation to India for talks regarding intelligence and counter-terrorism. Can you confirm this visit, and what was its purpose? (Anas Malick - Republic TV)

Answer

Regarding your first question, Pakistan and Maldives have deep and cordial relations, bound by religious and cultural affinity. Maldives is an important Muslim country in SAARC. As a matter of policy, we do not comment on the internal matters of other countries. Pakistan firmly believes that the rule of democracy and constitution must be upheld and allowed to take its course, and supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Maldives as per the UN Charter. During his visit to Pakistan, Maldives Foreign Minister will also call on the Prime Minister.

On your second question, yes I confirm this meeting. It was not a bilateral meeting between Pakistan and India, but was held under the ambit of Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS), counter-terrorism cooperation mechanism under SCO.

Question

Reportedly, a bill has been introduced in the US House of Representatives to end civilian aid to Pakistan. How does Pakistan see this development?

Secondly, reportedly, US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, during his visit to Kabul delivered the message to Afghan leadership that US wants to retain ties with Pakistan. How do you see the statement in the context of future of Pak-US relations?

Thirdly, Pakistanis that were displaced from North Waziristan Agency during operation Zarb-e-Azab and were temporarily residing along the Pak-Afghan border, want to come back to Pakistan, but Afghan authorities are not allowing them. What is Pakistan's position in this regard? (Shaukat Paracha - Aaj TV)

Answer

On your first question, we are closely monitoring the Bill recently introduced in the House of Representatives to end non-defence aid to Pakistan. A similar Bill was introduced in the US Senate a couple of weeks ago. According to our embassy in Washington, these Bills are at preliminary stages and will be considered in the respective Committees. The sponsors of these Bills have a particular mindset, as they oppose international assistance and advocate that the money should be spent inside the country for infrastructure development. While Pakistan has decided not to seek assistance from the US, we would like to place on record that the past US assistance has served the mutual interest of the two countries. This fact has been repeatedly acknowledged by the US officials.

On your second question, we have seen remarks of Deputy Secretary of State in Kabul as well as his recent testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It is a welcome step that senior US officials are publically noting the importance of this long-standing relationship, our contributions against terrorism, especially AQ and ISIS, and our generosity in hosting millions of Afghan refugees. Pakistan has consistently emphasized that we share the objectives of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. We also believe that peace in Afghanistan can only be secured through an Afghan led and Afghan owned peace process that offers incentives for all the Afghan stakeholders. We will continue to support all efforts to this end.

On your last question, I will give a detailed reply after ascertaining details.

Question

Reportedly, 4th Joint exercises of Pakistan Navy Special Services Group and Saudi Navy Special Operations forces have begun on 05 February 2018. Please share details regarding the joint exercise! (Tariq Mahmood - SAMAA TV)

Answer

Pakistan enjoys close defense relations with all countries of the Middle East, under different frameworks. The Joint exercise between the naval forces of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia is a regular feature of our defense cooperation with the Kingdom, to share expertise and exchange knowledge between the two naval forces.

Question

Reportedly, a Chinese delegation is in Pakistan to discuss security related matters of CPEC. Can you give a brief about the intent and purpose of the visit? (Khalid Mahmood - Express TV)

Answer

Let me explain the context of the visit. Four main Joint Working Groups (JWGs) have been established to ensure smooth implementation of CPEC projects: JWG on Energy, Transport & Infrastructure, Gawadar and CPEC Security. The security perspective is discussed in the JWG on CPEC security. Regular meetings of the JWG are held in Islamabad and Beijing. The delegation is in Islamabad to hold the 4th meeting on JWG. The Ministry of Interior is the host. You may get technical details from Ministry of Interior.

Question

Reportedly, US has imposed sanctions on three Pakistanis with links to LeT. What is Pakistan's reaction in this regard? (Rabia Pir - VOA Deewa Radio)

Answer

These are unilateral sanctions by the US and not UN. I will get relevant details and revert.

Question

Have we handed over any high profile terrorists to India? (Anwar Abbas - Waqt News)

Supplementary Question

Reportedly, there was a drone strike in Pakistani territory in South Waziristan and also in Afghanistan. These strikes are counter-productive, especially when Pakistan and Afghanistan are discussing the way forward for peace and reconciliation. Your comments please! (Anas Malick - Republic TV)

Answer

On the first question, no.

On the second question, I have seen reports on social media, but have not received any information from our relevant security agencies.

Question

On the issue of Khalistan, you have previously mentioned that Pakistan does interfere in the internal matters of any other country. On the other hand, Prime Minister Modi openly admits during the visit to Bangladesh of India's involvement in the 1971 debacle, and from Red Fort blatantly interferes in Pakistan's internal matters by stating that he cares for the people of Balochistan. Why is Pakistan quiet, when India openly interferes in our matters? (Auon Sherazi - Such TV)

Answer

There is an essential difference between India and Pakistan, which your question has already elaborated.

Question

There are reports that India will soon take some actions to sabotage CPEC. Please comment!

Secondly, during the recent delegation-level talks between Foreign Secretary and Afghan Deputy FM in Kabul, did Pakistan share any response to Afghanistan's recent information sharing with Pakistan on the Kabul attacks? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal - Daily Kashmir Post)

Answer

You may recall that the COAS led an inter-agency delegation to Kabul on October 01, 2017. During their meeting with President Ashraf Ghani it was agreed to evolve a comprehensive bilateral engagement plan through five working groups. In the pursuance of that understanding, Pakistan shared a comprehensive document titled Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS). On 3rd February the two sides had the first meeting under APAPS. The two sides had discussions on the document and agreed to hold the next meeting in Islamabad on 9-10 February 2018. Pakistan during the meeting offered joint investigation of the recent terrorist attacks in Kabul.

Engagement and dialogue is crucial for the way forward. Despite differences, it is a welcoming development that engagement between Pakistan and Afghanistan is ongoing, of which we are hopeful. We will share the details of today's meetings at the conclusion of Afghan delegation's visit.

On India's attitude towards CPEC, this is nothing new. Statements by Indian leaders are on record in this regard, so is the recent apprehension of Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav. Pakistan is fully cognizant of its external environment. We are fully ready and prepared to ward off any malicious designs against Pakistan.

Question

Iran's Oil Minister has recently stated that Pakistan does not want to implement IP Gas pipeline or import gas from Iran, and that Iran will take Pakistan to International Court of Arbitration. How do you comment on this statement, especially when many such statements are surfacing from Iran in the recent months?

Secondly, it is being reported that Pakistani IDPs temporarily residing in Afghan border areas (inside Afghanistan) were shot dead and threatened by TTP and other terrorist organizations. Pakistan has taken note of this development and requested the Afghan Government to protect Pakistani IDPs and send them back, but this is not happening. What is your comment on this? (Faisal Raza Khan - 92 News)

Answer

Regarding your first question, the line Ministry for IP gas pipeline project is Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources. To the best of my knowledge, the project is still on. Please consult Ministry of Petroleum for further technical details.

On the second question, I will get the requisite details and revert.

Question

Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani has recently hinted that his Government is open to the possibility of talks with militants who accept peace. In your view, how far has the Afghan Government-Hizb-e-Islami model of peace worked in Afghanistan and can it be extended to other militant groups also?

Secondly, do you think that Afghanistan has the enabling environment and necessary pull factors to sustain such models? (Namra Sohail - PTV)

Answer

As I said, Pakistan believes that political process is the most viable solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. We had welcomed the peace deal between Afghan government and the Hizb-e-Islami. We believe it can serve as model to negotiate similar deals with other insurgent groups including Taliban. For this to happen, Afghan Government should come up with a plan of reconciliation.

The peace deal between Kabul and Hizb-e-Islami has exhibited that if the parties are sincere and there is political will then desired results can be achieved and sustained.