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Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 10 May 2018

(2018-05-10) [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!

This week has been equally heart-wrenching for us as our Kashmiri brothers and sisters continue to suffer from the heinous and barbaric acts of Indian state sponsored terrorism and human rights violations in the Occupied Valley.

The Government and people of Pakistan have strongly condemned the continuing use of brutal and indiscriminate force by the Indian occupation forces that has resulted in the martyrdom of more than 20 Kashmiris in the last week alone. These include Mr. FayazAhmad,Showkat Ahmad Tak, Adil Ahmad Yadoo (18-year old boy), Fatima Begum, Asif Ahmad Mir (17-year student), Nisar Ahmad Kumar, Sajad Ahmed Rathor (20-year old), Adil Bashir Ghani 28-year (MA Sociology and a school teacher), Zubair Ahmad Negroo, 16-year old 10th class student, Professor Doctor Muhammad Rafi Butt (32) of sociology department of Kashmir University, Srinagar, Saddam Ahmad Paddar (26), Bilal Ahmed Mahand,Adil Ahmad Malik,Tawseef Ahmed Sheikh and Sufail Ahmad Bhat (17) in Srinagar and Shopian areas in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). The Kashmiri youth have been the deliberate target of this mindless killing spree, unleashed by the Indian occupation forces. To stop its heinous face from being exposed, the mobile internet and social networking websites are blocked by the Indian authorities in IoK during violent operations and after every killing in the occupied territory. Despite these efforts, the gruesome video of an armoured car mowing down an unarmed protestor in the valley went viral across the social media, wrenching the conscience of the entire international community.

We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the bereaved families. Our thoughts and prayers are with them as they mourn the loss of their loved ones. The heartless killings of young Kashmiris every day constitute yet another dark chapter in the long inhumane history of India's illegal occupation of Jammu & Kashmir. The world needs to breaks its silence.

The people of Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir continue to endure untold sufferings and face gross and systematic violations of their human rights -- manifest in incarcerations, torture, rape, cordon-and-search operations, use of pellet guns, and extra-judicial killings. Their leaders remain under continued illegal house arrests and detention. For their part, the innocent, unarmed and defenceless Kashmiris stage peaceful protests, which are invariably countered with use of lethal weapons and disproportionate force by the Indian security personnel. Their mass participation in the funerals of the martyrs is a clear manifestation of their defiance, as well as, the determination to free themselves.

Indeed, in the history of past 70 years, it has been demonstrated time and again that the ferocity and inhumanity of India's state-terrorism in IoK is no match to the resolve and resilience of the innocent, unarmed Kashmiri people. India will never be able to break their will. Nor will it succeed in misleading the world community through its malicious propaganda campaign painting the just, legitimate and indigenous Kashmiri struggle for realization of the right to self-determination, as "terrorism."

Pakistan remains in full solidarity with the people of Jammu & Kashmir. Pakistan also welcomes the strong support demonstrated by OIC member states for the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in line with the UNSC resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiris at the 45th Session of OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM), held in Dhaka on 5-6 May 2018. We urge the international community to take cognizance of the brutal repression and massive violations of human rights taking place in IoK and to use its influence with India to bring an immediate end to the culture of impunity that has been fostered there for seven decades.

Pakistan also calls upon the world community to play its rightful role in promoting a just and lasting solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people. We believe this is a sine qua non for durable peace and stability in South Asia.

Prime Minister ShahidKhaqan Abbasi has condemned the escalation of systematic brutalities, killing of innocent civilians, and human rights violations committed by the Indian occupationforces with impunity in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

The 45th Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) concluded in Dhaka on 6 May 2018. The Pakistani delegation was led by Foreign Secretary,Tehmina Janjua. One of the main highlights of the session was the strong support demonstrated by the OIC member states to the just cause of the Kashmiri people through the unanimous adoption of multiple Resolutions and endorsement of the report of the recently held emergency meeting of the OIC Contact Group on Jammu & Kashmir in Jeddah. Both, the Resolutions and the Report, of the Contact Group reaffirm OIC's support for the realization of the right of Kashmiri people to self-determination in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions. The Contact Group report drew attention towards the rise in gross and systematic human rights violations in the Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir, terming them as crimes against humanity.

The OIC position clearly is manifested by the five resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir dispute, which were unanimously adopted on 6th May during 45thCFM by all member states, including Bangladesh. These resolutions reaffirmed Kashmiri people's right to self-determination in accordance with UNSC resolutions and condemned India for human rights violations in IoK.

These five resolutions were:-

Resolution No. 8/45-POLon the Jammu and Kashmir Dispute

Resolution No. 9/45-POLon the Peace Process between India and Pakistan

Resolution No. 3/45-C on Protection of Islamic Holy Places

Destruction of the Babri Masjid in India and Protection of Islamic Holy Places

Destruction of the Charar-e-Sharif Islamic Complex in Kashmir and other Islamic Sites therein

Resolution on Matters Pertaining To The Work of The OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission

Resolution No. 3/45-E: On Economic Assistance to OIC Member States and Muslim Communities in Disputed/Occupied Territories and Non-OIC Countries within the OIC Mandat

On the sidelines of the Conference, the Foreign Secretary met OIC Secretary General, Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Minister of State of Uganda, her counterparts from Morocco, Malaysia, Tunis, Indonesia and heads of delegation of several other OIC countries.

Pakistan strongly condemns the terrorist attack at Voter Registration Centre in a Mosque in Khost (Afghanistan) killing and injuring scores of innocent people on 06 May 2018, and the senseless and heinous terrorist attacks in Kabul yesterday. We are distressed and grieved at the loss of precious human lives. Such blatant terrorism targeting innocent civilians and disrupting way of life has not justification whatsoever. We express our deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives and pray to Almighty Allah for early recovery of the injured. We express our support and solidarity with the people and Government of Afghanistan in this hour of grief.

Separately, a two-day international Seminar on ''The Present and Future of Strategic Export Controls'', organized by the Strategic Export Control Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs began yesterday. The seminar is aimed at reinforcing networking among export control community and strengthening engagements for promoting regional and international cooperation against the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) and their delivery systems. Independent experts and representatives from different regions and countries (including from states which are members of NSG), international export control regimes, UNSCR-1540 Committee, academia and industry are taking part in the seminar.

Pakistan believes that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) represents a very good example of a negotiated settlement of complex issues, through dialogue and diplomacy. We had welcomed the JCPOA when it was concluded and hope that all parties will find a way for its continuation, especially when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly verified Iran's compliance. We have noted the willingness of the parties to the Agreement to work together on upholding their respective commitments as stipulated in the JCPOA, despite US decision to withdraw from it. Pakistan believes that International Treaties and Agreements concluded through painstaking negotiations are sacrosanct. Arbitrarily rescinding such agreements will undermine confidence in the value of dialogue and diplomacy in the conduct of international relations.

Now the Floor is open for Questions

Question

Although Pakistan is a respectable member of the UN, when it comes to having a level playing field, Pakistan is not given its due. We saw this in the recent case of the listing of Khalid Omer Khorasani, wherein Pakistan's proposal to have him listed in the 1267 sanctions committee was rejected in UNSC. What are the options does Pakistan have of tabling this proposal again on this or other relevant forum, and have it approved? (Syed Mohsin Raza - Asas Group of Publications)

Answer

We are aware that the UN Al-Qaeda/ISIL Sanctions Committee did not approve Pakistan's proposal to list Umer Khalid Khurasania.k.a Abdul Wali, the leader of Jamat-ul-Ahrar since it could not reach consensus due to objection by a member.

As the discussions of the Sanctions Committee are confidential, we are not in a position to comment on these deliberations. The Committee has not yet formally conveyed this development to us.

However, we are deeply disappointed over the failure of the Sanctions Committee to list Wali who is a known terrorist and has the blood of hundreds of innocent Pakistanis on his hands. If the organization Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has been listed by the Sanctions Committee, its leader should also have been listed. This action demonstrates the double standards prevailing in the international fight against terrorism and also show complete disregard of the sacrifices rendered by Pakistan in this fight.

Question

You mentioned in your opening remarks that Foreign Secretary represented Pakistan in the recent OIC CFM in Dhaka. Pakistan was not represented by a Foreign Minister. How was this seen in the conference?

Second, there was a news report that Saudi Arabia has issued a relaxation on tourist visa to many countries except Pakistan. What are your comments on that? (Zahid Farooq Malik - Daily Metro)

Answer

On your second question, in principle, we do not comment on news reports. However, we have learnt that the Saudi authorities have denied the authenticity of these reports.

Regarding your first question, as I have already mentioned that Foreign Secretary undertook a very comprehensive and successful visit to the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in Dhaka recently. She met the OIC Secretary General, Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia and Senegal, Minister of State of Uganda and her counterparts from Morocco, Malaysia, Tunis, Indonesia, and Heads of delegation of several other OIC countries. In all of her meetings, she actively propagated the Jammu & Kashmir dispute. OIC also unanimously adopted more than five resolutions on the ongoing human rights atrocities in Jammu & Kashmir by Indian occupation forces. The ummah stands with the Kashmiri people.

Question

US authorities extended the restrictions to be levied on Pakistani diplomats till 11 May 2018. Now that it is 11 May tomorrow, could you please tell whether the restrictions will be enforced or not?

Second, has Pakistan issued instructions or any travel advisory to our diplomats in Kabul?

Third, reportedly, Pakistan has decided to take up the issue with the UNHCR to restrict Afghan refugees from taking part in political activities, especially participating in the PTM rallies. Can you confirm? Please elaborate! (Rashida Sial - AbbTak)

Answer

Regarding your third question, refugees are not allowed to take part in political activities. Pakistan follows this policy for Afghan refugees as well.

On your first question, the restrictions will be implemented on 11 May and these will be on a reciprocal basis. However, negotiations are ongoing between the two sides, on the matter.

Regarding the question on any travel advisory for Pakistani diplomats in Afghanistan, I am not aware of any such thing. I will check details in this regard.

Question

Reportedly, at the OIC CFM meeting in Dhaka, Bangladeshi Minister called for reforms in the OIC that can pave the way for countries like India, to get an observer seat in the OIC. What is Pakistan's position on any possible inclusion of India into OIC?

Second, with regard to listing of Omer Khorasani, could you please tell as to which country did not support Pakistan in this proposal? (Shaukat Paracha - Aaj TV)

Answer

Regarding your second question, one country opposed the Pakistan's proposal, but I cannot name it as the proceedings are confidential.

Regarding your first question, India cannot get representation in the OIC in any form. India, as an aggressor state is responsible for the massive Human Rights violations of the Kashmiri Muslims over last 70 years. There are numerous OIC resolutions condemning Indian atrocities in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IoK). So, how a country that is already violating the OIC resolutions can become a part of that organization?

India's inclusion in OIC as an Observer state has never been on OIC agenda. Any statement by the Bangladesh's Foreign Minister was given in individual capacity and doesn't reflect the principled stand of the OIC.

Question

Will the IP gas pipeline be affected after the recent US withdrawal from US-Iran nuclear deal? (Kausar Lodhi - Prime News)

Answer

Please consult Ministry of Petroleum, which is the line Ministry in IP gas pipeline. Both Pakistan and Iran are in talks on the matter.

Question

First, you have mentioned before that one of the objectives of Pakistan's foreign policy is to project Pakistan's positive image. In this respect, tourists are instrumental in projecting Pakistan in a positive light to their countries. However, there was news yesterday that a Malaysian tourist was deported from Islamabad airport. In your view, will it not affect Pakistan's prospects of engaging in an effective foreign policy?

Second, on 06 May a seminar was held on the status of Gilgit Baltistan in which it was agreed that the report constituted under the Chairmanship of Mr. Sartaj Aziz may be made public. Your views please! (Fida Hussain - Radio News Network)

Answer

On your first question, Ministry of Interior is the relevant Ministry in this regard. However, I will also try to ascertain facts in the matter.

On your second question, you may please get an update on the matter from Mr. Sartaj Aziz.

Question

My first question pertains to US-NATO alliance. Since it is very active to counter the Russian influence, what is Pakistan's stance on this alliance, as they recently sent the second military fleet from Virginia to Moscow?

Second, reportedly, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has confirmed that due to Afghan Government helicopters firing, 36 madressah students got killed last month. Would you like to make a comment on this? (Salman Hashmi - Forensic Eye)

Answer

On your second question, this issue has already been addressed in my earlier briefing. It is important to underline that in any military or counter-terrorism operations, the rules of engagement should be adhered to avoid civilian casualties, particularly those involving women and children.

Regarding your first question, Pakistan's relations with Russia or the US are not at the expense of each other. Whereas, our engagement with Russia is expanding, our relationship with the US and NATO remains equally good.

Question

Is there any review of visa policy by Saudi Arabia on tourist visas issued to many countries except Pakistan?

Second, there are reports that a large number of Pakistani are being deported from Saudi Arabia. Do you confirm these reports? (Aizaz Syed - Geo TV)

Answer

On your first question, as I have said earlier that we have learnt that the Saudi authorities have denied the authenticity of these reports.

On your second question, as per the statistics given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, the total number of Pakistani diaspora in Saudi Arabia is around 2.7million in 2017, whereas it was 2.6 million in 2016. The quoted figures are therefore not accurate.

Question

Indian media reported that some Indian officials have expressed their willingness for dialogue with Pakistan. Recently, we have witnesses that LoC and WB violations from India have also subsided. Is this a result of any Track-II or Track-III diplomacy between the two countries? (Abid Khursheed - ATV)

Answer

You are aware that Track-II Diplomacy recently happened in the form of Neemrana. However, there is no formal/official dialogue currently between the two countries. This expression of interest in dialogue from any Indian officials is news to me. Our position remains constant. We are ready to engage in unconditional dialogue with India on all issues, including the core Jammu & Kashmir dispute, Sir Creek, Siachen and terrorism.

Question

What is Pakistan's stance on Trump's recent withdrawal from Iran-US Nuclear deal? Also, since EU is confronting US on this unilateral withdrawal, will Pakistan be supplementing or discouraging the US decision?

Second, now that US has granted the agre'ment of Mr. Ali Jahangir Siddiqui, when will he assume charge? (Shahid Maitla - Bol News)

Answer

Regarding your second question, the Agre'ment has been received and the process has started in this regard.

On your first question, Pakistan believes that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) represents a very good example of a negotiated settlement of complex issues, through dialogue and diplomacy. We had welcomed the JCPOA when it was concluded and hope that all parties will find a way for its continuation, especially when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly verified Iran's compliance. We have noted the willingness of the parties to the Agreement to work together on upholding their respective commitments as stipulated in the JCPOA, despite US decision to withdraw from it. Pakistan believes that International Treaties and Agreements concluded through painstaking negotiations are sacrosanct. Arbitrarily rescinding such agreements will undermine confidence in the value of dialogue and diplomacy in the conduct of international relations.

Question

With the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and Saudi Arabia recently hinting at launching its own nuclear program, how does Foreign Office see the recent turmoil in Middle East and what constructive role is it playing in this regard? (Zahid Mashwani - ARY News)

Answer

I have already elaborated in detail our stance on the issue.

Question

Reportedly, the Afghan Ambassador to India has blamed terrorism 'from across the border' as responsible for the recent killing of journalistsin Afghanistan. Would you offer any comment on the statement? (Saad Umar - Roze News)

Answer

As regards the killing of journalists in a terrorist attack in Kabul, Pakistan has condemned it as an act of blatant terrorism and expressed solidarity with the Government and people of Afghanistan. We believe that terrorism is a common enemy of both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan itself is a victim of scourge of terrorism.

In any case, it is a violation of the third country principle by Afghan Ambassador in India to use a third country's soil for blaming Pakistan. Afghan Government should take notice of this.

Question

You just mentioned about rules of engagement in battleground in the context of Afghanistan. Can it also be implemented in the case of Yemen, where on the funeral of President Saleh, a bomb blast killed 50 civilians? (Anwar Abbas - Waqt News)

Answer

It is a principle of International Humanitarian Law and should be implemented globally.

Question

Has Pakistan taken up the matter of Afghan authorities' involvement in encouraging PTM rallies official with the Afghan Government? (Naveed Akbar - Daily Dunya)

Answer

I have replied to this same question last time. It is an internal matter of Pakistan.

Question

Regarding Omer Khorasani, what other options does Pakistan have, and what course it will take in the future? (Khalid Azeem - SAMAA TV)

Answer

I have already responded to this question.

Question

What is your take on recent escalation in the Middle East between Iran-Israel-Syria? (Ali Hussain - Business Recorder)

Answer

Pakistan has consistently maintained that JCPOA must be upheld and that dialogue is the best way forward in the resolution of disputes.

Question

I have raised the matter earlier of Foreign Secretary using two government vehicles illegally while benefitting from monetization policy, reports that you denied earlier. However, this time we have got a video also to prove our point. Can you explain? (Auon Sherazi - Such TV)

Answer

I have no information of the matter and will check.

Question

Reportedly, some activists of Hindu extremist groups, involved in the incident involving Pakistan's founder's picture at Alligarh Muslim University, have placed his picture in public toilets. Moreover, AMU founder Sir Syed Ahmed Khan's portrait also disapparead from the PWD state guest house. How do you see this development? (Khawaja Nayaar Iqbal - Daily Kashmir Post)

Answer

We have seen reports of the unfortunate controversy and resultant clashes regarding the removal of the Quaid's picture in the Aligarh University. Traditionally pictures of all life members are displayed in the University. The Quaid's picture has been displayed in the University since 1938.

There are also reports of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan's picture being replaced by that of PM Modi in Khair Town Guest House, Aligarh. This is in sharp contrast with the tolerance in Pakistan where the pictures/statues of Gandhi, continue to be displayed at the Islamabad Monument museum.

The row over the picture's display on the demand of a member of the incumbent government indicates the growing intolerance, xenophobia and prejudice, especially against Muslims and Pakistan in India and is very dangerous, most of all for India itself. It also reflects the fanaticism rampant in Indian society being fuelled by those in power.

Question

Pentagon has said in a statement that Pakistan can do more to help US fight the war in Afghanistan. What are your comments on US' ''do more'' mantra? (Tariq Mahmood - Hum TV)

Answer

Pakistan and the US do share the common objective of peace & stability in Afghanistan. Issues facing Afghanistan are internal to Afghanistan. Pakistan as a neighbour can only support the Afghan government and the US in their efforts towards lasting peace and development in Afghanistan.

Question

Reportedly, a high-level meeting of various security agencies of India and Pakistan was held at Attari border on 06 May 2018 to discuss anti-smuggling operations. Can you confirm? If so, please share agenda of the meeting! (Amjad Ali - PTV News)

Answer

Our authorities have informed that it was an internal meeting of Indian authorities and not a bilateral.

Question

Reportedly, a Pakistani woman Nasreen Akhtar, jailed in Amritsar, is awaiting approval from India's Interior Ministry for her release. She was convited 11 years ago, and has completed her sentence. What is the update on her case? (Asghar Ali Mubarak - Daily Mail Islamabad)

Answer

Nasreen is suffering from stomach tumor and liver malfunction. She also has high blood pressure and blood sugar and cannot walk on her own for long and is confined to a wheelchair. Nasreen's ailing 90 years old aged mother wishes to see her reunited with her family. Our High Commission has paid her fine and completed all procedural formalities from our side.

Our Mission is in constant touch with Indian authorities not only for her repatriation but for the repatriation of more than 40 other Pakistani prisoners who await return to Pakistan due to delay on the Indian side.

You will recall that Pakistan repatriated Mr. Jitendera, an Indian prisoner on compassionate grounds just a few weeks ago. We expect India to demonstrate similar sensitivity to humanitarian issues on their side.

Question

Reportedly, senior military officials of Pakistan and Afghanistan have met in Quetta to discuss security issues, focusing on border management. Can you share the details of the meeting? (Shabbir Waghra - PTV World News)

Answer

Senior military and civilian officials of the two countries met in Quetta last week to strengthen coordination on border management and counter-terrorism. The two delegations had in-depth discussions about the measures to strengthen border controls on the porous border between the two countries with a view to prevent cross-border movement of terrorists, smugglers and criminal mafia.

Question

Pakistan often criticizes the gross human rights violations by India in IoK while it does not criticize the human rights violations in China where Muslims are suffering in Xinjiang. This is when certain videos of lynching of Muslims in China have gone viral on the social media. Have we taken up this issue with the Chinese side?

Second, the US is still not paying Pakistan around 9 billion US dollars under the Coalition Support Fund that Pakistan has spent in the war against terrorism. What other options does Pakistan have for reimbursement of CSF? (Syed Mohsin Raza - Asas Group of Publications)

Answer

All issues of mutual interest are under discussions with the US, including this one.

Regarding your first question, I am not aware of any such thing and it seems propaganda.

Question

There is debate in the Indian media that Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Geelani may be imprisoned for life. What are your comments on this? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal - Daily Kashmir Post)

Answer

It is a reprehensible act and we strongly condemn it. The Hurriyat leadership has either been under house arrest or imprisoned in jails, facing inhumane conditions on one flimsy pretext or the other. They are being implicated in false and baseless cases. We have repeatedly maintained that the wishes of the Kashmiri people in line with relevant UNSC Resolutions, and their aspirations, must be realized. India will never succeed in its nefarious designs of subjugating Kashmiri legitimate struggle for self-determination.

Question

According to media reports one Iranian diplomat is missing in Lahore. Can you confirm it? (Bahadur Hussain - IRNA)

Answer

I will get back to you after checking details.