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Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 19 July 2018

(2018-07-19) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.]

Opening Remarks

Bismillah IrRehman NirRahimAssalaamAlaikum

Let me begin by giving a brief round of activities on the foreign policy front:

Terrorist attacks in Balochistan and KP last week have left the entire nation in deep mourning. We offer sincerest condolences to the bereaved families and pray for the speedy recovery of those injured. Let us offer Fateha for the departed souls. We are thankful to brotherly and friendly countries for condemning these attacks and offering condolences to the Pakistani nation. The Pakistan nation stands resolute in the face of such criminal acts and it committed to ensure the holding of free fair elections for smooth political transition.

It appears, as if, the long shadows of pain and suffering have engulfed Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir unleashed by those in power in India. Last week, Indian occupation forces killed three innocent civilians including Khalid Gafar Malik (20 year old), teenagers Andleeb Jan, Irshad Ahmad Lone and Shir Ahmad Khanday in Kulgam, Pulwama and Terhgam districts. Over a thousand Kashmiri youth came out on the streets to protest the brutal killing of Khalid Malik; several protest demonstrations were held in Government degree college, Kupwara. Indian occupation authorities have asked Kashmir cable operators to immediately shut private satellite channels in the Valley, in a bid to stifle electronic media coverage of Indian atrocities. The Kashmiri struggle for self-determination cannot be turned off by these nefarious tactics of India and its infamous occupation forces.

We also strongly condemn the summoning of Kashmiri journalist Aaqib Javaid Hakim to New Delhi by NIA for questioning. Hakim is not the only Kashmiri journalist to be intimidated by NIA. Another freelance photojournalist Kamran Yusaf has been detained without charge by NIA, since September 2017. The global media organizations, namely International Federation of Journalists and Committee to Protect Journalists denounced the harassment of Aaqib Hakim. We have yet to recover from the tragic assassination of veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari. Such acts against journalists are not a good omen.

We also condemn the 30-day judicial remand of Ms. Aasiya Andrabi and her two associates at the notorious Tihar jail in a fake case framed against them by NIA. The conscience of the international community needs to be shaken condemn India's brutal human rights violations in the strongest terms and urge India to immediately halt the bloodshed and allow an early plebiscite in the valley.

We all know that OHCHR Report on Kashmir has greatly upset the Indian efforts to project that all is well in Indian occupied Kashmir as it is the first report of its kind that acknowledges and documents India's widest human rights violations in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Now, the UN Secretary General has also endorsed the report, which is another blow to India's farcical constructs about IOK.

Moreover, Indian attempts to call this Report a motivated and ill-intended piece of work has been vociferously denied by the UN. The UN calls India's allegations, without proper examining of the report, deeply disappointing. India has failed to address the very serious concerns raised by OHCHR report on grave human rights violations in IoK. OHCHR has also categorically denied the alleged contact between Human Rights Commissioner and one, Mr. Zafar Bangash. OHCHR is disturbed by the sustained Indian attempts to distract and divert the focus from human rights atrocities in IoK. Pakistan welcomes the visit by the Commission of Inquiry, as recommended in the report, to both AJK and IOK.

Separately, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Abdullah Hussain Haroon, received Major General Mohammad Bagheri, Chief of General Staff of Armed Forces of Iran who visited Islamabad from 15-17 July 2018.

The Foreign Minister has donated the entire salary of his tenure as Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Fund-2018 for the construction of ''Diamer Basha and Mohmand Dam.''

On the initiative of the Russian Federation, a consultative meeting on the International Activities of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was held on 12 July 2018 in Moscow at the level of Deputy Foreign Ministers. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Igor Morgulov' Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation. Pakistan's delegation was led by Mr. Zahoor Ahmed, National Coordinator for SCO. The meeting reviewed SCO's cooperation with UN bodies and regional organizations as well as observer states and dialogue partners. Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister also addressed the meeting. The meeting emphasized the need for closer cooperation among the Member States on international and regional issues of common interest.

It is with deep sorrow that I announce the sudden death of Mr. Hassan Abid, a resident of Sargodha and a Fulbright scholar at University of Texas, on 17 July. The cause of death remains unclear, so far. The Consulate has made all possible efforts for the early repatriation of his mortal remains.

On a happier note, we are proud of Pakistan Army Cadet Sheroz Shahid, who has secured the Overseas International Medal at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, UK, for excellent performance in training, education and physical fitness displayed during the training period.

Now the Floor is open for Questions

Question

Please share the technical details of Pakistan's reply to International Court of Justice (ICJ) in case of Commander KulbhushanJadhev? What is required of Pakistan to effectively present the case of Commander KulbhushanJadhev who was involved in sabotage and espionage in Pakistan (Syed Mohsin Raza - ASAS Group of Publications)

Supplementary Question

Reportedly, India has inaugurated the office of ''Free Balochistan'' at New Delhi on 23rd June 2018. Do you confirm this news? Isn't this another blatant indication of India supporting anti-Pakistan elements openly? How do you respond? (Asghar Ali - Mubarak, Daily Mail)

How strong is our case against India regarding Commander KulbhushanJadhev at ICJ?(Khawaja Nayyer Iqbal, Kashmir Post)

How compulsory is it for Pakistan to implement the decision of ICJ regarding Commander KulbhushanJadhev? (Mazhar Iqbal, Freelancer)

Answer

Regarding the question on Commander KulbhushanJadhev, let me remind you that India took the case of Commander Jadhev to ICJ last year. After provisional hearing, India was given a chance to submit its reply. Pakistan then submitted its reply on 13 December 2017. This was followed by the submission of second replies, first by India and then by Pakistan on 17 July, 2018. Our response (17 July) was submitted by Dr. FarehaBugti, Director (India) and Mr. Waseem Shahzad, First Secretary at our Mission in The Hague. With this counter-memorial from our side, the submissions of both sides are complete. Now, the formal hearing will begin.

The counter-memorial is a purely legal document containing comprehensive details regarding Commander Jadhev. It has a step-wise response to all Indian objections in the case.

Todate, India is unable or unwilling to provide answers to many key questions regarding Commander KulbhushanJadhev: a) Why Commander Jadhev possessed a passport in the name of Hussein Mubarak Patel? If the passport was fake, how could he travel out of India 17 times, including from Mumbai and New Delhi? If it was real, how could he be in possession of a passport in a fake name? b) If he was retired, as per Indian claims, why did India fail to produce his retirement or pension papers? etc.

Alhamdulillah, our case against India, regarding Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, at the ICJ is very strong. He was caught red-handed on our soil, being involved in espionage, subversive and terrorist activities. Since we had nothing to hide, and as a part of a humanitarian gesture, the Foreign Office arranged the meeting between Commander Jhadav and his mother and wife, at Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 25 December, 2017. We have dealt with the case in a transparent manner.

On Mr. Mubarak's question, I have seen the media reports you refer to and shall try to ascertain the facts. However, Indian interference in Pakistan is an established fact. Indian statements threatening the territorial integrity of Pakistan are on record, indicating their hegemonic designs. Inauguration of such an office is only reflective of India's nefarious designs against Pakistan.

Pakistan is fully equipped to defend itself against such nefarious designs. India needs to act as a responsible member of the internationalcommunity and desist from such actions.

Question

The Ulema Conference on Afghanistan concluded last week. What are the salient features of the Makkah declaration?

Second, the declaration indirectly advises Taliban from steering away from 'dogmatism, fanaticism and sectarianism', terming terrorist acts as non-compliant with the Islamic teachings and traditions. In your view, is declaring Taliban and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan as un-Islamic, a major take-away of the Conference?

Third, Taliban have rejected the Makkah declaration and replied that peace cannot prevail in Afghanistan until the occupying forces leave. In your view, what are the peace prospects in Afghanistan after this? (Shaukat Paracha - AAJ TV)

Supplementary Question

According to the latest figures released by UNAMA, the number of civilians killed in Afghanistan hit a record high in the first half of this year. This is despite many regional and international efforts of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. Your comments please! (Saad Umer - Roze TV)

Answer

The Declaration is available online. You may refer to it.

As per my understanding the Declaration did not declare anyone as terrorists. It rather focuses upon condemnation of terrorism and the killings of Muslims, declaring them Haram as per the Holy Scriptures. It calls on the Muslim States to play their due role for peace in Afghanistan. It also persuades all parties involved in the conflict to abide by Allah's injunctions to end the conflict and resort to reconciliation among brothers.

I won't comment on Taliban's response to the Declaration of OIC Ulema's conference. However, I would like to highlight our stance on terrorism and suicide bombings. You are aware that 1829 highly revered ulema of Pakistan issued a fatwa against terrorism and suicide bombings. We believe no justification whether religious, political or ideological, can justify terrorism and killings of innocent civilians.

On the questions regarding civilian deaths in Afghanistan, our position on the futility of the kinetic approach in Afghanistan is very clear. We have been consistently saying that the pursuit of a military led approach in the past seventeen years has failed and it has only added to the suffering and miseries of the Afghan people. In our view, the afflictions and agony of Afghan people can only be addressed through a major shift in policy and renouncing violence by all sides and pursuing political settlement to the conflict.

Question

Reportedly, NATO Secretary General has announced that the alliance will maintain its presence in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future and will keep financing the Afghan forces till 2024. How do you analyze the financial commitment to the Afghan forces, while NATO itself is facing severe financing issues? How will it impact the peace prospects in Afghanistan? (Rashida Sial -AbbTak)

Answer

Without commenting on the NATO statement, I would like to draw your attention to the statements emanating from Afghan and the US sides about making the timeline of withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, a part of the overall agenda of peace talks with the Taliban. We believe flexibility over stated positions on either side would facilitate kick-starting a peace process in Afghanistan. In this regard, we should also keep in mind the earlier statements of President Ashraf Ghani about the vitality of continued foreign support for sustenance of Afghanistan.

Question

India has tested the Supersonic Cruise Missile Brahmos, as a joint venture with Russia. How do you see the Indian pursuit of arms race in South Asia?

Second,an Envoys Conference was held at Ministry of Foreign Affairs this week, but nothing was shared with the media. In your view, is it the mandate of the caretaker Government to give directives to Foreign Office and its Envoys, and if so, what instructions were given?(Mateen Haider -Bol TV)

Answer

We have repeatedly reiterated the need for restraint and responsibility and the avoidance of an arms race in South Asia. The increasing buildup of nuclear and conventional forces by India is undermining strategic stability in the region. In the case of Brahmos, the joint development of the missile system raises questions about conformity with the MTCR guidelines and the MTCR non-proliferation objectives, to which India professes adherence.

On your second question, Envoys Conference is a regular mechanism of consultations within the Foreign Office.

Question

You mentioned the visit of Major General Mohammad Bagheri, Chief of General Staff of Armed Forces of Iran to Pakistan. Has Iran shared any information regarding Commander KulbhushanJadhev who entered Pakistan from Iran?

Second, according to international media reports, India has seen 25 cases of missing or stolen radioactive material in the past decade, attributed to theft and other mysterious circumstances. How do you comment on this? (Anas Malik - Republic TV)

Answer

Regarding the visit of Iranian Chief of General Staff of Armed Forces to Pakistan, our Press Release is in the public domain. I have already spoken on Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav.

Regarding the reports of missing or stolen radioactive material in India, the reports are a matter of concern, since they could have implications for global nuclear security. In the latest incident, if the material involved was indeed uranium, then it points to the existence of criminal networks dealing in nuclear materials and also raises questions about the market for such material and possible motivations of the recipients. Against the backdrop of rising Hindutva inspired nationalist extremism, there is a need for the relevant authorities to adopt strict nuclear security measures to prevent such occurrences at every cost. We expect the international community to be alive to the situation and not sidestep nuclear security concerns for political considerations or commercial interests.

Question

It has been reported in New York Times, quoting Afghan officials and Taliban Spokesperson, that Taliban has ordered the insurgents to stop suicide attacks in the country. Do you think the current decline in the terrorist attacks reflects this? (Muhammad Jalil, VoA Urdu Service)

Answer

I have no information regarding that. I am aware of the ceasefireduring the days of Eid-ul-fitr.I can gather details and revert.

Question

On the day of second Anniversary of Burhan Vani's Shahadat in Jammu and Kashmir, our Permanent Representative at UN arranged a Film Festival. Has the Ministry sent a show-cause notice to our PR in UN?

Second, as per the security reports, recent terrorist attacks in Mastung and Peshawar have been launched from Afghanistan. Do you confirm?

Third, there are reports that the RAW's station Chief in Afghanistan was killed a few days ago. What are your comments? (Aon Sherazi -Sach TV)

Answer

Regarding our Permanent Representative in the United Nations, let me repeat what I said last week also. Our leading Missions in the world, including that of UN, actively highlight the Kashmir issue at all times. The Jammu & Kashmir dispute is the cornerstone of Pakistan's foreign policy.

The Film Festival that you mentioned spanned over several days. The dates of the event were pre-determined by the availability of the Asia Society, the prestigious venue where the films were shown. The film festival served to project Pakistan's rich culture and soft power, which is one of the major functions of Pakistan's diplomatic representatives abroad and helps to build diplomatic support for Pakistan and enable it to win elections at the UN, as it has done so in the past.

Burhan Wani is a Kashmiri hero- one of over 100,000 killed in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. However, his death anniversary has not been declared as an official day of mourning. Our Mission in New York continues to proactively and regularly raise the Jammu & Kashmir dispute and the cause of Kashmiri people at every forum, and consistently receives appreciation from APHC leaders. The twitter account of Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi and our Mission in NY's website is a testimony to this. On the first working day after Burhan Wani's death anniversary, the Kashmir issue was raised in the world's highest diplomatic forum, the UN Security Council, as part of our continuing activities to promote the Kashmir cause.

Regarding recent terrorist attacks, the investigations are ongoing. I will share its details when made available.Terrorism is a serious problem. The whole Pakistani nation is facing this menace with exemplary bravery, courage, perseverance and fortitude.

On RAW Station Chief's death inAfghanistan, I have read social media reports. I will check on it and revert.

Question

Reportedly, In Avenfield ApartmentsReference case, Foreign office's help is sought by concerned departments to contact British authorities. Has the Foreign Office initiated any work in this regard? (Adeel Waraic - Dunya News)

Answer

I have no information about it. However, I will gather more details.

Question

Speaker Gilgit-BaltistanAssembly came to our radio station yesterday and said that Gilgit-Baltistan may be granted status of a temporary Province. Moreover, he said that the areawas not a part of Jammu & Kashmir anymore. Your comments please! (Fida Hussain - Radio News Network)

Answer

The people of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir are our brothers and sisters. We are putting all efforts, within the constraints of UNSC Resolutions, to ensure development in both the places. Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir were a part of the state of Jammu & Kashmir, as it stood in 1947 and where the UN administered plebiscite is to take place.

Under International Law and as per the directives of the UN Security Council, the final disposition of the State of Jammu & Kashmir shall be made as a result of a free and fair UN-administered plebiscite, wherein the Kashmiris will decide their fate in accordance with their basic right to self-determination. The legality of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in rooted in these binding UNSC Resolutions.

Question

What is the update on Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG)on Afghanistan? Is it still intact? When will be its next meeting? (Ali Hussain - Business Recorder)

Answer

There are numerous mechanisms for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. QCG is one of them. It continues to exist, though I am not aware of any upcoming meeting. I will get back to you after getting the details.

Question

Reportedly, Australia has released anambitious pro-India strategy, which aims to include India in the priority list of export market, destination for Australian FDI and evolving a strategic partnership with India in the coming decade. How do you comment on this? What is the status of current Pakistan-Australia bilateral relationship?

Despite the human rights violations by India in Jammu and Kashmir, it is given the best destination status for investment by the Government of Australia. Do you think that it is also reflects weakness of our Foreign Policy? (Tariq Mehmood - Hum News)

Answer

It speaks volumes on the part of Pakistan's strong Foreign Policy and active diplomacy that OHCHR has published a report on the Human Rights violations by India in IoK, which has subsequently been endorsed by the UN Secretary General, despite Indian hefty efforts to prevent it from going public. The Indian allegations regarding the report have also been firmly rejected by the OHCHR in a detailed response.This is a milestone, which has been achieved as a result of relentless efforts of our diplomats around the world, which must be acknowledged and appreciated.

Regarding your question on Pakistan and Australia relations, they are growing and are underpinned by deepening people-to-people links. Development in the economic and trade components of the relationship thus far achieved is not commensurate with the growing cooperation in other fields; agriculture, security and counter-terrorism etc. We need not view our relationship with Australia in the paradigm of India only. Pakistan and Australia are engaged on multiple fronts. The senior officials from both sides have been discussing the ways and means to further broaden the relationship.

Question

Although elections are going to be held this month on 25 July 2018, unfortunately a lot of banned outfits are campaigning for votes, which also includemany people from Schedule - IV. Do you not think that their campaign creates more difficulties and troubles for Pakistan at different forums, including FATF?

Second, there is Pakistan-Afghanistan-Turkey trilateral mechanism on Afghanistan.In your view, will it be revived, and if so, when will its next meeting be held?

Third,during the recent Trump-Putin Summit, the football Telsta-2018, which was made in Sialkot, Pakistan, was highlighted. This made us all proud.How do you see football as an effective tool of diplomacy,as it is enthusiastically played and watched around the world? (Faisal Raza Khan - 92 News)

Supplementary Questions

Reportedly, Turkish Ambassador in Pakistan hasheld meetings with officials on the eve of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's return to Pakistan.Do you think Turkey is playing any role in brokering adeal? (Rashida Sial - AbbTak)

The people in Schedule IVare contesting elections here, while those fighting for their rights in Gilgit-Baltistan are being jailed and put in Schedule IV. Is it not a direct violation of the human rights? (Fida Hussain - Radio News Network)

Even in Islamabad, the pictures and banners of Hafiz Saeed are displayed as part of election campaign. How it will impact Pakistan internationally? (Ejaz -

Answer

The questions on election campaigns and Schedule IV are related to Election Commission to Pakistan and Ministry of Interior, while those on FATF pertain to Ministry of Finance. Please refer your queries to them.

I will check the updates regarding the next meeting of Pakistan-Afghanistan-Turkey trilateral mechanism.

Regarding football Telsta-2018 made by Pakistan, is a huge success that has resonated in the world of sports.It is a proud moment for people of Pakistan, the sports industry and the men and women who worked day and night in its production. It is a moment of huge success and pride for us.

Ms. Sial's question is speculative and does not warrant a response.

Question

As you know, July 19 is being observed in IOK as the day of Jammu &Kashmir's accession to Pakistan. UN has also adopted its resolution on the J&K dispute. The EU parliament also passed a resolution in this regard.For many observers across the world, EU resolution yields more importance than the UN resolution.What are your comments? (Asghar Ali Mubarak-DailyMail Islamabad)

Answer

I have repeatedly said that the OHCHR report is a huge success and we welcome its recommendations for establishing Commission of Inquiry in both Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Indian occupied Kashmir, to ascertain the facts on ground.

Question

Did we take up the issue with the Government of Afghanistan as there are reports that the linkages of the recent terrorist attacks in Balochistango back to Afghanistan? (Bashir Chaudhary - Channel 24)

Answer

The investigations are currently underway. I will share the details soon.

I have been asked repeatedly about another issue, which is the blasphemous cartoon contest to be held in the Dutch Parliament in December this year. I will respond to it now.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken specific steps to lodge protests at all levels. Foreign Minister Abdullah Hussain Haroon has written to Secretary General OIC asking for collective OIC action to register protest of OIC countries with Dutch authorities. The Ambassador of the Netherlands was called to also register a protest on the announcement by Geert Wilders. The EU Ambassador who represents 28 European countries was also called to the Ministry to also register a protest. We have conveyed our condemnation of this deliberate attempt to vilify Islam. We should respect each other's religious beliefs and sacred personalities; such incidents should not go unpunished as they intentionally provoke sentiments of Muslim communities across the world and incite intolerance and violence.

Pakistan will work closely with other OIC member states to raise this issue with the Dutch authorities.