March 28, 2019| Media Briefing|
Bismillah Ir Rehman Nir Rahim,
Firstly, let me give a brief round-up of the activities on the foreign policy front.
You would recall that India started blaming Pakistan for the Pulwama incident, minutes after the incident happened. Prime Minister Khan offered cooperation in investigation, if actionable evidence was available and dialogue. Soon after the Indian paper was received, we took the following actions:
A 10- member team led by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was constituted to examine the paper and began investigations.
On the law enforcement front, we detained several individuals for investigation. I will share the details later.
On the technical side, we requested service providers, such as WhatsApp to obtain requisite information
The diplomatic corps was informed that investigation continues but preliminary findings reveal that:
There is no linkage of Pakistan with the Pulwama incident.
Involvement of any individual at this stage can neither be confirmed nor denied.
Additional details from India and service providers have been requested
Before this briefing the Foreign Secretary called in the Indian High Commissioner and shared the same details alongwith a request for specific information/ evidence, from India which would clear the threshold of our legal system.
Indian anti – satellite Missile Test has raised concerns globally. Pakistan has been a strong proponent of Prevention of Arms Race in Outer Space. Space is the common heritage of mankind and every nation has the responsibility to avoid actions, which can lead to the militarization of this arena. We believe that there is a need to address gaps in the international space laws with a view to ensuring that no one threatens peaceful activities and applications of space technologies for socio-economic development.
We hope that countries which have in the past strongly condemned demonstration of similar capabilities by others will be prepared to work towards developing international instruments to prevent military threats relating to outer space.
Boasting of such capabilities is reminiscent of Don Quixote’s tilting against windmills.
On 20th March 2019, the Acting Foreign Secretary summoned the Indian High Commissioner to lodge Pakista’s strong protest and condemnations against the acquittal of all four accused, including Swami Aseemanand, (the main perpetrator, belonging to the Hindu terrorist organization RSS) in the Samjhauta Terror Attacks, by the Special National Investigation Agency (NIA) Court. The acquittal of the accused, 11 years after the heinous Samjhauta Terror Attacks makes a travesty of justice and exposes the sham credibility of the Indian Courts. It also belies the rampant Indian duplicity and hypocrisy, where India reflexively levels allegations of terrorism against Pakistan, while protecting with impunity, terrorists who had publicly confessed to their odious crimes.
The Acting Foreign Secretary emphasized that the systemic Indian decision to gradually exonerate and finally acquit the perpetrators, is not only a gross reflection of India’s callous insensitivity to the plight of the 44 families of the deceased Pakistanis, who hoped for justice but it was also reflective of the Indian state policy of promoting and protecting Hindu terrorists. He called upon India to explore judicial remedies to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.
In this regard, on 21st March 2019, the Foreign Secretary briefed the Diplomatic Corps on similar lines, including the historic injustice done to the forty-four Pakistanis who embraced shahadat in the Samjhauta terrorist attack in 2007 in India, with the acquittal of all four perpetrators, including Swami Aseemanand.
Moving forth, the world witnessed another horrific act of terrorism in New Zealand whereby the victims were our innocent Muslim brethren. Pakistan condemned the heinous terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, that resulted in loss of 50 innocent lives, and critical injury to 47 others. The details have already been conveyed to the media via press releases.
Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammad, paid a State visit to Pakistan on 21-23 March 2019 on the invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Prime Minister Tun Mahathir was accompanied by a high-level delegation, including several leading businessmen. The Foreign Office has already issued detailed Press Releases, on the subject so I will not go into details.
Foreign Minister undertook a bilateral visit to China from 17-21 March. During his visit, he attended the First Pakistan-China Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue, addressed Political Parties Forum on CPEC and participated in the ruling parties’ dialogue between PTI and CPC.
Now moving towards positive developments vis-a-vis the region, we dwell in – on 14March 2019, the first meeting to discuss the modalities and the draft Agreement for facilitation of pilgrims to visit Gurudwara Kartarpur Sahib, using the Kartarpur Corridor, was held at Attari, India in a cordial environment. Both sides held detailed and constructive discussions on various aspects and provisions of the proposed agreement and agreed to work towards expeditiously operationalizing the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor. Technical level discussions also took place between the two sides. It was agreed to hold the next meeting at Wagah on 2 April 2019, preceded by a meeting of the technical experts of both sides on 19 March 2019, at the proposed zero points to discuss the technical details.
Resultantly, on 19March 2019, the meeting between technical experts of Pakistan and India took place at the Zero Points of the Kartarpur Corridor. The meeting was held in a positive and constructive environment. Both sides jointly surveyed the coordinates of the Zero Point and discussed the technical details, including Finished Road Level, High Flood level etc. The two sides agreed on some technical aspects/ details and expressed the hope to finalize the other modalities at the earliest.
On 22nd March 2019, Foreign Minister attended the Emergency Meeting of the OIC Executive Committee convened in Istanbul, at the initiative of Turkey, the current chair of the OIC. While addressing the gathering, the Foreign Minister expressed Pakistan’s strong condemnation of the heinous 15 March 2019 terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
He lauded the valor of Shaheed Dr. Naeem Rashid, who challenged the terrorist in complete disregard for his own life, saving the lives of many others. Foreign Minister also expressed grave concerns over the use of Islamophobia and Xenophobia as vehicles for narrow political gain. The meeting concluded with a unanimous call that the OIC must play a proactive role in countering demonization and denigration of Islam and Muslims and adopt a comprehensive strategy in this regard. During the Emergency Meeting, Pakistan also submitted a number of proposals to counter such heinous crimes.
On 25 March 2019, Foreign Minister and Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission participated in the 4th Session of the Pakistan-European Union Strategic Dialogue, held in Islamabad.
Pakistan joins the international community in voicing its strong opposition and condemnation of the US Administration’s decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over Syrian Golan Heights. This decision represents a serious violation of UN Charter, international law and applicable UN Security Council Resolutions, particularly 497 (1981). It is also a serious blow to the Rule of Law and international norms. Pakistan shares the international outrage and is deeply concerned over the potentially grave repercussions of this decision for the region and beyond. Pakistan calls upon the UN Security Council to take cognizance of this situation and take steps in accordance with the UN Charter.
Lastly, moving towards the grim news pouring in from the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, where Indian atrocities against innocent Kashmiris have intensified.
Since my last press briefing ? on 05 March 2019 -Indian occupation forces, during the so-called search and cordon operations, martyred sixteen (16) Kashmiris, namely Atif Shafi Mir,Irfran Ahmad Rather, AzfarFayazParray, Mudasir Ahmad Khan, Mohammad Riyaz, Aamir Rasool Kaboo, Sabir Ahmad, Showkat Ahmad, Yasir Ahmad Shah, Ali, Hubaib Ahmad, Anwar, Khalid Ahmad, Mushtaq Ahmad, Tahir Ahmad in Pulwama, Shopian, Bandipore, Baramulla, Kupwara and Jammu districts of the Indian occupied territory. Another martyred is a young scholar, Rizwan Asad who was martyred in Indian Policy Custody at the infamous interrogation centre of CARGO in Srinagar.
We impress upon the international community, to urge India, by all means possible, to immediately halt the human rights atrocities in IOK and seek their help in resolving the Kashmir dispute.
Now the floor is open for questions.
Indian External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, sought a report from the Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan on the issue of alleged abduction and forced conversion of two Hindu girls and their subsequent marriage to two Muslims. How has the Foreign Office responded to this Indian intervention in the domestic affairs of Pakistan?
In your opening remarks you mentioned the acquittal of the accused in the Samjhauta Terror Attacks by Indian Courts. What are the legal options available to Pakistan and what steps would Pakistan initiate to raise the injustice in the Samjhuta Terror Attacks at any international forum? (Mr. Mateen Haider – G-TV)
Sir, my question pertains to the alleged forced change of religion by two hindu girls. As per the statements of both the girls, they have accepted Islam on their own will. Your comments please? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Daily Kashmir Post)
Notice had already been taken at the highest level in Pakistan regarding the reports of conversion of these girls in Ghotki and action initiated. The tweets by the Indian External Affairs Minister are a regrettable indication of the desperate electioneering ploys we see in full exhibit in India. Such remarks are sadder, coming from a government which allowed the Gujarat massacre, permitting gang rape of Muslim women and other inhuman atrocities, where pregnant Muslim women were gutted and their unborn children ripped from their bodies. Muslim children were forced to drink petrol before being set on fire. The speakers may have short memories but the world remembers.
India would do well to focus on taking actions, not only against Indian occupation forces in IOK, whose barbaric acts enjoy judicial immunity under draconian laws but also the so-called cow protector mobs, which regularly lynch Muslims with impunity. India should also look into viral social media videos of more than 150 Muslims being brutally beaten and forcibly converted in India. Human rights should transcend politics and gimmickry and sermons, like charity, should also begin at home.
Regarding the question on Samjhuta Terrorist attack, we are analyzing the options and will update you in due course.
Sir, my question pertains to the Indian paper on Pulwama Attack. Is the name of Maulana Masood Azhar mentioned in it?
Secondly, what is the stance of Pakistan on reports of Sharda Peeth being opened? (Ms. Rashida Sial – Abb Takk TV)
Sir, in view of the allegations level led against Pakistan as per the Indian paper, on what basis Pakistan is denying its involvement in Pulwama incident? (Mr. Asim Ali Rana – Ary News)
What specific information has Pakistan sought from India in order to proceed further with the Pulwama incident? Is there any solid evidence in the Indian paper or these are mere allegations? (Mr. Naveed Akbar – AAJ TV)
What message does Pakistan intend to convey to India regarding the Pulwama incident? What was the reaction of the diplomatic community on the initial findings when they were briefed by the Foreign Secretary yesterday? (Mr. Sib Kaifee – Arab News)
I have responded to this in my opening statement but let me reiterate -Firstly, the information provided by India in the shape of a paper, given to us on 27 February is being investigated and no linkage of Pakistan with Pulwama has been found. We have shared the details of the actions that we have carried, including the technical details along with our preliminary findings. We have informed them that we are ready to cooperate and if they have any actionable evidence that would sustain or clear the threshold of Pakistani courts, we are ready to work on that.
The paper mentioned the names of about 90 individuals out of which 1/3rd were repetitions. At the moment, with the information provided by India, there is nothing that links these people mentioned in the paper to the allegations level led against them. There were also some phone numbers shared by India but no linkage of those numbers could be found with Pulwama. We need more information and are ready to cooperate with India in a highly transparent manner. If any information or any evidence is shared by India, you will be informed accordingly.
Regarding the name of Moulana Masood Azhar being mentioned, the dossier does not claim any linkage of Moulana Masood Azhar with the Pulwama incident.
Regarding your question on Sharda Peeth, to the best of my knowledge, no decision has been taken so far. The Foreign Minister has already spoken on this issue and has asserted that a positive environment is required to move forward on all such issues.
Reportedly, US has moved a new resolution in the UN Security Council regarding listing of Moulana Masood Azhar. How do you see this development? (Mr. Muhammad Jaleel, VOA)
The US, with the support of UK and France, has tabled a resolution in the UN Security Council for the listing of Moulana Masood Azhar. Listing is purely a technical issue and the appropriate forum to address this is the UN Security Council 1267 Sanctions Committee. We regret that the resolution has been tabled in the UN Security Council, at a time when the matter is already under consideration by the 1267 Sanctions Committee. Such efforts only circumvent the established process and will weaken the 1267 Sanctions Committee regime. We want to amicably resolve this issue in the 1267 Committee through consultations and with due respect for the Member States. Any action outside the Committee will undermine the integrity of the Sanctions regime and must be avoided. Pakistan remains committed to fulfill its obligations under the UN Sanctions regime.
Reportedly, Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad, US Special Representative for Afghanistan has tweeted in response to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement regarding the Afghan Peace Process. Foreign Office has also issued a clarification on the matter. My question is, there are repeated statements from US and Afghan officials. On one hand they are appreciating Pakistan’s efforts for the Afghan peace process but on the other they are also continuously criticizing Pakistan. How do you see this dichomoty?(Mr. Tariq Mehmood – Hum News)
We have already issued a Press Release on the matter. I have nothing more to add.
There are reports in the media that the Foreign Office has taken a decision of attesting only the original documents and no photocopies of any document are now attested by the Consular Division of the Ministry. The news report further states that this shift in policy was not conveyed to the diplomatic missions in Pakistan. Please clarify your position on this. (Ms. Shumaila Andleeb, APP)
To improve Consular Services, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is shifting from manual attestation system to digital attestation. It initially launched digital QR Code system at the Headquarters with effect from March 5, 2019. QR Code system is a user-friendly digital attestation process, which would lead to expeditious attestation and help to verify the attestation of documents via QR Code scanner. Moreover, the malpractice of forged attestations would be curbed. Digital attestation would also help create paperless environment as the data will be digitally backed. The Foreign Office issued a Note Verbale to all diplomatic missions, in which they were duly informed about this shift in policy, on4 March 2019 (Press Release was also issued on the same date). The Consular Division will upload all the attested copies of the original documents on a portal, from which the diplomatic missions can download as many photocopies as they desire.
India is not only perpetrating widespread human rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir but also banning democratic parties like Jamat-e-Islami. What efforts have you made to highlight these unjust actions? (Mr. Zahid Farooq Malick – Daily Metro Watch)
We have consistently invited India to come to the negotiating table but in the absence of a response from India, it is difficult to move forward.
The recent emergency session of the OIC, held in Turkey, highlighted the growing Islamophobia in the world. What was the outcome of this session and what other steps is the Foreign Office taking, in order to stem this rising tide and project the Muslim world’s positive image globally?
Secondly, the US sought Pakistan’s help in resolving the Afghan issue but now Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad, US Special Representation and otherUS and Afghan officials are criticizing Pakistan. Will Pakistan raise this issue during the visit of Mr. Khalilzad to Pakistan and highlight that if the Afghan government had authority then why did they seek help from Pakistan?(Mr. Faisal Raza Khan – 92 News)
The OIC Council of Foreign Ministers was very successful in highlighting Islamphobia and increasing terrorist attacks against Muslims all over the world. During the meeting, it was recommended to raise this issue at all possible forums, including UN General Assembly. The Foreign Ministers of Pakistan and Turkey are deeply involved in the entire process.
Regarding Afghanistan peace process, it is a very sensitive issue. I would urge all stakeholders to exhibit restraint and respect diplomatic norms in their comments as progress would require careful handling of the process, both diplomatically and publicly.
The Indian court has exonerated all four accused in the Samjhuta Express terrorist attack. What measures has the Foreign Office taken, in order to highlight this gross violation of justice?(Mr. Hamza Khawaja – Media Today)
The Samjhota terrorist attack remains one of the worst terrorist attacks,to date, where 44 innocent Pakistanis and many Indian Muslims lost their lives. The decision of the Indian Court exonerating the accused, including Swami Aseemanand, who had publicly confessed to his heinous crimes in a court of law is tragically disappointing, both for the blow it casts to the families of the victims who have waited for justice for more than 11 years, and the credibility of the Indian courts.
The Foreign Office issued a Press Release condemning the Indian decision. The Foreign Secretary briefed the diplomatic corps on the same. A strong demarche has also been lodged with the Indian High Commission.We will continue to raise this issue and seek justice not only for the Pakistanis who died in that attack but also the Indians who lost their lives.
India has provided names of 90 Pakistani in its paper regarding the Pulwama incident. Foreign Office in its Press Release has mentioned 54 Pakistani who were investigated and that no links connecting them with Pulwama were found. What is the status of remaining Pakistanis in the Indian paper? (Mr. Adeel Warriach – Dunya TV)
The remaining Pakistanis mentioned in the Indian paper could not be identified as there are no details, like CNIC number, mobile number, residential address etc. It is hard to find a person only with a name. 54 Pakistanis were identified who are being investigated. No links connecting them to Pulwama have been found.
As you know, a Pakistani Shakirullah was killed in Jaipur Jail, India on 21 March 2019. Pakistan lodged a strong protest with India. Has India shared any investigations into the matter?
Secondly, Prime Minister of Pakistan in his statements has cautioned about a possible misadventure by India before the Indian elections in May 2019. There are also threats that other prisoners in Indian jails may be harmed like Shakirullah. Your comments please? (Mr. Abbas Jaffar – Daily District News)
Regarding the shahadat of Shakirullah, the Ministry of Interior has lodged an FIR and we have raised the issue with India. We have also stressed upon India to ensure the safety of our prisoners in Indian jails. It is the responsibility of Indian government as per international law.
Pakistan has to appoint a new High Commissioner in Bangladesh. Has any decision been taken?
What is the reaction of Pakistan on the recent tweet by Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad, US Special Representative on Afghanistan against the statement of Prime Minister of Pakistan? (Mr. Shahid Maitla – Bol TV)
The nomination of Pakistan’s High Commissioner in Bangladesh will be announced soon.
Regarding your question on Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad, I have already spoken on the matter and have nothing more to add.
President Trump tweeted that the United States would recognize Israeli sovereignty in the disputed Golan Heights, on Israel’s border with Syria, even though no other country has done so. Sir, in Foreign Office’s opinion, wouldn’t the official annexation of this territory violate international law? (Mr. Ali Asghar Mubarak – Daily Mail Islamabad)
Pakistan believes that withdrawal of occupation forces from all Arab lands, including from Lebanon and Syrian Golan is not only vital for the future of the next generation of Palestinians, but for international peace and security.
Pakistan’s position on the situation in Syria is based on the principles of international law, the UN Charter and the rules of inter-state conduct.
The recent Missile Test by India has raised concerns globally. Pakistan has been a strong proponent of Prevention of Arms Race in Outer Space. Your comments please? (Mr. Shabbir Wahgra – PTV World)
I have already commented on this in the opening remarks.
When is Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad expected to visit Pakistan? (Mr. Ali Hussain –Business Recorder)
The date has not been finalized so far. I shall revert when I have any information.
India is claimin a boost in its military prowess, indicated by their recent Missile Test. Your comments please? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Daily Kashmir Post)
India claims a lot of other incredible things too which should not be taken seriously.
When will Pakistan formally announce that de-escalation has taken place? (Mr. Sib Kaifee – Arab News)
Complete de-escalation has not taken place so far.
Reportedly, Afghan Government has recalled its Ambassador posted in Pakistan in order to protest Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement regarding the Afghan Peace Process. The Afghan government has also claimed that PM Imran Khan has interfered in the domestic affairs of Afghanistan. Your comments please?(Mr. Haider Sherazi – G-News)
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s comments on Afghanistan have been reported out of context in the media, leading to unwarranted reaction from various quarters. In his comments, the Prime Minister had referred to Pakistan’s model where elections are held under an interim government. The comments should not be misinterpreted to imply interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs. Pakistan has no other interest in Afghanistan except to promote peace through an ‘Afghan owned’ and ‘Afghan led’ political process.
Prime Minister of Pakistan has taken personal interest in facilitating the ongoing political reconciliation process and the same must not be misconstrued to undermine the sincere efforts of Pakistan or to create misunderstandings at this crucial stage of the process. Prime Minister of Pakistan understands the plight of brave people of Afghanistan, who have a right to live in peace after four decades of violence and war.
Last modified: November 14, 2019
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