Media Briefing|

(2016-12-01) [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

I would like to first congratulate you all on the advent of Mubarak month of Rabiul Awwal, the 12th day of which we celebrate as EID Miladun Nabi (SAWS) that is the birth of Holy Prophet MUHAMMAD (SAWS).

The current phase of indigenous self-determination movement in Indian occupied Kashmir has entered into the 5th month and is continuing in the face of worst violations of human rights of defenceless Kashmiris at the hands of Indian occupation forces. The world has before it the unending sufferings and misery of those over a thousand Kashmiris, including children, who have been deliberately blinded. I am reminded of a British daily ‘The Guardian’s touching report of 8 Nov. which said: “There is no recorded instance of a modern democracy systematically and willfully shooting at people to blind them.” Let me share with those who may not be knowing what the Doctors in Indian occupied Kashmir said! ‘They expressed their dissatisfaction and rejected, as ambiguous, the report compiled by the Ophthalmology Pathologists in India, suspecting that there is something else about the pellet shots, that is causing insides of the eye to turn into a charcoal-like substance.’

The Government of Pakistan has been insisting on ‘independent fact finding mission to the IoK’ and similar demands from UN High Commissioner in Geneva, OIC and OIC Contact Group’s Members have not been met.

We are deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic plane crash of Brazilian Succor team. The Adviser in his letter to the Brazilian Foreign Minister has conveyed condolences and expressed sympathies.

On other developments, I share with you visit of Switzerland’s delegation for the 9th round of bilateral political consultations on 25th Nov. Swiss delegation, was also briefed on the human rights situation in IoK.

Now the Floor is open for Questions

Question

A few days ago, a Pakistani Naval official talked to media that China will deploy its naval ships/ submarines along with the Pakistan Navy to guard Gwadar port. Is it true? How would you respond on this? (Zhang – Chinese Correspondent)

Answer

I think you should refer this question to ISPR or Naval authorities. I don’t have the details on this.

Question

President-elect Trump has accepted the invitation to visit the fantastic place of fantastic people i.e. Pakistan. What’s your evaluation when he says that he is willing to play a role for the resolution of outstanding issues in the world including Kashmir?

Israel has very close relations with India having economic and defence partnership. Is there any realization among the Gulf region through Pakistan or independent observer that their money is being spent on killing their Palestinians and other fellow Arabs? (Shaukat Paracha – Aaj TV)

Answer

I understand you are referring to the telephonic call between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President-elect Donald Trump. This was a courtesy call by our Prime Minister. You may also recall that our leadership has earlier sent messages of felicitations to the President-elect on his election victory. We attach high importance to our relationship with the US and would like to see it strengthen further. We look forward to closely working with the new administration. The President-elect’s intention to visit to Pakistan would be warmly welcomed.

Pakistan welcomes Mr. Trump’s willingness to play a role in resolving the outstanding issues between Pakistan and India, including the core issue of Jammu & Kashmir.

As to your question regarding India’s relationship with Israel, we do not comment on the bilateral relations between the two countries. However, it may be pertinent to mention that as far as Pakistan is concerned, we have always supported the Arabs in their cause towards settlement of Palestine issue. It is for this reason that we do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Pakistan remains steadfast in its commitment to the Palestinians’ cause.

Supplementary Question

What would you say on the changing stance of Donald Trump about Pakistan? After election, he is apparently changing his stance towards Pakistan.

My second question is that NYT reported that US authorities have raided the Pakistan Embassy and taken some documents. Do you have any information about it? (Gohar Abbasi )

Answer

Let me answer your second question first. There is a fake twitter account which is disseminating misleading information about the Pakistan’s Missions in the United States. We have also issued a statement in this regard last evening. Besides this, we have also identified a number of other such fake accounts, which are spreading incorrect or false information with malicious intent regarding Pakistan and its high offices.

To your first question, as I mentioned that we have longstanding relations with the US. We attach high importance to our relations with them. We look forward to working with the new Administration when it assumes charge of the Office to further strengthen this relationship.

Question

India has carried out gross human rights violations in Kashmir with impunity for the past four months. In this context Adviser and SAPM have briefed representatives of P5 countries many times in the past, but we have seen no condemnation coming from any of these countries regarding Kashmir. Is this because our case is weak or due to any other reason? (Fayyaz Raja – Channel 92)

Answer

Pakistan has been forcefully urging the international community to take note of the genocide and crimes against humanity committed by the Indian occupation forces on innocent civilians, including the women, children, elderly and patients, in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. The Ambassadors of P-5, OIC and the EU have been regularly briefed on the grave human rights situation in IoK. Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States of America, Mr. Jalil Abbas Jilani, had met Ambassador Richard Olson, the former U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the State Department and handed over a dossier containing information on the gross human rights violations by the Indian security forces in IoK.

The Prime Minister had also sent Special Envoys to many friendly countries including the United States to sensitize international community on the issue. We are committed and we will continue to highlight the Kashmir dispute and Indian atrocities on defenceless Kashmiris.

Question

With reference to the Heart of Asia Conference, Adviser Sartaj Aziz called on the Prime Minister this morning to seek guidance on his upcoming visit to India. Can you please share more details about this meeting? Also, are there any prospects for bilateral meetings with his Indian counterpart? (Qasim Nauman – Wall Street Journal)

Supplementary Question

Is Pakistan planning to raise the issue of Kashmir in the Heart of Asia Conference, and during bilateral talks with India, if any? (Khalid Jameel – Abb Tak)

Answer

As to the first part of your question, frankly, I wasn’t there but I can tell you that on all issues of national importance, the leadership frequently provides guidance and direction. This particular meeting may be seen in this context.

As to second question from the two gentlemen, such occasions do afford opportunities for meetings on the sidelines. We have said time and again that Pakistan believes in peaceful neighbourhood and have always stressed the need for meaningful dialogue as the only viable solution to lasting peace. Unfortunately, India has been heightening tension at the LoC and Working Boundary. Its atrocities in IoK are of grave concern to us. We have always maintained that all outstanding issues, including Jammu & Kashmir, should be resolved through dialogue. Pakistan is participating in Heart of Asia Conference as we are committed to contributing towards all efforts and initiatives that are aimed at bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan. Despite all negativity our participation in Heart of Asia Conference is quite significant and should be seen as such.

Question

Regarding Pakistan’s active participation in Heart of Asia Conference, how will it contribute towards revival of peace dialogue in Afghanistan? (Kauser Lodhi – Prime News)

Answer

Regarding the revival of peace process, Heart of Asia is not the same process as QCG. Heart of Asia follows a set of agenda items. This process, comprising 14 member states, takes stock of the progress made each respective year; every member country contributes in its own particular way and in the area of cooperation towards bringing stability in Afghanistan. It is an ongoing process with an aim to incrementally bring about peace and stability in Afghanistan through varied initiatives.

QCG on the other hand is a specific process, comprising 4 members, that aims at establishing peace in Afghanistan through bringing warring factions to the negotiating table. It is an intra-Afghan process. Pakistan remains committed to this process and will contribute as a facilitator in the QCG, along with two other facilitators, the US and China, and make efforts for a lasting peace in Afghanistan.

Question

Indian government has recently stopped Hindu pilgrims from travelling to Pakistan despite the fact that Pakistan had issued visas to them. Your comments please! (Khawaja Nayar Iqbal – Kashmir Post)

Answer

What you are referring are media reports. I don’t have information on that. But let me tell you that there have been visits by the Sikh community last month and thousands of Sikhs have travelled to Pakistan for their religious rituals. People from India have visited the holy places in Sindh as well for religious rites, recently.

Question

According to media reports, Russian Secret Services Chief was in Pakistan recently on a secret trip to meet high-ranking officials of Pakistani government and military, and discuss prospects of Russia’s formal inclusion into CPEC. Do you confirm these reports? Has Pakistan and China agreed to this proposition?

Secondly, can Pakistan unilaterally, and on its own, include other countries into CPEC, when CPEC is primarily a Chinese project? (Shumaila Andleeb – APP)

Answer

Answering your second question first, CPEC is a project of both China and Pakistan. Therefore, both countries will decide as to how and what sort of participation of other countries will be made in CPEC or CPEC related projects. The investment in CPEC has increased to 54.5 billion dollars and pertains to energy, infrastructure and industrial development projects.

To your first question, Russian Foreign Ministry has already issued a statement which is self-explanatory. As far as Pakistan-Russia relations are concerned, this relationship is growing steadily in diverse fields. We attach high importance to our relations with Russia.

Question

Pakistani High Commissioner to New Delhi said that Pakistan will “positively consider” if India, as a host, proposed a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar. India has rejected Pakistan’s offer for talks many times in the past, do you think that this open heartedness from Pakistan is right when India is constantly violating ceasefire understanding of 2003 on LoC? (Amjad Ali – PTV News)

Answer

Pakistan believes in a peaceful neighborhood. Peaceful resolution of all the disputes can make our region prosperous. India has been instrumental in scuttling the SAARC summit and in bringing the bilateral issues in the multilateral arena. Pakistan, on the contrary, despite all the negativity of India is ready to attend the Heart of Asia Conference.

Question

Indian Spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs said that India is willing to show restraint and end cross-border firing provided Pakistan stopped provocative attempts to violate a 2003 cease fire pact. Your comments, pl. (Tariq Mahmood – SAMAA TV)

Answer

I have responded partly to your question in response to Mr. Amjad’s question. I’ll just add that I have also described in my previous interactions with our media that the reason behind attending the Conference is Pakistan’s commitment to peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Question

Has Pakistan changed its policy, as it called for unconditional dialogue with India? (Asghar Ali Mubarak – Daily Mail Islamabad)

Answer

Let me correct you here. Pakistan has always asked for talks without preconditions with India for resolving all the outstanding contentious issues. It was India that has imposed conditionality’s and picks and chooses the issues to be discussed. Our stance remains the same that we must make efforts towards a sustainable and result oriented dialogue that can’t be derailed on flimsy pretexts.

Question

International Hockey Federation has disallowed the Pakistan team to participate in Men’s Hockey Junior World Cup 2016, to be held in India from December 8. While on the other hand, PHF Secretary termed the move ‘pre-planned’ and said that it is all India’s fault to not issue visa to Pakistan’s delegation before deadline. Do you have the exact information regarding the issue? (Sheeba Mahar – Daily SAMAA)

Answer

Our Hockey team applied for the Indian visa on 24 October, 2016. They waited for visas until 28 Nov. 2016 which was the deadline for the confirmation of team’s participation.

Question

After the recent meetings between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Ashraf Ghani on the sidelines of Global Conference in Asghabat, is there any update on the revival of QCG? Also, have the dates of CEO Abdullah Abdullah visit to Pakistan been finalized? (Murtaza Solangi – Capital TV)

Answer

The occasions such as Global Conference on Sustainable Transport in Turkmenistan afford opportunities to hold bilateral meetings on the sidelines. The two leaders had a very cordial meeting and exchanged views on a range of issues of mutual interest, including bilateral and regional matters. The relationship between the two countries has its roots in history, and tied in unbreakable bonds of fraternity and religious affinity between the people of the two countries. In bilateral relations of any countries, it usual that there would be both differences and convergences, which the countries’ leadership take stock of during such interactions.

As to your question on QCG, I have responded earlier also, that it is an intra-Afghan dialogue process in which Pakistan is one of the three facilitators. Our efforts in this regard are ongoing and whenever asked, Pakistan will play its role towards bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Regarding Mr. Abdullah Abdullah’s visit to Pakistan, the dates have not been finalized. He has already announced his intention to visit Pakistan at a mutually convenient time, and we look forward to his visit.

Question

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has once again threatened to use water as weapon against Pakistan. Is Pakistan taking these threats seriously? How far can Modi influence water flows to Pakistan unilaterally, and against the dictates of Indus Water Treaty? What has Pakistan done to involve World Bank in this situation, the latter being the arbiter between both parties? (Saad Umar – Roze TV)

Answer

The Indus Waters Treaty is binding on both India and Pakistan, especially under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 1969. The IWT has an effective dispute resolution mechanism which both India and Pakistan have been utilizing in the past. India has to abide by its international obligations, if it wants to be taken seriously by the international community.

Question

Bangladeshi Prime Minister has announced her intention to visit India to secure defence deals there. This will coincide with Bangladesh’s commemoration of 16th December. How will such deals reflect upon relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh and tip over the precarious strategic balance in the region? (Abid Khursheed – ATV)

Answer

As a matter of principle, we do not comment on the relationship between two sovereign countries. However, a cardinal principle that we believe in is that relations between any two countries should not have an adverse bearing on any other country.

Question

Bilateral meeting with India on the sidelines of Heart of Asia Conference is not confirmed yet. However, are any other bilateral meetings with countries like Iran or Afghanistan planned so far? (Majid Jaral – News One)

Answer

I don’t have any information on this.

Question

My question is with regard to Indian soldier Sepoy Chandu Babulal Chawan, who strayed into our side of LoC during what India termed as surgical strike on Pakistan. Chandu Babulal’s brother has written a letter for Adviser Sartaj Aziz which he will hand over during Adviser visit to India. There have also been reports that Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi has called the appeal from his brother as a humanitarian issue and has promised to help him. What are your comments on this? (Sammar Abbas – Dawn News)

Answer

Regarding a specific tweet by Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, I can’t comment as I haven’t seen the tweet you are referring to. I am not sure if the reference is to those fake twitter accounts, which I mentioned earlier.

I recall such a report about the Indian soldier entering this side when Indian drama of a surgical strike was played out, which Pakistan rejected.

I can’t recall reports confirming his apprehension. This needs to be checked.

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