(2018-05-03) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.]
We start with a brief round of activities on the foreign policy front:
The OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir held an emergency meeting in Jeddah on 30th April in thebackdrop of recent killings of 20 innocent Kashmiri civilians at the hands of Indian occupation forces. Foreign Secretary, Tehmina Janjua, led Pakistan’s delegation to the meeting, which was chaired by Ambassador Abdullah Al Alim, OIC Special Envoy on Jammu & Kashmir; delegations from Azerbaijan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Niger also participated in the meeting. Ambassador Abdullah Al Alim condemned the recent killing of innocent Kashmiri civilians by the Indian occupation forces and reiterated OIC’s principled position on supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir in achieving their legitimate rights, including the right of self-determination. He emphasized that the conflict should be resolved in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people and the United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions.
Foreign Secretary, Tehmina Janjua briefed the participants on Indian aggression and recent escalation in atrocities against the innocent Kashmiri civilians, gruesome incident of rape and murder of the eight-year-old young girl, AsifaBano, and gross violations of Human Rights in the valley. She rejected such policies of occupation and oppression. She also reaffirmed Pakistan’s diplomatic, moral and political support to the people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Foreign Secretary thanked the OIC for its continued support on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. She said that the unresolved Jammu and Kashmir dispute is threatening the peace and stability in South Asia. She asserted that Pakistan is determined to resolve seventy years old dispute through dialogue.
Mr. Ghulam Muhammad Safi, the True Representative of Kashmiri People, briefed the Contact Group on the Indian policy of rape, loot, torture and kill at will, in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. He submitted a Memorandum on the human rights situation in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir to the Contact Group for onward transmission to the Council of Foreign Minister.
This week, the Indian occupation forces martyred four Kashmiris namely Sameer Ahmad Bhat, Aaqib Mushtaq Khan, Shahid Ahmad Dar and Abid Bashir Bhat in Pulwama and Islamabad areas, thus continuing the reign of terror in the Valley. Indian troops, in their unabated acts of state terrorism, martyred thirty-three Kashmiris, including two young boys, in occupied Kashmir in the month of April alone. In the same month, 762 innocent Kashmiris were injured when Indian troops and police personnel resorted to brute force, bullets and pellets, while 248 of Hurriyet leaders and activists including Yasin Malik, AasiyaAndrabi, Fehmeeda Sofi and many other youth were arrested and put under inhumane conditions. This speaks volumes of India’s high handedness and the atrocities it commits in IoK, with absolute impunity. The international community must wake up to its responsibility of unequivocally condemning these brutal acts of India and call it to account to immediately halt this nefarious bloodshed in the Valley.
The Director General (SA & SAARC), Dr. Mohammad Faisal, summoned the Indian Deputy High Commissioner Mr. J.P. Singh on 27 April and conveyed Pakistan’s condemnation of the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control on 26th April 2018 in Padhar Sector, resulting in the shahadat of 2 innocent civilians (Mr. Nazir and Mr. Rafiq r/o Village Bramla) and injuries to 2 others.
Foreign Minister of Kenya Amb. Dr. Monica Juma met Foreign Secretary, Tehmina Janjua in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 1st May. During the meeting bilateral matters and regional and international issues of mutual concern were discussed. They also deliberated on measures to enhance and diversify bilateral trade as well as promoting people to people contacts.
1 May 2018 marks the seventieth anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and the Russian Federation (former USSR). In the backdrop of multiple recent developments that have seen Pakistan-Russia relations touch historic new heights, the event is being celebrated in both countries with great fervour and zeal.
Pakistan – Russia friendship is fast evolving into a mature partnership. Relations between the two countries are today characterized by mutual trust, commonality of interests, and convergence of views on important regional and global issues. Both countries have similar stakes in durable peace and stability in their common neighbourhood, and harbour shared aspirations for regional development and prosperity.
Pakistan welcomes the historic Summit between President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at Panmunjom on 27 April, 2018 and hopes that it would lead to lasting peace, prosperity, stability, reconciliation and cooperation between the two Koreas as well as in the region.
Pakistan strongly condemns the twin suicide attacks, killing and injuring many other people in Kabul on 30 April. We are distressed and grieved at the loss of precious human lives. 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.
Now the Floor is open for Questions
Yesterday, DG FIA has said in the Supreme Court that he has taken up the matter of Hussain Haqqani’s repatriation with the Americans, but they have said that Pakistan also had one of their people in custody. Who is that person?
Second, National Security Adviser said in a statement that in Afghan war on one hand the Taliban are blaming Pakistan for supportingUS and on other hand the US is blaming Pakistan for supporting Taliban. In this scenario, despite all efforts for peace in Afghanistan, what has Pakistan gained? (Rashida Sial – AbbTak)
Your first question pertains to DG FIA/Ministry of Interior.
Your second question pertains to the NSA.
Two incidents of vehicles of US diplomats involved in crushing the pedestrians and motorcyclists occurred in Islamabad. Don’t you think that they create a hurdle in the way of good bilateral relations of the two countries and also impact on the movement of diplomats in both the countries? (Syed Mohsin Raza – Asas Group of Publications)
Has the Ministry of Foreign Affairs taken any action regarding the incident? Please update us! (Mateen Haider – Freelance Journalist)
There are reports that doctors were also called at the police station to take the medical test of US diplomat but a senior official of the Foreign Office prohibited the doctors from any medical examination of the diplomat. Can you confirm? (Naveed Siddiqui – Dawn News)
In a road traffic accident involving US Embassy’s Second Secretary Mr. Rex Chad Ausburn, a motorcyclist and the co-rider got injured on 29 April 2018. According to traffic police, the US diplomat was driving on Constitution Avenue towards Margallah hills, whereas the motorcyclists came from Marriott Hotel on Agha Khan Road and drove in front of the US Embassy vehicle. According to police, US Embassy vehicle had the right of way. The injured motorcyclists were evacuated to PIMS Hospital and are out of danger. The police, after detaining the US diplomat and his vehicle at the Police Station, secretariat for few hours, and completion of formalities, including verification of the diplomatic status from this Ministry, allowed the US diplomat to leave.
On restrictions of movement of diplomats, discussions are ongoing. We will share when any information comes out.
There are reports that back in December 2017, the CIA attempted to break the jail to release Shakeel Afridi. How would you comment? Second, there are also reports that Pakistan and US can exchange Dr. AafiaSaddiqui with Dr. Shakeel Afridi? Third, has the Dr. Shakeel Afridi been shifted to Adyala Jail from Central Jail Peshawar? (Sib Kaifi – Arab News)
There are reports that US will award Dr. Shakeel Afridi with highest civil award and he will be shifted to Afghanistan in the next four weeks. What is Pakistan’s stance in this regard? (Auon Sherazi – Such TV)
Did US agree to hand over Hussain Haqqani to Pakistan in exchange for Dr. Shakeel Afridi? (Anwar Abbas – Waqt News)
I am not aware of any deal regarding Dr. Shakeel Afridi. The subject of the reported jail break is being dealt by Ministry of Interior.
Reportedly, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo while in Riyadh has said that the nuclear deal has failed to modify Iran’s behaviour. While the fate of the Iranian nuclear deal is hanging in balance, what will be your reaction if the deal is scrapped and again sanctions are imposed on Iran?
Second, Joint statement issued after the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels emphasized Pakistan to close terrorist sanctuaries and to work to prevent financial flows and cross border attacks. What are your comments on this joint statement?
Third, US has delayed its decision to restrict movement of Pakistani diplomats in U.S, till mid-May for further negotiations. What are the efforts that are being made in this regard? Please update us on this issue. (Shaukat Paracha – Aaj TV)
Pakistan believes that the JCPOA represents a very good example of negotiated settlement of complex issues. We fully support the agreement and call upon all parties to continue to honour their commitments, pursuant to the agreement. All countries should trust the competence of the IAEA to provide assurances regarding the implementation of the agreement.
On your second question, Pakistan has taken effective counter terrorism operations in the recent years against terrorists of all hue and colour without any discrimination. There is no organized terrorist presence on Pakistani soil. However, Pakistan’s porous border with Afghanistan provides opportunities for movement of terrorists from either side. We are therefore strengthening border management on our side and hope that Afghanistan and the NATO forces will strengthen border management on the Afghan side. Presence of Afghan refugees in large number in Pakistan provides an opportunity for the terrorists to morph and melt. In fact, Afghan security officials have themselves acknowledged that Afghan Taliban use refugee population for recruitment. We have therefore been emphasizing the need of time bound return of Afghan refugees from Pakistan to Afghanistan.
However, bringing Taliban to the table is the shared responsibility of the international community and all those countries having contacts with Taliban should play a role in persuading them to come to the table.
On your last question, the two sides are in discussion and we hope to resolve this issue amicably.
Reportedly, in Pakistan’s efforts to bring back Dr. AafiaSaddiqui, there is a condition that Dr. Shakeel Afridi may be handed over to US. Is it so? (Khalid Azeem – SAMAA TV)
I have no knowledge regarding the matter.
Reportedly, the Interpol has refused to issue arrest warrants againsts Pakistan’s former ambassador Hussain Haqqani on the grounds that the charges agianst him were political. What are your comments and how will you pursue the case against him after refusal of Interpol? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Daily Kashmir Post)
This question may be directed to the Ministry of Interior/ Federal Investigation Agency, who are the dealing departments.
With regard to Shakeel Afridi, CIA agents came to Pakistan to recover Shakeel Afridi, but our army did well and has taken into custody both CIA agents and Shakeel Afridi. What is your take on that? (Salman Hashmi – Forensic Eye)
Regarding this question, I have already responded.
Currently, who is the Foreign Minister of Pakistan?
Today is Press Freedom Day, someone has written on social media that the people of Gilgit Baltistan can scarify their lives on this country but they have no right to chose their representative, so when will Government of Pakistan grant the people of Gilgit Baltistan the right to choose their representatives? Government of Pakistan claims that it is a disputed territory. If so, because the people of Gilgit Baltistan do not agree to this claim, then why not be given of the rights of disputed territory or when the rights of disputed territory will be granted. (Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)
Prime Minister has the portfolio of the Foreign Minister.
A committee had been constituted, which was headed by Mr. Sartaj Aziz at the end of 2015. It presented its final recommendations last year. These were evaluated by another Committee to overview the recommendation of Gilgit Baltistan reforms. To the best of my knowledge the Committee’s report is in its final phase. The Committee has taken a holistic view of the entire situation is making very sound and comprehensive recommendations which would address most, if not all, the desires of the people of Gilgit Baltistan.
Pakistan also repatriated another Indian prisoner Jitendera on humanitarian grounds today. This was done despite more than 40 Pakistani prisoners awaiting repatriation from India despite completion of all formalities since 2017. Your comments please? (Asghar Ali Mubarak – Daily Mail Islamabad)
What is the update on Pakistan-India humanitarian proposals of exchange of prisoners above 70 years of age, among others? Secondly, reportedly, both countries are engaged in talks through track-II diplomacy. In your view, how it will be useful for the revival of talks between the two sides? (Naveed Akbar – Daily Dunya)
The Pakistan Navy rescued 12 Indian fishermen on humanitarian grounds on a boat which was lost at sea after developing engine trouble. The fishermen thanked the Pakistan and also raised slogans of ‘Long Live Pakistan’. Besides, Pakistan also handed over an Indian national Dalwinder Singh, 23 years old to the Indian authorities at Wagah Check Post, who had mistakenly crossed the border. How will you comment on the continuous humanitarian gestures of Pakistan to India? (Tariq Mahmood – Hum TV)
Pakistan does not believe in politicizing humanitarian issues and exploiting human sufferings for point scoring. Pakistan also released and repatriated an Indian prisoner, Mr. JetindaeraArjanwaran, today, who had completed his sentence in Pakistan, and was suffering from a debilitating blood disease. This step has been taken by the Government purely on humanitarian basis. Mr. Jetindaera was apprehended by the Pakistani security agencies in 2014 under the Foreigners Act and was sentenced to a one-year imprisonment. His sentence ended in July 2014, however, his national status was not confirmed by the Indian High Commission until 4th April 2018 (Almost 3 years after availing Consular Access). Mr. Jetindaera’s case for the repatriation was favourably considered by Pakistan, due to his deteriorating medical condition and he was repatriated today.
Shahzad Roy, a social activist and a known singer, has played a key role in this regard and worked day in and day out with us. His support is well appreciated.
All these steps were undertaken despite Indian conditionality on medical visas, cancellation of visits of Pakistani zaireen and failure of India to repatriate 44 Pakistani prisoners despite completion of all formalities since 2017.
It is easy to indulge in blame game and hold humanitarian issues hostage to politics. It is harder to do the right thing, the humane thing – Pakistan has consistently chosen to not exploit human suffering inspite of some from our own domestic audience questioning the Indian lack of reciprocity. It is for each country to choose the path they wish to take.
Regarding Track-II initiatives, they do take place from time to time. Usually, former Ambassadors, retired Government officials, journalists and the people from academia of both countries take part. They do not have any link with the formal dialogue.
Regarding proposals of exchanges of prisoners, as you are aware that Pakistan concurred with the Indian humanitarian proposal regarding exchange of lists of prisoners above 70 years of age, women and mentally challenged persons. Additionally, Pakistan also proposed exchanging lists of children below 18 years and prisoners below 60 years. Both countries are actively pursuing this matter and hopefully something good will come out soon.
Reportedly, US has extended the deadline of restriction on movement of Pakistani diplomats in Washington till 11 May 2018. Can you confirm? Are any discussions underway to sort out the issue?
Second, reportedly, the diplomatic standoff on the harassment of diplomats between Pakistan and India was resolved through back-door diplomacy. Can you confirm? (ShahidMaitla – Bol News)
On your first question, the two sides are in discussions and we hope to resolve this issue amicably.
On your second question, the issue of harassment of diplomats has been resolved through negotiations between Foreign offices and diplomatic missions of the both countries. It is a success of formal diplomacy.
Can you give assurance on behalf of the Government of Pakistan that Shakeel Afridi will not be handed over to US? Has this issue been raised during the recent meeting of Pak-US officials? (Ali Hussain – Business Recorder)
On behalf of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I can assure you that he is not being handed over to US.
First, despite Pakistan’s complaints to the World Bank, Prime Minister Modi is set to inaugurate the Kishenganga Hydroelectric Project. How will you respond?
Second, Indian media is alleging that Pakistan has sacked the chief prosecutor, who was pursuing the Mumbai attacks case, in a way which was not in line with government authorities. How do you respond? (Mateen Haider – Freelance Journalist)
Please refer your first question to Ministry of Water and Power.
Your second question pertains to Ministry of Interior.
Pakistan is pursuing its arms and weapons technology from different friendly countries. Reportedly, US State Department is pressurizing third countries not to provide Pakistan with the latest technology and weapons.How do you see this aspect as Pakistan is getting assistance in arms and weapons from different friendly countries? (Faisal Raza Khan – 92 News)
Question pertains to Ministry of Defense.
In September this year, under the SCO forum, Joint Military Exercises will be held in Russia. How will this help to improve the bilateral cooperation in terms of defense?
Secondly, we have not been informed about the status of KulbhushanJhadev wife’s shoes. (Rashida Sial – AbbTak)
Shanghai Cooperation Organization provides a useful forum for enhancing mutually beneficial cooperation between its member states. We are committed to playing a positive and constructive role in SCO. Pakistan opposes terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. We have successfully tackled the menace of terrorism on our soil.
The SCO has Agreement on Conducting Joint Anti-Terrorist Military Exercises among the member states to which both Pakistan and India acceded at the time of joining the Organization in June 2017. The exercise ”Peace Mission 2018” is being hosted by Russia under this Agreement. We are prepared to share our experiences with other SCO member states and work together against this common enemy. We hope that SCO will provide an opportunity for both countries to interact for peace and security in the region.
I will get back to your regarding your second question.
In Indian occupied Kashmir, the Indian police assaulted and arrested the Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, Muhammad Yasin Malik, in an injured condition in Srinagar. How do you see the Indian attempts to harass the Kashmiri Huriyat leaders? (Khawaja Nayaar Iqbal – Daily Kashmir Post)
Indian forces have unleashed an increasingly aggressive campaign against innocent Kashmiris in IoK. The recent massacre of Kashmiris that started from the Shopian rampage continues. The Indian occupation forces kill with impunity, safe behind the draconian AFSPA laws. Indian brutalities and atrocious violations of basic human rights of innocent Kashmiris are rewarded by the Indian Government. The recent statement of the Deputy PM of IoK, a member of the incumbent government, terming the heinous rape and murder of 8-year-old Asifa ”a minor incident” reflects the callous, indifference of the Indian Government to the butchery of innocent Kashmiris in IoK. From honoring Major Gogoi, the Indian army major responsible for using a Kashmiri as a human shield, to downplaying the horrific Kathua rape, such steps signify tacit approval of the Indian government, an indication that such brutalities are permissible and that force is the only answer to all issues in IoK. Media reports about a possible Indian decision to deploy NSG commandos in IoK, which is already one of the most heavily militarized places on the planet is further evidence of the same.
It is time for the international community, especially the champions of human right to break their silence and call on India to put an immediate halt to the genocide of innocent Kashmiris being butchered on a daily basis.
Usually Pakistan invites foreign election observers from all across the world particularly the EU and Commonwealth. Whether European Union has shown any interest to send observers for monitoring free and fair elections and is there any communication between Government of Pakistan and the EU in this regard? (Shaukat Paracha – Aaj TV)
Election Commission of Pakistan can provide details in this regard but I am sure that as per past practice international observers from around the globe will monitor the elections.
Last month, Government of Pakistan has issued instructions to all our Missions abroad to gear up for the Kashmir cause with their respective countries. Please update us that how successful was the move? In your view, how the upcoming conference namely ”Friends of Kashmir” will be helpful for creating awareness among international community on the plight of Kashmiris? (Asghar Ali Mubarak – Daily Mail Islamabad)
Lot of work is being done on this subject. I will keep you updated as and when the developments happen.
Manzoor Pashteen movement is being supported by India and Afghanistan. What is Pakistan’s policy to repatriate Afghan refugees safely to their homeland? Has the issue of involvement of India and Afghanistan in PTM taken up with these countries? (Sardar Amir Alamgir – Daily Maddar)
The Afghan refugees return issue is the key agenda of every Pak-Afghan meeting and in our interaction with international partners. Government of Pakistan has always urged the international community to create pull factors in Afghanistan so that Afghan refugees can go back to their homes in Afghanistan.
What is Pakistan’s stance on UN Security Council delegation’s visit to Bangladesh to witness the sufferings of Rohingya Muslims in refugee camps, as we have seen their plight through videos on social media every other day? (Salman Hashmi – Forensic Eye)
Pakistan views the UN Security Council visit to the Rohingya Refugee camps on the border of Myanmar and Bangladesh as an important step towards resolving the Rohingya crisis. Pakistan has been taking a serious view of the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Pakistan has expressed its full support to all initiatives undertaken within the aegis of the UN. We have also raised the issue of Rohingya Muslims at the bilateral level with the Government of Myanmar.
What are the important features of the Commission’s report constituted on Gilgit Baltistan? (Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)
I do not have the details of the said report. It was taken as national cause and a lot of work has been done in this regard. The Government is fully committed to resolve all the problems of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan region.
Last modified: November 22, 2019
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