(2017-12-08) Opening Remarks
Bismillah Ir Rehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum Ladies & Gentlemen!
First a brief round-up of the activities on foreign policy front:
The people and Government of Pakistan have noted with grave concern the move by the United States to shift its Embassy to the occupied City of Al-Quds Al-Sharif, thereby altering the legal and historical status of the city. Such a step constitutes a clear violation of the international law and UN Security Council Resolutions, particularly UNSCR 478 of 1980. It would also sidestep decades of global consensus on this issue, undermine regional peace and security, as well as derail any prospects for a lasting peace in the Middle East. Pakistan renews its call for establishment of a viable, independent and contiguous State of Palestine, on the basis of internationally agreed parameters, the pre-1967 borders, and with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital. It is deeply regrettable that pleas from States across the globe not to alter the legal and historical status of Al-Quds Al-Sharif have been ignored, more out of choice than necessity.
We strongly condemn Indian occupation forces’ violent operation in Kulgam district of Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir that blasted a residential compound resulting in Shahadat of three youth, including Shaheed Mr. Yawar Bashir. Thousands of Kashmiris participated in the funeral of Shaheed Yawar Bashir, chanting pro-Pakistan slogans.
The Indian occupation forces during violent, armed, illegal operations and fake encounters martyred another eight (8) Kashmiri youth including Shabir Ahmed Thokar and a Hafiz-e- Quran Yasir Bashir Mir in Budgam, Kulgam and Sopore areas. Over two dozen defenceless Kashmiris were injured after Indian forces used brute force, bullets and pellets on protesters and damaged over fifteen (15) residential houses.
We strongly condemn the continued detention of Hurriyat Leaders and Kashmiri youth and students languishing in jails with inhumane conditions. We call upon the international community to play its role in urging India to immediately halt bloodshed of innocent Kashmiris in IoK.
The unanimous passing of a Pakistan-sponsored resolution by the committee of the UN General Assembly recently over the right to self-determination for peoples who are subject to foreign occupation, is testimony to the fact that on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, India stands isolated. This resolution is adopted every year for the past four decades and hence signifies yet again that despite India’s abominable record of heinous human rights atrocities against the innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir and its desperate attempts to obfuscate facts by trying to pass off its own crimes against humanity as counter-terrorism efforts, India’s effort at convincing the international community of its version of events has spectacularly failed.
Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahid Khaqan Abbasi visited Sochi, Russia last week to participate in the 16th Council of Heads of Government of Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting on the invitation of Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Mr. D.A. Medvedev.
This was the first SCO Heads of Government meeting that Pakistan participated in after assumption of full membership in June this year. The meeting focused on the strategy, prospects and priorities for SCO’s developmental cooperation.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Prime Minister met Chinese Premier, Mr. Li Keqiang, among other leaders. The Prime Minister congratulated the Chinese Premier on the success of the 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China and his reelection to the Political Bureau as well as of President Xi Jinping as the Party General Secretary. The leaders acknowledged that Pakistan-China partnership is an anchor of strength for regional and global peace and stability.
At the invitation of H.E. Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Hon. Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Foreign Minister visited Baku to participate in the 7th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process.
The US Defence Secretary, General James Mattis visited Pakistan on 4 December 2017. He called on the Prime Minister and the Chief of Army Staff during his visit. General Mattis stated that the purpose of his visit was to find common ground in order to create a positive, consistent and long-term relationship with Pakistan. He emphasized that he was keenly aware of the sacrifices rendered and the lives lost in Pakistan’s fight against terrorism and extremism, and appreciated Pakistan’s Armed Forces for their professional abilities. He also underscored the importance of continuing and opening cooperation for the common objective of eliminating terrorism from the region.
A Reception was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs this morning to celebrate the 33rd SAARC Charter Day. The event was attended by the High Commissioners/Ambassadors/ diplomats from the SAARC member countries and Observer States, representatives of the SAARC bodies based in Islamabad and officials from various federal Ministries as well as journalists and media persons.
His Highness Prince Karim Agha Khan arrived in Pakistan yesterday on a state visit at the invitation of the Government of Pakistan. Welcoming the Agha Khan, the Foreign Minister appreciated his vision for promoting peace and inter-faith harmony. The Agha Khan conveyed his continued support to Pakistan in economic and social development. During his visit he will also call on the President and Prime Minister.
The Mayor of London, Mr. Sadiq Khan, who is on a three-day visit to Pakistan, was welcomed by the Foreign Minister yesterday, who congratulated him on his effective leadership of a cosmopolitan city like London with its multiple demands. The Foreign Ministeremphasized Pakistan’s successes in the economic field. Mayor Sadiq expressed his desire for deepening of relations between the two countries across a wide range of areas including trade, education, culture and the arts.
The 9th Round of Pakistan-Romania Bilateral Political Consultations was held in Bucharest from 4-5 December 2017 where both sides took comprehensive stock of the entire range of bilateral relations.
Pakistan once again became member of the Executive Council (EC) of Organization of Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), for the term 2018-2020, at The Hague at the 22nd Session of the Conference of State Parties of OPCW. All members of the Asia group agreed upon nominating Pakistan as one of their consensus candidates for the four seats allocated for the Asian continent. Since the inception of OPCW in 1997 twenty years ago, Pakistan has retained its seat as member of the Executive Council.
Pakistan has recently been elected to the main policymaking organs of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) during the 17th Session of the General Conference held in Vienna from 27 November – 01 December 2017. In addition, Ms. Ayesha Riyaz, Pakistan’s Ambassador in Vienna, was also elected as the Vice-President of the General Conference. Pakistan’s election to the UNIDO policymaking organs is a further demonstration of the international community’s confidence in Pakistan’s credentials at multilateral fora.
At the 27th Special Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Ambassador Farukh Amil, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, in his statement on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), demanded immediate cessation of violence against Rohingya Muslims and other minorities and urged the Government of Myanmar to allow access to the United Nations Fact Finding Mission in the affected areas, grant immediate, safe and unhindered access to United Nations agencies and their partners for provision of humanitarian assistance in Rakhine State and to bring all perpetrators of violence to justice.
On the auspicious occasion of the 46th National day of United Arab Emirates, the President and the Prime Minister of Pakistan conveyed warmest felicitations on the behalf of the Government and people of Pakistan to His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Makhtoum, respectively.
The Government of Pakistan has expressed grave concern at reports of the second ballistic missile attack on the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It strongly condemns the attack and commends the timely action by Saudi forces to destroy the missile preventing any loss of lives. It reiterates its full support and solidarity with the Government and brotherly people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It voices its condemnation of any threats aimed at the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It demands the anti-Government forces in Yemen to desist from attacks against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Third Round of Border and Boundary Consultations between Pakistan and China was held in Beijing on 29th November 2017. Consultations were held as part of a regular dialogue mechanism between the two sides. During the discussions the two sides focused primarily on mutually relevant issues relating to the Pakistan-China border. Both sides expressed their commitment to further strengthen cooperation in the sphere of border management and border related issues.
At the closing Plenary Meeting of the Third Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-3) on 6th December 2017, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Kenya and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office at Nairobi, Mr. Raza Bashir Tarar was unanimously elected as Rapporteur of the Bureau of UNEA-4 upon nomination by the Asia Pacific Group.The election is recognition of Pakistan’s active engagement in global and regional environmental protection efforts.
Pakistani nationals in Afghanistan are cautioned to exercise extreme vigilance as off-late senior professionals working in different fields have been kidnapped. Pakistanis either considering employment positions or currently working in Afghanistan must take into consideration their personal safety and well being before accepting employment or continuing their residency in Afghanistan.
Pakistanis residing in Afghanistan are also advised to register with the Embassy online via Embassy’s website on the prescribed forms (www.pakembassykabul.com) and to contact at the following numbers/email address in case of any emergency.
Now the Floor is open for Questions
Reportedly, Indian Home Ministry has released data, according to which, Pakistan has violated the ceasefire along the International Border and the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir more than 720 times this year, the highest in the past seven years. As Pakistan only retaliates to Indian ceasefire violations, how do you comment on this? And Reportedly, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has written a letter to his Indian counterpart seeking to bring down the number of ceasefire violations across the LoC and Working Boundary as they had also led to a large number of civilian casualties. Can you confirm? Please share the contents of the letter? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Daily Kashmir Post)
Pakistan has repeatedly raised its concerns about the hegemonic conduct of India, including the unprecedented escalation of ceasefire violations this year by Indian occupation forces at the Working Boundary and LoC in an attempt to deflect the attention of the international community from the continuing Indian atrocities against Kashmiris in IoK.
In 2017, more than 1300 Indian ceasefire violations, the highest ever in the recent past, have resulted in the deaths of 52 shahadats and 175 injured. We have consistently stressed that Indian aggression is a threat to regional peace and tranquility. India claims that Indian troops respond to Pakistani fire allegedly providing cover to infiltrators. Paradoxically, when we stress the need for UNMOGIP to be allowed to function with full freedom (on the Indian side where its movement is very limited), to monitor the ceasefire violations at the LoC and Working Boundary, in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions, India limits its movement and provides limited access. In order to ensure peace and tranquility at the LoC, the mandate of UNMOGIP is crucial.
The Foreign Secretary and DG MO briefed the P5 ambassadors on 12 October 2017. On 20 November 2017, the Foreign Minister addressed a letter to the Indian External Affairs Minister underlining the loss of precious lives which benefits neither side and is a threat to regional peace and tranquility. He urged the Indian EAM to take extraordinary measures to avoid loss of human lives and de-escalate tensions, through the intervention of political leadership to help augment existing arrangements, such as the DG MOs hotline contacts and border meetings, which do not seem to be working. The Foreign Minister’s letter is a testament to Pakistan’s desire to have a peaceful neighborhood which is essential for development of the people.
The Foreign Minister had participated in the Heart of Asia Conference in Baku. There are reports that Trilateral Meeting between Pakistan, Turkey and Azerbaijan also took place at the sidelines of the Conference. Since this is a new initiative by Turkey, what is the significance of this initiative? (Mateen Haider – Bol TV)
At the invitation of H.E. Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Hon. Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Foreign Minister visited Baku to participate in the 7th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia – Istanbul Process and 1st Trilateral Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, Azerbaijan and Turkey held from 29 November to 1 December 2017.
During the Trilateral meeting, the three Foreign Ministers’ expressed their satisfaction on the growing cooperation among their countries, based on the strategic partnership, mutual respect and trust. They also emphasized significant and strategic role of Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Turkey in their respective regions and the existence of enormous potential for developing mutually beneficial cooperation and expressed their strong interest in strengthening trilateral partnership. They reconfirmed their mutual respect and strong support for independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of international borders of states.
The three Foreign Ministers signed the Baku Statement at the end of the meeting.
During the visit, the Foreign Minister paid a courtesy call on the H.E. Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan and held bilateral meetings with Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov, Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan and Mr. Mevlut Cavusoglu, Foreign Minister of Turkey.
Pakistan, Azerbaijan and Turkey enjoy close and cooperative relations, which are underpinned by commonalities of history, culture and faith. These ties are characterized by mutual respect, shared perceptions and common desire to promote peace, stability and development in the region. The mutual support on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, the Nagorno-Karabakh issue and Cyprus is a testimony to the close understanding between Pakistan, Azerbaijan and Turkey. The three countries also share common views on major regional and international issues and cooperate closely in the regional and multilateral forums, including the UN, the OIC and the ECO.
Before the visit of Defence Secretary to Pakistan, the CIA Director had warned Pakistan that if it does not eliminate the alleged safe havens inside its territory, the United States will do everything to destroy them. How would you comment on such statements just before an important visit?
Secondly, please share the outcome of the visit of the US Defense Secretary to Pakistan?
Thirdly, after 70 years, a bust of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah has been recently unveiled at the Lincoln’s Inn, and two scholarships announced by Pakistan’s High Commission in UK. In your view, what purpose would these activities achieve? (Shaukat Paracha – Aaj TV)
It has been reported in today’s media that Pakistan’s Chief of Air Staff has said that Pakistan will shoot down any drone violating its airspace. Is there any policy shift regarding drone strikes inside Pakistan’s territory?
On CIA Director’s statement, we have also seen this unwarranted statement by the US official in response to a media question. Pakistan’s position on the issue of safe havens has been clearly articulated by the leadership many times. We have also stated that having cleared the entire FATA through effective CT operations, the intelligence based operations will continue throughout the country in our own national interest.
Regarding your second question, Secretary Mattis’ visit was part of the regular high level engagement between the two countries to exchange views on bilateral and regional issues. Secretary Mattis held separate meetings with the civilian and military leadership to find common ground on matters of mutual interest, particularly the peace and stability in Afghanistan.
The unveiling of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, bust at the Lincoln’s Inn is a matter of great honor and pride for us.
On drone strikes, our policy is clear and already in public domain. There is no change or policy shift.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson invited other countries to participate in the CPEC on the basis of reaching consensus with the Pakistani side. What is Pakistan’s view point on possible extension of CPEC to other countries? (Tariq Mahmood – SAMAA TV)
CPEC is currently a bilateral project between Pakistan and China. It entails several infrastructure, energy, transport and economic projects. The potential for participation of third countries and investment opportunities is definitely a plus point which would create and enhance linkages with several important regions of the world. Pakistan and China consult each other regularly on all aspects of CPEC. Any decision regarding the participation of third countries will be based on our bilateral and mutual consultations/consensus.
Can you please tell us the technical details of the Travel Advisory which you have mentioned in your opening remarks, i.e., whether they are applicable to diplomats or Embassy officials only, or that to all Pakistanis working and living in Afghanistan? (Syed Mohsin Raza – Asas Group of Publications)
I have already mentioned in the opening remarks that the travel advisory is for all Pakistani nationals in Afghanistan, currently working or considering to take up employment in Afghanistan. They are cautioned to exercise extreme vigilance, and take into consideration their personal safety and well being, as there have been reported cases of senior professionals working in different fields been kidnapped. All Pakistanis residing in Afghanistan are also advised to register with the Embassy. I have given the coordinates in my opening remarks.
Former Chief Minister of IoK, Farooq Abdullah said India cannot get Jammu and Kashmir through war, imploring the US to play the role of mediator between India and Pakistan to resolve the dispute. Your comments please!
Secondly, reportedly, Indian Minister of External Affairs VK Singh said that Pakistan is yet to respond to India’s letter asking for a “sovereign guarantee” of security for Kulbhushan Jadhav’s family. What kind of security guarantee Indian Government is demanding from Pakistan for Kulbhushan Jadhav’s family? (Asghar Ali Mubarak – Daily Mail Islamabad)
Pakistan’s principled position on the Jammu & Kashmir dispute is very clear and consistent. We maintain that the only solution to the J&K dispute is through the realization of the right to self-determination of the Kashmiris by a free, fair and transparent plebiscite under the auspices of the UN. We have welcomed any efforts to make progress in this regard. Unfortunately, Indian belligerence and refusal to implement international obligations continue to make a mockery of the promise made by the UN, and the international community to the Kashmiris.
On your second question, Pakistan has informed India that it is ready to allow the visit of the mother of Commander Jadhav, along with his wife. The visit should happen on 25th December, 2017. A diplomat from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad will be allowed to accompany the visitors. Requisite security would be provided to the visitors.
A Pakistani national named Amir Awan has been arrested in a police operation in Srinagar. In a video message, he has declared that he is from Karachi. Has the Foreign Office requested consular access from Indian authorities in this regard? (Taha Saddique – Vaun)
I have no information on this. I will request our High Commission in New Delhi to ascertain the veracity of this incident, and will get back to you.
There are certain number of Pakistani laborers in Saudi Arabia who have not been paid their dues for the past 8-10 months, and now there Iqamas are due to expire soon. The dues amount to almost Rs 8-10 lacs. You mentioned last time that you have sought a report from the Mission in this regard. Is there any update on these cases? (Aon Sherazi – Such TV)
There are approximately 20-25 lac Pakistanis currently residing in Saudi Arabia. However, all of them are not registered with the Pakistan Embassy in Riyadh or Consulate in Jeddah. You must be aware of the tireless efforts of our Mission and the Foreign Office in dealing with this situation. We have already sensitized the Saudi authorities and raised this matter at the highest level. Earlier also, the Saudi Government promptly responded to our concerns.
Reportedly, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has offered Pakistan government-to-government talks to tackle the issue of terrorism. Have we received any official correspondence from the Afghan Government in this regard? Please comment on Afghan President’s offer?
Secondly, we know the Government of Pakistan’s stance regarding the holy sites, and statements about the territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia. Being an important and key member of Islamic Military Alliance, in the wake of recent acceptance of Jerusalem as capital of Israel by US, how does Pakistan plan to pursue this issue with the US? What role do you foresee of Islamic Military Alliance in this regard? (Essa Naqvi – Dunya News)
In response to your first question, Pakistan has continued to emphasize the importance of meaningful engagement with Afghanistan. In this regard, consistent high-level visits have been emanating from Islamabad to Kabul. The COAS led an inter-agency delegation to Kabul on October 01, 2017. He was accompanied by the Foreign Secretary and D.G. ISI. In the follow-up to that visit five working groups are being formulated on the basis of a proposal made by Pakistan. In this context, President Ghani in his statement at the Heart of Asia Conference appreciated the comprehensive proposal made by Pakistan to enhance cooperation on counter-terrorism, intelligence sharing, military, economy, trade and transit interaction, refugees’ repatriation and connectivity.
On your second question, UN Security Council will hold a Special Session today to discuss this issue. Moreover, OIC is holding an Emergency Session in the next few days, which Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will attend. Our Foreign Minister will attend the Council of Foreign Minister’s Session of the OIC. We will follow the policy that OIC adopts at the end of this Emergency Session.
After Trump’s decision to shift the Embassy of USA to Jerusalem, is there any consideration in the Foreign Office of summoning the US Ambassador? (Anwar Abbas – Waqt News)
What will be the role of Islamic Military Alliance with reference to Al-Quds Al-Sharif?
As I said, OIC will hold its Emergency Session soon. Let us wait for the decisions reached at the OIC meeting.
Last modified: November 22, 2019
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