Media Briefing|

(2016-08-11) [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!

The entire Pakistan was saddened by the horrific terrorist attack in Quetta on Monday, 8th August, which took precious lives of more than 70 innocent people and scores were injured. Let us offer Dua for them.

We remain concerned at the continuous blatant violation of human rights in Indian Occupied Kashmir against hapless Kashmiris by Indian armed forces.

The unfortunate incident of disappearing of the helicopter over Afghan territory with the fate of six of its crew members remains unknown till date.

Today’s day, that is 11th August, is of special significance. It has been dedicated to our fellow citizens belonging to various religious beliefs and values. Let’s wish them a very happy day.

The entire nation looks forward to the commemoration of the 70th Independence Day of Pakistan on 14 August with full zeal and fervor, Insha’Allah! I wish to congratulate all of you and your families on this auspicious occasion in advance. Let us pray for the continuous development and prosperity of Pakistan. May Allah bless our beautiful country and guide us to serve it with complete devotion and dedication, Ameen!

Now the Floor is open for Questions

Question

What is the response of the international community towards our outcry on human rights violations in the Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK)? (Zarghoon Shah – Geo TV)

Supplementary Question

The West usually basis its relations on human rights issues, why are they turning a blind eye to human rights atrocities in Indian Occupied Kashmir by the Indian forces? (Essa Naqvi – Dunya TV)

Answer

The OIC and SG OIC have condemned the brutal killings of innocent and defenceless Kashmiris in IOK, who are struggling for their right to self-determination. OIC’s Independent Commission for Human Rights while condemning also urged the Indian Government to immediately end the brutalities. The international community, including a number of NGOs, have condemned human rights violations in IoK. The UN Secretary General has taken note of the situation and regretted the loss of dozens of lives and injuries to many others. The US State Department Spokesperson has also expressed concern at the violence and loss of lives. Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed concern at the casualties and noted that Kashmir issue is left over from history. Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister conveyed his deep sadness and reaffirmed importance of peaceful resolution on the basis of UNSC resolutions. Turkish Foreign Minister expressed serious concern over the latest situation in IoK and conveyed support for the realization of the fundamental rights of the Kashmiri people on the basis of relevant UNSC resolutions.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also expressed concerns on the recent situation in the IoK. A number of International newspapers and magazines have also given intensive coverage to the deteriorating human rights situation in the IoK.

Question

Has the Government of Pakistan extended the date for repatriation of Afghan refugees from December 2016?

(Kauser Lodhi – Prime News) Supplementary Questions

The curfew in Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK) has now crossed one month and it is the longest curfew ever. Human rights violations are continuing under the curfew and the media blackout. What is Pakistan doing in this regard? (Shahid Maitla – ARY News)

After 15th August 2016, India is pulling out its border security force and other paramilitary forces from occupied Kashmir and replacing them with regular Indian army units. This will lead to further violations of human rights. Is Pakistan taking this up with the world? (Anwar Abbas – Waqat News)

Answer

I think we recently extended the date of repatriation. You can have more details from SAFFRON.

Pakistan has condemned the killings and blatant human rights violations in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir by Indian forces. Indian forces have unleashed a reign of terror which is deplorable and condemnable. We have called upon the international community to play its role in ending the bloodshed in the IoK and ensure medical treatment of the injured people, particularly, Kashmiris suffering from eye injuries due to the use of pellet guns.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan has called upon the international community to provide medical treatment to the victims of Indian brutality. The Prime Minister also conveyed Pakistan’s unequivocal support in arranging best available medical facilities. Considering the universality of human rights, we expect that the international community will raise its voice against blatant human rights violation. There should not be any impunity for human rights violations. We have called upon the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights to send a fact finding mission to the Indian Occupied Kashmir.

Regarding this specific question, we have been raising the issue of the presence of over 700,000 Indian army in Indian occupied Kashmir. This makes the highest concentration of army to civilians in any part of the world. We have continuously raised the atrocities perpetrated by this huge army on helpless and innocent Kashmiris with impunity, because such laws have been enacted for occupied Kashmir that enable Indian army personnel to get away with any crime and are never prosecuted for human rights abuses.

Question

US is reportedly once again defending its spy Mathew CCraig as it did in Raymond Davis case? What is the status and whether Mathew will be allowed to go? (Shaukat Paracha – Aaj TV)

Answer

The visa for Mathew Craig Barrett was issued by our Consulate in Houston, while obviously he was allowed entry by Immigration officials at the Islamabad airport. The matter is under investigation for fixing responsibility and to prevent such occurrences in future. Ministry of Interior is in contact with us and in all such matters the Ministry extends full cooperation. For further details please contact Ministry of Interior.

Question

Regarding the August 08 Quetta terrorist attack, CM Balochistan has said that Indian Intelligence Agency RAW is behind terrorism in Balochistan. Can you confirm if the Indian elements behind latest attack are part of Kulbushan Yadav’s admitted network of RAW? (Amjad Ali – PTV)

Answer

Investigations are under way. As you are aware that Indian Intelligence agencies have remained involved in subversive and terrorist activities in Pakistan, especially, in Balochistan and Karachi. The confession statement by a serving naval officer, who was apprehended by our law enforcement agencies has indeed vindicated Pakistan’s claim. The confession has led to significant success in rounding up elements of the network. However, investigations are continuing. Involvement of foreign elements, working in cahoots with their local contacts in the condemnable terrorist attack in Quetta, which took a huge toll on the lives of innocent people, cannot be ruled out.

Question

About stranded Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia. We are receiving complaints that the stranded Pakistanis are not receiving 200 Riyals as promised in the previous briefings. They are still vulnerable as the Saudi government is also not providing any help, specially the company who are unable to facilitate the stranded. (Tariq Siyal – Daily Times)

Answer

I have given a very detailed briefing many times on it and you have also written an article based on my response earlier.

If you can point out which camp is hosting the individuals you talked to, we may be able to reach them. Our Ambassador has visited each and every camp, our Consul General has visited all the camps in Jeddah and Our Community Welfare Attaches in Jeddah and Riyadh are also regularly visiting these camps. We have tried our best and we have been negotiating and urging the companies involved. These are private companies who are facing financial difficulties because of which they are unable to pay their employees, so it has nothing to do with the government of the brotherly kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In fact the Saudi government has extended very good cooperation to us regarding Pakistanis who are facing the difficulties. Our Ambassador has met the Foreign Minister and the Labour Minister of Saudi Arabia, who have been very supportive and gave assurances to us. They have said that those Pakistanis whose contracts have expired and their contracts have not been renewed then they don’t have to worry.

Secondly, they said that if these Pakistanis are on valid contract visas and they are not getting their pay, and they are able to find another job elsewhere in Saudi Arabia, we will have no objection in their nakhal kafala (transfer of sponsorship). Those Pakistanis who want to go back would be allowed to return. However, most Pakistanis have decided to stay back till they get their dues from their respective companies. Some of them have also filed claims in the courts.

There are other companies which are also facing these problems. Besides our Pakistani workers there are thousands of other countries’ workers who are in the same situation. The King has issued a decree for the companies to settle the dues of their employees. Just recently, the concerned minister has ordered the company to take all measures to give relief to their workers.

They had problems related to medical facilities and issues related to food. Our embassy worked tirelessly to facilitate all that through the companies. The policy of companies who promised 200 riyals for each individual to meet their monthly food requirements was continued by the Pakistan government when companies stopped it.

The Prime Minister not only directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide all possible assistance, he ordered financial assistance to the families of the stranded in Pakistan.

There are 2.6 million or more Pakistanis who are working in Saudi Arabia, while around ten thousand are facing these problems due to financial problems of the private companies.

Question

President Ashraf Ghani is again giving hostile statements maligning Pakistan. He has said that Afghanistan has good relations with all its neighbors except Pakistan. I fail to understand the reason why the leadership exhibits so much hostility against Pakistan when we have given the maximum sacrifices for Afghanistan. Their statement are same in tone and nature as that of Indian and US statements. Your comments please. (Tariq Mahmood – SAMMA)

Answer

In the past too, questions have been raised when hostile statements have been given against Pakistan at various levels in Afghan government. It is very unfortunate and I have said previously also that these hostile statements are not helpful and serve those who do not want to see peace in Afghanistan.

As far as Pakistan is concerned, we share the longest border with Afghanistan and we have been hosting Afghan refugees for the last 35 years. We have been trying our utmost to play our part in bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan. Peace in Afghanistan is vital to Pakistan and is in our interest. We have been trying our best to facilitate peace in Afghanistan and have welcomed, participated in and encouraged all such efforts. I can only say that these statements, wherever they are coming from, whatever their composition and whatever their tone may be or whether they may be resembling the statements given by some other countries, we are seriously concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and working seriously towards peace in Afghanistan because peace and stability in Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s interest and it also helps peace and stability in the region.

Question

The Pakistani High Commissioner in New Delhi was summoned by the Indian External Affairs Ministry regarding allegedly a person named Mr. Bahadar Ali on terrorism charges. What is Pakistan’s take on Bahadar Ali, who India says is an infiltrator? (Samar Abbas – Dawn News)

Question

India is claiming that consular access has been offered to the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi. Your comments. (Ali Hussain – Business Recorder)

Answer

Our statement was very clear on this issue. We strongly reject Indian claim of any cross-LOC infiltration. Pakistan remains committed to the policy of not allowing its territory for any terrorist activity against anyone.

We are ourselves the victims of terrorism. I don’t need to repeat the immense losses we have suffered in terms of losses to the innocent lives of our own citizens, infrastructure and economy. No nation has suffered more. Loss of human lives runs in tens of thousands, the loss in economy is over 100 billion dollars. We are committed to eradicate terrorism from Pakistan’s soil.

Question

Pakistan had intimated and attained the permission of Afghan Government for this helicopter that was destined to Russia or Uzbekistan. Has Pakistan asked the Afghan Government to deliver back the wreckage of this helicopter? And what about the official response of the Afghan authorities about the rescue of the 7 member crew, one Russian and six Pakistanis, in spite of the fact that Army Chief has already spoken to the Afghan Leadership? (Fakhar-ur-Rehman- Turkish News Agency)

Supplementary Question

There are also reports that instead of recuing the crew of the helicopter, Afghan authorities have started inquiry to check whether that was the helicopter of the Punjab Government or the permission was attained for one helicopter but another was sent in its place. (Bashir Chaudhry- Channel 24)

Answer

Basically your question pertains to the helicopter, what you are referring to are media reports normally we don’t comment on media reports. Let me just give you whatever details are available with me on this particular issue. On 4 August 2016, a helicopter APBGX type MI-17 of the government of Punjab overflying Afghan aerial territory on its journey through Central Asia disappeared from the flight control system. This coincided with the reports from the Afghan media that a helicopter crash-landed in Logar province in Afghanistan and that the Pakistani crew members and a Russian navigator were taken into custody by the Taliban insurgents. The helicopter had flight clearance for the journey from the Afghan air control authorities as per usual procedure.

The Ministry immediately approached the Afghan authorities through Pakistan Embassy in Kabul as well as Afghan Embassy in Islamabad for locating the whereabouts of the missing helicopter and early recovery of the crew. Our Ambassador in Kabul is in touch with Afghan NSA and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in this regard.

As informed by the Afghan side, the crew members are safe. The Afghan authorities have assured that they are making efforts through the elders in the area for recovery of all the crew members. The Ministry will continue its efforts for early and safe recovery of the crew members.

Question

I have a follow up question to my colleague Amjad’s question about the Indian Intelligence agency RAW and its activities. I just want to ask what is Pakistan’s assessments about the possible use of its western neighbors Afghanistan and Iran as a base of operations in Pakistan by RAW, this has been mentioned by several other government officials as well. You mentioned earlier certain activities that RAW conducts in Pakistan, if you can please outline what kind of activities are these and what evidence has been found? (Qasim Nouman – Wall street Journal)

Answer

For the evidence I will have to refer you to the Ministry of Interior or authorities dealing with this case. But as far as the activities are concerned, I believe you are referring to the activities in which Pakistan comes under terrorist attacks. I think I have responded to this many times and the confession of Kulbushan Yadav is also there. I would like you to revisit what he said. His statement was six to eight minutes long, please go back and replay it. Our authorities have also elaborated on this point of foreign hand and foreign soil being used to perpetrate terrorist activities in Pakistan. It’s just not that our government and agencies have asserted this, we have statements on record made by a foreign country’s very high officials who have said that our neighbor has been financing instability in Pakistan from the soil of another neighbor. I believe that you must have seen my response in this regard.

Question

QCG countries i.e. Pakistan, China and Afghanistan have made a military coalition with another country. Whether this coalition is going to replace the other coalition in Afghanistan? (Asghar Ali Mubarik – Daily Mail)

Answer

I think you are mixing two things; one is QCG which is basically established to facilitate peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. There are three facilitators and the Afghan unity government. QCG process is basically about intra-Afghan process which talks about peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The other forum you have mentioned is I understand relates to counter terrorism cooperation.

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