(2018-01-11) Opening Remarks
Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum
We strongly condemn the terrorist attack in Quetta in which six people including four security forces personnel were martyred and many others injured. Pakistan’s sacrifices in the fight against terrorism continue unabated. Our hearts go out to the bereaved families. We shall not stop in our endeavors to root out terrorism, no matter what the cost.
The recent despicable incident in Kasur, which cost life of young child Zainab, is a reprehensible act, and strongly condemnable.
Now, for the recent happenings on the foreign policy front:
The Ambassadors/Heads of Mission of resident Missions in Islamabad were briefed yesterday by the Foreign Minister, Foreign Secretary, Chief of General Staff (CGS), Director General Military Operations (DG MO) and Director General Military Intelligence (DG MI) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Pakistan’s achievements and challenges in counter-terrorism efforts, and combating violent extremism; unprecedented escalations of Indian ceasefire violations at the LoC and the Working Boundary; and the gross Indian atrocities in IoK. Welcoming the participants, the Foreign Minister stated that the briefing had been arranged to inform the diplomatic corps about the massive counter-terrorism efforts that Pakistan had undertaken in the last 16 years, more so the developments in the last 4 years. They were also briefed about the terrorist threat emanating from the safe havens and sanctuaries in Afghanistan, which is resulting in loss of human lives and damage to infrastructure in Pakistan. Details were also provided on how Indian belligerence and unhelpful posturing is distracting Pakistan’s counter terrorism efforts and how an active RAW/NDS nexus is verifiably working to undermine Pakistan’s internal stability. The CGS also informed the participants that the recent Quetta blast was traced back to Afghanistan. The members of the diplomatic corps condoled the loss of human lives in the terrorist attack in Quetta yesterday. The comprehensive and detailed briefing by the civil and military leadership was appreciated by members of the diplomatic corps.
The Indian occupation forces’ brutalities on innocent and defenceless Kashmiris of Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir continued with impunity. The Indian occupations forces martyred 3 more Kashmiri youth, including a Class-12 teenager Farheen Wani, 20yrs old Khalid Ahmed Dar and Firdous Ahmad Mir in Islamabad, Kulgam and Budgam areas.
On 6th January, Kashmiris observed another dark chapter in their history when, in 1993, Indian occupation forces of BSF mercilessly butchered 57 innocent Kashmiris of Sopore district in the infamous SRTC bus incident. In the said incident, the marauding troops dragged the driver out from the vehicle and shot the passengers in cold blood, killing 20 innocent people on the spot, after which the troopers started spraying gun powder, petrol and kerosene on the surrounding buildings and torched them too leading to more deaths and grievous injuries.
A seminar and an exhibition to create awareness about human rights violations in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir were organized by an independent NGO in Kuala Lumpur on 6th January 2017. The speakers, hailing from different walks of life including academicians, diplomats and civil society members, highlighted the ongoing atrocities by Indian occupation forces against innocent and helpless Kashmiris in IoK, and condemned Indian barbarity and genocide of Kashmiris by its illegal occupation forces, while also questioning the silence of human rights defenders.
We are engaged with the US Administration on the issue of security cooperation and await further details. It must be appreciated that Pakistan has fought the war against terrorism largely from its own resources, which has cost over $123 billion in 15 years. We are determined to continue to do all that is necessary to secure the lives of our citizens and ensure broader stability in the region. We believe that our efforts have helped decimate Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups who took advantage of ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan and posed a common threat to peace and stability. Working towards enduring peace requires mutual respect and trust alongwith perseverance. Emergence of new and more deadly groups such as Daesh in Afghanistan, require enhancement and strengthening of international cooperation. Arbitrary deadlines, unilateral pronouncements and shifting goalposts are counterproductive in addressing common threats.
Now the Floor is open for Questions
Yesterday, the civil and military leadership made a briefing focused on Afghanistan to diplomats and Ambassadors based in Islamabad. You have also said that the links of the Quetta blast are traced back to Afghanistan. The former Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, has recently said in an interview that most of the Afghan Taliban leaders are present in Pakistan. Please comment!
Secondly, the CIA Chief recently visited India, met with RAW’s Chief and flew from New Delhi to Kabul along with RAW’s Chief to meet with top officials of NDS. How do you view these secret visits? Do you think something is brewing against Pakistan? How will Pakistan be countering such conspiracies or plots? (Mateen Haider – Bol TV)
Since you mentioned in your opening remarks that the responsibility of the heinous Quetta incident has been traced back to Afghanistan, as has been done in the past, will Pakistan use the option of hot pursuit to target these elements in Afghanistan that are responsible for so much mayhem in Pakistan?
Second, regarding the briefing given to the diplomatic corps yesterday on Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts, how far were you able to convince them about Pakistan’s gains and sacrifices? (Rashida Sial – Abb Tak)
Has Pakistan shared the findings of Quetta terrorist incident with Afghan Government, and if so, what demands have we made? (Syed Mohsin Raza – Asas Group of Publications)
On the question of the presence of Taliban leadership in Pakistan, we completely deny this allegation. We have repeatedly said that Pakistan will take action on the basis of any actionable intelligence/ information provided to us. On, NDS, RAW and CIA, we are aware of all these things that are happening and appropriate steps are being taken in this regard.
Regarding Ms. Sial’s question, Pakistan has never talked about, nor thought of hot pursuit. We have repeatedly said that we will take action against any terrorist element, in Pakistan, if actionable intelligence is shared with us. Similarly, Pakistan expects that the Afghan side will also do the same so that the menace of terrorism, which is a global phenomenon, can be rooted out.
Yesterday’s briefing was very successful. The Foreign Minister, Chief of General Staff, Foreign Secretary, DGMO and DGMI briefed the members of the diplomatic corps on Pakistan’s efforts in counter-terrorism, particularly operations Zarb-e-Azb, Raddul Fassad and Khyber-IV, and the gains achieved and losses incurred as a result of these operations. The diplomats were also briefed about Indian aggression on LoC and the Working Boundary, especially Indian forces’ use of IEDs to target civilians and army personnel. It was a very detailed and comprehensive briefing, which was appreciated by the members of the diplomatic corps.
Regarding Mr. Mohsin’s question, we were informed by the CGS yesterday that the Quetta attack has been traced back to Afghanistan. I will confirm whether we have so far shared this information with the Afghan side. The traces of the last terrorist attack in Quetta led to Afghanistan also and we shared those details with the Afghan side. We have repeatedly conveyed our concerns to the Afghan Government about the presence of safe havens and anti-Pakistan hostile elements in Afghanistan that are responsible for the heinous terrorist attacks in Pakistan with loss of precious lives.
Although the journalist who filed the story for The Quint, confirming Kulbushan Jhadev’s origins to RAW, is still missing, the world has once again seen Indian designs of State terrorism and deliberate camouflage of facts. Your comments please! (Khwaja Nayyar Iqbal – Kashmir Post)
As you are aware, the Indian newspaper “The Quint” published a story on Commander Jadhav’s recruitment by RAW to work in Pakistan. The story quoted two former RAW Chiefs. It was later taken down and even the retraction has been deleted. The journalist has reportedly gone missing. It is ironic that in this modern day India is under the mistaken impression that truth can be hidden or distorted just by deleting digital footprints.
Other than clear evidence of Commander Jadhav’s linkage with RAW and his espionage, Indian attempts to muzzle the media is condemnable and against the principle of free and impartial reporting proving the shame-ocracy India has become.
During the meeting between Commander Kulbushan Jhadev and his family, Indian media lambasted the role of our media in so-called harassing and intimidating of the family. However, the world saw that our media remained well within the agreed limits and no untoward incident happened. We fulfilled our promise. Unfortunately, Indian media does not enjoy the same freedom as in Pakistan.
Reportedly, Pakistan is considering blocking the supply routes for the US forces in Afghanistan through the Pak-Afghan border in retaliation to US halting Pakistan’s security aid. Is any such thing in the offing?
Secondly, After the Trump Administration’s decision to suspend security assistance for Pakistan, and make it conditional on Pakistan’s counter-terrorism gains, will Pakistan continue intelligence sharing and other aspects of security cooperation with the US?
Thirdly, Foreign Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif said that Pakistan does not have any alliance with the US, since allies don’t act like this. What are the prospects of finding common ground and reaching a consensus on issues of mutual interest between both sides after Trump Administration’s erratic behavior towards Pakistan? (Shaukat Paracha – Aaj TV)
Recently, Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir has categorically stated that Pakistan has suspended intelligence and defence cooperation with the US. You have mentioned about the rise of Daesh in Afghanistan as well as other US allegations on harboring terrorists and the lack of action against the Haqqani network. However, if there is such a suspension in place, how will effective intelligence sharing happen? What will be the mechanism of this intelligence sharing?
Secondly, is any plan on the table to take decisive action against the Haqqani network? (Faisal Raza Khan – 92 News)
Are we extending to the US the use of our ground and airlines communications facilities for free?
Secondly, there are reports that US $24 billion are yet to be paid by the US for the facilities provided to the US in its operations in Afghanistan. Can you confirm? (Ali Hussain – Business Recorder)
The United States has suspended security assistance to Pakistan until it takes decisive action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network. What is Pakistan’s reaction in this regard? (Saad Umar – Roze News)
The two sides continue to communicate with each on various issues of mutual interest at different levels. On the basis of intelligence shared with the US, we have been able to secure the region and decimate AQ. This has been acknowledged by the US leadership. We have conveyed to the US that actionable intelligence sharing can help in advancing the shared goal of defeating terrorism from the region.
Pakistan has been facilitating the US led mission in Afghanistan through its Ground and Air lines of communication for the last sixteen years. Pakistan’s support to the US has been critical in dealing with the challenges of terrorism in the region. Both sides understand the importance of the lines of communication.
Remarks of the Foreign Minister need to be seen in the proper perspective. The Foreign Minister was expressing his frustration at the unwarranted US accusations against Pakistan and the unilateral decision to suspend the security assistance, despite Pakistan’s extra-ordinary sacrifices and contribution in the war against terrorism. The provocative statements by the US leadership notwithstanding, Pakistan’s response has been measured, as we believe that continued Pak-US cooperation is important for the stability of the region, especially Afghanistan.
Regarding Mr. Saad Umar’s question, the decision to suspend Pakistan’s security assistance is a unilateral step by the US, which would have its negative implications for the stability of the region. On our part, we have stated that we do not seek US assistance. Pakistan’s commitment to continue its CT and law enforcement actions throughout the country will continue in our national interest, irrespective of any suspension of foreign assistance.
Regarding Mr. Ali Hussain’s question, I will get back to you on the outstanding amount from the US side that remains to be paid on Coalition Support Fund.
Pakistan has been facilitating the US-led mission in Afghanistan through its ground and air lines of communication for the last 16 years. Pakistan’s support to US has been critical in dealing with terrorism in the region. Both sides understand the importance of lines of communication.
Reportedly, India is pushing for making Hindi as an official language at the United Nations. What are your comments on this?
Secondly, can you please share the details of the National Security Adviser’s recent visit to Iran? Did any discussion on Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance take place? (Amjad Ali – PTV News)
The UN has six officially recognized languages including; Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. There are mechanisms, procedures and rules for review and decision on such proposals. This is not a new proposal. Such proposals, including for other languages, have also been made in the past.
We understand that there is no consensus on this proposal, either at the UN or within the country concerned.
On your second question, our National Security Advisor recently visited Iran to attend the Tehran Security Conference. On the sidelines of the Conference, he also met his Iranian counterpart. The two sides discussed bilateral cooperation, as well as matters of regional and international peace and security. Both the sides agreed to increase cooperation in economic realm as well as on border related matters.
First, a few days back, Pentagon Spokesperson said that the US has made all demands to Pakistan that would help improve the relationship between both the countries. Can you confirm whether these demands have been officially communicated to us?
Secondly, there are reports that a US delegation has recently visited Pakistan and met senior officials of various departments. Can you confirm? (Shahid Maitla – ARY News)
The two sides continue to communicate with each on various issues of mutual interest at different levels.
Since, it is being done outside media glare, I cannot share further details with you.
Regarding our Defence Minister recent statement about the suspension of intelligence and security cooperation, VOA has reported that Pakistan has not informed US Embassy in Pakistan in this regard. Please share details.
Indian Parliament’s Standing Committee on External Affairs has urged Indian Government to initiate dialogue with Pakistan since dialogue cannot be suspended between two neighbouring countries at any cost. However, Indian Government has once again repeated its terrorism mantra as a pretext of no dialogue with Pakistan. Your comments please.
Thirdly, the recent agitation in Gilgit Baltistan on the issue of withdrawal of taxes have exploited against Pakistan by the Indian media. Your comments please! (Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)
On dialogue with India, Pakistan’s position is very clear. We are ready to talk on all outstanding issues with India. Jammu & Kashmir dispute remains the cardinal issue among these, which also includes the issue of Sir Creek and Siachen as well as people to people contacts, trade, prisoners etc. Pakistan has consistently maintained that the only way forward is through a comprehensive, result oriented, uninterrupted, uninterruptible dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues. We are also ready to talk about the issue of terrorism, which is a global phenomenon, and calls for global and concerted action. However, since India is not ready to talk to Pakistan, nothing much can be done.
On the issue of Indian media’s exploitation and propaganda, I believe that Indian media already stands exposed after the recent episode of the publication of the story in The Quint regarding Commander Jhadev’s links with RAW. As I have said earlier, Indian media does not enjoy the same freedom as does our media. You are well aware that the online newspaper that carried the story has faced numerous difficulties, while the whereabouts of the journalist are still unknown.
Reportedly, Afghan Government has expressed concern at Pakistan’s decision to grant just one-month extension in the stay of registered Afghan refugees and insisted that 1.4 million refugees could not be repatriated in such a short period. What are your comments on this? (Shabbir Waghra – PTV World)
Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees for almost four decades with dignity and honor. During this period Pakistan has extended life amenities like education, health etc. at par with its own citizens. Around 50,000 children of Afghan refugees graduated from Pakistani education institutions and are currently working in Afghanistan contributing to the development of their country. Pakistan aspires for a dignified sustainable and complete repatriation of Afghan refugees. Afghanistan and the international community need to invest in the creation of “pull factors” for incentivizing the return of refugees. Afghan government hasn’t approached us on the issue of extension of stay of Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
According to the Pakistan Security Report 2017, issued by Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, footprint of the militant Islamic State group is continuously rising in Pakistan over the past one year. On the contrary, the Government of Pakistan claims that no organized presence of Daesh exists in Pakistan. How do you see the findings of this report?
Secondly, reportedly, India has launched a remote sensing satellite cartosat-2 series along with 31 small satellites in space, which have surveillance capabilities. How do you view the increasing Indian investment in defence and surveillance? (Essa Naqvi – Dunya News)
According to media reports, India is set to launch 31 satellites including the earth observation spacecraft Cartosat, on 12th January 2018. All space technologies, including earth observation satellites, are inherently dual use and can be employed for both civilian and military purposes.
All states have a legitimate right to pursue peaceful uses of space technologies. However, given the dual-use nature of such technologies, it is essential that such pursuits are not directed towards a buildup of destabilizing military capabilities, which can negatively impact the regional strategic stability.
On your first question, we have taken note of the report published by Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies. Most of the findings of this report substantiate our claim that the overall security situation has improved in the country since 2014. For instance, the report also acknowledges that there was 16 % decline in terrorist incidents in Pakistan in 2017 compared to previous year.
However, as far as growing presence of Da’esh or its affiliates in Pakistan is concerned, we do not agree with conclusion of the report. As per their own findings, out of the 370 incidents reported last year 213 were perpetuated by TTP and its sympathizers which are based in Afghanistan. You would know that as a result of our comprehensive military operation Zarb-e-Azb most of these groups and their leadership have escaped to Afghanistan where despite advance information where no action was taken to interdict them.
As per credible intelligence and investigation, most of the terrorist incidents in Pakistan which were claimed by Da’esh had been planned and executed from Afghanistan. Due to presence of wide ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan, especially in Nuristan, Kunar and Nangarhar Provinces, there is an increase in such cross-border terrorist attacks in Pakistan. Da’esh finding a foothold in Afghanistan is a matter of concern as it is using Afghan territory to foment terrorism in neighboring countries including Pakistan.
The 11th Session of Pak-Saudi Arabia Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) is going to be held in the third week of this month. What aspects of bilateral cooperation are likely to be discussed in JMC? (Khalid Mahmood – Express)
The 11th Pak-Saudi JMC is going to take place in Islamabad on 16-17 January. Dr. Majed Abdullah Al-Qasabi, Minister of Commerce and Investment will lead the Saudi delegation. The agenda of the JMC is comprehensive with particular focus on exploring ways and means for enhancing bilateral trade, commercial and investment relations. The delegation will also include prominent businessmen to have B2B meetings in Pakistan.
Will Pakistan share the details of US$ 120 incurred by Pakistan as a result of counter-terrorism efforts with the US? (Shahzad Mirza – Royal News)
We are working on the details.
Reportedly, the recent hike in domestic taxes, effective in Saudi Arabia from Jan 1st, has made it increasingly difficult for the laborer community to cope with rising living standards, with many expats thinking of exiting the Kingdom. What effect would this have on large Pakistani labor in Saudi Arabia, the remittances back home and its impact on Pakistani economy? (Tariq Mahmood – SAMAA TV)
Saudi Arabia has introduced a number of measures to offset the impact of declining oil prices on its economy. The impact of these measures on Pakistani community is being studied. We are in touch with the Ministry of OP & HRD and our Embassy in Riyadh in this regard. We are also in contact with the Saudi authorities, to minimize the impact of these measures on our expat community.
My question is regarding thousands of Pakistani laborers that have returned from Saudi Arabia without being given their financial dues and wages. There is a protest in this regard in Islamabad today. Have we contacted Saudi authorities officially on this matter? (Anwar Abbas – Waqt News)
I am not aware of this, and will revert once I get more details.
Reportedly, the new US Embassy being built in Islamabad is one of the deepest buildings ever in the country and the US authorities have not shared its map with Pakistan. Can you confirm?
Secondly, there are reports that Saudi cadets are currently getting training in India. Can you confirm? (Auon Sherazi – Such TV)
We are not aware of any Saudi cadets undergoing training in India so far.
I will revert to you after checking.
Reportedly, Indian forces have booked two cricket teams and detained several players for standing in honour of Pakistan’s national anthem being played before the start of a match in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir’s Bandipora district. Please comment in the light of strong pro-Pakistan sentiment in Kashmiris!
Secondly, the puppet Chief Minister of IoK Mahbooba Mufti has called upon India to halt violence in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir and start dialogue with Pakistan to resolve the dispute. Your comments please.
Thirdly, reportedly, China is building a military base in Afghanistan, will Pakistan support China logistically as it does to US for last 16 years. Your comments please! (Asghar Ali Mubarak – Daily Mail Islamabad)
Indian media is also reporting that the life of Muslims in India is in trouble in current Modi Government. Your comments please! (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Kashmir Post)
On your first question, such Indian tactics are unfortunately not new but a part of the gross human rights violations of innocent Kashmiris in IoK. They expose the repugnant reality behind the sham Indian democracy. The Indian government needs to accept that its attempts to subjugate the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiris have failed. This should also serve as a wakeup call for the champions of human rights to break their silence and urge India to put an immediate end to the human rights violations of Kashmiris in IoK and expedite the resolution of the J& K dispute in accordance with the UNSC resolutions. The Human Rights Charter becomes irrelevant if it is applied selectively.
On your second question, Pakistan has consistently maintained that the only way forward is through a comprehensive, result oriented, uninterrupted, uninterruptible dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues including the J & K dispute. Indian brutalities and indiscriminate use of force cannot subjugate the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiris. Indian must put an immediate halt to the bloodshed and gross human rights violations in IoK and resolve the J&K dispute in line with the UNSC resolutions.
On your last question, I have no information on this.
On Khawaja Sb’s question, the issue of treatment of minorities in India, especially of Muslims, with reported cases of lynching and cow vigilantism, has been raised many times by the international community. Pakistan also continues to raise concerns regarding the growing extremism against minorities in India. Even voices from within India are talking about this issue.
What is the update on the stranded old Pakistani couple in Syria? (Asked by a journalist in an earlier press briefing)
Regarding Pakistani (Muhamamd Akram’s) family in Syrian, earlier, our Embassy in Damascus had already taken up the matter with the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates and requested for assistance in the matter.
Our Mission in Syria sought assistance from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) which has provided list of evacuated persons. According to which Mr. Muhammad Akram’s family comprise of 26 persons-3 sons, 2 daughters, 16 grandchildren, 3 daughter-in-laws and 2 son-in-laws. He has two wives-first Syrian (died) and second is Pakistani (Sughran Bibi). All children are from his Syrian wife. As we reached out to Mr. Akram, he is not willing to leave without his family members and has requested our embassy’s help for his extended family members for the safe settlement somewhere in Damascus.
Our Mission in Damascus will take up the matter with Syrian authorities for their safe settlement.
Indian media has recently started a campaign of the vulnerability of Pakistan’s nuclear assets in the aftermath of a recent cruise missile test by Pakistan Navy. An Indian State run think tank has said that Pakistan’s sea-based nuclear bases are vulnerable of theft and sabotage, as Pakistan has minimum meritime security. There are reports thinks tanks based in Washington are also working similar topics concerning the vulnerability of Pakistan’s nuclear assets in the wake of these tests. How do you see this development, as it is bound to have reverberations in the official corridors of Washington soon? (Faisal Raza Khan – 92 News)
As a responsible nuclear state, Pakistan has put in place, a highly efficient, robust and centralized command and control mechanism to secure its nuclear assets. The safety and security standards of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal are second to no other nuclear state.
On this particular instance, I will get back to you.
BBC Radio has released a documentary on Hafiz Saeed inciting militancy in the UK in 1990? What action is Pakistan taking against Hafiz Saeed as per its obligations as per the UN sanctions on him? (Mateen Haider – Bol News)
It is important to see this news report in the true historical context of this region over the last three decades. You would recall that following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the western countries, led by the U.S embarked on a project to re-engineer the concept of Jihad in Islam for recruiting and motivating fighters from Muslim countries to fight the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. For this purpose universities in the west developed new curricula for Madaris that were used for indoctrination and training of these fighters. Following the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, the western countries conveniently walked away from this region leaving us to deal with aftermath. Pakistan has suffered tremendously over the last three decades due to these mistaken policies of the west. The terrorism and extremism which you see in Pakistan today is directly an outcome of these policies. Subsequently, this phenomenon has grown across the globe and is now a danger to all countries of the world. Therefore, the west needs to acknowledge its responsibilities rather than blaming others.
As far as Hafiz Saeed is concerned, Pakistan takes its international obligations very seriously. We have been implementing the UN Security Council sanctions related to assets freeze, arms embargo and travel ban on all listed individuals and entities.
Last modified: November 22, 2019
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