(2018-07-12) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.]
Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum
Let me begin by giving a brief roundup of activities on the foreign policy front:
This week marks the 2nd death anniversary of Kashmiri leader Burhan Muzaffar Wani, who was brutally killed by Indian occupation forces on 8 July 2016, marking another dark chapter in the lives of innocent Kashmiris of Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir. His struggle symbolizes that of every Kashmiri, who is fighting the inhumane and treacherous Indian rule in IoK everyday, for the just right to self-determination, which is enshrined in the relevant UNSC Resolutions and calls for a UN-mandated plebiscite in Jammu & Kashmir.
The OHCHR Report on Jammu and Kashmir is a reflection of Pakistan’s repeated calls on the international community to put an end. India’s brutal use of pellet guns, indiscriminate firing, use of human shield and promulgation of draconian AFPSA and SPA laws that are making lives of Kashmiris in IoK a living hell.
Also, in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir, brutal killing and maiming of innocent civilians continued with impunity. The Indian occupation forces killed 08 Kashmiris last week, including teenagers Andleeb Jan (13 yrs old), 11th grade student Ubaid Manzoor Lone, 10th grade student Tamsheel Ahmad Khan, Shakir Ahmad Khanday (19 yrs old), Irshad Ahmad Lone (22 yrs old) and Sameer Ahmad Sheikh in Kulgam, Shopian, Sopore and Kupwara areas. While inhumane killing of Kashmiri youth continues unabated, Indian occupation forces also injured over 170 innocent civilians during last week with use of brute force including bullets, pellets and teargas shells.
A matter of grave concern is the shifting of aged female resistance leader Syeda Aasiya Andrabi, as well as Nahida Nasreen and Fehmeeda Sofi to India’s infamous Tihar jail, wherein other detained political leaders like Shabbir Ahmad Shah, Masarrat Alam Bhat and others are already languishing in inhumane conditions with acute danger to their health and wellbeing.
We condemn these brutal human rights violations of Indian occupation forces in the strongest possible terms. These are but a small reflection of the gravest excesses India is carrying out in the Valley, which tower even the blackest of human tragedies in world history. The UN Report is a vindication of the brutalities and atrocities India is committing in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir since decades. We call upon the international community to take cognizance of the human rights situation in IoK as well as the OHCHR Report, and immediately call India to account to stop the bloodshed and give the Kashmiris their just right to self-determination through a UN-mandated plebiscite.
Separately, in a major scientific breakthrough, on 9 July, Pakistan launched the Remote Sensing Satellite-1 (PRSS-1) by LM-2C/SMA launch vehicle from Jiuquan Satellite Center, China. The 1,200 kg satellite PRSS-1 will operate at an altitude of 640 km. The satellite will enable Pakistan to meet its imagery requirements in the areas of land mapping, agriculture classification and assessment, urban and rural planning, environmental monitoring, natural disaster management and water resource management for socio-economic development of the country.
Another flagship satellite, Pakistan Technology Evaluation Satellite-1A (PakTES-1A) indigenously designed and developed by SUPARCO’s engineers, has also been co-launched with PRSS-1 by the same launch vehicle. PakTES-1A is a 285 kg satellite equipped with an optical payload commensurate with national needs. It has a design life of three years and will operate at an altitude of 610 km.
The successful implementation of PRSS-1 and PakTES-1A projects has further strengthened the space cooperation between Pakistan and China for future collaborations. The President and Prime Minister of Islamic Republic of Pakistan have congratulated the nation on this historic event and appreciated SUPARCO’s scientists and engineers for their technical excellence and untiring efforts. The Prime Minister has assured the nation and SUPARCO of complete support for further advancement in space technology, so vital for socio-economic development and national security of Pakistan. Our scientists and engineers are the source of pride for the nation and the country.
Moreover, the employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will contribute in the fund for the construction of ”Diamer Basha and Mohmand Dam 2018”. All officers of the Ministry will contribute their three days pay, whereas all staff members one day pay in this fund. This humble contribution is an effort to contribute towards a national cause.
Mr. Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France paid a courtesy call on the Foreign Minister on 10 July 2018. He was in Islamabad to lead the 13th Round of Pakistan-France Bilateral Political Consultations. The two sides expressed satisfaction at the growing bilateral relations in all fields of mutual interest and agreed to further enhance ties in political, trade and economic, defence and security, science and technological, educational and cultural spheres as well in the context of the European Union.
The Foreign Minister informed the French Secretary General on Pakistan’s achievements in the field of democracy trade, economy, business, law and order and security environment. He also highlighted our efforts aimed at securing peace and stability in the region and neighborhood. The French Secretary General expressed appreciation for Pakistan’s efforts in combating the twin menace of terrorism and extremism and stressed the need for a coordinated international response in this regard.
The Secretary General Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France also met Foreign Secretary, Tehmina Janjua. Both sides reviewed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations and identified opportunities for further cooperation in political, economic, trade, investment, defence, education and cultural fields. They also expressed satisfaction at the growing cooperation in the context of the European Union. The Foreign Secretary provided an overview of progress made by Pakistan in strengthening democracy, political stability and improved law and order situation in the country. The achievements in the fight against terrorism and implementation of the National Action Plan were also highlighted. The two sides exchanged views on important global and regional issues of mutual interest.
The French side also highlighted challenges confronting France and the European Union, including migration. The Foreign Secretary briefed the French delegation on Pakistan-India relations and expressed grave concern at continued human rights violations in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, which has been verified in recent report by the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights.
The Second Round of Policy Planning Dialogue between Pakistan and Indonesia was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Indonesian Delegation was led by Dr. Arifi Saiman Head for Center of Policy Analysis and Development of Asia-Pacific and African Region from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jakarta, while the Pakistan side was led by Additional Secretary Asia Pacific Mr. Imtiaz Ahmad. The two sides exchanged views on political, security and economic policy areas of mutual interest. Unanimity of views was found on major regional and global issues.
Now the Floor is open for Questions
Question: Reportedly, Saudi Arabia has asked Afghan Taliban to stop fighting and recognize the government in Kabul, as the Kingdom is set to host an international conference of Islamic Scholars in collaboration with OIC. How do you view this statement in the context of peace and stability in Afghanistan? Do you think Saudi Arabia has considerable influence on the Taliban? (Rashida Sial – Ab Takk)
Reportedly, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, while in Afghanistan, has hinted about US willingness to be part of the dialogue process with the Taliban. He has also acknowledged that all stakeholders in contact with Taliban must play their due role in bringing Taliban to the negotiating table. Your comment? (Tariq Mehmood – Hum News)
Voice of America has reported that Pakistan recently hosted a meeting of Heads of Intelligence Agencies of Russia, China and Iran with a focus to bring Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table. Can you confirm this meeting? (Anas Malik – Republic TV)
Regarding your first question, I won’t comment on the reported advice of the Saudi government to the Taliban and will also avoid speculating on the level of influence the Saudi government enjoys over Taliban.
On the second question, I won’t comment on the statement of the US Secretary of State. However, you are aware that we have been saying all along that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. Others who were insistent to resolve the issue through military means are also arriving at the same conclusion, which is a good omen for the people of Afghanistan who have suffered immensely from the merciless conflict. We urge all sides including Taliban to renounce kinetic options and join the peace and reconciliation process to end this brutal conflict in Afghanistan.
Regarding the third question, I have no information about this meeting.
Pakistan has not publicly acknowledged the contents of US talks with Pakistan. Do you confirm that the US wants Pakistan to play a decisive role in Afghanistan as conditional to its bilateral relationship with Pakistan?
Reportedly, US Ambassador in Pakistan, Ambassador David Hale, has recently been promoted to Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Are you hopeful that this elevation will help in resolving disagreements between both sides effectively? (Mateen Haider – Freelance)
You must be aware that Pakistan and the US are engaged in continuous dialogue. This continuation is reflective of the political will on both sides to move forward in the relationship.
Regarding your second question, I have seen some media reports to this effect. We wish him well.
You must be privy to the reports that Terbela Dam is without water these days. We have seen videos of water diversion of the rivers in IOK by India. Recently, India has also tried to pass a resolution by IOK Assembly, to allow India to divert these waters. Since water is of prime importance to all countries in the region. What is Pakistan’s position on this issue? (Zahid Malik – Daily Metro)
Ministry of Water and Power is the dealing Ministry for all issues related to water. Foreign Office is fully playing the role assigned to it regarding water issues.
Reportedly, starting July 1, the Afghan government has denied entry to all Pakistani traders on grounds of visa validation. Apparently, there is an agreement on Integrated Border Management between both sides, according to which small-scale traders and shopkeepers are exempted from visa requirements. How do you see this development? (Shabbir Waghra – PTV World)
We haven’t received any complaints from our traders and business people regarding visa denials by Afghan embassy and consulates in Pakistan. As per my understanding, Afghan government has recently changed its visa regulations and liberalized the visa regime for traders and business people.
In your last press briefing, you said that Pakistan wants Taliban to take part in the peace process unconditionally. Today, you have said the same again. The US administration has undertaken numerous visits in the context of Afghanistan. However, we have seen the regional initiatives, especially those by China, Russia and Iran coming to a halt at the official and Ministerial levels. In your view, what is the potential for these regional initiatives if Taliban joins the peace process?
How would you comment on the recent episode in which 5 Indian nationals carrying and selling uranium while arrest in India earlier on, we have witnessed similar instances of ineffective safety and security mechanism of Indian nuclear program? Has International community taken notice of it? (Shaukat Paracha – Freelance)
Regarding your second question, Pakistan is deeply concerned about the reported incident involving the attempted sale of Uranium on the black market. We are looking forward to the results of further investigations. The report raises several questions about nuclear security and or/interest of criminal groups and individuals in Uranium and their motivations.
On Taliban, Pakistan is directly engaging with the Afghan Government under APAPPS mechanism. We believe that only through continuous and sustainable dialogue can the problem of Afghan conflict be resolved. Any initiative on Afghanistan must be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led. All stakeholders must play their part in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table.
First, you mentioned in your opening remarks about Diamer Bhasha Dam. This dam comes in the disputed Gilgit Baltistan area. The people of GB, affected by the construction of this dam, fear that they will not be compensated appropriately by the government authorities. In your view will these people have any say in the project?
Second, while you are mentioning about India’s human rights violations in IOK, people in GB region are being put in Schedule IV for raising their voices against social and political estrangement. These people are demanding the same rights as that the people of AJK. Don’t you think that such acts also come under human rights violations? (Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)
For technical information regarding dams, please concern Ministry of Water and Power. However, I assure you that justice will be meted out to the people of GB.
Regarding your second question, Ministry of Kashmir Affairs is the dealing Ministry in this regard.
It is ironic that on the occasion of Kashmiri leader Burhan Wani’s second death anniversary, our Permanent Representative in NY, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi chose to organize a Pakistani film festival at the UN Headquarters. Did the Foreign Office ask her for an explanation in this regard? (Aon Sherazi – Sach TV)
Please elaborate on what is more important to the Foreign Office – Kashmir or films/cultural diplomacy? (Mateen Haider – Freelance)
A defence analyst has recently said that India is still using Bosporus and chemical elements in pellet guns in IOK. Do you confirm this? Why hasn’t the Foreign Office highlighted the issue at the international forums?
Kashmir is the cornerstone of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy. It has remained so for the past seven decades. Our position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is consistent and in accordance with UNSC resolutions that call for the UN mandated plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir, so that Kashmiris may be given the just right to self-determination. There shall not be any iota of doubt in this.
One of the fundamental responsibilities of our Mission at the UN is to effectively highlight the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. Our Mission in New York is regularly doing that at all UN Forums and I will check about the film festival.
Regarding the third question, we are investigating the use of chemical materials in pellet guns by Indian occupation forces. We will raise it at the highest level once facts are established.
Indian media is claiming that Mr. Zafar Bangash, a Canada based Pakistani Imam and director of Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT), has played a role in the recent OHCHR’s Report on Kashmir. What are your comments on this? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Kashmir Post)
Indian media, particularly ANI has alleged that Mr. Zafar Bangash, who is a Pakistani cleric based in Toronto, has played a key role in collusion with Pakistan’s Foreign Office and OHCHR to produce the recent report on Kashmir. Your comments on this please! (Anas Malik – Republic TV)
India has unfortunately become desperate, and now in its exasperation, will say anything to take the focus off the report. Assertions such as these are as preposterous as they are laughable. Next question please.
We completely reject the false and baseless accusations being made by the Indian media outlets. It is a part of India’s malicious campaign against the credibility of the report by distorting facts and figures. The fact of the matter is that the OHCHR’s report with its categorical focus on systematic and state-sponsored human rights abuses in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir has caught India completely off-guard.
In response to India’s accusations, the article published by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on 27 June 2018 where he has expressed disappointment on India’s reaction to the OHCHR’s report and has shrugged off India’s baseless accusations by stating that the report is motivated by the desire to contribute to the search for peace and justice in Kashmir, is ample proof of the positive spirit of the report.
It is high time that India realizes that it can no longer conceal its vicious face of tyranny and oppression behind politics of hate and deception.
A Pakistani student hailing from Karachi was brutally stabbed by a Chinese co-worker in Nanjing yesterday. What is the status of his early repatriation? (Khalid Azeem – SAMAA TV)
I have seen the media reports of the incident. I will get detail from the Mission and revert.
China has recently agreed to purchase Indian medicine on reduced tariffs. Do you think that similar steps can be taken under SAFTA to increase trade between South Asian countries?
The Agreement on South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) was signed during the 12th SAARC Summit held at Islamabad on 6th January 2004. The first tariff reduction under the Trade Liberalization Programme (TLP) was enforced w.e.f. 1st July 2006. As a result of successful completion of SAFTA TLP, Pakistan’s trade in the SAARC region has increased. In Fiscal Year 2003-04, Pakistan’s total export to the SAARC region was US$ 886 million which increased to US$ 2,510.71 million in Fiscal year 2016-17. SAARC Member States are in process of reducing tariffs to increase regional trade. The details may be sought from the Ministry of Commerce? (Asghar Ali Mubarak – Diplomatic Mail)
What is the update on Afghan refugees’ repatriation, as the last date of their return expired on 30 June.
What is the update on sanctions imposed on Pakistan under FATF?
Regarding your first question, I gave a detailed response in my last press briefing. The date of the return of Afghan refugees has been extended for another 3 months.
The line Ministry for FATF is Ministry of Finance.
When will the Foreign Office submit its reply in ICJ in Commander Kulbushan Jhadev case? (Mona Khan – Geo TV)
We will submit our reply on 17 July 2018.
Last modified: November 22, 2019
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