(2016-08-25) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.]
Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum dear friends!
We are constantly monitoring the grave human rights situation in the Indian Occupied Kashmir and apprising the international community regularly. You are aware of the substantive outcome of the Secretary General OIC’s visit last Saturday. SAPM, Mr. Fatemi, briefed the OIC Ambassadors in Islamabad while our Envoys abroad are constantly sensitizing their respective host governments and the civil society members. Our media is also playing a very effective role with their constant monitoring and reporting on the Indian brutalities and sufferings of our Kashmiri brethren in IOK. Our Media’s role has been deeply appreciated. However, more needs to be done constantly so that oppressed Kashmiris of IOK’s plight is made known to everyone. Death toll of Kashmiris has crossed 80 and over 7000 are injured with 500 suffering from eye injuries due to pellet guns firing by the Indian forces.
There are gruesome details and heartrending stories of helpless Kashmiris emanating from IOK. We pray for Allah’s protection for Kashmiris and undertake to continue with our efforts with moral, diplomatic and political support to their peaceful struggle for self-determination.
Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Fatemi, is currently visiting Belarus and Kazakhstan as PM’s Special Envoy to muster support for NSG membership.
Foreign Secretary, Mr. Aizaz Chaudhry, paid a successful visit to China for the 7th Round of Strategic Dialogue.
Mr. Fatemi and Mr. Aizaz also briefed the respective leadership of the countries they visited on the situation in IOK.
We strongly condemn the terrorist attack on the American University in Kabul and express our deepest sympathies with the victims.
We offer our deepest condolences to Italian Government and its people on the devastations caused by the earthquake, which took toll on human lives.
Dr. Peter Lavoy, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for South Asia at the US National Security Council, called on the Foreign Secretary this morning. Dr. Lavoy’s visit is part of the regular high level exchanges between the US and Pakistan.
Now the Floor is open for Questions
PM Modi’s anti-Pakistan statement has exposed enemies of Pakistan in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and some terrorists who have found safe havens in the UK and Europe. I am referring to Afghans attack on Chaman Friendship gate, Hamid Karzai’s statement in New Delhi, Bangladeshi Information Minister Hasanul Haq’s statement in New Delhi and Altaf Hussain, a known Indian Raw agent, who indulges in anti Pakistan activities. What actions Government has taken against these people? (Tariq Mahmood – Daily SAMAA)
After provocative speeches by Altaf Hussain against Pakistan, media attention has been shifted from Kashmir. Do you think that these speeches were made to divert the focus of the media from Indian occupied Kashmir? (Shahid Maitla – ARY News)
I will answer the question on PM Modi’s statement on Balochistan first. You are aware of the Adviser’s statement. You have seen how the entire Balochistan protested against Mr. Modi and challenged all those who dared to speak against Pakistan. The Baloch people’s message was loud and clear. As I said earlier, India, supported by its friends you identified, are trying to divert the world’s attention from their atrocities in IOK. World is not naive not to understand such tactics.
With regard to the supplementary question, I have seen media reports to this effect. You are also aware of the Interior Minister’s address of yesterday, in which he has conveyed the steps taken in this regard. These matters fall in the domain of law and order for which Ministry of Interior is the concerned Ministry.
My question is with regard to the announcement Mr. John Kerry will not be visiting Pakistan and some other countries and that a junior official has been sent instead to talk with our senior officials. Did the Foreign Office receive any prior information that why Mr. John Kerry not come to Pakistan? (Mateen Haider – Dawn News)
Situation in IoK is deteriorating day by day; Indian armed forces are killing Kashmiris daily. After initial condemnation, Pakistan has not issued any statement to condemn each time a Kashmiri is killed. More than 40 Kashmiris have been killed by Indian forces since last condemnation. Your comments. (Shaukat Paracha – Aaj TV)
You are very much aware of India’s recent atrocities committed in Indian occupied Kashmir, and the fact the Prime Minister Modi has crossed the red line in his provocations against the territorial integrity of Pakistan Baluchistan. Your comments. (Asghar Ali Mubarak – Daily Mail Islamabad)
I am not aware of any such announcement about Mr. John Kerry not coming to Pakistan. If I recall correctly, Mr. Kerry, in his meeting with Adviser Sartaj Aziz, conveyed his desire to visit Pakistan soon. We have various bilateral mechanisms, through which regular bilateral consultations are held with the leadership of different countries. With your reference to Mr. Lavoy’s today’s meeting with the Foreign Secretary, as our press release clearly states that this is part of regular bilateral meetings between the two countries.
Regarding your question on Pakistan’s efforts to highlight the issue of Kashmir, Pakistan has condemned the killings and blatant human rights violations in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir by the Indian forces. We have also invited the attention of the international community including UN Secretary General and the UN Commissioner for Human Rights. The 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 ensuring the medical treatment of the injured people particularly people suffering from eye injuries due to the use of pellet guns. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has offered to provide medical assistance to the Kashmiris, who have suffered from eye injuries due to pellets.
We have been expressing our condemnation and concerns on the Indian brutalities in IoK at every forum and on every available opportunity. As I also mentioned in my opening remarks, the recent visits of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Tariq Fatemi and Foreign Secretary have been effectively used to highlight Indian human rights violations in IOK.
On Mr. Asghar’s question, you are talking about an issue which is ongoing. You are talking about a matter that is awaiting implementation of the UN Security Council Resolutions. We understand that what is currently happening in Kashmir is Kashmiri people’s movement of self determination, which the Indian occupation forces are trying to suppress through use of brute force. We hope that the International Community will play its role in ending violence and plight of innocent Kashmiris and ensuring early implementation of the outstanding UN Security Council Resolutions, so that Kashmiri people’s right to self determination is realized. As for our part, Pakistan is making continuous efforts to highlight Indian brutalities in Kashmir, and call for an early resolutions to the Kashmir problem.
My question pertains to Mr. Altaf Hussain’s diatribe against Pakistan. As you know, he is a British citizen, what steps, and in particular what set procedures, are Government of Pakistan taking to bring such people to justice? Where the Foreign Office figures when we approach a foreign country? (Syed Mohsin Raza – Daily Asas)
Your question in part is coincide with the another similar question asked before on the same issue. For the set procedure, I would again refer you to the Ministry of Interior. Let me apprise you that between some countries the concerned ministries or authorities establish cooperative mechanism for direct dealing. For instance, Joint Economic Commissions, where the economic ministries, and in case of Joint border Commissions, the interior ministries directly interact. We have this kind of arrangement between the Home Ministry of the UK Government and Ministry of Interior of Pakistan, so that they can interact with each other on all immigration and security related matters. Foreign Office plays a role in initiating such a bilateral arrangement. Once in place, the relevant ministries are able to communicate directly with each other, and discuss issues, which fall under their domain.
US State Department Spokesperson Mark Toner said that the emergence of new Taliban faction makes the Afghan reconciliation process more difficult. However, we continue to encourage this process. After the death of Mulla Mansour Akhtar in drone strike, is Pakistan still hopeful for the peace process in Afghanistan?
Secondly, OIC will hold an International Conference of Islamic religious scholar in Makkah and Madina in October to promote peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. According to reports, Taliban have rejected the conference. How do you think the conference will be fruitful for the peace and stability in Afghanistan? (Amjad Ali – PTV)
My questions relates to SAARC Conferences of the past eight years. We have not seen any productive outcome from the previous SAARC Meetings. With the Finance Minister’s Meeting on going what specific has Pakistan wished to see from this year SAARC Summit? (Tahir Rathore – Channel 24)
I will answer the supplementary question first. The SAARC process started in 1985. There are views that to date, SAARC remains the least connected regional forum. Intra-SAARC trade and investments are comparably very low. We are all well aware of the reasons behind the slow pace of performance. The organization is also facing myriad challenges with poverty being the most serious one.
Pakistan believes that the challenges being faced by SAARC today are ample enough reason for SAARC countries to work together. The region is not just beset with problems but it has a lot of potential in terms of natural and human resources. We understand that SAARC countries are working closely together in exploiting the full potential of the region, a manifestation of which is the SAARC Summits that have taken place in all these years. Pakistan has the honour to host the SAARC Summit. We are preparing in full gear to aiming for the tangible deliverables. We are also expecting full participation of SAARC countries as the dates of the Summit were fixed in close consultations with all SAARC members in Nepal last year. Let me also highlight another important aspect of SAARC forum that is its Observers. These Observer states are also contributing immensely to forward the objectives of SAARC. Many of these Observer countries have key infrastructure and development projects in the SAARC region, which are playing an instrumental role in uplifting the socio-economic status of the region. There is also a great encouragement from the SAARC countries to these Observer states’ participation. We are looking forward to a productive SAARC Summit.
Coming to your question on Taliban, Pakistan has consistently continued to emphasize that a politically negotiated settlement is the most viable solution for Afghanistan. Use of force for past 15 years has not brought peace to Afghanistan. Therefore, the focus should be on pursuing peace through Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process. Pakistan has been facilitating the peace process in Afghanistan in the past. We will continue to make our contribution towards this process in every possible manner. However, being an intra-Afghan process, a unanimous message from the Afghan Government in favour of reconciliation followed by incentives for the insurgents to join the peace talks is a pre-requisite.
Secondly, the Ulema Conference is the OIC’s initiative for promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan and bringing an end to the perpetual cycle of violence in that country. We support this initiative, as we believe it would provide an opportunity for leading Ulemas of the Islamic world to relay a clear and focused message to all Afghan groups for addressing their conflict through political process. We hope the conference would be a success in achieving this objective.
In the Saudi city of Qatif an alleged suicide bomber allegedly tried to bomb a mosque and was killed. Has the Saudi Government contacted the Foreign Office and what is your stance about this?
Secondly, any update on the plight of Pakistanis who have recently been laid off in Saudi Arabia? (Zarghoon Shah- GEO TV)
As to your first question, I will check and get back.
As to your second question, I think I have been very open, candid and detailed in my responses. In the last press briefing, I had informed you that Minister of Overseas Pakistanis was in Saudi Arabia on a four day visit. He met almost all of the Pakistanis, and held high-level meetings with the concerned Ministers in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government assured of full cooperation and assistance to Pakistanis in this difficult time, which came about as a result of financial losses incurred by private companies in Saudi Arabia. Many of these companies are not Saudi companies but from other countries. His Majesty the King as well as the Ministers have issued notices to these companies to settle their dues with all their employees.
What is the current status of Pakistan’s bid for the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group? Is there any assurance from USA or Russia for Pakistan’s support? (Kausar Lodhi – Prime News)
In fact our efforts are already underway to muster support for NSG membership. I have also mentioned that Mr. Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, is on a visit to Belarus and Kazakhstan as Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to muster support. We have already stated Pakistan’s stance that we call for a criteria based and non-discriminatory approach to NSG membership of non NPT states. Pakistan has strong credentials to be given NSG’s membership on merits. This has also been recognized by a number of countries. You may recall that US delegation, led by Ms. Gottemoeller, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control & International Security had acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts to harmonize its strategic trade controls with those of the NSG and other multilateral export control regimes. Our efforts are on to get support of the NSG Members for our membership.
There are reports that India is supplying some weapons to Afghanistan. Is Pakistan concerned about this supply of weapons to Afghanistan, as stability in Afghanistan is in the larger interest of Pakistan? (Fakhar ur Rehman – Such TV)
I will not comment on the bilateral relations and cooperation between the two sovereign states. However, any such cooperation should not be to the determent of the Pakistan. India should not be allowed to use Afghan soil against Pakistan.
I would like to draw your attention to Mr. Altaf Hussain’s recent provocative anti-Pakistan statements. My question is that why the Foreign Office is not taking the lead in calling the UK High Commissioner, and lodging an official complaint in this regard. Does that point towards a weakness in our foreign policy? (Azhar Khan – PTV World)
First of all, I have already responded to the first part of your question. The matter has already been taken up with the British Government, as confirmed by the Interior Minister in his press briefing, yesterday.
As to your second question, I am not sure if you are referring to Pakistan’s over all foreign policy or its policy towards a specific country. We have responded to this question a number of times that a number of stakeholders provide inputs for the formulation of foreign policy in the case of most of the countries. Pakistan is no exception. I want to refer you to a recent statement by Adviser Sartaj Aziz that he made on 09 June 2016 on the occasion of completion of third year in office of the current government, in which he elaborated in great detail Pakistan’s achievements on foreign policy front. The statement is available on our website.
The direction of our foreign policy is absolutely right and is effectively delivering. This has been confirmed during the recent Envoy’s Conference as well. Pakistan’s Envoys from various regions of the world had gathered to discuss our foreign policy direction. Pakistan’s regional foreign policy is based on clear objectives. Pakistan is geo-strategically located at the confluence of South Asia, West and Central Asia. Pakistan can act as an economic hub and energy corridor for the regions. I think we are fully geared to exploit this potential, as is evident from a number of agreements signed and projects inaugurated by the government with Central Asian states and others, of late. Our foreign policy also takes into account the development and changes taking place in the region, especially in Asia Pacific. We calibrate our foreign policy direction in keeping with the changes taking place around us.
What is the update on our Foreign Secretary’s letter to his Indian counterpart, inviting him to visit Pakistan at the end of this month? Also, I want to refer to the Composite Dialogue and remind you that there has been no meaningful progress in this regard. Is Pakistan planning to reopen the issue with India? (Majid Jarral – News One)
Indian Spokesperson in his press briefing has used Simla Agreement to highlight the importance of a bilateral solution to Kashmir dispute as opposed to Pakistan’s taking up of the matter in the UN. Could you elaborate on the subject matter of the Simla Agreement in this context? (Khalid Jameel – Abb Tak)
Pakistan has consistently tried to find the solution to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in bilateral talks with India. However, our efforts in the last four decades have not met with success due to the Indian intransigence. We are also aware that time and again whenever there would be a commitment from both sides to resolve a problem, and this would respond to both the questions, something would happen and despite the assurances that the dialogue should be continued irrespective of any external factors, India would hide behind excuses not to hold the dialogue. We believe that dialogue is the best way forward and we, as a responsible country, want to resolve all issues peacefully through a meaningful, sustainable and result oriented dialogue. We firmly believe that the recent grave situation in IOK calls for an immediate dialogue for which we have already written to the Indian side.
As for Simla agreement, the very first article upholds the supremacy of the UN charter on the conduct of bilateral relations. Relevant UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir are still outstanding on the Security Council’s agenda.
I want to refer to the recent sedition case against Indian actress/activists Ramya, and that she owned her comments about Pakistan and its people. Your comments please.
Also, what would you say to the recent State Department Spokesperson’s comment that US respects Pakistan’s territorial integrity but it is concerned about human rights violations in Baluchistan? (Abid Khursheed – ATV)
As to your first question, we have said before also that there are saner elements and peace loving people in every nation and every country. We appreciate them for their uprightness. The Indian efforts to hide their brutalities by suppressing the conscientious voices, criticizing the Indian brutalities in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir, are deplorable and condemnable. We call upon the international community and human rights organizations to continue to raise their voices against such acts that are contrary to fundamental principles of international human rights laws. Here, I also want to mention that India has closed down the Amnesty International’s offices, which had raised their concern about the worst human rights violations in IoK. India also refused to receive the fact-finding mission which UN Commission on Human Rights wanted to send. India has also not responded to the request of OIC to send a fact finding mission.
On your next question, on Indian Prime Minister Modi’s references to Balochistan in his statement and now the Indian journalists who had raised queries on Balochistan are clumsy attempts by India to divert the world’s attention to the atrocities being committed by the Indian security forces against unarmed innocent civilian Kashmiri population in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). The international community must see through these desperate attempts by India to externalize a genuine, home grown, indigenous uprising against the repression unleashed by Indian occupation forces in IOK. The massive public reaction across Pakistan including in Balochistan on these recent statements are sufficient to prove that all such comparisons are frivolous, unfounded and malicious.
As a democratic country, with an independent judiciary, free media and active civil society, Pakistan has all that is required to ensure the full protection and preservation of the freedoms and rights provided in the Constitution. Pakistan need not be reminded of its obligation towards its own citizens and territories by anyone.
Last modified: November 22, 2019
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