December 28, 2017| Media Briefing|
(2017-12-28) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.]
Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum Ladies & Gentlemen!
We shall start with a brief round-up of the activities on the foreign policy front:
The meeting of the wife and mother of Commander Jadhav with him took place on 25 December 2017. The purpose of the visit was to have a meeting on humanitarian grounds, of Commander Jadhav with his wife and mother, which was successfully achieved despite all impediments. This needs to be acknowledged, if not appreciated. The meeting initially scheduled for 30 minutes was extended to 40 minutes on their request.
The success of the meeting is evident by the fact that the mother thanked Pakistan after the visit. Indian allegations coming 24 hrs after the visit are baseless, counterproductive and regrettable. They vitiate the atmosphere and can distort a goodwill gesture which can be better used for mutual good. It is essential to note that the humanitarian gesture does not obviate the fact that this was not anordinary meeting between a mother and wife with their son and husband. The reality remains that Commander Jadhav is a convicted Indian terrorist and spy responsible for multiple deaths and destruction in Pakistan.
A comprehensive security check was essential. This was agreed between both countries, in advance, through diplomatic channels. The visitors were treated with respect and dignity. The cloth change and removal of jewelry/ornaments etc was purely for security reasons. The visitors changed into their own clothes after the meeting. All their belongings were returned to them before they left. The shoe of Commander Jadhav’s wife was retained as it did not clear the security check. This was explained to the visitors and the Indian DHC who raised no objection at any point. Commander Jadhav is a spy and a terrorist. The meeting was not allowed to be conducted in Marathi due to security reasons. There is nothing sinister in that. They spoke comfortably in English for about 40 minutes which is duly recorded (again India was pre-informed that the meeting would be recorded).
The mother was allowed to say a short prayer in Hindi/ Marathi. Many routine airport security checks for ordinary people entail removal of Christian crosses and Muslim veils. Trying to distort an agreed security check and attempting to portray it as a deliberate religious/cultural disrespect denotes bad faith and is regrettable. Pakistan formally proposed a detailed media interaction of the visitors, including with Indian media to be held in the Foreign Office. This was even shared with the Pakistani media, well beforehand. However this proposal was turned down by India in writing. This was respected and the Indian request was accepted. However, media has every right to ask questions from a safe distance (in line with international norms). No specific distance was agreed to, as reported in certain sections of the media. However, the situation on ground in MoFA was shown to the officers of Indian High Commission in the evening of 24 December and they consented to it. Indian media is driving its policy. Unlike India, media in Pakistan is not under any restrictions or gag orders.Pakistan has been totally open and transparent throughout the meeting, offered in good faith. We should focus on the bigger positive outcome and not get bogged down in details or distortion of facts.
The Indian Acting Deputy High Commissioner was summoned to the Foreign Office on the unprovoked ceasefire violations by Indian occupation forces in the Rakhchikri sector on the LoC and the use of IEDs, resulted in the shahadat of three soldiers and injuring another. Pakistan categorically rejected the Indian claims that there was any crossing of the LoC by the Indian forces. The false claims by India about the alleged cross LoC adventures are a figment of their imagination and counter-productive for peace and tranquility on the LoC. This year has witnessed an unprecedented escalation in ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces resulting in the shahadat of 52 civilians and injuries to 254.
In Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir, the Indian occupation forces, in their fresh acts of state terrorism, martyred a 47-year old Noor Mohammad Trantray, whose body was recovered from the debris of a house destroyed by Indian occupation forces during crackdown operations in Samboora district, Pulwama. The brutal forces also martyred an eight month old baby of Shaheed Rubeena Jan (who was martyred on 19 December) and six month old baby of Shaheed Misra Bano (who was martyred on 11 December). We condemn in strongest possible terms the inhumane, brutal and indiscriminate killing of innocent Kashmiris by India and strongly urge the international community to call upon India to account for its grave human rights excesses in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir, and call for an immediate halt to the bloodshed of innocent and defenceless Kashmiris by the brutal Indian occupation forces.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, H.E. Mr. Taro Kono will visit Pakistan on 3-4 January 2018. During the visit, he will hold wide ranging talks with Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif on bilateral issues. Both sides will also exchange views on regional and global issues of mutual interests. Foreign Minister Kono will also pay a courtesy call on the Prime Minister. He will also meet other political leaders.
Pakistan attaches great importance to its relations with Japan. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1952, Pakistan-Japan relations have steadily progressed in political, economic, trade and other fields. High- level bilateral visits have been a major component of this relationship. Japan has also been a major development partner of Pakistan. It has played an important role in the socio-economic development of the country.
Foreign Minister Kono’s visit will help further cement our bilateral ties.
The First Speakers’ Conference was held in Islamabad on 24th December 2017. The Speakers and Heads of Delegation of the National Parliaments of China, Russia, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Iran participated in the Conference. At the end of the Conference, ”Islamabad Declaration” was adopted, in which it was agreed that for ensuring global and regional peace and stability, the Jammu & Kashmir dispute needs peaceful resolution by Pakistan and India in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions.
The 1st China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue was held in Beijing, China on 26th December 2017. The three sides reaffirmed their commitment to improving their relations, deepening mutually beneficial cooperation, advancing connectivity under the Belt and Road Initiative, and fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestation without any distinction. The three Foreign Ministers agreed to jointly work together on political mutual trust and reconciliation, development cooperation and connectivity, security cooperation and counter-terrorism as three topics of the trilateral cooperation. They also reaffirmed that a broad-based and inclusive peace and reconciliation process, which is “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned”, and fully supported regionally and internationally, is the most viable solution to end violence in Afghanistan. In this regard, they called on the Afghan Taliban to join the peace process at an early date.
The Commission on Narcotics Drugs (CND) has elected, by acclamation, Ambassador Ayesha Riyaz of Pakistan as the Second Vice-Chair of the sixty-first session of the Commission, scheduled for 2018. It is almost after a decade that Pakistan would serve on the Bureau of the CND.
A news story about an old Pakistani couple in Damascus seeking refuge in Pakistani Embassy was making the rounds in the newspapers. Our Embassy in Damascus contacted Mr. Fazal Akram on 26 December 2017 who informed that he has been living in eastern Ghouta since 1988 with his wife who is also Pakistani. He has been assured that all efforts are being made for his safe evacuation at the earliest. The matter has also been raised with the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates and requested for assistance in the matter. It may be mentioned that this couple had never approached our Embassy for any assistance, either consular or any other services.
Our Embassy in Muscat has launched an online platform for the youth, entitled ”Young Pakistan Oman” (www.ypfo.pk), and held a 5-match bilateral Hockey Series. These initiatives have received overwhelming support from our community in Oman, as well as the local public.
Pakistan strongly condemns the dastardly terrorist attacks in Kabul this morning, in which many precious human lives were lost while a number of innocent people were injured. We express our heartfelt condolences with the families and friends of those who have lost their loved ones in these brutal terrorist attacks and pray for the speedy recovery of the wounded. We express our abiding solidarity with the Government and the brotherly people of Afghanistan. Pakistan reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of terrorism in its all forms and manifestations and firm resolve to eradicate this menace.
Now the Floor is open for Questions
From the post-meeting scene in New Delhi, we can safely state that by any standard the effort has gone wasted and can be concluded as a futile practice. It is said ”Naiki barbad, gunah laazim” (Good forgotten, evil returned). As we inferred from your briefing after meeting between Commander Kulbhushan and his family that this is not the last meeting, can we expect any chance of another positive gesture from your side given the negative response coming from New Delhi? (Syed Mohsin Raza – Asas Group of Publications)
As I mentioned in my opening remarks, despite all impediments, the meeting between Commander Jhadev with his wife and mother was held in a cordial manner. It may be reiterated that this meeting was held on purely humanitarian grounds. Whether we extend such gestures again can only be decided when the time comes.
Today, Indian External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj gave a long speech on Pakistan’s so-called ill-treatment of Commander Jhadev’s family. Will our Foreign Minister give a point to point reply to her allegations? Also, what are your comments on her speech? (Rashida Sial – Abb Tak)
As I said earlier, the gesture from Pakistani side was positive, and on humanitarian basis. Our Foreign Minister will give a reply accordingly. Let me assure you that we can win any argument on this, as we have all the paperwork and record with us. However, the intent and the purpose behind this gesture is very important and needs to be registered. It is unfortunate and sad that the Indian media is driving its politics and shaping public opinion for its nefarious designs.
After Geneva and London, controversial anti-Pakistan advertisements have appeared on yellow taxicabs in New York. Has Pakistan lodged any protest, or taken up the matter with the US authorities? (Mona Khan – Geo News)
We are seized of the matter and are seeking details about the occurrence in New York and/or elsewhere. Definitely, protest will be lodged, as has been done previously, and we will give a forceful response.
Reportedly, an official letter from the Afghan Ministry of Interior (MoI) has been leaked to the social media, suggesting that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate has opened a dairy factory to export poisoned products to Afghanistan. Your comments please!
Secondly, what are the plans for expansion of CPEC to Afghanistan? (Essa Naqvi – Dunya News)
Although Pakistan has always stated that the inclusion of any country into CPEC will be decided bilaterally between Pakistan and China. However, we see instances where Chinese leadership unilaterally offers inclusion into CPEC of another country, as has been recently witnessed with the Chinese Foreign Minister. Your comments please! (Anwar Abbas – Waqt News)
On Mr. Essa’s first question, I reject such imaginary, baseless and malicious propaganda. However, I would like to point towards some elements that are pursuing a campaign based on falsehood to discourage bilateral trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan. These elements are deliberately trying to discredit Pakistani products in the eyes of our Afghan brothers. Pakistani and Afghan people have been using products from each other’s companies for a long time such fallacious propaganda cannot dent the deep trust and confidence of Afghan consumers on Pakistani products. Those who do not want development of relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan spread such malicious propaganda.
On the expansion of CPEC, at the 1st Foreign Ministers meeting held in Beijing on 26 December 2017, Pakistan, China and Afghanistan agreed to strengthen trilateral economic cooperation and discussed ways to explore enhancing linkages of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with Afghanistan through connectivity projects to advance the objectives of the Belt and Road Initiative. The three countries believe that such cooperation is in the mutual interest and important for promoting regional connectivity.
Reportedly, 10 people were killed and many wounded in a bomb blast outside the compound of Afghanistan’s national intelligence agency in Kabul. With this state of affairs, how do you see political settlement dawning on Afghanistan eventually?
Second, what is the update on Commander Jhadev’s wife’s shoe? (Saad Umar – Roze News)
We condemn the dastardly terrorist attacks in Afghanistan that resulted in killing and injuring many innocent people. Pakistan condemns terrorism in its all forms and manifestation. We have always maintained that the solution to the Afghan conflict lies in a politically negotiated, Afghan led and Afghan owned settlement. We urge all sides to engage in peace process without preconditions. The peace deal between the Afghan government and the Hizb-e-Islami was a welcome development and it can serve as a model for similar politically negotiated settlements with other Afghan groups. Afghan national reconciliation plan, in this regard, will be instrumental.
Regarding your second question, we are looking into the matter and will get back to you soon. Unfortunately, the visit has become more about the shoe and less about the meeting.
Reportedly, US has refused to provide F-16 planes to Pakistan. The US administration has halted the agreement on F-16s that was signed in 2016. Can you confirm? What were the reasons of this halt? (Amjad Ali – PTV News)
The US has not refused to provide F-16 planes to Pakistan. The US officials, however, were barred by the Congress to utilize funds from the military assistance for Pakistan previously agreed upon between the two countries. There is no bar on Pakistan to buy the F-16s from the national funds.
Indian External Affair Minister has stated that they have sent a Note Verbale to Pakistan regarding the meeting. Could you please share details of the Note Verbale, and are you planning to respond to it? (Anas Malick – Republic TV)
Yes, Indian External Affairs Minister mentioned about it in her speeches in the Indian Parliament. We will be responding to it shortly.
Recently, Saudi Arabia sent their cadets to India for training. Keeping in view that there is a grand Muslim military alliance established which is led by Pakistan, how does Pakistan see this in the context of relationships between Pakistan and India? (Auon Sheerazi – Such TV)
I will ascertain details and get back to you.
Chief Minister is undertaking an important visit to Saudi Arabia. Can you please share more details on it? (Ali Hussain – Business Recorder) Supplementary Question
Reportedly, Saudi Ambassador, along with some other diplomats went to meet CM Punjab recently, after which the Royal Jet was sent from Saudi Arabia. What is Foreign Office’s position on this visit? (Kausar Lodhi – Prime News)
On CM Punjab’s visit, the Government of Punjab will be able to offer details.
US Ambassador in Pakistan met with the office bearers of FPCCI. Reportedly, he has expressed deep concern over CPEC, and said that extra-ordinary favours have been given to China in this regard. Has the US conveyed any such concerns to Pakistan? Please confirm and comment! (Hamza Farooq – ARY)
Our position on CPEC is very clear and on record.
Indian media is propagating that Pakistan’s ceasefire violations were at the highest in 2017 and over 33 people, including 12 civilians, were killed in these violations. Your comments please! (Asghar Ali Mubarak – Daily Mail Islamabad)
2017 has witnessed an unprecedented escalation in ceasefire violations by the India resulting in the shahadat of 52 civilians and injuries to 254. Last year there were about 350 Ceasefire violations. These are Indian attempts to divert the international attention from the grave human rights violations being perpetrated by the Indian occupation forces in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan military has given a befitting response to all such Indian attempts.
Pakistan firmly believes that it is imperative for UNMOGIP to work clearly and unhindered, so that the ceasefire violations on LoC and the Working Boundary can be impartially monitored. On the Pakistani side, UNMOGIP is working with complete freedom. However, they have significant limitations to work on the Indian side and are not allowed to venture outside Delhi and Srinagar.
On the disappearance of Colonel Habib Zahir, have you received any information from Governments of Nepal or India on it? (Inam Khattak – Dawn News)
We have raised the issue of disappearance of Colonel Habib Zahir with the Government of Nepal as well as the Government of India. As you are aware, Colonel Habib went missing from Lumbini very near the Nepal-India border. The Government of Nepal is looking into the matter.
Recently, US has made many hostile statements against Pakistan. Will Pakistan finally decide on less dependence on the US, or move towards China and Russia? (Shafqat Ali – The Nation)
We have given detailed responses to these statements.
Reportedly, Pakistan will release 291 Indian fishermen, who have violated Pakistani territorial waters, as a goodwill gesture. The fishermen will be released in two phases on December 29 and January 8 via Wagah Border. Can you confirm? Has India reciprocated our gesture?
Secondly, how many Pakistani prisoners are currently in Indian jails and under what charges?
Thirdly, why did the Foreign Office not mention the matter of the shoe at the beginning instead of responding to Indian media? (Tariq Mahmood – SAMAA TV)
As you mentioned, Pakistan will indeed repatriate 291 Indian fishermen in two phases. This has been communicated to the Indian side already. Pakistan has consistently maintained that humanitarian gestures should not be politicized.
India released 4 Pakistani nationals on 22 December 2017. There are about 555 Pakistani prisoners in Indian Jails on various charges including drug trafficking, visa and passport rules violations along with fishermen who inadvertently crossed over into Indian waters.
On your third question, I have already responded in details.
Last modified: November 22, 2019
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