(2018-06-28) [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 round of activities on the foreign policy front:
President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Justice (Retd) Nasir-ul-Mulk have extended heartfelt felicitations to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on his victory in the elections held in Turkey on 24 June 2018.The President underscored that the large turn-out and the peaceful conduct of the parliamentary and presidential elections is a testimony to the strength and vibrancy of Turkey’s democratic values and institutions. The Prime Minister underlined that this electoral victory was a vote of strong confidence in the leadership and vision of President Erdogan, and the remarkable progress made by Turkey under the AK Party. The Prime Minister also reiterated Government of Pakistan’s strong commitment to continue working with the brotherly Government of Turkey to expand the existing strategic bilateral relations in all spheres.
Pakistan has welcomed the recommendation made by the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights to establish a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to investigate human rights violations by India. The report stressed that excessive use of force, indiscriminate killing of civilians, blinding by pellet guns, cases of mass graves and sexual violence by India in Jammu and Kashmir constitute crimes against humanity, which must be investigated. The Human Rights Commissioner condemned the recent assassination of the Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari, Editor-in-Chief of the Rising Kashmir on 14 June 2018. Pakistan had long sought the UN’s sustained focus on Jammu & Kashmir and the latest report reaffirms Pakistan’s well-known position on the grave human rights abuses committed by India in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir. The COI is consistent with Pakistan’s several calls to this effect since 2016, even as India has continued to ignore legitimate demands for a credible probe mechanism. We also endorse the UN’s call for a final political solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute through meaningful dialogue in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. The UN had a key role to play in the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. The UN Security Council remains seized of the matter and Jammu and Kashmir remains on its agenda. The latest UN report is a reminder of the urgency of the resolution of this dispute, both to protect human lives and to promote peace.
A condolence reference was organized by the National Press Club Islamabad on June 26 2018 in memory of late Shujaat Bukhari, prominent Kashmiri journalist hailing from Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir and Editor-in-Chief of the Rising Kashmir, who was brutally assassinated by unidentified gunmen outside his office in Srinagar on 14 June 2018. The President of AJK Sardar Masood Khan was the Chief Guest of the condolence reference. The speakers at the event unanimously reiterated that while Shujaat Bukhari’s tragic assassination bore an irreparable loss to the cause of Kashmiri struggle, his death became a symbol of fortitude, courage and perseverance for the Kashmiri youth. Shujaat Bukhari was known for carrying out his professional responsibilities with courage and conviction. The brutal manner in which his life was taken cannot be condemned enough. We take this opportunity to reiterate our strongest condemnation of this mindless act.
Indian atrocities in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir continue to bleed, blind and maim innocent Kashmiris. In just one week, the Indian occupation forces killed nine people including Dawood Ahmad Sofi, Majid Manzoor Dar, Adil Rehman Bhat,Mohammad Ashraf, Mohammad Ashraf Rathore, 19 years old Shahid Nazir Hajam, Shakoor Ahmad Dar and 24-year-old Yawar Ahmad Mir, in Islamabad and Kulgam areas. Detaining and not allowing APHC Chairman, Syed Ali Gilani to offer Friday prayers, is highly deplorable and is against the internationally recognized right to worship.
Now the Floor is open for Questions
Mr. Nasser Janjua, our National Security Adviser has resigned yesterday. Since he was instrumental in the Pak-Afghan relationship, how would his resignation impact Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan?
Second, the FIA officer in-charge of Mumbai attack, Mr. Mazhar-ul-Haq, has been transferred to Balochistan. How will it impact the Mumbai trial?
Third, reportedly, the U.S has temporarily suspended its ongoing dialogue process with India. Indian Foreign Minister has also delayed her official visit to Washington. How do you see this development? (Syed Mohsin Raza – ASAS Group of Publications)
Regarding your first question, Pak-Afghan relationship has been steered on a promising path due to the mutually agreed APAPPS (Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity) Action Plan between Pakistan and Afghanistan, due to the concerted efforts of the Pakistani leadership. Under APAPPS, the two countries are closely working together under 6 Working Groups. The NSA was a part of this process, which would go on, despite his departure.
On your second question, the matter of Mumbai trial has been ongoing for the past ten years, or so. The officers in-charge have been changed during this time, but the state functions continue uninterrupted.
I would not comment on bilateral relations between two countries.
Reportedly, Pakistan has been included in the FATF grey list. What will be our next plan of action? (Mona Khan – Geo News)
What role did Pakistan’s traditional friends China Turkey and Saudi Arabia play during FATF? (Kausar Lodhi – Prime News)
Although the world community has, time and again, appreciated and acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts in fighting terrorism, we have failed to impress it upon FATF. Would you consider our ‘grey list’ designation a result of weak projection of our viewpoint?
Second, out of 37 countries in FATF, how many supported Pakistan? (Majid Jarral – News One)
Reportedly, key members of Pakistan’s delegation to FATF were dropped at the last minute by the Finance Minister. What were the reasons? (Omar Bilal – Capital TV)
Please clarify if Pakistan will be included in the ‘grey’ or the ‘black’ list tomorrow? (Ali Hussain – Business Recorder)
Regarding the question about the delegation, the Finance Minister is in the best position to answer. As far as I know, we sent our best people for the FATF deliberations.
The official response by FATF regarding Pakistan’s listing will be announced tomorrow, by the FATF. Here, let me take a moment to clarify many misperceptions regarding Pakistan’s listing in FATF, despite the fact that I categorically explained the official position on FATF to you all in February this year, which is also available on our website.
In February 2018, during the FATF plenary session in Paris, it was agreed that Pakistan will be included in the ‘grey list’ in June 2018. Therefore, what is being reported in media recently is nothing new. It was also agreed in February that an Action Plan would be negotiated between Pakistan and FATF members by June. This has been done. Pakistan will work towards effective implementation of the Action Plan, while staying in the grey list. A similar situation took place in 2011 when Pakistan was included in the grey list and was taken out in 2015 after it successfully implemented the Action Plan. I hope this clarifies the media questions about FATF.
Details may be sought from Ministry of Finance, which is the dealing Ministry on FATF.
According to Iranian officials, on 26 June, three terrorists were killed by Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) along the Pak-Iran border area. IRNA reported that Pakistan’s Ambassador to Iran was called to the Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the matter. What is update on the matter? (Shahzad Aslam – IRNA)
I have no information regarding the incident. However, I will gather details and revert.
Although Pakistan was given GSP plus status by EU, but in Human Rights Council, the EU commented on the so-called shrinking space for the civil society and media in Pakistan – how do you comment on that?
Second, I remeber that in March/April this year, Sikh Yatrees visited Pakistan and Indian envoy was denied access to visit them. Indian media is hyping again about the issue of denial of Indian envoy’s access to the Sikh pilgrims visiting Pakistan. Can you please state the factual position in this regard? (Shaukat Paracha – Anchorperson)
As a democratic country, the civil society has and continues to play an important role in awareness raising and promotion and protection of human rights in economic, political, civil and social fields. The various segments of the civil society in Pakistan enjoy full rights under the Constitution and laws of the country.
Genuine advocacy for human rights agenda and causes is best promoted through dialogue, cooperation and consultations.
I will also draw your attention to the report presented to the Human Rights Council by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights documenting gross human rights violations in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. It is deeply regrettable that the EU, as a flag-bearer of human rights, has chosen to ignore the plight of Kashmiri civilians who continue to be subjected to killings, torture, rape, and the barbaric unprecedented use of pellet guns and human shield.
We call upon the EU and its member states to lend its support to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ recommendation to establish an International Commission of Inquiry for the gross and systematic violations of human rights in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir as well as the full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.
Regarding your second question, as you know, Sikhs from all over the world are currently visiting Pakistan for the death anniversary of Raja Ranjit Singh. Our High Commission in New Delhi issued visas to more than 300 Indian Sikhs to participate in their religious event. A special train was arranged by Pakistan railways to transport the Indian Sikhs from Attari to Waga.
You would recall that the Sikhs have been protesting against their maltreatment in India and the release of a controversial movie that has hurt their religious sentiments. The Indian High Commission was informed about the escalated situation and the heightened anti – India sentiments of the Sikhs and agreed to cancel their visit. Any attempts to politicize the sentiments of a religious community would be regrettable and counterproductive.
NACTA has decided to allow Ahle Sunnat Al Jamaat party to contest the upcoming elections and has also excluded the name of its leader from Schedule – IV. Their accounts have also been de-frozen. Now that Pakistan talks about eliminating religious extremism how do you analyze this decision by NACTA? (Aon Sherazi – Sach News)
The question pertains to NACTA.
What is the update on the current Pakistan-US bilateral relationship? (Shafqat Ali – The Nation & Tariq Mehmood – Hum TV)
Pak-US relationship is on an upward trajectory. The negotiations are ongoing between both sides as we seek to find common ground in the bilateral relationship.
Reportedly, the Afghan Taliban has rejected the Afghan government’s offer of extension of ceasefire, terming it ‘a foreign conspiracy’. What are your comments?
Second, a day before the expiry of the previous government, AJK Constitution was amended, according to which AJK Government would now have its own Ministries of Defence, Foreign Affairs and Finance. Do you confirm this? What are your comments on this development? (Mateen Haider – Freelance)
Reportedly, Gen. Nicholson in a recent statement in Afghanistan has said that US hopes Pakistan would do maximum to restore peace and stability in Afghanistan and play an important role in reconciliation process. How do you see this statement?
Second, what specific actions have been taken by Pakistan, Russia and China Trilateral mechanism in the context of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan? (Rashida Sial – Abb Tak)
As you are aware that APAPPS has 6 Working Groups, one of which is about peace and reconciliation. Now that the talks with Taliban are undergoing, Pakistan’s role is considered important in this regard. Afghan CEO Abdullah Abdullah has said that APAPPS is workable when we all work together. What is Pakistan’s stance in this regard? (Naveed Akbar – Dunya News)
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis recently stated that the Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah has been killed in a US air strike in Afghanistan. On the other hand, Alice Wells is also scheduled to visit Pakistan next week. There are reports that U.S might put some pressure on Pakistan to do more. What is Foreign Office is doing in this regard?
Second, what is your comment on Noor Wali Mehsud’s nomination as the new Commander of TTP? (Rabia Pir – VoA Diva Radio)
A report jointly compiled by a Pakistani and US think-tank has said that Pakistan needs to broaden its support with the US in terms of security and economic cooperation, and extend to the US similar cooperation that it is extending to China. What are your comments on this report? What is the current state of negotiations between the two sides? (Tariq Mehmood – Hum News)
On the first question, Pakistan welcomed the announcement of ceasefire by President Ghani. Upholding of ceasefire for three days by both sides has given renewed hope for a peace process in Afghanistan. Afghan Government’s announcement of extension of ceasefire was a step in the right direction. We believe that the ceasefire can be a major Confidence Building Measure. We urge all sides to engage in a peace process to bring lasting in Afghanistan.
On CEO Abdullah Abdullah’s statement, Pakistan firmly believes that the most viable solution to the Afghan conflict lies in an Afghan led and Afghan-owned peace process. Pakistan, therefore, supports all peace efforts geared towards bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan. Pakistan will extend all support for the Afghan peace process.
On Noor Wali Mehsud’s nomination, we believe that the killing of terrorist Mullah Fazlullah, the mastermind of APS terrorist attack and his continued role in directing terrorism against Pakistan is a significant development in the fight against terrorism. The news of his death has been received in Pakistan with relief, especially for the families whose loved ones were victims of TTP’s terrorist attacks including the APS massacre. Pakistani leadership believes that a cooperative and coordinated approach is the best response to the menace of terrorism.
TTP and its affiliates are involved in terrorist acts against Pakistan and its people. We will use all our resources to bring all terrorists to justice notwithstanding who leads this terrorist group.
Regarding Gen. Nicholson’s statement, Pakistan has supported all peace efforts in Afghanistan. In our view, a peaceful and stable Afghanistan is in the best interest of Pakistan and the region. Our efforts for peace in Afghanistan are guided by our national interest and not by the desires of any external actor.
On the report jointly prepared by US and Pakistani think tank, I have not seen this report but let me say that Pakistan would be happy to expand its bilateral relations with US on the basis of mutual interests. Historical, our relations have been longstanding as trade partners and ally in the war against terrorism. Our cooperation in the past has indeed achieved tangible results in terms degrading Al Qaeda and intelligence cooperation that prevented terrorist attacks in Europe etc. Pak-US Strategic Dialogue provided for broadening multi-dimensional cooperation with six working groups, which presently remains suspended since January 2017. Pakistan would welcome resumption of the strategic dialogue to the mutual interest of the two countries.
Regarding the question on constitution of AJK, please consult Ministry of Kashmir Affairs.
On the one hand you say that AJK and GB are disputed territories and on the other hand there are constitutional amendments in AJK, but a similar arrangement cannot be done for the people of Gilgit Baltistan. Why is that so?
Second, last week I asked that GB being a disputed area, the international rule of no taxation without representation applies to the region. If this is so, then why the government is saying that it will levy tax on GB residents after 5 years? (Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)
As a matter of principle, the development and well-being of the people of the disputed areas, in this case that of Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir cannot be held hostage to the final disposition and resolution of the dispute, which India blocking against the International Law. Regarding your earlier specific questions on the area, I will try to arrange a press briefing with Ministry of KANA in the coming days.
Yesterday, the Indian media aired a video, claiming it to be from 2016 alleged surgical strikes. What is your take on this? (Anas Malick – Republic TV)
I have said it before and will say it again. The farcical claims of surgical strikes is a figment of Indian imagination and nothing else! They may dream on.
Indian media is reporting that the instructions of assassinating prominent Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari came from Pakistan! What is your reaction to such an allegation? (Asghar Ali Mubarak – Diplomatic Mail)
Mr. Bukhari’s brutal premeditated assassination by Indian forces of extremism and intolerance, hours after he tweeted about the OHCHR report on Jammu & Kashmir is not a coincidence. We have already called upon the Government of India to carry out a fair and transparent investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice.
There is only one way to do that. Let me reiterate it at the cost of repetition that the factual position can only be ascertained if India allows International Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to investigate this and myriad other instances of human rights violations by Indian occupation forces in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Pakistan has welcomed CoI team provided India gives them free access. Pakistan lets the inquiry commission into its territory because we have nothing to hide – our position is transparent. It is India that is hiding behind a facade, which is increasingly becoming visible to the international community. Indian isolation in the global community and the complete failure of its foreign policy is self-evident.
As the deadline for Afghan refugees’ repatriation is nearing (June 30), what decision has been made regarding their repatriation? Will their stay be extended? What is Foreign Office’s view in this regard? (Sardar Amir)
The subject is related to Ministry of SAFFRON. I will try to get update in the matter from them.
The Election Commission stated earlier that overseas Pakistanis would be given the right to vote in the coming elections. Are they being given the right to vote? What is the update? (Usman – Voice of Pakistan News)
Please refer your question to Election Commission.
Reportedly, BJP is using another inhuman tactic in IoK by saying that the bodies of local Kashmiris killed in fake encounters should not be handed over to their families and instead be buried at the village/town where the encounter took place. Your comments please! (Khwaja Nayyar Iqbal – Kashmir Post)
Mr. Bukhari’s brutal premeditated assassination by Indian forces of extremism and intolerance, hours after he tweeted about the UN OHCHR report on Jammu & Kashmir is not a coincidence. We have already called upon a Government of India to carry out a fair and transparent investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice.
The Indian narrative about M. Bukhari’s shahadat changes by the hour in an effort to deflect blame from the Indian forces of extremism and fascism present in the Indian occupation forces in IoK and the government. Statements continue emanating from BJP MLAs threatening other journalists of a fate similar to Mr. Bukhari. Such provocative statements speak volumes about the threats to freedom of expression, lives of journalists in the so called ‘incredible’ India. They also indicate the incompetence, inability and unwillingness of the Government of India to bring the murderers of Mr. Bukhari to justice.
We have also seen reports of the launching of Operation All out where Indian occupation forces have declared that they will assassinate the most vocal Kashmiris on trumped up charges. Reportedly, there are also plans to intensify crackdown in IoK through deployment of NSG Commandos and planned targeting of vocal Kashmiris. There are also reports that the bodies of the dead have not been returned to families as funerals draw huge crowds indicating the indigenous struggle of the Kashmiris against Indian oppression but shall be buried clandestinely.
From pellet guns to humans shields to brutally silencing journalists speaking out against Indian atrocities in IoK, India continues to display utter and complete disregard to global censure of its blatant human rights abuses against innocent Kashmiris. In the last 10 days after Eid, Indian occupation forces have martyred 5 more Kashmiris on trumped up charges.
The international community must break its silence and expedite the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry demanded by the OHCHR to look into the human rights violations in IoK and impress upon India for an expedited resolution of the J & K dispute in line with the UNSC Resolutions and the aspirations of the Kashmiris.
It is known to all that India has not been able to crush the decades-long Kashmiri movement of self-determination despite all its inhumane and barbaric tactics!
Reportedly, a Pakistani delegation is currently in Washington and meeting US high ranking officials. Can you confirm its composition and who is leading it? (Ali Hussain – Business Recorder)
To the best of my knowledge, no official Pakistani delegation is currently in Washington.
Last modified: November 22, 2019
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