[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]

 

Assalam-o-Alaikum and Welcome to our Weekly Press Briefing

Let me begin with an overview of Pakistan`s participation in 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly from 21st September to 1st October 2020.

Besides high-Level Segment of the General Assembly, Prime Minister Imran Khan also participated as key note speaker in four other high-level events.

These events, organized on the side-lines of the General Assembly, pertained to Poverty Alleviation; Illicit Financial Flows; Financing for Development; and Bio-diversity.

The Prime Minister shared Pakistan’s perspective on these important issues and also made specific recommendations to deal with the challenges confronting the international community.

Pakistan’s active and prominent participation, at the highest level, in the General Assembly Session is a manifestation of our support to the United Nations and our abiding commitment to the purposes and principles enshrined in the UN Charter.

President Dr. Arif Alvi visited Kuwait to offer condolences over the sad demise of the Amir, High Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

During his meeting with the new Amir of Kuwait, High Highness Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the President conveyed that the people of Pakistani fully shared the grief of their Kuwaiti brothers and stood by them during this difficult time.

The President noted that the late Amir was a true friend of Pakistan who made invaluable contribution to further strengthening of brotherly relations between the two countries.

The two leaders reaffirmed their shared commitment to enhance cooperation in diverse areas.

As part of his continued engagement, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi held telephonic conversations with his counterparts from Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

During these interactions, views were exchanged on bilateral relations, trade and economic cooperation as well as important regional and international issues.

Talking to his Saudi counterpart, the Foreign Minister appreciated consistent support of the Kingdom to Pakistan.

He reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

While appreciating Turkey’s steadfast stance on Jammu and Kashmir dispute, the Foreign Minister invited his Turkish counterpart to visit Pakistan at a mutually convenient date.

Talking to his Emirati counterpart, the Foreign Minister underscored that Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates have deep historic and fraternal ties.

Thanking the UAE government for taking special care of Pakistani community during Covid-19 pandemic, the Foreign Minister underlined that millions of Pakistanis living there have been playing an important role in building and developing the UAE for decades.

The Foreign Minister reiterated Pakistan’s strong desire to further enhance the strategic partnership with Malaysia in the areas of economy, trade, defense, education and science and technology.

He also wished success to Malaysia for the forthcoming APEC Summit 2020 in December.

The Foreign Minister congratulated the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs on Kenya’s election to a non-permanent seat of the United Nations Security Council.

He also recalled the first-ever Pakistan-Africa Trade Development Conference, organized in Nairobi in January 2020, as part of Pakistan’s Engage Africa Initiative.

Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood co-chaired with Deputy Secretary General for Political Affair Enrique Mora, the 6th round of Pakistan-EU Political Dialogue.

The two sides had fruitful exchanges on deeper political and economic engagement, COVID-19, situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir, Afghan peace process, Islamophobia and other issues.

They also reaffirmed mutual commitment to maintain high-level contacts to further strengthen this important partnership.

The Foreign Secretary also held virtual consultations with the Romanian State Secretary, Ambassador Cornel Feruta.

They exchanged views on wide range of issues including, growing Pakistan-Romania ties, enhanced political and economic engagement, Covid-19, situation in IIOJK and the Afghan Peace Process.

Both side agreed to comprehensively upgrade bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

Coming to the situation in IIOJK, the Kashmiris are continuously subjected to a brutal military siege and inhuman restrictions for an unprecedented 431 days since India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5th August 2019.

In September alone, the Indian occupation forces martyred 19 more Kashmiris, including a woman, in “fake encounters” and so-called “cordon-and-search” operations.

The occupation forces also injured at least 16 peaceful protestors, arbitrarily detained 88 Kashmiri youth, and destroyed 14 houses to inflict collective punishment on the Kashmiri communities.

In their latest act of state terrorism, the Indian occupation forces martyred two more Kashmiri youth in staged cordon and search operations in Shopian on 7th October 2020.

The cold-blooded murders of innocent Kashmiris are a clear manifestation of the state terrorism to which unarmed Kashmiris have been subjected to for the past seven decades.

You would recall the extra-judicial killing of 3 innocent Kashmiri laborers in staged “cordon and search” operation in Shopian on 18 July 2020.

In a statement issued on 18 September, the Indian Army had confessed that the powers vested under the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), were exceeded.

On 3rd October, the Indian authorities exhumed and handed over the mortal remains of those innocent Kashmiri boys to their families,

The acknowledgment of war crimes in IIOJK by the Indian Army, is a sad reminder of Pakistan`s consistent sensitization to the world community about India`s serious crimes against the Kashmiri people.

As the Indian occupation Army is trying to evade responsibility for serious war crimes through “bogus disciplinary action”, Pakistan once again calls for a transparent judicial inquiry, under strict international scrutiny.

We also reiterate our call for independent judicial inquiry into the gruesome killing of prominent Kashmiri lawyer and activist, Babar Qadri, who was shot dead by unidentified attackers in Srinagar.

Since all of India’s state institutions have lost credibility due to the deep permeation of extremist “Hindutva” ideology, any investigation into the Indian crimes in IIOJK, to be acceptable to the Kashmiris and to the international community, must be held under strict international scrutiny.

The international community, particularly the United Nations and human rights bodies, must take immediate cognizance of the RSS-BJP regime`s genocidal tendencies and hold India accountable for these serious crimes against innocent Kashmiri people.

Pakistan welcomes the recent statement by the Chair of the European Parliament’s Sub-Committee on Human Rights, which serves as another damning indictment of the Indian Government’s Human Rights record.

Marginalization of communities in India, including religious minorities, particularly Muslims, has become a hallmark of the RSS-BJP government’s policies – a fact which this statement particularly highlights.

The statement also expresses concern that “journalists and other peaceful critics continue to be arrested under draconian counter-terrorism and sedition laws, while human rights defenders are unceasingly and severely targeted by the authorities”.

In the end, let me also respond to the Indian Air Force Chief’s recent irresponsible statement regarding India being ready for a “two-front war” with China and Pakistan.

Such provocative statements are a true reflection of RSS-BJP mindset, a dangerous mix of extremist ideology and hegemonic designs.

It is ironic that, certain senior Indian political and military leaders continue to make a career out of issuing provocative statements against Pakistan at the cost of putting regional peace and security as well as India’s own security at risk.

While making such braggadocio, the Indian Air Force Chief must not forget India’s defense limitations, so embarrassingly exposed to the world, first during its misadventure in Balakot and more recently in Ladakh.

India must not underestimate the resolve of Pakistani nation and the preparedness of our Armed Forces against any ill- conceived misadventure by India.

In the interest of peace and prosperity in South Asia, India must abandon its 3rd century ‘Chanakya Doctrine’ and adopt the 21st century model of regional peace and development.

I thank you all and am happy to take any questions on these or other foreign policy related developments.

Question: US-based Foreign Policy Magazine has published an important article, which endorses Pakistan’s position that India is a state sponsor of terrorism. The magazine, known for its neutrality and objectivity, has exposed India’s links with terrorist organizations and sponsorship of terrorism in the region and the world. How will Pakistan take benefit of this report to further expose India’s true face to world? (Mateen Haider, G News)

Supplementary Question: The Foreign Policy magazine has exposed links between the Daesh and India, which vindicates Pakistan’s position as well. What will be its implications? (Naveed Akbar, Aaj TV)

Answer: Pakistan has been consistently sensitizing the international community regarding India’s involvement in terrorism to destabilize Pakistan and the region. Recently, we have seen many international endorsements, which vindicate Pakistan’s consistent position that India is a state sponsor of terrorism.

The report by US Magazine further exposes the true face of India — the so-called largest democracy in the world. India’s belligerent posture and expansionist policies are imperiling regional peace and stability.

Pakistan has already shared with the international community, incriminating evidence regarding Indian Intelligence Agency RAW’s involvement in terrorist activities in Pakistan. The international community must take immediate cognizance of India’s use of state-terrorism as a tool to destabilize the region.

Question: Yesterday, the US Embassy in Islamabad issued a press release on the visit of Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, saying that the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Afghanistan was discussed during the meeting between the COAS and Ambassador Khalizad. Would you please enlighten us on the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan?

Secondly, would you please update us on the Kulbhushan Jadhav Case because the Attorney General has maintained that Pakistan has rejected Indian demand made on 23 September 2020?

Lastly, any update regarding the serving of warrants upon case of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif? (Anas Mallick, Wion TV)

Supplementary Question: It seems that India is indirectly trying to seek relief for Commander Kulbhushan because unless the court decides the Case, Commander Kulbhushan cannot be hanged which is the original punishment. To counter this, are we approaching the ICJ regarding India’s non-cooperation? (Khalid Azeem, Samma TV)

Supplementary Question: The Spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs in his weekly press briefing has once again called upon Pakistan to provide all documents in the case and also provide unimpeded, unconditional and unhindered counselor access to Commander Jadhav? How would you like to respond to this? (S. Amjad Ali, PTV)

Supplementary Question: In case India does not budge from its position in the case of Kulbhushan, what steps Pakistan will take? (Syed Iqbal Mustafa Bukhari, Jag Beeti/Times Today)

Answer: Regarding Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani extended invitation to the Prime Minister to visit Kabul during their phone call on 25 August 2020. The Prime Minister has accepted the invitation. The visit will be planned at mutually convenient dates.

Regarding serving of summons upon former Prime Minister, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Pakistan High Commission in London comply with the orders of the Honorable Court. Compliance reports are submitted to the Honorable Court in this regard.

Since the case is sub-judice, I cannot offer any further comments.

As for the case of Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, I have seen the remarks made by the Spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.

India is fast depleting its already eroded credibility by making insane demands and illogical remarks in the Case.

It is utterly surprising that India continues to repeat the questions that have already been answered.

Pakistan has already provided two unimpeded and uninterrupted consular accesses to India and has offered a third one.

It has also been clarified to India that only those lawyers can appear before the Honorable Courts in Pakistan who have the license to practice law in this country. This is in line with legal practice in different jurisdictions, including India.

As for the demand for provision of relevant papers, it has been conveyed to the Indian side that a duly appointed lawyer can collect the relevant papers from the office of the Attorney General for Pakistan.

It appears that India is actually afraid of the difficult questions which it will need to answer during the review and reconsideration process.

Rather than trying to abuse the legal process, India would be well advised to act as a responsible state and cooperate with the Pakistani courts to give effect to the ICJ judgment.

Question: In the wake of recent India-China tension, it seems that some countries are making alliance to contain China. China is also being held responsible for spreading Covid-19. Do you think that there could be external aggression against Pakistan and China? What are your comments? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: Pakistan believes that the Covid-19 pandemic is a global challenge that requires a global response. It has in fact provided an opportunity to the world to come together to deal with the common problem. The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the oneness of humanity. In our interconnected world, no one is safe unless everyone is safe. Therefore, the focus of the international community should be on cooperation rather than confrontation.

As for China-India tension, India’s belligerent posture and expansionist policies are imperiling regional peace and stability. We have closely observed border face-off between China and India.

We believe disputes in the region should be resolved through peaceful means and through agreed mechanisms rather than resorting to unilateral, illegal and coercive measures.

We also believe that irresponsible and provocative statements coming from Indian leadership are a true reflection of RSS-BJP mindset, a dangerous mix of extremist ideology and hegemonic designs.

While making such braggadocio, the Indian leadership must not forget India’s defense limitations, so embarrassingly exposed to the world, first during its misadventure in Balakot and more recently in Ladakh.

Question: Government of Pakistan is interested in organizing a “National Foreign Council”, which will be headed by the former Foreign Office Spokesperson & current President AJK Mr. Masood Khan. What will be the parameters of this council? Can you share any details regarding this? (Adeel Bashir, Roz News)

Answer: The Government of Pakistan is fully cognizant of the national security needs. In this context, regular consultation among all stakeholders, including the political and military leadership, is a part of our overall preparedness plan.

I am not aware of any specific proposal as mentioned by you.

Question: It has been reported in the media that the Roosevelt Hotel in New York is being sold to some private entity in U.S.A. What are your comments? (Mateen Haider, GTV)

Supplementary Question: My question pertains to the same media reports. (Naveed Akbar, Aaj News)

Supplementary Question: It has also been reported that President Donald Trump’s family is interested in buying this hotel. Any comments? (Aijaz, GNN)

Supplementary Question: I also wanted to ask the same question. (Rashida Siyal, Abb Tak)

Supplementary Question A national asset is reportedly being sold. What is Foreign Office’s view in this matter? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Meida Today)

Answer: I would like to refer you to Pakistan International Airlines Corporation (PIAC) for any information in this matter.

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