Media Briefing|

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

 

Assalaam-o-Alaikum and Welcome to Weekly Press Briefing at the Foreign Office,

Let me begin by sharing with you that we have learnt from credible sources that India is planning to undertake a military misadventure (so-called “surgical strike”) across the LOC/international border, for which it is trying to seek understanding from major powers.

This irrational approach is driven by Indian frustration emanating from internal unrest due to the RSS-BJP regime’s policies aimed at subjugation of religious minorities and disadvantaged segment of the society.

A series of events and developments have exposed the real face of India to the world community.

The recently released Dossier by Pakistan has left no doubt about Indian state-sponsorship of terrorism.

Pakistan’s Armed Forces are fully prepared to defeat Indian designs.

Any miscalculation will result in global embarrassment for India, as it faced in 2019.

It is reiterated that if any ill-considered misadventure is resorted to, it will face an assured notch-up military response from Pakistan.

Such a scenario will, however, seriously destabilize the region with catastrophic consequences. This has been shared with important world capitals.

Any military conflict between Pakistan and India will also seriously undermine the peace prospects in Afghanistan, for which the entire responsibility will rest with India.

Pakistan urges the international community to advise India against any irresponsible act and to desist from any action that would jeopardize regional peace and stability.

We also warn the Indian political and military leadership to know that their mindset and sinister designs are well known to us.

Our valiant Armed Forces stand ready to respond forcefully and effectively.

In the interest of regional peace and security, India would be well-advised to desist from any misadventure.

Pakistan strongly condemns the continuing CFVs by India in clear violation of international law; the 2003 Ceasefire Understanding; and against all established humanitarian norms and professional military conduct.

This morning at around 1045 hours, Indian occupation force in IIOJK resorted to unprovoked firing in Chirikot Sector of the Line of Control (LOC).

The Indian troops specifically targeted a United Nations vehicle, carrying two officers of the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP).

The officers were on their way to Polas village to meet with the victims of the Indian Ceasefire Violations.

The UN vehicle was damaged. Fortunately, the officers were not injured.

The officers were immediately evacuated by Pakistan Army and brought back to the UNMOGIP field station in Rawalakot.

The reprehensible act of unprovoked firing by India on the UNMOGIP officers is indicative of a new low in the conduct of Indian occupation troops.

This year alone, India has committed 2,992 ceasefire violations to date, resulting in 27 shahadats and serious injuries to 249 innocent civilians, including 92 women and 68 children.

Pakistan calls upon India to respect the 2003 Ceasefire Understanding; investigate such incidents of deliberate ceasefire violations and maintain peace along the LoC and the Working Boundary (WB).

Pakistan also urges India to allow the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), to play its mandated role as per the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions.

Pakistan strongly rejects the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)’s attempt to deny responsibility for the elaborate and reprehensible global disinformation campaign against Pakistan exposed by EU DisinfoLab.

We believe that the MEA’s tall claims of India being a so-called “responsible democracy”, have no legs to stand on.

The latest developments and international exposés have clearly shown that India is neither ‘responsible’ nor a ‘democracy’.

Pakistan has already shared extensive and irrefutable evidence of India’s active planning, promoting, aiding, abetting, financing and executing terrorist activities in Pakistan.

The report by EU DisinfoLab further corroborates our long-held position about India’s incurable obsession with Pakistan and its unrelenting smear campaign against Pakistan.

We urge the UN Human Rights machinery, particularly the Human Rights Council (HRC), to take a serious look as to how a prestigious platform such as the HRC could be misused in such a manner against a member state.

The relevant authorities in Switzerland and Belgium must investigate the finances and transparency of the relevant NGOs registered within their jurisdiction.

We also reiterate our call that the EU authorities take full cognizance of this massive disinformation campaign against Pakistan and initiate steps to hold accountable those who misused their procedures and abused the European institutions.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had a phone call with President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani to discuss progress in the on-going Afghan peace process and strengthening of bilateral relations.

The Prime Minister underlined that Pakistan’s outreach to all Afghan stakeholders was part of its facilitative efforts to ensure progress towards an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement.

The Prime Minister reiterated Pakistan’s call to all Afghan sides for taking measures for reduction in violence leading to ceasefire.

Earlier a delegation of the Taliban Political Commission (TPC), led by Mullah Abdul GhaniBaradar, arrived in Islamabad on 16 December 2020.

During the visit, the delegation met with the Foreign Minister and called on the Prime Minister.

The visit of the Taliban Political Commission delegation is part of Pakistan’s policy to reach out to all key parties in the Afghan peace process with a view to facilitating the Intra-Afghan Negotiations.

Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi is currently in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on an official visit.

During the visit, the Foreign Minister held discussions with the UAE leadership on all areas of mutual interest including regional and global issues.

The Foreign Minister also met with the Pakistani diaspora.

In his meetings with Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his Emirati counterpart HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Foreign Minister discussed ways to further strengthen cooperation between the two brotherly countries.

The Foreign Minister also discussed matters pertaining to the welfare of Pakistani community in the UAE.

The 6th round of Foreign Secretary level Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC) between Pakistan and Sri Lanka was held virtually on 16 December 2020.

A wide range of issues, including cooperation in the field of economy, trade and investment, health and education, defence and security, culture and tourism, people to people exchanges and cooperation at the regional and international fora came under discussion.

Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood also shared Pakistan’s perspective on the situation in IIOJK, progress of CPEC, and Pakistan’s contribution to the Afghan peace process.

The World Bank (WB), in its “Half Year Report” on “Private Participation in Infrastructure (PPI)” has declared Pakistan the fourth highest recipient of investment commitments during the first half of 2020.

The report attributes Pakistan’s entry into the top five, to the financial closure of the Thar Power Plant, with US$1.9 billion of investment commitment.

The World Bank report is a testimony to Pakistan and China’s mutual commitment that the COVID-19 pandemic would not slow down CPEC projects.

Pakistan welcomes the decision by the Government of Canada to positively revise its Travel Advisory while lowering the overall risk level for Pakistan.

Earlier, in the wake of the safe environment provided by Pakistan, the United Nations had re-designated Islamabad as a family station for its personnel.

Several other countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway and Portugal had also revised their Travel Advisories for Pakistan.

These revisions in the travel advisories are a manifestation of the fact that the international community has recognized that overall security environment in Pakistan has improved.

Coming to the situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, yesterday marked completion of 500 days since India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5th August 2019.

The people of IIOJK continue to remain under an inhuman military siege, deprived of all their freedoms and fundamental rights.

In a brazen manifestation of state terrorism, during this week the Indian occupation troops martyred six more innocent Kashmiris in Pulwama, Kulgam and Poonch districts of IIOJK.

We strongly condemn the arrest and brutal torture of three journalists in Anantnag District of IIOJK during the 5th phase of the sham District Development Council (DDC) elections.

In another illegal action aimed at changing the demographic structure of IIOJK and depriving the Kashmiri people of their distinct identity, the Indian authorities have allotted 25 acres of Kashmiri land for construction of the first ‘Sainik’ colony for ex-servicemen.

This action, a continuation of India’s illegal and unilateral steps since 5 August 2019, constitutes a clear violation of international law, including the 4th Geneva Convention, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions, bilateral agreements between India and Pakistan, and humanitarian norms.

I thank you for your attention and am happy to take questions on these or other foreign policy related developments.

Question: Pakistan has presented a Dossier containing irrefutable evidence of Indian involvement in state sponsorship of terrorism in Pakistan. Has Pakistan raised the issue specifically with the Counter Terrorism bodies and Committees in the UN System? (NaveedSiddiqui, Dawn)

Supplementary Question:Pakistan has shared the Dossier containing incontrovertible evidence against India with the United Nations; what is your expectation from the UN in this regard? Secondly, in case India conducts another false flag operation like it did in Pulwama, what will it target this time and what are its objectives? (KhawajaNayyarIqbal, Media Today)

Answer: As I stated in my opening statement, we have learnt from credible sources that India is planning to undertake a military misadventure (so-called “surgical strike”) across the LOC/international border, for which it is trying to seek understanding from major powers. The Armed Forces of Pakistan are fully prepared to defeat Indian designs.

Any miscalculation will result in global embarrassment for India, as it faced in 2019.

Such a scenario will, however, seriously destabilize the region with catastrophic consequences. This has been shared with important world capitals. Any military conflict between Pakistan and India will also seriously undermine the peace prospects in Afghanistan, for which the entire responsibility will rest with India.

Regarding the dossier, as part of follow up to the release of the Dossier on “Indian State Sponsorship of Terrorism”, Pakistan has undertaken extensive diplomatic outreach to sensitize the international community of India’s nefarious designs and use of UN sanctioned terrorist organizations as their proxies to carry out terrorist attacks against Pakistan.

Pakistan has also actively engaged the UN counter-terrorism architecture to raise its concerns with international partners. One such avenue is the UNSC Sanctions Committee, commonly known as 1267 Committee. This Committee is mandated to oversee implementation of UNSC Sanctions against listed entities and individuals and activities of listed entities.

A letter along with the evidence from the Dossier was shared with the Sanctions Committee. The Committee was presented with irrefutable evidence of Indian involvement with UN designated entities.

Given the comprehensive information provided by Pakistan, some countries have asked for more time to examine the evidence.

Pakistan will continue highlighting the issue of Indian state sponsorship of terrorism at different international fora, including the Counter-Terrorism related bodies of the UN.

Question: As you mentioned, the Indian occupation forces have targeted the United Nations vehicle, carrying two officers of UNMOGIP. This is actually an attack on the United Nations, not on Pakistan. How would the United Nations respond to this? Will Pakistan also raise this with the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan? Has there ever been such incident in the past as well? (Naveed Akbar, Aaj TV)

Supplementary Question: What will be the process to register the protest against the attack on UNMOGIP officers? Whether Pakistan or UNMOGIP itself will take up this issue with the United Nations? (Aijaz Ahmed, GNN)

Answer: As I have already shared in detail that the ceasefire violations by India are in clear violation of international law; the 2003 Ceasefire Understanding; and are against all established humanitarian norms and professional military conduct.

The reprehensible act of unprovoked firing by India on the UNMOGIP officers is indicative of a new low in the conduct of Indian occupation troops. We continue to sensitize the international community about these flagrant violations. We believe the United Nations should also take immediate cognizance of these violations because they are not only in contravention of the UNSC resolutions but also a threat to regional peace and stability.

Pakistan continues to call upon India to respect the 2003 Ceasefire Understanding; investigate such incidents of deliberate ceasefire violations and maintain peace along the LoC and the Working Boundary (WB).

Pakistan also urges India to allow the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), to play its mandated role as per the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions.

Question: It has been reported that a Pakistani delegation secretly visited Tel Aviv last month. Would you please comment?

Secondly, there was a lot of criticism on social media that the Taliban delegation visited the Foreign Office on 16 December which was the anniversary of tragic APS Peshawar attack? How do you comment on this?

Thirdly, according to a BBC story published on 7 December, two women from Azad Jammu & Kashmir strayed into IIOJK, who were then repatriated. However, in August a dead body of a woman, recovered from River Shiok, was not allowed to be repatriated from the same route. In this regard, whyis there no similar process or policy? Would you please elucidate? (Fida Hussain, Radio News Network)

Answer: As for the reports regarding the visit to Israel, these are factually incorrect,baseless and misleading. No visit has been undertaken by any Pakistani delegation to Tel Aviv.

As reiterated earlier, Pakistan’s approach towards Palestinian-Israeli conflict will be guided by our evaluation of how Palestinians’ rights and aspirations are upheld through a two-state solution, with pre-1967 borders and Al-Quds Sharif as its capital.

Regarding the visit of Taliban delegation, Pakistan has always maintained that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. Pakistan has fully facilitated the Afghan Peace Process that culminated in the US-Taliban Peace Agreement. The visit of Taliban Political Commission delegation is part of Pakistan’s policy to reach out to key Afghan parties in the Afghan peace process with a view to facilitating the Intra-Afghan Negotiations.

Pakistan will continue to support an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement for durable peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region.

Pakistan’s unwavering resolve and commitment to defeat terrorism at immense human and economic cost is widely recognized. Likewise our role in the Afghan peace process has been widely acknowledged and appreciated.

However, the linking of the visit of Taliban Political Commission delegation with APS Peshawar incidentdoes not warrant any comment.

Question: You just mentioned a threat of surgical strike by India, and Pakistan’s likely response to it; do you think any such action has the potential to spiral the regional security situation out of control?

Secondly, in your opening statement, you mentioned a likely impact of a military conflict between India and Pakistan on the Afghan peace process? Can you further elaborate? (EssaNaqvi, Indus News)

Answer: I would like to refer to my opening remarks, that if any ill-considered misadventure is resorted to, it will face an assured notch-up military response from Pakistan.

As for your question about its impact on regional peace and security, such a scenario will indeed seriously destabilize the region with catastrophic consequences.

Any military conflict between Pakistan and India will also seriously undermine the peace prospects in Afghanistan, for which the entire responsibility will rest with India.

Question: You mentioned that India is seeking external help for conducting a surgical strike. Is Pakistan also engaging friendly countries and world power regarding the same? (Aijaz Ahmed, GNN)

Secondly, what are your comments on the news stories about Pakistani nationals being put into prisons in UAE, so as to ensure the security of potential Israeli visitors to UAE? Also,travel restrictionshave been imposed on potential Pakistani visitors to UAE. The Foreign Minister raised this issue with UAE government earlier, as well as yesterday during his current visit. Is there any progress?

Answer: As for the first part of your question, I have already spoken about this inmy opening statement.

As for visas, the Foreign Minister, in his media interactions has spoken in details about the issue.

Question: The Taliban delegation met with Prime Minister Imran Khan. Have you also offered to host the next round of intra Afghan dialogue?

Secondly, during Foreign Minister’s visit to UAE, has there been any progress on the matter of issuance of new visas to Pakistani visitors, and the Pakistani nationals detained in UAE during the recent security crackdown?(Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)

Answer: As I mentioned earlier, the welfare of the Pakistani community in UAE has been discussed in detail in the Foreign Minister’s ongoing visit.

Pakistan remains committed to the Afghan peace process. As for your question regarding the next round of Intra Afghan negotiations, we believe it is up to the negotiating parties to decide the venue.

Question: Iran has recently announced the opening of a new border crossing at Rimdan. What are your comments on this development? (SheerazAsghar, IRNA)

Answer: Opening of Gabd-Reemdan crossing point had been under discussion between Pakistan and Iran at various levels.

The purpose of this and other proposed border crossing points is to enhance people to people contacts and facilitate travel and trade between the two countries.

Question: You have mentioned that the next phase of Intra Afghan dialogue will possibly commence from 5th of January, 2020. Will Pakistan have any facilitative role in this process? (TrariqWardak, Daily Times)

Answer: There have been in three major developments in the Afghan peace process: First, the Agreement between the Taliban and the US; second, the initiation of Intra Afghan Negotiations; and third, the Agreement on Rules and Procedures. Pakistan has fully supported and facilitated the process and continue playing our supportive role towards a comprehensive, inclusive and broad based political settlement leading to lasting peace in Afghanistan and the region.

Question: A Pakistani car importer and gold trader Ali Muhammad was arrested in Zimbabwe. Can you update us about this as well?

Secondly, a Pakistani national Ahmed Rabbanihas been detained in Guantanamo Bay since 2004. A UK based human rights organization has reported that Ahmed Rabbani has no links with Al Qaeda, as was alleged at the time of his arrest. Any further updates?

Thirdly, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan ZalmayKhalilzad has expressed his disappointment over delay in intra-Afghan negotiations and has reiterated that these negotiations must take place on 5th of January. Moreover, the Afghan President has also emphasized that the venue of intra-Afghan negotiations should be shifted from Doha to Afghanistan. How do you comment on this?

Fourthly, the French Ambassador in India met with the Indian Union Minister for Development and made commitments for investment in IIOJK. How do you see this intervention by the French Government in the occupied Kashmir?

Fifthly, in a recent development regarding the south of maritime domain, India is considering to build a new naval base which is already proposed in Mauritius. Don’t you think that India is now encircling Pakistan from south? (Faisal Raza Khan, 92 News)

Answer: Regarding your first question, we are in contact with the Zimbabwean authorities with regard to Mr. Ali Muhammad. We are following the matter which is in the Zimbabwean Court. Our Mission in Harare is also in contact with Mr. Ali Muhammad.

As for Mr. Muhammad Ahmed GhulamRabbani, he remains detained at Guantanamo Bay since 2004. His case is periodically reviewed by the U.S. Periodic Review Board. In its last review, the Periodic Review Board determined that continued detention of Mr. Ahmed Rabbani remained necessary. We are in contact with the concerned U.S. authorities on the issue.

On Afghanistan, Pakistan has always upheld that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. We have always encouraged both sides to resolve their differences through inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive Intra-Afghan Negotiations. Venue and other details may be decided mutually between the negotiating sides.

Regarding investment in IIOJK, we believe that the international community mustfirst take cognizance of fundamental legal, human rights and peace and security dimensions of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. The people of IIOJK continue to remain under an illegal and inhuman military siege, deprived of all their freedoms and fundamental rights.It is the responsibility of the international community to hold India accountable for state terrorism in IIOJK. The so-called ‘development’ is just a faced to perpetuate India’s illegal occupation of IIOJK.

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