January 7, 2021| 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,
I wish to begin with Kashmiris’ Right to Self-determination Day observed on 5th January 2021.
The Day reminded us that in 1949, the United Nations Commission for India & Pakistan (UNCIP) pledged realization of the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination through a free and impartial plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations.
The Day also reminded the international community, in particular the United Nations Security Council, of the imperative of honouring its commitment towards the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Day further reminded of the solemn pledges made by the Indian leadership before the Kashmiris, before Pakistan, before the international community and before its own people to give the Kashmiris their inalienable right to self-determination.
While speaking to the Indian nation over All-India Radio in November 1947, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru said “We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. That pledge we have given, and the Maharaja has supported it not only to the people of Kashmir but the world. We will not, and cannot back out of it”.
In a Letter addressed to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on 21 November 1947, Pandit Nehru reiterated, “I have repeatedly stated that as soon as peace and order have been established, Kashmir should decide of accession by Plebiscite or referendum under international auspices such as those of United Nations”.
In another statement, Nehru reiterated India’s commitment to the Kashmir cause, stating: “We have always right from the beginning accepted the idea of the Kashmiri people deciding their fate by referendum or plebiscite. In fact, this was our proposal long before the United Nations came into the picture.”
Later, while taking part in a debate on Kashmir in the 765th meeting of the Security Council on 24 January 1957, the Indian Representative Mr. Krishna Menon said, “there is nothing that has been said on behalf of the Government of India which in the slightest degree indicates that the Government of India or the Union of India will dishonour any international obligations it has undertaken.”
Regrettably, India blatantly backed out of its commitments, flagrantly dishonored its international obligations and deliberately violated international law during the last seven decades.
In their messages on the Kashmiris’ Right to Self-determination Day, the President, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, highlighted the grave human rights violations in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and urged the international community to ensure that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes against humanity are held accountable.
They reaffirmed Pakistan’s steadfast support for the Kashmiri people till the realization of their inalienable right to self-determination.
Pakistan has approached the United Nations Secretary General, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the European Union to seek immediate release of Kashmiri human rights activist and political leader, Asiya Andrabi, who remains incarcerated in infamous Tihar Jail in India.
It has been highlighted that Ms. Andrabi’s life is in danger owing to imminent risk of persecutory conviction by a sham court on 18 January 2021.
The Indian authorities have put Ms. Andrabi on trial on trumped up charges; deliberately accelerated the trial; and set aside due process, reflecting malicious intent with clear indications of looming judicial murder.
India’s blatant attempts to portray the legitimate Kashmiri struggle as “terrorism”, and to prosecute its leaders through concocted cases, is a clear violation of the UN Charter, UN Security Council and UN General Assembly resolutions, and international human rights and humanitarian law.
Voices from around the world continue to condemn inhuman oppression of the Kashmiri people and illegal and inhuman incarceration of the Kashmiri leadership, particularly Ms. Asiya Andarabi.
Pakistan welcomes the statement by the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The statement strongly condemns the illegal and inhuman incarceration of Ms. Asiya Andrabi and her two female associates in Tihar Jail on concocted and baseless charges.
The Commission has urged the United Nations, the OIC member States and the international human rights community to put pressure on the Indian government to: (a) immediately release Ms. Andrabi and her associates and all other political prisoners; (b) repeal its discriminatory laws, which are incompatible with human rights standards and restore all fundamental freedoms of Kashmiris; (c) immediately halt its gross and systematic human rights violations; (d) provide access to UN/OIC fact-finding missions and cooperate in the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry under UN auspices, and (e) implement relevant UN Security Council and OIC resolutions allowing Kashmiris to exercise their legitimate right to self-determination.
The Malaysian Consultative Council of Islamic Organization (MAPIM) has also strongly condemned worsening human rights violations; extrajudicial killings; illegal demographic change; inhuman incarceration of Kashmiri leaders, particularly of Ms. Asiya Andarabi and her associates.
Pakistan categorically rejects completely unwarranted assertions by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in connection with the Hindu temple incident in Karak.
This is not the first time the Indian Government has tried to feign concern for minority rights elsewhere, while being the most egregious and persistent violator of minority rights itself.
From the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) to the National Register of Citizens (NRC); from the Gujarat massacre of 2002 to the Delhi pogrom of 2020; from the reprehensible demolition of Babri Mosque in 1992 to the despicable acquittal of all the accused by Indian court in 2020; from blaming Muslims for spreading Coronavirus to the banning of inter-faith marriages; from cow vigilantism and mob lynchings to terming the Muslims of West Bengal ‘termites’ and threatening to ‘throw them into the Bay of Bengal’; from extra-judicial killings of innocent Kashmiris to the blatant attempts to turn Muslims into a minority in IIOJK through distribution of ‘fake domicile certificate’, the RSS-BJP regime’s record is replete with instances of gross and systemic violations of the rights of minorities, in particular Muslims.
As a perennial purveyor of state-sponsored discrimination against its minorities, India is in no position to pontificate on the issue of minority rights elsewhere.
The clear difference between India and Pakistan in respect of minority rights can be gauged from the fact that the accused in the Karak incident were immediately arrested, orders were issued for repair of the temple, the highest level of judiciary took immediate notice, and senior political leadership condemned the incident.
Whereas, in India, the blatant acts of discrimination against Muslims and other minorities take place with state complicity.
Coming to the situation in IIOJK, in complete disregard of its international legal and moral obligations, India has continuously subjected the people of IIOJK to a brutal military siege, inhuman restrictions and state terrorism for an unprecedented 521 days since India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5th August 2019.
Pakistan strongly condemns the latest extra-judicial killings by the Indian occupation forces of three Kashmiri youth in Srinagar on 29 December 2020.
It is doubly inhuman that the bodies of the martyrs were not handed over to their families for a proper burial, despite repeated appeals by the families.
This is a new form of oppression that the Indian occupation forces are now resorting to in order to break the will of the Kashmiri people.
They have not and will never succeed in this attempt.
Pakistan welcomes the commencement of the second round of Intra Afghan Negotiations in Doha. The two teams have made significant progress by finalizing the rules and procedures last month and have now reconvened to negotiate on substantive issues.
We call upon both sides to remain constructively engaged and show flexibility in the negotiations for reaching an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement which would lead to lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.
We are hopeful that the two sides will prioritize working out a road-map for reduction in violence and ceasefire in the negotiations.
Pakistan reiterates its abiding commitment to a peaceful, stable, united, sovereign, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan.
Pakistan welcomes the decision by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Qatar to reopen the land, air and sea borders between the two countries.
We also appreciate other steps being taken by the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which will contribute to resolution of outstanding issues between the countries of the organization persisting for almost four years.
Pakistan lauds the positive role played by the Emir of Kuwait towards the resolution of differences between the countries of the GCC.
Pakistan continues to accord high importance to its relations with the GCC as well as its member states.
The President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Djibouti, accompanied by a 12 member Parliamentary delegation, visited Pakistan from 28th December to 3rd January 2021.
During the visit, the delegation called on the Prime Minister, the President, the Chairman Senate, the Speaker of the National Assembly and other dignitaries.
In his meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan underlined the salience of Pakistan’s “Engage Africa” policy, which aims at forging closer ties with the Continent by expanding Pakistan’s diplomatic footprint and deepening economic engagement.
As part of his long-term focus on Economic Diplomacy and “Engage Africa Initiative”, Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi chaired a virtual envoys meeting with Pakistan’s Heads of Missions in Africa.
Underlining the shift from geo-politics to geo-economics, the Foreign Minister emphasized the importance of economic diplomacy as a key component of modern diplomatic practice.
The Foreign Minister encouraged the Envoys to cultivate and broaden mutually beneficial trade and economic partnerships with the African countries.
I thank you for your attention and am happy to take questions on these or other foreign policy related developments.
Question: How do you see the recent developments in Washington where pro Trump agitators stormed the US Capital? Would you please comment on this? (Naveed Siddiqui, Dawn TV)
Answer: We are closely following the developments in Washington DC. We are hopeful that the situation will soon normalize and would not in any way impact the ongoing transition process.
We also wish to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden on certification of his win by the U.S. Congress.
Question: India has initiated a fake and anti-Pakistan propaganda to malign it globally. The irresponsible and war-mongering statements by Indian leadership also indicate belligerence and brinkmanship against Pakistan. In this context, what will be Pakistan’s strategy? (Amjad Ali, PTV).
Answer: We will respond to Indian falsehood with truth; we will respond to India’s disinformation campaign against Pakistan by sharing accurate information with the international community; we will respond to India’s anti-Pakistan propaganda through our positive outreach to the international community and we will respond to Indian war-mongering with our desire for peace.
However, let me reiterate that any ill-considered misadventure by India will invite an assured notch-up military response from Pakistan as manifested in 2019. Pakistan’s Armed Forces are fully capable of defeating Indian ill designs.
Question: Does Pakistan believe that international forces are active in supporting proxy wars and terrorism inside Pakistan? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)
Answer: Regarding sponsoring terrorism against Pakistan, we have already put forth irrefutable evidence, extensively documenting India’s active planning, promoting, aiding, abetting, financing and executing terrorist activities in Pakistan. Pakistan has been consistently sensitizing the international community about India’s nefarious designs and ill intentions to destabilize Pakistan.
We believe that for durable peace and stability in the region, India must eschew the use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy and stop its global smear campaign against Pakistan. However, our security agencies remain fully vigilant and prepared to respond to any Indian misadventure or ill designs.
Question: The Afghan authorities have claimed that some of the victims in Mach incident were Afghan nationals and demanded the repatriation of their dead bodies. Would you please comment?
Secondly, it has been reported that Saudi Foreign Minister is likely to visit Pakistan. Would you please share details and exact dates of the visit? (Zaheer, Samaa TV)
Supplementary Question: The Afghan government has demanded the repatriation of dead bodies of their nationals who were murdered in Mach incident. Would you please comment on it?
Secondly, there are also reports that the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia is visiting Pakistan. Is there any update? It is also being reported that the Prime Minister of Pakistan is also expected to visit Saudi Arabia. Would you please confirm? (Saima Shabbir, Arab News)
Supplementary Question: Is there any confirmed schedule of Saudi Foreign Minister’s visit to Pakistan. What will be the agenda of his visit? (Kausar Lodhi, Prime News)
Supplementary Question: It has been reported that the Afghan government has approached the Government of Pakistan for handing over dead bodies of seven Afghan nationals, who were murdered in Mach, Balochistan. Would you please comment on this? (Naveed Siddiqui, Dawn TV)
Supplementary Question: It has been reported that there is Indian involvement in the Mach incident. Does Pakistan have concrete evidence in this regard? Will Pakistan share the evidence with the Indian government? We have seen that in case of such attacks, the Indian government threatens to conduct a surgical strike in Pakistan. Will Pakistan also launch a surgical strike inside India? (Rashida Sial, Abb Takk TV)
Answer: As for the Mach incident, the matter is being thoroughly investigated to ascertain the facts and as soon as further details are available, they will be shared with the media.
Regarding the visit of the Saudi Foreign Minister, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have brotherly relationship deep rooted in history and based on mutual trust and understanding. High-level political exchanges between the two countries are the hallmark of this brotherly bilateral relationship. Any update in this regard will be shared with you in due course.
Question: As Pakistan has welcomed the second round of intra-Afghan negotiations held in Doha, however, the Americans have blamed that the Chinese are behind the attacks in Afghanistan. What will be its impact on the Afghan peace process and Pakistan’s foreign policy? (Adeel Bashir, Roze News)
Answer: Pakistan has consistently maintained that there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict and political settlement is the only way forward.
Towards this end, Pakistan has been engaged in serious efforts to facilitate an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace process. During 2020, our long-held position was vindicated and Pakistan’s serious efforts facilitated important breakthroughs in the peace process, including: (a) U.S.-Taliban Peace Agreement of 29 February; (b) commencement of Intra-Afghan Negotiations on 12 September; and (c) agreement among Afghan parties on the Rules and Procedures on 2 December 2020.
We hope that the Afghan parties would now seize this historic opportunity and workout a comprehensive and inclusive political settlement for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region through Afghan-led and Afghan-owned Intra-Afghan Negotiations.
Pakistan desires and continues to support a peaceful, stable, united, independent, democratic, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan.
Question: India is now a member of the UNSC. What would be the potential impact on Pakistan?
Secondly, there are reports in the media that Turkish and Azeri Foreign Ministers are visiting Pakistan next week. Would you please share the details? (Anas Mallick, the Correspondent)
Answer: Regarding the visit of Foreign Ministers of Turkey and Azerbaijan, as soon as the program is finalized, we will be happy to share the details with you.
Regarding Indian assumption of the UNSC as non-permanent member, it is ironic that India is able to sit on a UN body whose resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir have been persistently and defiantly flouted by it for over 70 years.
India continues to oppress the Kashmiris and deny their inalienable right to self-determination that was guaranteed to them under numerous resolutions of the UN Security Council.
India’s bellicose rhetoric and belligerent actions pose a threat to peace and security in the region and beyond.
Ceasefire violations by India across the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, targeting innocent civilians and populated areas, are a matter of routine.
India continues to impede access of Security Council-mandated UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to hide these violations.
The international community is well aware of India’s standing today as a State sponsor and perpetrator of terrorism, and as a massive violator of human rights.
India’s sponsorship of terrorism in Pakistan and its elaborate schemes for spreading disinformation about Pakistan internationally have been fully exposed with irrefutable evidence.
We are confident that other responsible members of the Security Council will remain mindful of these facts and not allow India to abuse its position as a non-permanent member of UNSC.
India will not be able to evade responsibility and accountability for its widespread violations of international law in IIOJK and beyond by virtue of its membership of the UN Security Council.
Question: How does Pakistan view US Congress certifying Joe Biden as the next President? Secondly, I understand you have already answered this question and Pakistan has always condemned terrorism anywhere in the world. But why is the investigation on Mach incident taking so long? And why did Pakistan not announce that the victims of Mach incident also included foreigners, before the official statements from Afghanistan? (Zahid Farooq Malik, Daily Metro Watch)
Answer: Regarding your first question, I have already stated that we congratulate President-elect Joe Biden on the certification of his win by the US Congress
Regarding your question on Mach, we believe it is always advisable to first complete the investigation and then share the details. As I already said investigation is under process and we will share the details in due course.
Question: You compared the verdict of Indian Supreme Court and that of the Pakistan Supreme Court with reference to the Karak incident. Will the Foreign Office instruct its Missions abroad to disseminate this information all over the world? (Mateen Syed, Parliament Times)
Answer: We issued a Press Release a few days ago. I also compared India’s human rights record with that of in my opening statement. Among other things, the clear difference between India and Pakistan in respect of minority rights can be gauged from the fact that the accused in the Karak incident were immediately arrested, orders were issued for repair of the temple, the highest level of judiciary took immediate notice, and senior political leadership condemned the incident.
Whereas, in India, the blatant acts of discrimination against Muslims and other minorities take place with state complicity. The Indian leadership is yet to condemn the perpetrators of the Delhi massacre in February 2020, let alone bring those criminals to justice. This is for the entire world to see. Our Missions are indeed sharing all these facts in their interactions.
Question: First Vice President of Afghanistan Amrullah Saleh has alleged that hundreds of military remote controls and related hardware have been seized from arrested Taliban that were provided by Pakistan to operate land-mines. What is Pakistan’s take on it? (Zulqarnain Haider, ARY News)
Answer: Pakistan strongly repudiates baseless, false and fictitious allegations made by Afghanistan’s First Vice President Amrullah Saleh in a Facebook post regarding illegal transfer of material from Pakistan that could be used as explosive.
These spurious allegations are a conspicuous effort to undermine the internationally acclaimed role Pakistan continues to play in Afghan peace process for bringing lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.
As per our bilateral agreements and mutual understanding reached in APAPPS and shared Vision agreed during the visit of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to Kabul on 19th November 2020, the two countries have obligation to avoid public blame-game and use official channels to discuss complete gamut of bilateral relations.
It is important for the two sides to focus on enhancing cooperation and coordination through the existing official and institutional channels to address mutual security concerns.
Pakistan reiterates its abiding commitment for a peaceful, prosperous, united, sovereign and democratic Afghanistan.
Question: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) on Monday seized a South Korea-flagged oil tanker in the waters of the Persian Gulf for allegedly violating maritime environmental laws. What is Pakistan take on it? (Shabbir Wagra, PTV News)
Answer: We have noted the development. We believe that differences pertaining to maritime affairs should be resolved as per international law. We urge all sides to exercise restraint.
Question: Is there any updated on the investigation regarding 11 Pakistani Hindus nationals who were killed in India? (Abbas Jaffar, Daily District News)
Answer: The information shared by India in the case so far is scant, patchy ad unsatisfactory.
In its last communication, the Government of India has again avoided answering the key questions in the case.
India has not explained as to why the bodies of the deceased were hastily cremated without informing the High Commission for Pakistan in New Delhi and why a postmortem in the presence of Pakistan High Commission’s doctor was not permitted, despite repeated requests by the High Commission.
Since the deceased were Pakistani nationals, it is incumbent upon the Government of Pakistan to be fully aware of the circumstances under which its nationals died in India. The Government of India is obligated to fully cooperate with Pakistan.
In the interest of justice, the Government of India is once again reminded of its obligations and urged to: carry out a comprehensive investigation into the tragic incident and inform us of the progress.
The Government of India, without further delay, must also provide copy of autopsy report; photos of dead bodies; photos of the crime scene, especially prior to removing the dead bodies; any witnesses or statements by neighbors; and copies of the FIR and the initial investigation report.
Question: Has Pakistan officially taken up the issue of Pakistan-bashing with Afghanistan, especially in the aftermath of remarks made by Afghanistan’s First Vice President Amrullah Saleh? (Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)
Answer: We believe that any sort of irresponsible remarks and spurious allegations should be avoided. Like I mentioned earlier while answering another question, it is important for the two sides to focus on enhancing cooperation and coordination through the existing official and institutional channels to address mutual security concerns. Public blame game is in no one’s interest and is indeed inimical to efforts for peace in Afghanistan.
Question: Prime Minister Imran Khan said in a recent interview to a Turkish Channel that Pakistan is not aware of President-elect Joe Biden’s views on Kashmir. How do you comment on this? (Aijaz Ahmed, GNN)
Answer: People of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK) have suffered more than seven decades of ruthless repression by India. We continue to sensitize the international community, including the United States, about India’s continued defiance of the international law and consistent UN Security Council resolutions. The international community must take forceful action on India’s egregious human rights violations in the occupied territory and their denial of right to self-determination for the people of Kashmir.
Last modified: January 7, 2021
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