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 Pakistan`s reelection to the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) with an overwhelming majority.

In a secret ballot, held on 13 October 2020, Pakistan secured 169 votes in the 193-member UN General Assembly.

Among the five candidates from the Asia-Pacific region, contesting against four seats, Pakistan secured the highest number of votes.

With its re-election, Pakistan will continue to serve as a member of the HRC for another three-year term commencing on 1 January 2021.

Pakistan’s re-election is a recognition by the international community of our contribution to the national and global human rights agenda and strong credentials as a consensus builder in the Council.

Pakistan remains firmly committed to upholding, promoting and safeguarding human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.

The Human Rights Council has been a prominent forum for discussing the gross and systematic human rights abuses being perpetrated in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

The human rights violations committed by the Indian occupation forces in IIOJK have been extensively documented in the various reports of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the independent Special Procedure Mandate Holders.

Pakistan will remain actively engaged with the Council as well as its related processes to continue highlighting the plight of the Kashmiris and other oppressed people all over the world.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had a telephonic conversation with his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison.

Both leaders discussed bilateral matters and international issues of mutual interest, including the adverse economic impact of COVID-19 on the developing countries.

While expressing satisfaction at the level of bilateral relations between the two countries, Prime Minister Imran Khan underscored the need to further enhancing mutually beneficial cooperation in diverse fields.

The Prime Minister stated that with improved on-ground situation, cricket between the two sides could also be resumed as COVID-19 situation improves.

In the regional context, the Prime Minister highlighted Pakistan’s positive contribution to the Afghan peace process and stressed that peace in Afghanistan was of paramount importance for the region and Pakistan.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison noted Pakistan’s positive role in the Afghan peace process.

Pakistan extends warm felicitations to the President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon on his historic win in the Presidential elections.

Pakistan and Tajikistan are partners in regional peace, prosperity and connectivity.

We look forward to working closely with the Government of Tajikistan under President Rahmon in further cementing our brotherly ties.

Pakistan is closely monitoring the developments in Nagorno Karabagh region.

The recent reports of shelling on civilian centers inside mainland Azerbaijan including the cities of Ganja, Tartar and Barda are extremely disturbing.

Pakistan expresses its condolences to the government and the people of Azerbaijan and calls upon Armenia to desist from attacking the innocent civilians in violation of the international humanitarian law.

We reaffirm our support to the brotherly nation of Azerbaijan in their legitimate struggle to defend their homeland.

Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi participated in a virtual Ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), hosted by the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan.

In his statement, the Foreign Minister underscored that the COVID-19 pandemic re-validated the importance of NAM’s founding principles rooted in solidarity, international cooperation and respect for multilateralism.

The Foreign Minister called for strict adherence to the principles and purposes of the UN Charter and addressing the existing and emerging challenges to peace and security.

He particularly emphasized the need to address the root causes of conflicts such as foreign occupation and suppression of fundamental rights.

The Foreign Minister reiterated deep concern at continued denial of the Kashmiris’ inalienable right to self-determination, guaranteed to them under several UN Security Council resolutions.

The Foreign Minister noted the inextricable link between peace and development, which necessitated concerted action to help developing countries in the realization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

He reaffirmed Pakistan’s firm commitment to NAM and its founding principles.

The Foreign Minister attended the Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting (CFAMM) held virtually.

The meeting focused on major global challenges, including approaches to the global Covid-19 recovery plan, climate change and social tensions as well as racial discourse.

The Foreign Minister commended Commonwealth’s ‘No More’ Campaign and welcomed Commonwealth’s Statement on Racism.

Expressing concerns over rise in intolerance, violence, xenophobia and Islamophobia, the Foreign Minister remarked that a state in South Asia was targeting specific religious and ethnic groups in order to foment hatred among communities.

The fifth round of Pakistan-UK Bilateral Consultations on Arms Control, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament was held virtually on 13 October 2020.

Both sides discussed issues of Arms Control, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament in a cordial and constructive environment.

Issues related to global and regional security and stability were also discussed.

We extend our warmest felicitations to Pakistan Army team on winning the International Pace Sticking Competition at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, UK.

Pakistan team won the competition for the third consecutive year.

By maintaining and displaying the highest standards of discipline, professionalism and excellence, our Armed forces continue to make the nation proud.

Coming to the situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), the situation continues to deteriorate further for 437 days since India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5th August 2019.

In brazen manifestation of state terrorism, Indian occupation forces have martyred more than three hundred innocent Kashmiris in last one year.

More than 600 Kashmiri youth were subjected to custodial torture, while 134 were seriously injured with pellets from 1st January till 30th September 2020.

During the same period, the Indian Occupation forces also arrested 2,635 civilians and destroyed 910 houses and structures to inflict collective punishment and render the Kashmiris economically and socially more vulnerable. In their latest act of state terrorism, the Indian occupation forces martyred six more Kashmiri youth in so called “cordon-and- search” operations in Srinagar, Kulgam and Pulwama areas of the IIOJK.

Pakistan strongly condemns unabated Indian state-terrorism and extra-judicial killings of innocent Kashmiris.

India must realise that use of brutal force against the Kashmiri people, including extra-judicial killings, custodial torture and deaths, forced disappearances, incarceration of Kashmiri leadership and youth, use of pellet guns, destruction of houses to inflict ‘collective punishment’ on the Kashmiri communities, and other methods of subjugation have failed in the past and will not succeed in the future.

The indigenous resistance movement of the Kashmiris for their inalienable right to self-determination, as enshrined in the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, will only become stronger in the face of Indian state-terrorism.

Pakistan calls upon the international community, including the United Nations, human rights organizations and the global media, to take immediate cognizance of the aggravating situation in IIOJK.

India must be held accountable for egregious human rights violations and war crimes in the occupied territory.

Pakistan also urges the world community to work for peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UNSC Resolutions and wishes of the Kashmiri people for durable peace and stability of the region.

In attempts to divert world attention, India continues to escalate tensions along the Line of Control.

The recent unprovoked ceasefire violations by India on 14 October have resulted in serious injuries to two innocent civilians.

This year, India has committed 2,530 ceasefire violations to date, resulting in 19 shahadats and serious injuries to 197 innocent civilians.

Let me also respond to another irresponsible statement by the senior Indian leadership, as part of BJP’s belligerent rhetoric against Pakistan.

In his recent remarks, Indian Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh, has insinuated that Pakistan and China are deliberately creating border disputes with India.

Pakistan strongly rejects and condemns such irresponsible and unwarranted statements by senior Indian leadership.

The Indian Defence Minister’s statement demonstrates an inexcusable lack of self-awareness of RSS-BJP regime’s self-serving narrative.

It is also another manifestation of the Indian government’s incurable obsession with Pakistan.

Pakistan also condemns the malicious Indian propaganda against the longstanding, close Pakistan-China friendship.

It is preposterous for a country that is compulsively expansionist and a brazen practitioner of state-terrorism, to level charges against others.

The world community is aware that the political opportunism of the RSS-BJP regime is imperiling peace, stability and security of the region.

Rather than jeopardizing peace and stability of the region, including by perpetrating state-terrorism as a tool to advance its extremist (Hindutva) ideology and expansionist (Akhand Bharat) designs, India should seriously consider course correction by giving up its aggressive agenda and peacefully resolving disputes with neighbours.

With this, I thank you and am happy to take questions on these or other foreign policy related developments.

Question: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Security and Strategic Policy Planning in an interview to the Indian TV channel said that India had expressed its intent to initiate the dialogue process with Pakistan. Was the message to resume dialogue conveyed formally to the Government of Pakistan? (Mona Khan)

Supplementary Question: Will India reverse its unilateral and illegal actions of 5th August 2019 in case of any development regarding the resumption of dialogue? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)

Supplementary Question: Has India specified the issues on which it intends to talk to Pakistan? (Syed Iqbal Mustafa Bukhari, Jag Beeti/Times Today)

Supplementary Question: Is the Indian offer to resume dialogue in the framework of composite dialogue or a new framework will be established in this regard? Will it also include the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir, especially in the wake of 5th August 2019? (Jaleel Akhtar, VOA)

Supplementary Question: SAPM on National Security and Strategic Policy Planning also said that there is ample evidence of Indian involvement in terrorist attack on Army Public School in 2014. Would you please comment? (Abbas, District News)

Supplementary Question: Is there any change in Pakistan’s official position regarding resumption of dialogue with India because SAPM National Security and Strategic Policy Planning in his interview offered to resume dialogue on the basis of five conditions? Will Pakistan resume the dialogue process if India fulfills the conditions? (Anwar Abbas, Bol News)

Supplementary Question: How do you see the involvement of Kashmiris as third party in the dialogue process between India and Pakistan? (Shumaila Andleeb, APP)

Supplementary Question: SAPM on National Security in his important interview with Indian media outlet talked about resumption of dialogue with India. Would you please take us into confidence whether the U.S. or China played any role in facilitating the resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan? Was there any backdoor diplomacy going on? (Mateen Haider, G News)

Supplementary Question: The five conditions mentioned by SAPM for resumption of dialogue with India did not include the repeal of Articles 370 and 35-A, whereas earlier the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and the Spokesperson of Pakistan Military had said that dialogue with India will only be possible once it reverses the unilateral actions of 5th August 2019. Is Pakistan backtracking from its position? (Anas Mallick, WION TV)

Answer: As for the interview of Dr. Moeed Yusuf, SAPM on National Security and Strategic Policy Planning, there is nothing to add to what the SAPM shared during his detailed interview.

Pakistan has repeatedly been saying that the onus is on India to create an enabling environment by rescinding its illegal and unilateral actions, ending its state-terrorism against the Kashmiri people, and agreeing to resolve the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the people of Kashmir

It is India that has vitiated the atmosphere with its illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 in IIOJK and with continuous belligerent rhetoric.

We have been consistently saying that India is trying to change the demographic structure of IIOJK in violation of international law, UN charter, the United Nations Security Council Resolutions, 4th Geneva Convention and humanitarian norms.

It is our consistent demand that the demographic changes should immediately be stopped and this process be reversed. On its part, Pakistan will continue to highlight India’s state terrorism in IIOJK, and its denial of the fundamental freedoms and inalienable right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people.

Pakistan has consistently maintained that there can be no resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, without letting the Kashmiris exercise their inalienable right to self-determination, as enshrined in the relevant UNSC Resolutions.

Regarding Indian involvement in acts of terrorism, Pakistan has been consistently sensitizing the international community about the Indian leadership’s threatening statements to use terrorism as a tool to destabilize Pakistan.

Pakistan has already shared with the international community, incriminating evidence about the Indian Intelligence Agency RAW’s involvement in terrorist activities in Pakistan.

Question: Reportedly, Pakistan is focusing more on Dr. Abdullah Abdullah who is getting stronger in Ashraf Ghani lobby. Traditionally, this lobby has hard view on Pakistan. How do you comment on this?

Secondly, India is disseminating propaganda against Pakistan-China relationship. How do you comment on this? (Sumaira Khan, Indus News World)

Supplementary Question: It has been reported that Dr. Abdullah Abdullah is more inclined towards India. Recently, he has said that Indian military and civil leadership is more positive towards Afghanistan. What are your comments in this regard? (Adeel Bashir, Roze News)

Answer: Pakistan has always maintained that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. Pakistan has always urged all stakeholders to pursue an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement that is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.

Pakistan has been pursuing the policy to reach out to all stakeholders with a view to facilitate the Afghan peace process. The Intra-Afghan Negotiations have provided a historic opportunity for Afghan leadership to establish long-lasting peace, and it is now upto the Afghans to seize this unprecedented opportunity.

Regarding Indian propaganda on Pakistan-China relationship, I did speak about it in my opening remarks.

Pakistan and China are joined together in a broad-based, long-term “All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership”. Our cooperation is an anchor for regional peace and stability. We have always stood by each other through difficult times and have supported each other on core national issues.

Pakistan strongly condemns the malicious Indian propaganda against the longstanding and close Pakistan-China friendship. This propaganda is a manifestation of the Indian government’s incurable obsession with Pakistan and its desperate attempts to mislead the world community.

The world community is aware that the political opportunism of the RSS-BJP regime is imperiling peace, stability and security of the region.

We believe that instead of promoting propaganda, India needs a course correction, not belligerent rhetoric against Pakistan. India should focus on its policies which are imperiling regional peace and stability.

Question: The Financial Action Task Force is all set to decide on Pakistan’s grey list status in a virtual meeting scheduled later this month. Will Pakistan be removed from the grey list? Has Pakistan completed the requirements of FATF? What are your expectations? (Khalid Mehmood, Express News)

Answer: The process of FATF is ongoing. Pakistan is implementing the FATF Action Plan since 2018 and we have made significant progress in this regard. Our entire AML/CFT regime has been revamped in compliance with the Action Plan to bring it to the international standards set by FATF.

The substantial progress made by Pakistan under a huge national effort includes steps in legislative, regulatory and operational domains.

FATF has also acknowledged Pakistan’s political commitment and the progress made by us in a number of areas in the Action Plan. We are committed to and moving towards completion of the Action Plan. We remain engaged with the process.

Question: According to media reports, U.S. has carried out air strikes in Helmand, which has seen heavy fighting in the recent days between the government and Taliban forces. How can this impact the Afghan peace Process, and what is Pakistan’s take on the situation? Will the Intra-Afghan negotiations move forward in the backdrop of growing violence in Afghanistan? (Mateen Hider, G News)

Answer: Pakistan has always maintained that there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict. We welcomed the signing of the U.S.-Taliban Peace Agreement and the start of Intra-Afghan Negotiations. It is now up the Afghan leadership to seize this historic opportunity. We urge all sides to achieve reduction in violence leading to ceasefire.

Question: Has India recently conveyed its willingness to resume dialogue with Pakistan? (Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)

Answer: I have already responded to this question. Pakistan is a peace-loving nation and wants to forge peaceful relations with all its neighboring countries. However, onus of creating an enabling environment is on India. To this end, India must rescind the measures it has instituted since 5 August 2019, end its military siege and other gross human rights violations, and agree to resolve the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the people of Kashmir.

Question: My question is about the Pakistani citizens in Dubai who are being deported. More than 445 Pakistani nationals have been deported because the Pakistan Embassy in UAE and PIA were not able to timely disseminate information about UAE’s new travel policy. How do you respond? (Zaheer, Samaa News)

Answer: Let me share with you that our Mission in Dubai is in close contact with the stranded Pakistani passengers and the local authorities.

These passengers were denied entry for not complying with the entry requirements. Our Mission has already secured entry for some of these passengers, and is currently engaged with the local authorities for either entry into Dubai, or safe return to Pakistan for the remaining stranded passengers.

I would also like to mention that these entry requirements are not Pakistan specific. Passengers from many other countries have also been facing similar situation in Dubai.

Question: Is there any development in the matter of deaths of 11 Pakistani Hindu citizens in India? (Zargoon Shah, Geo TV)

Answer: As you are aware, Pakistani Hindu Community from all across the country turned up in large numbers in Islamabad for a sit-in. The Government of Pakistan has communicated to the Indian authorities that in the interest of justice to the bereaved family and also to ensure the safety and security of other Pakistani nationals in India, it was of utmost importance for the Government of India to be fully transparent about this unfortunate incident.

It has also been emphasized that since the victims of “Jodhpur Incident” were Pakistani nationals, it was incumbent upon the Government of Pakistan to be fully aware of the circumstances under which its nationals died in India.

The Indian side has been urged to carry out a comprehensive investigation into the matter, provide access to the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi to the surviving member of the bereaved family, share copies of the FIR and the initial investigation report and facilitate the presence of the High Commission for Pakistan’s representatives during the post-mortem of the deceased persons without further delay.

Question: Former US Secretary of the State Hillary Clinton, in one of her interviews, has called Pakistan a “deep state”. How do you see this statement? (Ishtiaq Ahmed, News One)

Answer: I have not seen any such statement.

Pakistan and U.S enjoy long standing bilateral ties. Both the countries have a desire to work closely with each other.

Question: SAPM NSD in his interview said that an Anti Terrorism Court in Islamabad has set 21st October, 2020 as a deadline for 27 Indian witnesses to appear before the Court in the Mumbai Attacks Trial. To quote SAPM himself, this is the third and final deadline given by the ATC. Has the Government of Pakistan contacted Indian authorities to send those witnesses to Pakistan?

Secondly, the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad has filed a petition in Islamabad High Court, through Barrister Shah Nawaz Noon, seeking the release of 4 military court convicts on the grounds that they have completed their sentence. So how do you see the situation where India is approaching Islamabad High Court for release of its convicts serving imprisonment on charges of terrorism and espionage, while at the same time stalling the process of review and reconsideration when it comes to Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav case. Your comments please? (Anas Malick, Wion TV)

Answer: Regarding your second question, I have already shared details about the Kulbhushan Jadhav case in earlier briefings. The Indian demands in the case are insane. We have informed them that the two consular accesses to Commander Jadhav were in accordance with the Vienna Convention. We have also offered India a third consular access.

It has been a consistent demand from the Indian side that a lawyer from other than Pakistan should represent Commander Jadhav in the court. We have repeatedly informed them that only those lawyers who have license to practice law in Pakistan can appear before the Pakistani courts.

Regarding the Indian High Commission approaching the Islamabad High Court in case of its other convicts, if India can approach Islamabad High Court in other cases they should do the same in case of Commander Jadhav too.

India should realize that effective review and reconsideration in Commander Jadhav’s case can only be provided by the Courts in Pakistan. It is incumbent upon India to cooperate with the Pakistani Courts so that the ICJ’s judgment could be implemented in its letter and spirit.

Regarding your first question about Mumbai Attacks trial, we have repeatedly asked the Indian Government to cooperate with the Courts in Pakistan so that the case could proceed further. As the key witnesses in the case are in India, in the interest of justice, it is important that they appear before the Court to record their statements.

We have assured the Indian Government that the witnesses will be provided maximum security in Pakistan. This leaves no reason for the witnesses to not travel to Pakistan to assist the court in the matter.

Question: MEA Spokesperson in a press release said that Pakistan is yet to establish requisite infrastructure, including a bridge at Budhi Ravi Channel as decided between the two sides for safe and hassle-free movement of pilgrims, while the bridge is ready at their end. Would you please comment? Would you please share update on Kartarpur Corridor?(Amjad Ali, PTV)

Answer: The Government of Pakistan has already initiated the work on its side of the bridge.

The delay is actually on the part of India, as despite repeated formal requests to provide detailed engineering drawings of the bridge on the Indian side, India has not provided technical details to Pakistan to complete the bridge on its side.

551st Birth Anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak Sahib is scheduled to be celebrated on 28-30 November 2020.

The Indian government is using dilatory tactics to deny Sikh Yatris the opportunity to be part of the Birth Anniversary celebrations.

Kartarpur Sahib Corridor is a true symbol of peace and religious harmony and manifestation of Pakistan`s commitment to inter-faith harmony.

The Corridor was temporarily closed on 16 March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the religious places were gradually opening up around the world, Pakistan also reopened the Corridor on 29 July 2020.

India has, however, not yet reopened the Corridor on its side, despite our repeated reminders.

We hope India will review its decision in view of the forthcoming 551st Birth Anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak Sahib.

Question: My question relates to the sanctions imposed on Iran. What is Pakistan’s stance in the matter? (Khwaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Toda)

Answer: Pakistan believes in the policy of constructive engagement. We believe that even complex issues can be resolved through effective diplomacy. We have already shared our stance on JCPOA, seeing it as an example of how complex issues can be resolved through engagement and consultations.

Question: It was recently reported that 44 Indian banks were involved in money laundering and terror financing. FATF is however quiet on this matter. Does Pakistan plan to raise this with FATF and on other international forums? (Anwar Abbas, Bol News)

Answer: We hope that FATF will take these factors into consideration at the time of India’s Mutual Evaluation Review.

Question: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has recently emphasized on the importance of narrative building. Pakistan has also won the election to Human Rights election with a huge margin. My question is whether an international human rights violator such as India should be a member of the Council?

Secondly, former Ambassador Hussain Haqqani has stated in one of his articles that the HRC win is not a huge achievement; rather it is a part of regular process. To counter such commentators, what short term and long term measures are being taken? (Adeel Bashir, Roze News)

Answer: Narrative building is obviously very important. Statements from the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, Ministry of Information and other stakeholders are all part of the whole narrative building exercise.

Pakistan’s re-election is recognition by the international community of our contribution to the national and global human rights agenda, and strong credentials as a consensus builder in the Council.

As I shared earlier, Pakistan got maximum votes from the Asia Pacific region i.e. 169 out of the 193 members of the UN General assembly. No one should try to undermine Pakistan’s diplomatic achievement.

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