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

Assalaam-o-Alaikum and Good afternoon

Let me begin by sharing with you the current situations in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Today is the 388th day of inhuman military siege, communications blockade and continued restrictions on all forms of freedom of Kashmiri people.

In the last few days, the Indian Occupation forces have martyred four more Kashmiris in Kupwara, Baramulla and Shopian districts of IIOJK.

The senior Hurriyat leadership and thousands of Kashmiri youth continue to remain incarcerated on frivolous charges under draconian laws such as Public safety Act and Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

We continue sensitizing the international community, the United Nations, and human rights organizations to take cognizance of the brutal suppression of the Kashmiri people’s rights and freedoms in utter violation of international laws and conventions.

The world community must use all tools at its disposal to hold India accountable for its crimes against Kashmiris.

I would now like to share important developments in the foreign policy domain since our last weekly Press Briefing.

As you know, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi undertook a successful visit to China from 20-21 August 2020. He led Pakistan side in Second Round of the China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue.

The two sides exchanged views on COVID-19 pandemic, bilateral relations, and international and regional issues of mutual interest.

Both the sides agreed to collectively take measures to safeguard their common interests, support each other on issues of core national interests and promote peace, prosperity, and development in the region.

The Joint Communique issued after the Dialogue, reiterated that the enduring China-Pakistan All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership is an anchor of peace and stability in the region and beyond.

It serves the mutual security and development interests of both the countries as well as of international community and regional countries.

Pakistan and China also agreed to further strengthen cooperation in developing a vaccine to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two sides underscored that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has entered the new phase of high-quality development, and has played and will continue to play an important role in supporting Pakistan to overcome the impact of COVID-19 and achieve greater development.

China reiterated its principled position that the Jammu and Kashmir dispute should be resolved peacefully through the UN Charter, relevant Security Council Resolutions and bilateral agreements. China clearly stated that it opposes any unilateral actions that complicate the situation.

Appreciating the efforts made by Afghan government and the Taliban to initiate the Intra-Afghan negotiations, both sides emphasized the importance of an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive negotiated agreement for future political settlement in Afghanistan and encouraged relevant parties in Afghanistan to seize this historic opportunity.

On 25 August, a Taliban Political Commission (TPC) delegation, headed by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, met with Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

During the meeting, views were exchanged on the current status of the Afghan peace process and the way forward.

Foreign Minister Qureshi underscored Prime Minister Imran Khan’s consistent stance that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and that a political settlement was the only way forward.

Highlighting Pakistan’s contribution to the peace and reconciliation process, the Foreign Minister underlined that this historic opportunity must be seized by the Afghan stakeholders to secure an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive negotiated political solution.

The Foreign Minister emphasized the implementation of the U.S.-Taliban Peace Agreement, in its entirety, paving the way for the earliest possible commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations.

He also cautioned against ‘spoilers’ who did not wish to see return of peace to the region.

The Foreign Minister stressed that Pakistan will continue to support an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process for durable peace, stability and prosperity in the region and beyond.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Imran Khan had a telephone call with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman High Council for National Reconciliation in Afghanistan.

The Prime Minister emphasized the importance of Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral relations and reiterated Pakistan commitment to further deepen these brotherly ties and enhance cooperation in all fields.

Prime Minister underlined his long-standing belief that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and that a negotiated political settlement was the only way forward.

Two days ago, India’s National Investigation Agency issued its so-called Charge Sheet in last year’s Pulwama attack.

Pakistan categorically rejects the “charge sheet”, which mischievously attempts to implicate Pakistan in the Pulwama attack in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK).

The fabrications in the reported “charge sheet” are patently designed to further the BJP’s anti-Pakistan rhetoric and its narrow domestic political interests.

It may be recalled that at the outset, Pakistan had rejected India’s baseless allegations and expressed readiness to extend cooperation on the basis of any actionable information.

India failed to provide any credible evidence for its invective and has instead been using the attack for its malicious propaganda campaign against Pakistan.

In response to a paper shared by the Indian Government following the Pulwama attack, Pakistan constituted a high-level investigation team to examine its contents.

As the information provided by India was incomplete and unsubstantiated, Pakistan shared two Aide-memoires, seeking further information and supporting evidence from India.

India has been unable to provide any corroboration of its unfounded allegations.

Pakistan has been forewarning the international community in the past about India’s use of “false flag” operation and possible ill-conceived misadventure.

With the approaching state elections in India, the RSS-BJP ploy of raising the Pakistan bogey again for making electoral gains is palpable.

We warn the world community again to be cognizant of the dangerous consequences of India’s belligerent rhetoric and irresponsible actions for peace and security in the region.

President of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Ms. Gabriela Barron paid a five-day official visit to Pakistan from 23 to 27 August, 2020 on the invitation of Chairman Senate of Pakistan.

During the visit, the President IPU held meetings with the President, Prime Minister, Chairman Senate, Speaker National Assembly and the Foreign Minister of Pakistan.

During these meetings views were exchanged on a wide range of issues, including inter-parliamentary cooperation, Covid-19 pandemic, regional peace and security, risks posed by the growing wave of ‘Hindutva’ under the RSS-BJP regime, and the situation in IIOJK.

Pakistan strongly condemns the recent missile and drone attacks towards the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by Houthi militia and calls for immediate cessation of such attacks.

Pakistan reiterates its full support and solidarity with Saudi Arabia against any threats to its security and territorial integrity.

On 9 August, eleven members of a Pakistani Hindu family were found dead in suspicious condition in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur district.

Our High Commission in Delhi immediately contacted the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and asked them to share details including circumstances of death, copy of FIR and Investigation report.

The Indian side was also asked to provide immediate consular access to the family and the physical presence of Mission’s doctor and staff member during post mortem.

Since those who died were Pakistani nationals it’s incumbent upon us to ensure the incident is properly investigated and the finding of the investigation are shared with us.

We would, therefore, once again call upon the government of India to provide the information requested by our Mission in New Delhi without further delay.

I will be happy to take any questions on these or other developments related to foreign policy.

Question: In a recently issued statement, six political parties in IIOJ&K demanded restoration of Articles 370 and 35-A. Does Pakistan endorse their position? How does Pakistan see this statement or is there any change in Pakistan’s position on the Jammu & Kashmir dispute? Secondly, the Foreign Minister had also commented in this regard, indicating endorsement of the statement? (Zulqarnain Haider, ARY News)

Supplementary Question: The Foreign Minister had statedthat the declaration by six political parties was a significant development. Pakistan has always maintained a principled stance of supporting the Hurriyet in IIOJ&K, whereas the six political parties mentioned by the Foreign Minister are known to be pro-India. Has Pakistan shifted its policy stance? (Faisal Raza Khan, 92 News)

Answer: Pakistan’s position on the Jammu & Kashmir dispute has been clear and consistent.

We believe that the solution of the dispute lies in the exercise of Kashmiris’ inalienable right to self-determination through a free and impartial plebiscite under the UN auspices as per the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. There is absolutely no change in this position.

Our position on Article 370 is also well-known. We have never recognized it. With respect to 5 August 2019 steps taken by India, we have consistently termed these as “unilateral” and “illegal” and in violation of UN Security Council resolutions and international law, including the 4th Geneva Convention.

From the outset, Pakistan has consistently condemned the inhuman military siege in IIOJK, opposed the nefarious Indian design to change the distinct identity and demographic structure of the occupied territory, and highlighted the threat to peace and security posed by India’s belligerent rhetoric and aggressive actions on the ground.

We continue to call upon India to:

– Reverse its illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019;
– Immediately lift the military siege and restrictions imposed against the Kashmiri people;
– Release all prisoners, especially the political prisoners;
– Revoke draconian laws including Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Public Safety Act (PSA) and Unlawful Activities       Prevention Act (UAPA);
– Declare all domiciles issued post – August 5, 2019 null and void;
– Provide unfettered access to UNMOGIP in the IIOJK as per its UN mandate;
– Allow human rights observers, humanitarian organizations and international media to visit IIOJK; and
– Let the people of Jammu and Kashmir exercise their inalienable right to self-determination as enshrined in the relevant UNSC     resolutions.

We reiterate that there cannot be durable peace and stability in South Asia without a just solution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

As for the Honourable Foreign Minister’s remarks, he did not indicate any change in Pakistan’s position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and neither did he endorse the joint declaration. All he had meant was that even those parties who had looked towards New Delhi in the past have now rejected the illegal Indian actions in IIOJK. Even those parties now maintain that Indian actions of 5 August were illegal and aimed at disempowering the Kashmiri people.

Question: Islamabad High Court had instructed for the appointment of a counsel regarding the case of Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav. The same was conveyed to the Indian side. Has Foreign Office received any response from the Indian side? (Adeel Waraich, Dunya TV)

Supplementary Question: What is the current status of Kulbhushan Jadhav case? (Amjad Ali, PTV)

Supplementary Question: Is there any update regarding the third consular access to Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav? Last week Indian Ministry of External Affairs once again said that an Indian lawyer may be appointed for the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav. What are your comments in this regard? (Anas Mallick, WION TV)

Supplementary Question: Has the Government of India taken the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav for granted? (Khawaja Nayyer, Media Today)

Answer: Let me give you background of the case once again. When Commander Jadhav was arrested in Pakistan, he confessed his involvement in terrorist activities in Pakistan during investigation. India took the issue of grant of consular access Commander Jadhav to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). In its judgment, ICJ asked for four things: to apprise Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav of his rights under the Vienna Convention; to provide consular access to him through Indian consular official; to provide effective review and reconsideration of his conviction and to stay the execution till an effective review and reconsideration was provided. Pakistan has been complying with all of these directions.

Immediately after the ICJ’s verdict, Pakistan informed Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav of his rights; provided consular access; and put a stay on Commander Jadhav’s execution. Provision of effective review and reconsideration is also under process. Our understanding is that India is making every possible effort to frustrate Pakistan’s efforts for implementation of the ICJ judgment and use Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case as propaganda tool against Pakistan.

We have also facilitated meeting of Kulbhushan’s family on humanitarian grounds. Pakistan also provided second consular access to Commander Jadhav. However, the Indian consular officials abruptly left while the consular meeting with Commander Jadhav was underway.

The Indian side has been also making incongruous demand of allowing Indian lawyer to represent Commander Jadhav. We have repeatedly told them only those lawyers can represent Commander Jadhav in the Court who has a license to practice law in Pakistan. This is in accordance with legal practice in other jurisdictions also. Indian Supreme Court, in one of its judgments, has also ruled that foreign lawyers cannot practice law within the country.

To give effect to the ICJ judgment, the Government of Pakistan has itself approached the Islamabad High Court. The next hearing of the case is scheduled on 3 September 2020. India must come forward and cooperate with the Court in Pakistan to give effect to the judgment of ICJ.

Question: The High level delegation of Taliban visited Pakistan on the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and also held talks with the Foreign Minister. However, there was no official communiqué issued at the end of the meeting. What was the purpose of the visit and what was agreed upon during the meeting?

Supplementary Question: There are also reports that the Afghan Taliban delegation had meetings with Chinese Special Representatives on Afghanistan. Do we have the details of that meeting? What were other engagements of Afghan Taliban delegation in Pakistan? (Mateen Haider, GTV)

Supplementary Question: Afghanistan has largely remained silent on the dispute of Jammu & Kashmir. Did the dispute of Jammu & Kashmir come under discussion during the meeting with Afghan Taliban? Yesterday, the Prime Minister also telephoned Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. How do you comment on this?

Secondly, Prime Minister Khan also telephoned Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina. Is there any follow up on this? (Mr Zahid Farooq, Metro Watch)

Supplementary Question: The Afghan Taliban have been demanding for the release of Taliban prisoners to kick start intra-Afghan dialogue. What are your expectations? (Hassan Riyaz, JNN)

Supplementary Question: Reportedly, the Chinese Special Representative for Afghanistan is scheduled to visit Pakistan. Could you please share the details of the visit?

Secondly, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation is also invited to visit Pakistan. Has the date of his visit been finalized? (Anwar Abbas, Bol TV)

Supplementary Question: Pakistan has played a crucial role to facilitate the Afghan peace process. Do you think in future China and Pakistan will be working together in Afghanistan to facilitate the peace process? (Khawaja Nayyer, Media Today)

Answer: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a detailed Press Release on 25 August on the meeting of the Taliban delegation with the Foreign Minister. I request you to kindly refer to that Press Release which has all the details of the discussions that took place during the meeting.

Pakistan has consistently maintained that there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict. Pakistan has always stressed that a durable solution of the Afghan conflict is only possible through an intra-Afghan political dialogue. We believe that peace process has reached a critical stage that was never achieved before. There are some residual issues and we hope that these issues will also resolved and intra-Afghan dialogue will commence without further delay. Pakistan will continue to play its constructive role because we believe that peace, progress and prosperity in Afghanistan are in the interest of Pakistan.

Regarding the visit of the Chinese Special Envoy for Afghanistan, I do not have the exact details. I will be happy to share with you once I have the details.

Regarding China’s role in Afghanistan, we believe China certainly has an important role in the peace process. Pakistan, China and Afghanistan have been working jointly to facilitate the Afghan peace process.

Question: Since last couple of days, the government Ministers are saying that every effort is being made to bring back former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Would you please update us in that matter? Whether the Foreign Office has approached Pakistan High Commission in UK in this regard? (Rashida Sial, Abb Tak)

Supplementary Question: As per undertaking submitted by Mr. Shehbaz Sharif in the High Court, Pakistan High Commission’s representative can meet the physician of the former Prime Minister. Has any official or representative of the High Commission of Pakistan in UK met the physician of the former Prime Minister? (Adeel Waraich, Dunya TV)

Answer: I have not seen the statement that you are referring to. As far as the return of former Prime Minister is concerned, the details can be sought from the relevant Ministry.

Question: The Indian side is adamant that it would only nominate an Indian counsel for the case of Commander Jadhav. In case the Islamabad High Court pronounces a one-sided judgment, what will be its implications on the ICJ decision? (Zaheer, Samaa TV)

Answer: Pakistan remains committed to give full effect to the judgment of ICJ. The ICJ judgment clearly says that the review and reconsideration process would be carried out in Pakistani courts as per the laws of Pakistan.

Question: Has the Government of Punjab written a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the deportation of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from the United Kingdom? (Zulqarnain, ARY)

Answer: I don’t have any such information. Let me check and revert.

Question: There are two issues related to Afghanistan. One issue is the presence of TTP in Afghanistan, which is present in Afghanistan as an ally of the Afghan Taliban. Secondly, whenever there is an attack from the Afghan soil, instead of only taking up the matter with the Afghan Government, there is also a need to take it up with the Taliban leadership separately. Were these issues discussed with the Taliban Political Commission? (Aijaz Ahmed GNN)

My second question is regarding IIOJK. When Pakistan issued its new political map, there were suggestions making rounds that the AJK Legislative Assembly should also include members elected from IIOJK. Is there any such suggestion under consideration currently?

Supplementary Question: A recent statement by the Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen indicated certain issues, one of which was the release of prisoners by Pakistan. I just wanted to inquire in what capacity were Taliban addressing Pakistan, given that there is already an internationally recognized political government in Afghanistan. Are we treating Taliban as a government? (Anwar Abbas Bol News)

Supplementary Question: Can you kindly let us know if the Taliban delegation is still in Pakistan? If they are present in Pakistan, what are their engagements?

Answer: Regarding the question about the capacity in which Pakistan is talking to the Taliban, let me remind you that Taliban are a key stakeholder in the Afghan Peace Process. We have talked to all stakeholders that are involved in the Afghan Conflict. The Peace Agreement between the USA and Taliban is recognition of the fact that they are a party to the conflict. For sustainable peace to prevail in Afghanistan, it is important to reach out to all the stakeholders and parties in the conflict.

Let me again remind you that Pakistan has always maintained that the negotiations in Afghanistan should be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. We are very clear about our role as a facilitator. Pakistan will continue to play this role which is being widely acknowledged and appreciated.

We wish to see progress in the Afghan peace process. As for Pakistan’s concerns regarding the use of Afghan soil against Pakistan, we have raised this issue with the Afghan government multiple times. We have multiple mechanisms where such issue can be discussed with the Afghan government and addressed. Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity APAPPS provides a useful platform to discuss all issues. A meeting of APAPPS is likely to be held during next week.

Regarding your question about AJK Legislative Assembly, the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Batistan deals with issues related to the internal affairs of AJK. I would request you to redirect your question to them.

Regarding your question about Taliban’s engagements, it is not possible for me to run a minute-by-minute commentary; neither would such a discussion be appropriate. We have already shared the details of their engagement with the Foreign Minister and their visit to this Ministry. We have issued a detailed Press Release as well.

Question: In her Press Briefing on 16th July, the previous Spokesperson had confirmed that NAB had approached the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for conveying the arrest warrant of the Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Toshakhana reference through the High Commission in London. Has there been any follow up on that development?

Secondly, there was news circulating around that a team of engineers from both sides is supposed to meet at the Kartarpur corridor today. Can you kindly confirm this? (Anas Mallick WION)

Answer: Regarding your first question, if there is any correspondence through the Foreign Office, we will revert to you.

Regarding your second question about Kartarpur, there is a pending construction work on a bridge, in pursuance of which engineers from both sides were supposed to meet. I am not aware of any such meeting happening today per se, but I am aware of the fact that we had requested a meeting for some engineering work on a bridge, for which cooperation from both sides was necessary.

Question: My first question relates to the Indus Water Treaty. Every year around this time, India releases water in the rivers, so has there been any delegation level talks with India to resolve this issue?

Secondly, the accused in the Christchurch Mosque shooting in New Zealand has been sentenced. Will Pakistan respond to this development? (Khwaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: Pakistan has always strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestation. Being a country that has suffered the most form this scourge we firmly believe that every effort needs to be made to counter the threat of terrorism. Pakistan had issued an official statement at the time of the attack. We strongly believe that the perpetrators of such acts of terrorism should be brought to justice.

Regarding your question about Indus Water Treaty, there exists a mechanism between India and Pakistan to resolve water disputes between the two countries i.e. the Permanent Indus Commission. The 116thmeeting of the Commission is due, and we hope the same will be convened soon.

Question: A $5.8 billion fine was imposed on Pakistan in the Reko Diq case. Do you have any update about the matter? (Munir, AP News)

Answer: I will check and revert to you.

Question: Pakistan has although been playing a very constructive role in the whole Afghan Peace Process, however there was a certain allegation recently by the former Jamaat ul Ahrar spokesman Ehsaullah Ehsan, which blamed Pakistan for the killing of SP Tahir Dawar. How do you see such allegations? (Nasir Butt, Capital TV)

Answer: Regarding Pakistan’s role in the Afghan Peace Process, our position has been very clear from the very beginning, and our constructive role in the process has been recognized and appreciated internationally. With regards to elements that are inimical to Pakistan’s security interests, we have established mechanisms through which we share our concerns with the Afghan government.

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