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 the Weekly Press Briefing of the Foreign Office

 

Let me begin with the Kashmir Black Day, observed in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), Pakistan and all over the world on 27 October 2020.

The Day reminds us of the landing of Indian occupation forces in Srinagar 73 years ago, and the atrocities that the people of IIOJK continue to endure ever since.

The day also reminds us of the deepening humanitarian crisis in IIOJK – a scar on the collective conscience of the world community

In his message on the Black Day, Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned Indian illegal occupation and reiterated Pakistan`s unwavering support to the Kashmiri people.

Highlighting the grave human rights situation in IIOJK, the Prime Minister urged the international community to take practical steps to stop India from using state-terrorism as a tool to further oppress the Kashmiri people and to destabilize the region.

In his message, the President emphasized that India`s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 have been rejected by the Kashmiri people, by Pakistan, and by the international community for being in violation of International law and the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.

The Foreign Minister in his message called for urgent lifting of the military siege and media blackout, immediate cessation of the violations of human rights of Kashmiri people, release of the incarcerated Kashmiri leaders and youth, and end to the impunity granted to Indian occupation forces under draconian laws.

On Kashmir Black Day, voices were raised in support of the Kashmiri people all across the globe.

Protests rallies and demonstrations were held in Birmingham, Brussels, Ecuador, France, Germany, London, Spain, South Africa, Stockholm Tokyo, Vienna and many other cities.

Seminars and exhibitions were organized in all key capitals and cities of the world.

The Indian Chargé d’Affaires was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to register Pakistan’s strong protest on the occasion of Kashmir Black Day.

Pakistan’s strong condemnation of the Illegal Indian occupation and continuing human rights violations by the Indian occupation forces in IIOJK was conveyed to the Indian side.

Coming to Islamphobia, Pakistan strongly condemns the systematic resurgence of blasphemous acts of republication of caricatures of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) and desecration of the Holy Quran by certain irresponsible elements in some developed countries.

We are further alarmed at the highly disturbing statements by certain politicians justifying such heinous acts under the garb of freedom of expression and equating Islam with terrorism, for narrow electoral and political gains.

Pakistan has always supported and continues to lead international efforts for combating intolerance, discrimination and violence on the basis of religion or belief.

At a time of rising racism and populism, the international community must show a common resolve against xenophobia, intolerance, stigmatization and incitement to violence on the basis of religion or belief.

Both Houses of the Parliament of Pakistan, the Senate and the National Assembly, unanimously passed resolutions, condemning the resurgence of Islamophobic acts and desecration of Holy Quran in some countries.

As part of his continued engagement, Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi held telephonic conversations with his counterparts from Afghanistan and Turkey.

Talking to his Turkish counterpart, the Foreign Minister expressed satisfaction at mutual collaboration between the two countries at multilateral fora.

He reiterated Pakistan’s appreciation for the principled stance taken by Turkey on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and Turkey’s steadfast support in this regard.

Two Foreign Ministers agreed to remain in touch on issues of concern to the Muslim Ummah, including the rising Islamophobia.

The Turkish Foreign Minister appreciated the principled stance taken by the Prime Minister of Pakistan on the issue of Islamophobia.

While talking to his Afghan counterpart, the Foreign Minister reiterated Pakistan’s support for a peaceful, united and stable Afghanistan and highlighted Pakistan’s contribution to the Afghan peace process.

Speaker of Afghanistan’s Wolesi Jirga, Mir Rahman Rahmani, accompanied by a high-level delegation, undertook a three-day bilateral visit from 23-25 October 2020.

Mr. Rahmani also participated in two days long “Pakistan-Afghanistan Trade and Investment Forum 2020 – Partnership for Mutual Benefit” seminar in Islamabad.

During his meeting with Mr. Rehmani, Foreign Minister Qureshi emphasized the significance of inter-parliamentary cooperation between the two countries.

On the bilateral plane, the Foreign Minister stressed the importance of APAPPS, as a platform to effectively deal with all important issues, including economy, trade, investment, security, intelligence and the Afghan refugees.

Pakistan strongly condemns the drone attacks launched towards the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by Houthi militia yesterday.

Pakistan appreciates the successful interception of the drones, which prevented the loss of innocent lives.

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

On the regional security, Pakistan has taken note of the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) between India and the United States.

Pakistan has been consistently highlighting the threats posed to strategic stability in South Asia as a result of provision of advanced military hardware, technologies and knowledge to India.

India’s massive acquisition of armaments and expansion of its nuclear forces, including introduction of new destabilizing weapon systems, are developments with serious repercussions for peace and stability in South Asia.

These developments clearly negate the argument that India’s mainstreaming in the international export control regimes will further the non-proliferation objectives of these regimes.

Pakistan categorically rejects the Indian government’s illegal amendments in land ownership laws in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) promulgated under “J&K Re-organisation (Adaptation of Central Laws) Third Order, 2020”.

The highly condemnable Indian action is yet another clear violation of the UN Security Council resolutions, bilateral agreements between Pakistan and India and international law.

India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019, and subsequent measures, particularly the domicile law and now the land ownership laws, are aimed at changing the demographic structure of IIOJK to convert the Kashmiris into a minority in their own land.

The United Nations and the international community must take immediate action to stop India from changing the demography and distinct identity of IIOJK and facilitate resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute as per the relevant UNSC Resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

The continued crackdown against minorities, human rights organizations, media, and independent voices in India and IIOJK is a matter of grave concern.

Pakistan expresses its deep concerns over the raids by Indi’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) on offices and residences of journalists and human rights activists and non-profit organizations, including Coalition of Civil Society, Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, and Greater Kashmir newspaper in IIOJK.

The Human Rights activists, members of the civil society, NGOs, and journalists have been booked under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prohibition Act (UAPA).

The BJP regime’s actions are another manifestation of India’s extremist agenda and its frustration over international censure for its illegal actions and grave human rights violations in IIOJK and in India.

Pakistan strongly condemns the continuing belligerent anti-Pakistan rhetoric of India’s civil and military leadership.

In recent provocative and irresponsible statements, the Indian National Security Adviser has implied organising attacks inside neighbouring countries.

His “offensive-defence” doctrine can be defined simply as “stoking terrorism in the neighbouring countries”.

Since his assumption of office of NSA, Indian footprints in terrorist activities in Pakistan have substantially increased.

We have also seen the highly irresponsible and belligerent statement made by BJP’s Uttar Pardesh Chief Dev Sing, saying Prime Minister Modi has decided when the country would be at war with China and Pakistan”.

Unfortunately, in response to any geopolitical, economic or military setback, instead of learning from its mistakes, RSS-BJP leadership simply doubles down its hostile rhetoric.

Pakistan calls upon the international community to take notice of these irresponsible and bellicose remarks and activities of the Indian NSA and BJP leadership causing instability in the neighbouring countries.

India will find the leadership, the people and armed forces of Pakistan ready in the event of any misadventure against its territories as evidently demonstrated in February last year.

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

Question: There are reports that Pakistan is seriously considering sending back the Ambassador of France to Pakistan. At the same time, there is a strong opinion that as an important country in the Islamic world, Pakistan should lead the dialogue between the civilizations to counter Islamophobia. What are your opinions? (Mazhar Iqbal, Public News)

Answer: You must have seen Pakistan’s strong condemnation of the systematic resurgence of blasphemous acts of republication of caricatures of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) and desecration of the Holy Quran by certain irresponsible elements in some developed countries.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan has also written letters to the leaders of Muslim countries, asking them to act collectively to counter growing Islamophobia in many parts of the world. He addressed a letter to CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg, asking to place a ban on Islamophobic content and hate against Islam similar to the one that has been put in place for the Holocaust.

Both Houses of the Parliament of Pakistan, the Senate and the National Assembly, unanimously passed resolutions, condemning the resurgence of Islamophobic acts and desecration of Holy Quran in some countries.

Pakistan has always supported and continues to lead international efforts for combating intolerance, discrimination and violence on the basis of religion or belief.

We believe that at a time of rising racism and populism, the international community must show a common resolve against xenophobia, intolerance, stigmatization and incitement to violence on the basis of religion or belief.

Question: Reportedly, there is no Ambassador of Pakistan posted to France. Will Pakistan not appoint new Ambassador in the wake of the recent statements and incidents of Islamophobia in France? Your comments, please? (Syed Iqbal Mustafa Bukhari, Jag Beeti/Times Today)

Answer: Yes, currently we have a Chargé d’Affaires in France. As for our response on the recent unfortunate Islamophobic acts, Pakistan has strongly condemned them at every level.

We believe that there is a need to address the root cause of such incidents, which is Islamophobia. In this regard Pakistan has inter alia proposed anti-Islamophobia Day to be marked on 15 March.

Question: There are reports there was immense pressure on Pakistan to release Wing Commander Abhinandan in February 2018. Would you please comment on what sort of pressure Pakistan was facing? What is Foreign Office stand on this?

Secondly, there was an Agreement on citizenship between Pakistan and Turkey under consideration, which was going to be signed during the visit of the President of Turkey visit last year. Would you please update us in this regard? (Rashida Siyal, AbbTak)

Supplementary Question: Reportedly, the United States of America also put pressure on Pakistan to release Abhinandan. There were also reports that at the time when India launched air strikes in Rawalakot, Russia also urged Pakistan not to respond militarily. Your comments, please? (Zulqarnain, ARY)

Answer: There was no pressure on Pakistan at all regarding the release of Wing Commander Abhinandan. The Government of Pakistan took the decision as a gesture of peace, which was appreciated by the international community.

Pakistan has and continues to work for peace in the region. However, there should be no doubt regarding our national resolve and preparedness of our Armed Forces to effectively respond to any misadventure.

As for the agreement between Pakistan and Turkey, I will revert.

Question: How do you see the recent terrorist incident in Peshawar especially after high profile visits such as the visits of Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar? We have also seen upsurge in violence in Afghanistan. How do you comment on this?

Secondly, the Government of India has legalized its illegal actions taken in the Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir. How could these actions be stopped or reversed? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: First of all, let me reiterate that India’s actions of 5 August 2019 and the subsequent steps aimed at further perpetuating its illegal occupation of IIOJK are illegal. No so called “laws and rules” can legitimize these illegal actions.

These actions are in clear violation of UNSC resolutions, bilateral agreements between Pakistan and India, and contrary to the precepts of international law.

As for your question regarding terrorist attacks, 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. The arrests of Indian intelligence operatives during the counter intelligence operations in Pakistan are further evidence of this fact.

As for this particular incident in Peshawar, investigation is ongoing and involvement of foreign hand cannot be ruled out.

Question: The Government of Pakistan was hopeful that Pakistan will be removed from the grey list in the plenary meeting of the FATF. However, there are reports that Malaysia and Saudi Arabia did not vote for Pakistan. Would you please give us some details in this regard?

How do you see the signing of the US-India Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement through which they will be sharing data? (Abbas Jaffar, District News)

Answer: Regarding your second question, we have already issued a detailed press release on the US-India Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement on 27 October 2020. I would like to refer you to that Press Release.

Regarding FATF, I would like to refer you to the tweets dated 24 October 2020 by Pakistan’s National Coordinator on FATF, Federal Minister for Industries & Production, Mr. Hammad Azhar, wherein he negated the baseless reports circulating on social media referred to in your question.

Additionally, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued a Press Release on 22nd October 2020, rejecting such false reports. Since the decisions regarding Pakistan in recent meeting of FATF were taken with consensus, the news about any voting patterns or numbers are unfounded.

Saudi Arabia is a brotherly country and we cooperate on issues of mutual interest. Pakistan greatly values its relations with friendly countries and we again strongly reject the baseless and false news.

I would like to reiterate that India has been trying to politicize the technical process of FATF, which is noted by the FATF member states.

Question: There are reports that Gilgit Baltistan is being given the provisional status of Province. Is it true? Has Foreign Office submitted its inputs in this regard, especially after the report of Sartaj Aziz Committee? Will the status of GB be changed through Presidential Ordinance or a Constitutional amendment?

Secondly, you condemned the J&K Re-organisation (Adaptation of Central Laws) Third Order, 2020 in your opening statement, but such laws do not exist in Gilgit Baltistan. What are your comments? (Fida Hussain, Radio News Network)

Answer: No final decision has been taken with regard to the reforms in Gilgit Baltistan.

The Gilgit Baltistan reforms, is an ongoing process that includes political, administrative and economic reforms. It has been a long-standing demand of the people of Gilgit Baltistan. These reforms will continue in line with the needs and demands of the people of Gilgit Baltistan.

Question: Pakistan has strongly condemned the Indian government’s illegal amendments in land ownership laws in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) promulgated under “J&K Re-organisation (Adaptation of Central Laws) Third Order, 2020”, which is allowing non-Kashmiris in Kashmir and changing the demography of IIOJK. What steps Pakistan is considering to take to stop these measures. Will Pakistan go to the International Court of Justice in this regard?

Secondly, 44 Indian banks were reportedly involved in money laundering and also there are reports that India is involved in terrorist attack in Peshawar. Will Pakistan take these issues to the international forums against India? (Zaheer, Samaa News)

Answer: Pakistan has always strongly condemned all such acts of RSS-BJP regime in which they have usurped the rights of the people of IIOJK. Pakistan regularly takes up these unilateral and illegal actions by India at all levels. Pakistan also takes such issues to multilateral forums including OIC, the United Nations and other relevant forums. In this regard the issue of Jammu and Kashmir disputes has been discussed three times at the UNSC since 5th August 2019.

The UN human rights machinery, international human rights and humanitarian organizations, parliamentarians from around the world, civil society and global media have all condemned gross human rights violations of Kashmiri people at the hands of Indian occupation forces.

Pakistan has been consistently sensitizing the world community about India’s nefarious designs to alter 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.

Question: We have seen statements issued by the Foreign Office on US-India Joint Statement and the signing of BECA Agreement. I have something specific to ask. With BECA, India now has access to high end satellite images, aeronautical and geographical data; and this is intelligence sharing is not limited to China rather it appears to be directed against Pakistan as well. Secretary of the State Mike Pompeo also stated and I quote,” I am glad to say that United States and India are taking steps against all manners of threats, and not just those posed by the Chinese Communist Party.” So we know that India has an adversary in the region in the form of Pakistan, and United States is a so called friend to Pakistan as well. How do you see such a statement by a friendly country? (Essa Naqvi, Indus TV)

Answer: We have already shared a detailed Press Release on this issue. We believe that acquisition of arms and defense technologies by India is imperiling peace and stability in South Asia. We also believe that the US-India Joint Statement was discriminatory; in the sense that it completely evaded an important issue i.e. Indian state terrorism which has become a threat to regional peace and security. In addition, references to Pakistan in this statement are completely baseless and unwarranted.

Question: Any updates on the matter of giving third consular access to Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav? Specifically, any update on the appointment of legal counsel as directed by the court? (Adeel Waraich, Foreign Affairs News Diplomacy)

Answer: Our position remains very clear and consistent. Our offer of a third consular access is still on the table. We have also repeatedly asked India to cooperate with Pakistani Court in the matter, as effective review and reconsideration envisaged in the ICJ judgment can only be provided by Pakistani Court. Another thing which India needs to be very clear about is that Pakistan cannot change its laws regarding legal representation in Courts to meet India’s insane demands. Only those lawyers can appear before Pakistani Courts who have valid license to practice law in Pakistan. India should cooperate with Pakistan in this regard, so that full effect to the ICJ judgment could be given.

Question: There have been very specific instances of targeted crackdown against Pakistanis residing in UAE. Has the government taken up this matter with the UAE authorities? (Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)

Answer: We are aware of these reports about certain arrests made in the UAE. Our Embassy in UAE is in touch with the relevant authorities in this regard, and we are also in contact with the UAE Embassy in Islamabad.

Question: As of today, another incident of knife attack has occurred in Nice, France, which included a beheading as well. The attack has been termed as an act of terror. Does Pakistan condemn the attack?

Secondly, a bank note has been issued by Saudi Arabia which does not depict Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir as parts of Pakistan. Has Pakistan taken up the matter with Saudi Authorities? (Anas Mallick, The Correspondent)

Answer: Regarding your first question, Pakistan believes that violence in any form or manifestation cannot be justified.

Pakistan strongly condemns the attack that was carried out inside a church in Nice, France, today. We express our condolences on the loss of precious lives and sympathize with the bereaved families.

There is no justification for such acts of violence, in particular in places of worship.

As for your second question, the depiction is clearly inconsistent with Pakistan’s position, and we have already taken up the matter through diplomatic channels.

Question: How do you respond to statements such as one by President Trump where he criticizes India for its polluted air? (Khwaja Nayyar, Media Today)

Answer: We believe environment is a serious issue and steps must be taken to reduce the air pollution levels. Pakistan is taking all necessary measures to control air pollution; similar steps should also be taken by India to identify and curb all sources of smog. It is a serious matter which needs to be addressed on a priority basis.

Question: The proposal by Pakistan to observe 15th March as International Day against Islamophobia is a good initiative. Is there any lobbying being done by Pakistan to gather international support on this issue?

Secondly, any update in the matter of Dr. Afia Siddiqui? (Mazhar, Public News Today)

Answer: Regarding your question about Dr. Afia Siddiqui, I don’t have any update to share at this point.

As for your first question, Pakistan has always supported and continues to lead international efforts for combating intolerance, discrimination and violence on the basis of religion or belief.

Both in our national capacity as well as part of the OIC group, we have advocated arduously for the alliance of civilizations and developing mutual understanding and respect for all religions, faiths and beliefs.

Pakistan will continue its efforts for combating intolerance, discrimination and promote a common resolve against growing xenophobia, intolerance, stigmatization and incitement to violence on the basis of religion or belief.

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