Media Briefing|

(2019-08-08)
[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]

Bismillah Ir Rehman Nir Rahim,

Assalaam-o-Alaikum,

Firstly, let me give a brief round-up of the activities on the foreign policy front.

Pursuant to the decision of the National Security Committee yesterday, the Government of India has been told to withdraw its High Commissioner to Pakistan. The Indian Government has also been informed that Pakistan will not be sending its High Commissioner-designate to India.

On 5th August 2019, Pakistan strongly condemned and rejected the announcements made by the Indian Government regarding the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir which is an internationally recognized disputed territory.

No unilateral step by the Government of India can change this internationally accepted disputed status, as enshrined in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions. Nor will this ever be acceptable to the people of Jammu & Kashmir and Pakistan.

As the party to this international dispute, the Prime Minister has instructed Pakistan to exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps. We will continue our political, diplomatic and moral support to the people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir for realization of the legitimate, inalienable right to self-determination.

On 5th August, Prime Minister Imran Khan, as part of outreach to world leaders on the recent developments in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir, spoke to Turkish President, Malaysian Prime Minister, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince of UAE and the Prime Minister of UK. The Prime Minister highlighted India’s illegal actions to modify the special status of the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir which would have serious implications for the regional peace and security. He reiterated that Pakistan would continue its diplomatic, moral and political support to the legitimate Kashmiri struggle for the legitimate right to self-determination, as enshrined in the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

On 5th August, the Foreign Secretary summoned the Indian High Commissioner to the Foreign Office and conveyed a strong demarche on the announcements made and actions taken by the Government of India with regard to Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

The Foreign Secretary conveyed Pakistan’s unequivocal rejection of these illegal actions as they are in breach of international law and several UN Security Council resolutions. Pakistan’s resolute condemnation of the unlawful actions aimed at further consolidating the illegal occupation of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOK) was underscored.

The Foreign Secretary also condemned the preceding pre-meditated steps such as complete lock-down of IOK, deployment of additional 180,000 troops, imposition of curfew, and house arrest of Kashmiri leaders and suspension of communication services, among others.

The Foreign Secretary reiterated that Pakistan will continue to extend political, diplomatic and moral support to the indigenous legitimate Kashmiri people’s struggle for realization of their inalienable right to self-determination.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan has constituted a high-powered committee under the chairmanship of the Foreign Minister in order to make recommendations to formulate the legal / political / diplomatic responses on the recent steps taken by the Indian government in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

On 6th August 2019 an emergency meeting of OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir was held on Pakistan’s request in Jeddah in the wake of illegal actions by India to alter the internationally recognized disputed status of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOK). The meeting was chaired by Amb. Samir Bakr Diab, Assistant Secretary General, who represented the OIC Secretary General, and attended by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Ambassador Sami Bakr Diab read the statement of the OIC Secretary General expressing “deep concern over the recent developments in IoK including the escalation of violence by the Indian forces and the measures taken by the Indian authorities that might affect the status of the territory and the rights of the Kashmiri people”. He reaffirmed the OIC’s full support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their just struggle to achieve their legitimate rights, in particular the right to self-determination.

Foreign Minister apprised the participants of the malafide Indian attempt to strengthen its illegitimate occupation of IOK. He stated that Indian steps which interfere with the demography of IOK and the disputed status of Jammu & Kashmir are a grave, destabilizing threat to the already volatile situation in South Asia and would have serious implications.

Other members of the Contact Group also made statements condemning the illegal Indian actions and expressing deep concern over the developments while reiterating their continued support for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. They called for a peaceful resolution of the dispute in accordance with the United Nations Security Council Resolutions and the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

The Contact Group urged India again to allow access to the OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) and other international rights bodies on the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir in order to independently verify the gross and blatant human rights violations.

The Foreign Minister has addressed letters to the UN Secretary General and the Presidents of UN Security Council and UN General Assembly drawing attention to the grave situation in IOK. The Heads of Mission in Islamabad from the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council have also been briefed on these serious developments and their implications for regional peace and security.

Since, our last Press Briefing twelve (12) Kashmiris have embraced shahadat in the so called cordon and search operations by the Indian occupation forces including Zeenat ul Islam Naikoo, Manzoor Ahmad Bhat, Shahbaz Wani, Khalid Ahmad and a non-state subject resident of Bihar India Mohammad Moazim in Shopian and Sopore areas, while hundreds are injured by the atrocious actions of the occupying Indian forces. More deaths are feared but due to complete communication blackout the exact news is not coming out of the region.

The Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir has been converted into the largest prison, in the history of mankind. More than 14 million humans are incarcerated in their homes. The Indian government has stationed over 9 lakh troops and the Kashmiris are denied access to any form of communication: cellular and internet services have been blocked. We cannot imagine the psychological and physical trauma through which the Kashmiris are going through, as decisions regarding their fate are being taken and they are denied access to any sort of information. Furthermore, the region is awaiting a looming humanitarian crisis as there is a shortage of food and medicines, which risks the lives of the people living in the region. Kashmiris are being denied access to basic healthcare facilities, which violates their most fundamental right to life and well-being.

We impress upon the international community to take cognizance of the continuing blatant human rights violations by the Indian authorities in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

Lastly, in its report published on 6th August, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said the Indian Government’s revocation of the autonomy and special status of Jammu and Kashmir violates the rights of representation and participation guaranteed to the people of Jammu and Kashmir under the Indian Constitution and in international law and is a blow to the rule of law and human rights in the state and in India.

“The Indian Government has pushed through these changes in contravention of domestic and international standards with respect to the rights of people in Jammu and Kashmir to participate and be adequately represented, accompanied by draconian new restrictions on freedoms of expression, assembly, and travel, and with an influx of thousands of unaccountable security personnel,” said Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Secretary General. He further said

The ICJ condemned the legislative steps taken with respect to Jammu and Kashmir, and called on the Indian Government to implement in full the UN High Commissioner’s recommendations, including respecting the right to self-determination of people of Jammu and Kashmir, and to respect, protect and fulfill their human rights.

Question: In a statement issued by the Spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs, India, it has been stated that Pakistan has unilaterally decided to downgrade the relationship with India and should review this decision. Your comments please? (Ms. Mona Khan – Independent TV)

Answer: Yes, I have seen the response. Pakistan categorically rejects the Indian contention that Jammu and Kashmir is an internal matter of India. Jammu and Kashmir remains on the agenda of UNSC and is a Disputed Territory. Its final resolution has to be made under a UN Administered free and fair plebiscite to ascertain the wishes of the Kashmiri people. We will give a detailed response soon.

Question: Recently, a series of demonstrations and violent incidents occurred in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, which has aroused widespread international concern. How does the Pakistani view the current situation in Hong Kong? (Ms. Wang Bing Xia – China Radio International)

Answer: Pakistan believes that Hong Kong’s affairs are China’s internal affairs. We therefore, understand the measures taken by the Central Government of China and the Hong Kong SAR Government to safeguard national sovereignty and Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability. We believe that stability and prosperity in Hong Kong would soon resume. We also believe that all countries should uphold international law and the basic norm of non-interference in internal affairs of other countries.

Question: Are the current India-Pakistan tensions likely to affect the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor? (Mr. Saad Umer – Roze News)

Answer: Notwithstanding the latest developments, Pakistan’s Kartarpur initiative shall continue. Pakistan respects all religions and would continue the project.

Question: It has been widely reported that Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells visited Pakistan for talks to follow-up on the decisions taken during the recent visit of PM Khan? Has Pakistan apprised her regarding the recent decisions taken by India on the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir and highlighted the human rights abuses there? (Mr. Zargoon Shah – Geo TV)

Answer: Yes, the Foreign Secretary received the U.S. delegation yesterday. It included the Assistant Secretary of State Ms. Alice Wells and Treasury Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Mr. Scott Rembrandt. The wide-ranging discussions focused on prevailing situation in IOK, Pakistan-U.S. relationship, Afghan peace and reconciliation process, and implementation of National Action Plan and FATF action plan. While drawing attention to the prevailing human rights and security situation in IOK, the Foreign Secretary underlined the importance of preventing violations of UNSC resolutions by India, which pose serious threat to peace and stability in South Asia. It was agreed to build on the positive momentum in bilateral ties keeping in view the shared vision of leadership of two countries.

Question: Are you satisfied with the way the international community has responded on the illegal actions taken by the Indian government in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir? (Mr. Mazhar Iqbal – Public TV)

Answer: It is a continuous process. You have seen some responses while others will come in due course of time. It has been a long struggle, spanning over 7 decades. This process will continue. The international community has taken a serious note of what is going on in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

Question: Firstly, in your opinion, to what extent can the Indians go in the region of Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Secondly, as Spokesperson, do you see any possible attacks by the Indians along the LoC. What are Pakistan’s defence preparations in this regard? (Mr. Mateen Haider – G-News)

Answer: We are Muslims. The word “fear” does not exist in our dictionary. We do not fear anyone or anything except Allah. We should always remember what happened on the 27th of February 2019. We are prepared for any misadventure by the Indians and a potent reply has been given by the National Security Committee’s meeting, yesterday, alongwith the unanimous Resolution by the Parliament and the forceful speech by the Foreign Minister. We have a clear position that India should pay heed to the grievances of the Kashmiris and no unilateral and arbitrary decisions should be taken. Indians have imposed a curfew across the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. They have turned this region into a jail and incarcerated over 14 million people. 12 people have been mercilessly killed and over a hundred have been injured by the Indian occupation forces in their brutal actions. The Prime Minister has stated that there is a grave threat to regional peace and stability. Resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute should only be brought about as per the UNSC Resolutions.

Question: Is there a possibility of complete revocation of diplomatic relations with India in the future? Secondly, can you please update us on the consular access to be given to Commander Kulbushan Jadav? (Mr. Rashida Sial – Aab Takk)

Answer: In response to your first question, everything remains in the realm of possibility. On your second question, updates regarding Commander Kulbhusan Jhadav will be shared in due course of time.

Question: Last time, when the diplomatic relations between Pakistan and India were downgraded, the diplomatic staff was also cut. Is this a part of the decision taken this time? (Mr. Naveed Akbar – Aaj News)

Answer: We have already informed you regarding the decisions that have been taken so far.

Question: Do you think that India had planned the revocation of Articles 35A and 370 and henceforth was not willing to engage in a dialogue with Pakistan? (Mr. Zahid Farooq Malik – Daily Metro Watch)

Supplementary Question: Opposition in the Parliament Session has commented that if Pakistan was aware that something of this sort was going to happen then why did we not take preemptive measures to counter this? (Mr. Mazhar Iqbal – Public News)

Answer: I cannot comment on their decision of not engaging in a dialogue with Pakistan. They have been reluctant to do so for several years. In 2015, both the Foreign Ministers met here at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the dialogue was agreed upon between the two, but they back-tracked on that agreement as well. They have refused to engage in a dialogue on several other occasions as well. Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote a letter to his Indian counterpart on 14th September 2018, that we are ready to engage in a dialogue. In response, they initially agreed but then took a step back. It must be noted that Pakistan wishes to resolve all the disputes via dialogue.

On 31st July 2019, the 5th Meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Jammu and Kashmir was briefed here at the Foreign Office which was followed by a Joint Press briefing by Chairman of the Committee Syed Fakhar Imam and the Foreign Minister. Furthermore, the Foreign Minister wrote a letter to UN Secretary General and President of the UN Security Council apprising them of the atrocious steps taken by the Indian government on 1st August, 2019. The OIC Secretary General was contacted by Foreign Minister and a potent statement was issued by the OIC. A similar statement was also issued by IPHRC condemning the Indian actions.

Likewise, on 3rd August 2019, the Foreign Minister also wrote a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding the same issue. Therefore, this impression that we were not prepared is without basis.

Question: It has been repeatedly reported that Pakistan’s diplomacy was effective. My question is, whether Pakistan was aware of the decision that India is going to revoke the Articles 35A and 370 and if yes, what steps Pakistan government have taken to apprise the international community? Secondly, what concrete options does Pakistan have in the aftermath of the Indian decisions? (Mr. Bashir Chaudhry – Channel-24)

Answer: I have already answered the first part of your question regarding our preparations in this regard. As for your second question, the decisions taken by the National Security Committee and the Resolution of the Parliament will be implemented by the Foreign Office and other institutions.

Question: Restrictions on Pakistani diplomats have been raised by the American authorities – was this decision reciprocal? Secondly, have you taken the American authorities into confidence regarding the situation in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir? (Mr. Tariq Mehmood – Hum News)

Answer: With regard to your second question, yes, Pakistan will take up the matter with Americans at the highest level. In response to your first question, both Pakistan and U.S. have agreed to simultaneously withdraw travel restrictions. This will facilitate movement of diplomats.

Question: All the bilateral arrangements between India and Pakistan will be reviewed as announced. Does that include the bilateral visa regime, 2003 ceasefire arrangement or other agreements signed in the last 2-3 decades? (Mr. Essa Naqvi – Indus News)

Answer: The decisions taken by the National Security Committee are quite lucid and clear and would be implemented in letter and spirit.

Question: Senator Lindsey Graham has tweeted that he had a telephonic conversation with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Can you please confirm? Secondly, Alice Wells has stated that the United States was not informed by India regarding their recent decisions on Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir? (Mr. Muhammad Jaleel – VoA)

Answer: Your second question is self-explanatory. The Indian media claimed that India had taken the US into confidence; however, their claim has been refuted by the US. In response to your first question, the Foreign Minister, in a telephone conversation last night with U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, apprised him of the unilateral and illegal actions of the Indian Government with regard to internationally recognized disputed status of IOK. He said that, among other things, these actions were flagrant violations of the UNSC resolutions. With reference to grave human rights situation in IOK, he also highlighted massive clampdown and the complete blockade of communications. The Foreign Minister shared with him the implications of these illegal Indian actions, for peace and stability in South Asia. He urged that the U.S., as an important member of the international community, must play its role to prevent violations of UNSC resolutions and maintain peace and stability in the region.

Question: We have seen that the regional countries including UAE, Maldives and Sri Lanka have not issued favorable statements on the recent Indian decisions on Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir? Is this a failure of the Pakistani foreign Policy? Secondly, is the Foreign Minister going to China to take their leadership into confidence? (Mr. Anas Mallick – WION)

Answer: The Foreign Minister himself stated that he will be dashing to China, details will be shared soon. In response to your first question, it is not a failure of the foreign policy. If one peruses the statements in detail, it can be seen that the statements are quite positive, contrary to such claims. This is a seven decade old dispute, and we are confident that nations will stand by us and we stand by the people of Jammu & Kashmir unequivocally, whatever happens.

Question: Prime Minister during his address to the Joint Session of the Parliament said that we will explore all the options regarding Jammu & Kashmir, particularly he referred going to the ICJ. Is Pakistan preparing to approach the ICJ in this regard? Secondly, National Security Committee has also stated that Pakistan will suspend its trade with India. Do you think this will affect the Afghan trade and Afghan peace process? (Mr. Faisal Raza Khan – 92 News)

Answer: In response to your first question, the Attorney General is exploring the proposal and he will apprise us regarding the possibility of going to ICJ. Secondly, under the directive of the National Security Committee every Ministry is implementing the decision and the Ministry of Commerce will share the details on the trade related issues.

Question: What is the response of Muslim Ummah on this situation? Are the doors for a dialogue still open with India? (Mr. Ali Hussain – Business Recorder)

Answer: Pakistan has never shied from dialogue. Conversely India has always been reluctant in this regard. In response to your first question, the Prime Minister has spoken to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, the Crown Prince of UAE, President of Turkey and the Prime Minister of Malaysia. Also, the Foreign Minister was in Saudi Arabia and chaired the meeting of the OIC Contact Group in Jeddah. An extensive outreach has been undertaken by the Pakistani leadership

Question: Will Pakistan’s foreign policy always remain reactionary rather than adopting a proactive approach? For instance, if India executes a mass massacre, will Pakistan still not react militarily? Since the Indians have violated all the agreements, does Pakistan have the right to support the armed struggle of the Kashmiris? (Mr. Ali Jaswal – Xinhua News Agency)

Answer: I do not agree that we have a reactive foreign policy. Our Prime Minister made a statement that we will take two steps if India takes one. How can you call it a reactionary policy? We wrote a letter to Prime Minister Modi that we are ready to talk on all outstanding issues including Jammu & Kashmir, Sir Creek, SAARC etc. India has scuttled SAARC despite our efforts. Our foreign policy is very proactive, Kartarpur initiative is an example. Pakistan will continue its diplomatic, moral and political support to the legitimate cause of the people of Jammu & Kashmir.

Question: It has been claimed in the Parliament that since Pakistan and India are not engaging in active diplomacy, there is no point of having our Missions in each other’s countries. Your comments please? (Mr. M. Yaqoob Ali – Inter-city News Islamabad)

Answer: A unanimous Resolution of the Parliament has been passed, which will be followed in its entirety.

Question: India is trying to undertake a process of ethnic cleansing in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir on the pattern followed by Israel in the Palestine. Also, can Pakistan challenge the revocation of Special Status of Jammu & Kashmir in the International Court of Justice? (Mr. Zaheer – Samaa TV)

Answer: Definitely, Pakistan will raise the issue on every possible forum. Sane voices from inside India have been highly critical of this decision, and it has already been challenged in the Supreme Court of India.

Question: Several countries supported Israel when it started the process of illegal occupation of the Palestine. We fear that a similar situation regarding the Indian occupation of Jammu & Kashmir does not arise? Will you take it up in the Security Council? (Mr. Asghar Ali Mubarak – PPA News Agency)

Answer: The Prime Minister has already stated that the matter will be taken up in the UN Security Council.

Question: Will the recent situation with India affect the Afghan peace process and Pakistan’s role in it? Secondly, will Pakistan contact the American leadership on this issue? (Ms. Rabia Peer – VoA Dewa Radio)

Answer: We expect the entire international community to dissuade India from taking these illegitimate steps in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. We are urging the international community that this is an illegal act and is in violation of the UN Security Council Resolutions. The international community has an obligation to ensure that the Kashmiris get the right to self determination. In response to your first question, the Afghan peace process has no linkage with this issue. We will continue our facilitative role in the peace process.

Question: Indian National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval, has been propagating his interaction with the Indian soldiers in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. How do you see this propaganda? (Mr. Aun Sherazi – Such News)

Answer: The Indian government is in a state of panic and you can see that quite visibly. Almost around 900,000 troops have been stationed, all mediums of communication have been blocked in the region. They have gotten themselves in a situation from which they cannot get out and hence are confused.

Question: There are reports in the India media that Hafiz Saeed has been released. Can you please confirm? Secondly, what will you decide on the consular access to be given to Commander Kulbushan Jadav? (Mr. Sib Kaifee – Arab News)

Answer: The news regarding the alleged release of Hafiz Saeed is fake. He has not been released. On your second question, we will act under the directive of the National Security Committee.

Question: It has been reported that Pakistan has placed partial flight restrictions on India bound flights again. Can you please confirm? Secondly, has India led down President Trump as he offered mediation in Jammu & Kashmir dispute? (Khawaja Nayyer Iqbal – Media Online Today)

Answer: We have been informed by the concerned authorities that this NOTAM was enforced from 23 July to 5 August 2019 and has been extended to 5 September 2019 to meet flying training requirements and better air traffic management. The airspace is not closed or rerouting applied instead as a routine for different areas airspace management / accommodating different training exercises, routine NOTAMS are issued. These NOTAMS are available on Civil Aviation Authority’s website and probably are being misinterpreted.

I have already answered your second question.

Question: Has any state offered mediation between India and Pakistan? Secondly, Alice Wells have been briefed on the issue of FATF. Can you please share some details on Alice Wells’ reaction? (Mr. Majid Jarral – News One TV)

Answer: Your second question pertains to the Ministry of Finance. On your first question, you are aware that United States has already offered mediation between India and Pakistan. However, India has not agreed to President Trump’s proposal.

Question: Pakistan has taken several steps in reaction to the recent Indian decisions, what options will we have if India does not back down from the destructive course that it has following? Will the Prime Minister visit Iran or China in the coming days? (Mr. Waqas Ahmed – Capital TV)

Supplementary Question: Can we rule out the possibility of a conventional war with India? (Mr. Anwar Abbas – BoL News)

Supplementary Question: UAE’s Ambassador to India has given a statement in favour of India. Also the attendance in the OIC Contact Group was minimal as the major Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia and Turkey have not attended? Your comments please? (Mr. Naveed Akbar Siddiqui – Dawn News)

Answer: Let me clarify that the Members of Contact Group are Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Niger and Pakistan. All the Members were present during the Contact Group meeting. So, this assertion is not correct that the major Islamic countries were not present during the Contact Group meeting. In fact, it was the last working day before the Hajj break and the Emergency Meeting of OIC Contact Group was still held at a one-day notice.

As a diplomat, I can never advocate war.

We can say that the only solution is through dialogue and as per the wishes of the Kashmiri people. All the government functionaries including major stakeholders are working to raise the Indian illegal action in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir at all possible forums.

Question: Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad has stated that the diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan should not be affected and that Pakistan should review its decisions. Your comments please? (Mr. Hassan Riaz – Channel-5)

Answer: Our position is very clear on this and I have nothing further to add.

Question: India is continuously perpetrating human rights violations in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Major UN bodies have also taken note of these violations. Your take on this? (Mr. Shakeel Kilyana – Dunya Numa)

Answer: I have already spoken on this.

Question: Ever since the revocation of Articles 35A and 370 by the Indian government, the social media has been abuzz by young Indian men, sharing misogynistic messages regarding young Kashmiri girls. Your comments please? (Mr. Essa Naqvi – Indus News)

Answer: This is despicable. Entirely condemnable! The international community has to take notice of such messages. Even Twitter and Facebook need to pay attention to such accounts and stop them. I do not even want to mention the kind of messages that are emanating out of India. This needs to stop.

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