Media Briefing|

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

Bismillah Ir Rehman Nir Rahim,


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

Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Special Representative of US Secretary of State for Afghanistan Reconciliation called on the Foreign Minister today and briefed him on the outcome of Doha talks and his recent engagements in the region as well as the updates on his meetings in Afghanistan and the dynamics of the Intra-Afghan dialogue.

The Foreign Minister, while appreciating his efforts, reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to the peace process and stressed that intra-Afghan Dialogue was a vital component of the reconciliation process. He also said that Pakistan wished well for the peace and stability in Afghanistan which would directly benefit Pakistan’s own vision for economic and human development.

Earlier, Ambassador Khalilzad had delegation level talks with Foreign Secretary,Tehmina Janjua. Ambassador Khalilzad was accompanied by an interagency delegation. Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua was assisted by senior officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence.

The Foreign Secretary also briefed him about telephonic conversation between Foreign Minister Qureshi and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. She informed about their mutual interest in further progress on Afghanistan peace efforts and that they agreed to remain engaged to pursue the reconciliation process.

Next the increasingly grim news pouring in from the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, where Indian atrocities against innocent Kashmiris have intensified.

Indian occupation forces during so-called Allout cordon and search operations martyred ten (10) Kashmiris including Aaqib Ahmad Dar, Sajad Ahmad Khanday, Basharat Ahmad Mir, Danish Ahmad Dar, Ali Mohammad, Idrees, Zaffar Ahmad Pal, Aqib Ahmad Kumar, Muhammad Shafi and Towseef Ahmad Itoo in Pulwama, Shopian, Kupwara and Budgam areas.

The international community should demand India to immediately halt the human rights atrocities in IOK and resolve the Jammu & Kashmir dispute.

We regret the Indian decision to postpone the meeting on Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, which was to be held on 2nd April 2019, as agreed by both sides in the meeting and subsequent Joint Statement of 14 March 2019.

The scheduled meeting was being held to discuss areas of divergence with a view to align positions and reach consensus for expedited operationalization of the corridor

According to India, it has sought postponement to seek clarification on Indian proposals on the modalities of the corridor and its concerns about “appointments to a committee to be associated with Kartarpur Corridor.”

Pakistan, on its part, continues to be committed to uphold its promise to operationalize the Corridor for the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak in November 2019.

Moving forward, on Wednesday, in my capacity as Director General (SA & SAARC), I summoned the Indian Deputy High Commissioner Mr. Gaurav Ahluwalia and condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control on 1st and 2nd April 2019. On 1st April, 4 innocent civilians and on 2nd April, 1 innocent civilian were martyred and 3 women sustained injuries in the ceasefire violations along LoC.

On the same day, Indian troops intentionally targeted innocent civilians travelling in a civilian bus in Bagsar Sector. These violations are not only in clear contravention of existing arrangements, stipulations of International Law, but also violate international norms of morality.

The Indian side was urged to respect the 2003 Ceasefire arrangement; investigate these and other incidents of ceasefire violations; instruct the Indian forces to respect the ceasefire, in letter and spirit and maintain peace on the LoC and the Working Boundary.

Moreover, in a landmark initiative, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) wrote an open letter to Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi to express their grave concern on the continuing human rights violations in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IoK).

European Parliamentarians have conveyed particular concern for the blatant use of pellet shotguns which continue to mass blind innocent civilians, women and children, including 19-months old Hiba Nisar. The MEPs have also communicated concerns over the use of draconian laws, such as Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Public Safety Act (PSA) which accord virtual impunity to the Indian occupation forces in IoK.

Earlier, Reports on Jammu and Kashmir by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UK Parliament’s All Parties Parliamentary Kashmir Group (APPKG) had publicly called out India over its gross human rights violations in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir and called upon the Indian government to carry out a comprehensive investigation into its abuses in IoK.

Pakistan expresses gratitude to all European Parliamentarians who undertook this critical initiative. We will continue to extend moral, political and diplomatic support to our Kashmiri brothers and sisters in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Pakistan has noted with deep concern the assessment of relevant organizations and international experts on the threats resulting from space debris generated by the recently conducted Anti-Satellite weapon (ASAT) test by India. The reports that some of the space debris created by this test has been pushed above the apogee of the International Space Station (ISS) increasing the risk of collision are deeply worrying.

As such, this ASAT test should be a matter of grave concern for the international community and Pakistan remains a strong proponent of non-militarization of outer space.

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi spoke by telephone this Tuesday. They exchanged views on the current situation in the region and discussed bilateral issues. Both sides agreed that de-escalation was important for peace and stability in South Asia.

FM appreciated US efforts in diffusing tensions in the region. He also informed Secretary Pompeo about the de-escalatory measures taken by Pakistan including the handing over of the Indian pilot and the efforts and progress in the implementation of Pakistan’s National Action Plan He also urged US to play its role for resumption of dialogue between Pakistan and India to find solutions to all outstanding disputes.

Both leaders agreed to continue to pursue the Afghan reconciliation process and the Foreign Minister reiterated that Intra-Afghan dialogue was an important component of the reconciliation process. Also, the Foreign Minister emphasized the need to enhance interaction at the leadership level.

Moreover, the 4th round of Bilateral Political Consultations between Pakistan and Austria was held in Vienna on 2nd April.

The two sides reviewed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations and identified areas for further cooperation in political, economic, trade, investment, education and cultural fields. Additional Secretary (Europe) of MOFA invited Austrian companies to benefit from Pakistan’s investor friendly policies, in various fields.

The Additional Secretary briefed the Austrian side on the situation in South Asia, notably the Indian aggression and Pakistan’s measured response. Pakistan had also taken several steps to de-escalate the situation. He also apprised the Austrian side on the human rights situation in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

The next round of Pakistan-Austria Bilateral Political Consultations would be held in Islamabad in 2020 at mutually convenient dates.

Thank you!

Now the floor is open for questions.


Sir, keeping in view the recent step-back by India from the negotations of the Kartarpur Corridor, my questions is, what would be the future of Kartarpur Corridor now? (Mr. Zahid Farooq Malick – Daily Metro Watch)

Supplementary Question

In a recent statement by the Spokesperson of Indian Ministry of External Affairs, wherein, he has mentioned the postponement of the meeting of delegation- level talks at Wagah to discuss the Kartarpur Corridor on the pretext of having suspicions on the formulation of Committee that is dealing with Kartarpur. What are your views on this development? (Mr. Zarghon Shah – Geo News)


The sole purpose of discussions and negotations is to eliminate all the differences. India has backed out of its decision to hold the meeting on 02 April 2019. On the other hand, it has requested for a meeting of technical experts on 15 or 16 April 2019 at Zero Point of Kartarpur Sahib, which we are considering favourably.

There are some differences on Kartarpur sahib Corridor. We have to meet to iron out these differences. Pakistan is committed to uphold its promise to operationalise the Corridor for the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak in November 2019 as has been announced by the Prime Minister.


As per reports published in the Foreign Policy Magazine, the Indian claim of shooting down a Pakistani fighter jet F-16isnarrated as totally false. Your comments Please!

Secondly, Indian government is trying to remove Article 370 from Indian constitution in order to abolish special status of Indian occupied Kashmir. Would you like to comment on that? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Daily Kashmir Post)


The first question is a technical question and technical experts would engage on this issue. Further details may please be sought from Inter Services Public Relations.

Regarding the second question, the attempt of Indian government to abrogate Article 370 from Indian constitutions is not only a violation of Resolutions of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) but also the fundamental position of UN Security Council. Neither Kashmiri people nor Pakistan will accept the abrogation of Article 370.


Will the future and timely completion of the Kartarpur Sahib Project be possible, if such delaying tactics are constantly used by the Indian side?

Secondly, after Pulwama attack, the Indian side has submitted a paper to which Pakistan has responded. Sir, has the Indian government reverted on the response submitted by Pakistan? Your comments please! (Mr. Essa Naqvi – Indus TV)


We have conveyed our commitment to India, as has been announced by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, to open the Kartarpur sahib Corridor. Further development would only be possible when India reciprocates and comes to the dialogue table. Our position is clear and we want to open Kartarpur sahib Corridor, before the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, to allow devotees from India to visit the Gurdwara.

Regarding your second question, we have not received response from India to our reply. As and when we receive any response from India, I will update you accordingly.


Sir, a few days back, the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, through a diplomatic communication, has requested the Foreign Office to give consular access to Commandar Kulbushan Jadav. Your comments please! (Ms. Rashida Sial – Abb Takk TV)


As you all are aware that the case of Commandar Kulbushan Jadav is currently in the International Court of Justice. Any mention of Consular access at this stage is pointless. On the other hand, the specific questions we raised to India about passport of Commandar Kulbushan Jadav remain unanswered.


Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Special Representative of US Secretary of State for Afghanistan Reconciliation after extensive deliberations in Kabul is undertaking a visit to Pakistan. In his recent statement in Kabul, he has said that Pakistan should change its policy towards Afghanistan otherwise the relations between Pakistan and United States would not be good. Your comments please!

Secondly, Ambassador Khalilzad called on the Foreign Minister today at the Foreign Office. What specific benchmarks were set by both the sides? Is Pakistan taken into confidence for the next round of US-Taliban talks in Doha? Will the Afghan government participate in the next round of talks? (Mr. Muhammad Jaleel, VOA)

Supplementary Question

Sir, I would like to supplement the question asked by my fellow journalist about Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. Keeping in view the threatening statement by Ambassador Khalilzad, how would the efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan be productive? (Mr. Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)


I have already responded to your questions during my opening remarks. We have already issued a Press Release on the matter. I have nothing more to add.


There are reports that a meeting between the Prime Minister Imran Khan and US President Donald Trump will possibly be scheduled by the Foreign Office during this summer. Would you like to mention the modalities of this meeting and where these two leaders will meet? (Mr. Sib Kaifee – Arab News)


I have no information on this.


The Foreign Minister, in a recent statement, has informed that some elements in Gilgit-Baltistan are trying to destroy its peace and stability. Would you highlight as to who are the elements and what kind of disturbance these elements are creating?

Secondly, as per the Article 370 of the Indian constitution, non-Kashmiri cannot purchase any land in Indian occupied Kashmir. Similarly, in Azad Kashmir, no outsider can purchase any land in order to maintain the special status of Kashmir. Sir, my question is, why in Gilgit-Baltistan does the rule of special status not maintained? (Mr. Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)


As per my knowledge, the special status of Gilgit-Baltistan is maintained in line with the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Gilgit-Baltistan was a part of the state of Jammu & Kashmir. The resolution of the dispute of Jammu & Kashmir is to be made through a UN administered plebiscite, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions. It is India which is reneging from the promises of plebiscite, made by its forefathers. Pakistan remains committed to its original position as enshrined in the UN Security Council Resolutions. The social and economic development in AJK and GB cannot be held hostage to Indian obstinacy. We are desirous of resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute but cannot let the people of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan remain in a limbo.

Regarding your question about the specific elements, for your reference, I would mention the case of Commander Kulbushan Jadav. You know the same country is trying to sabotage peace and stability in Pakistan.


Sir, peace and stability in Afghanistan, being an immediate neighbour of Pakistan, is very much essential and linked with peace and stability in Pakistan. My question is, how much are you satisfied with the ongoing efforts made by Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Special Representative of US Secretary of State for Afghanistan Reconciliation? At what level do you think the efforts of Ambassador Khalilzad are satisfactory with regards to Pakistan? (Mr. Azam Khan – Independent News)


It is a difficult and sensitive task. We are working on it.


There are reports in the media that Pakistan will release near 100 Indian fishermen during next week. Would you please confirm and whether India will also reciprocate?

Secondly, with regards to the Indian paper submitted to Pakistan after Pulwama attack, is there any specific development about Moulana Masood Azhar?

Thirdly, how does Pakistan sees the mistreatment of Uighurs Muslims in China? (Mr. Anas Mallick – Wion TV)


Regarding Uighurs Muslims, our position is very clear.

With regards to your question on Moulana Masood Azhar, I have nothing to add.

Coming to the first part of your question, M/o Interior is the line Ministry for prisoners. As per the lists exchanged between both sides on 1 January 2019, there are 347 Pakistan prisoners (249 civilian, 98 fishermen) in Indian jails and 537 Indian prisoners (54 civilian, 483 fishermen) in Pakistani jails.

Pakistan has decided to release 360 Indian prisoners (355 fishermen and 05 civil ) who have completed their term of sentence in four batches as per following schedule;

8 April : 100 fishermen

15April : 100 fishermen

22 April : 100 fishermen

29 April 60 prisoners ( 55 fishermen +5 civilian)

We expect India to reciprocate.


Sir, currently, the Government of Pakistan, through various initiatives, is apprising the international community about its National Action Plan. Would you highlight what response Pakistan is getting from the international community especially removing its name from the Grey List of Financial Action Task Force (FATF)?

Secondly, a Pakistani named Shakil Ahmed has been killed in New York recently. Has the Foreign Office initiated formal request to the United States to share the investigation report of the killing? (Mr. Majid Jarral – News One)


The initiatives under the umbrella of national action plan are in our own national interests.

Regarding your second question, let me check and get back to you during the next briefing.


In the wake of Pulwama attack, it has been observed that the freedom movement in Indian occupied Kashmir is intensified. On the other hand, Indian forces have increased the human rights violations against the innocent Kashmiri people. Moreover, India is continuously making ceasefire violations in LoC resulting in deaths of innocent civilians as well as our soldiers. What specific efforts Pakistan is initiating to highlight the Indian atrocities in the international community? (Mr. Asghar Ali Mubarak – Daily Mail)


We will continue our political and diplomatic efforts to highlight gross human rights violation by Indian occupational forces in Indian occupied Kashmir. Nations that hold their dignity paramount, strive and fight for their sovereignty. We are fighting and will continue to fight for our motherland.


Sir, there are reports in the media that United States will sell 24 MH-60R helicopters to India. Your comments please! (Mr. Adeel Warriach – Dunya TV)


The Indian arms race in the region is a cause of serious concern for us. Obviously, we will take all steps to protect our sovereignty. The country that is buying these helicopters is the one which violated international law and bombed Balakot on 26 February. We remain prepared to give a befitting answer in case of any misadventure. Although our prime intention is to establish peace in the region but we are not ignorant of protection of our motherland.


Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad, US Special Representative for Afghanistan has tweeted in response to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement regarding the Afghan Peace Process. The tweet of Ambassador Khalilzad was not diplomatic rather threatening to Pakistan. Has Pakistan highlighted this issue during the ongoing visit of Ambassador Khalilzad?

Secondly, will the Afghan government participate in the next round of talks between the US and Taliban in Doha? (Mr. Ali Hussain – Business Recorder)


I have nothing more to add in the visit of Ambassador Khalilzad. Pakistan will always protect its interest.


Sir, my question is about Afghanistan peace talks. Is Pakistan in contact with Taliban to convince them for talks with Afghan government and the US?

Secondly, Pakistan is going to submit its report on 15 April 2019 in FATF. What steps have been taken by Pakistan? (Mr. Rabia Pir – VoA Dewa)


FATF is dealt by the Ministry of Finance. As you know, Pakistan has been included in the Grey List during 2018. Pakistan has already undertaken numerous initiatives as agreed with the FATF. You may please refer your question to the Ministry of Finance to get specific details.

Regarding your first question, I have nothing more to add.


Sir, can you shed some light on the device found in the shoe of the wife of Commander Kulbushan Jadav. What sort of device was found? (Mr. Aun Muhammad Sherazi – SuchTV)


As you are aware that the case of Commandar Kulbushan Jadav is currently in the International Court of Justice. Let the judgment come.


Sir, my question is about recently conducted Anti-Satellite weapon (ASAT) test by India. Reportedly, India has said that with this technological lead they can destroy and blast apart Pakistan high in the sky. Your comments please!


India is used to making such dreamy claims. We are still looking for the 300 dead bodies that they claim to have killed in Balakot. They can dream on.


Reportedly, the EU has blacklisted some of the countries on the charges of money laundering and terror financing including Pakistan. Whether Pakistan has taken up this issue with the EU and what is the latest update on that? Your comments please! (Mr. Faisal Raza Khan – 92 News)


I will update you on this next week.


Indian PM Modi has been awarded the highest civilian honour Zayed Medal by United Arab Emirates. UAE and Pakistan are brotherly muslim countries. How would you see this development?

Secondly, there are reports that the murderer of Mufti Taqi Usmani is a national of neighbouring country of Pakistan. Do you have any reports on this information? (Mr. Mazhar Iqbal – Public TV)


Regarding your first question, the confering of Zayed Medal by UAE to Indian PM Modi is a bilateral issue between UAE and India. I would not comment further on it.

Regarding your second question, I have not seen such reports. I will update you on this next week.

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