Media Briefing|

(2018-12-21) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]

Bismillah Ir Rehman Nir Rahim,


Opening Remarks

Pakistan strongly condemns the horrific bloodbath in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir by the Indian occupation force that has resulted in the martyrdom of many innocent Kashmiris, most recently 15, including both men and women, on this Saturday. These include Mudassir Rashid Parray, Saqib Bilal Sheikh, Hajira Begum, Owais Ahmad Butt, Tahir Ahmad Dar, Zahoor Ahmad Thoker, Adnan Hamid Bhat, Bilal Ahmad Magray, Amir Ahmad Paul, Liyaqat Majeed Dar, Suhail Rasheed Bhat, Muhammad Murtaza Dar, Owais Ahmad Najar, Tauseef Ahmad Mir and Abid Hussain Lone in Srinagar, Sopore, Pulwama and Bandipore districts of the Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir. More than 300 protesters are reported to be injured during the bloodbath. As you would remember, last month, 24 people were martyred in the so-called cordon and search operations.

This brutal genocide by the Indian occupation forces on Saturday is yet another example of Indian atrocities against innocent Kashmiris. India continues to kill and maim, under the garb of “combating terror.” Indian occupation forces clearly ‘aim to kill’ targeting the head, neck and vital organs. In Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, every man, woman or a child who protests against India’s illegal occupation and brutalities against innocent and hapless Kashmiris, is a “terrorist.”

India continues to use vicious tactics to intimidate, disrespect and silence the Kashmiris and their struggle to achieve the just right to self-determination.

India continues to ignore legitimate demands for an international probe, including by the OHCHR and the UK APPKG into gross and systematic human rights violations, including use of pellet guns, excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests and detentions, as well as continued sexual violence, as a part of overall impunity enjoyed by the Indian security forces.

Despite hollow Indian claims, Jammu and Kashmir remains an internationally recognized dispute, pending on the agenda of the UN Security Council. The dissociation of India from reality is alarming, more so for India itself. To try to deflect international attention from IoK, India continues to launch attacks along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, killing and maiming innocent civilians, living along the border. 1.5 billion people of this region have been deprived of peace and prosperity for the last 70 years by India, as it backed off from implementing the promises it made with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and with the international community.

Pakistan calls upon the international community to call upon India to put an immediate end to the bloodshed in IoK and to be cognizant of its responsibilities in the matter. India has to allow investigations by an independent fact-finding Commission of OHCHCR, OIC and IPHRC into the ongoing gross human rights violations in IoK and to fulfill its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir.

Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi of the People’s Republic of China, and Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan held the 2nd Afghanistan-China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue in Kabul, Afghanistan on 15th December 2018.

China and Pakistan congratulated Afghanistan on the completion of the parliamentary elections and welcomed the efforts of the Afghan government for holding presidential elections in 2019.

The three sides, once again, reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthening their relations, deepening cooperation, and advancing connectivity under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) and other regional economic initiatives. The three sides agreed to promote China-Afghanistan-Pakistan trilateral cooperation under the framework of jointly building the Belt and Road Initiative. The three sides reiterated their strong resolve to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and without any distinction. The three Foreign Ministers agreed to jointly continue their efforts for building political mutual trust and support reconciliation, development cooperation and connectivity, security cooperation and counter-terrorism as the three areas of the trilateral cooperation.

The three sides reiterated their support to the Afghan-owned, and Afghan led inclusive peace process that is fully supported regionally and internationally, as the most viable way to bring peace in Afghanistan. In this regard, China and Pakistan appreciated the efforts of President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani especially for the comprehensive peace plans that came out of the second Kabul Process and the Geneva Conferences on Afghanistan, and therefore called on the Afghan Taliban to join the peace process at an early date. While efforts are underway to start the peace process, the three sides call upon the parties concerned to end violence and the loss of innocent lives in Afghanistan.

On bilateral front, the Foreign Minister during his Kabul visit, called on the Afghan leadership and held bilateral meetings with President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah besides Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani. Foreign Minister discussed with the Afghan leadership, the recent efforts, for initiating peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan and assured Pakistan’s support for an Afghan led and owned peace process. He further reiterated that Pakistan along with other regional and international stakeholders will take steps to facilitate intra-Afghan dialogue in good faith.

Foreign Minister underscored that bilateral engagement remains the most viable platform for addressing matters of mutual interest and in this regard the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) provides the most effective mechanism.

The Afghan leadership appreciated Pakistan’s positive role in advancing the cause of Afghan peace process and agreed to take joint steps for strengthening bilateral ties and agreed to expand cooperation and coordination against terrorism. They also agreed to use APAPPS mechanism to enhance institutional engagement between the two countries in all areas of cooperation.

As you are all aware and have already reported on it, talks between representatives of Taliban and the US have started in Abu Dhabi. Pakistan remains committed to facilitate he dialogue process. Pakistan played a role as part of a shared responsibility in the meeting held in UAE for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. Our role has been widely recognized and appreciated.

Bilateral Political Consultations between Pakistan and China were held in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 10 December 2018. Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua led the Pakistani delegation whilst Chinese side was led by Vice Foreign Minister Mr. Kong Xuanyou.

Both sides held comprehensive discussions covering the entire gamut of bilateral relations. They reaffirmed “All Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership” between the two countries and expressed satisfaction at the strong bilateral ties in political, economic, security, cultural and other spheres. The two sides also agreed to build upon the consensus reached between the leadership of two countries during the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China.

Pakistan side conveyed that CPEC is a national priority for the Government and Pakistan remains committed to the successful implementation of CPEC. The two sides also resolved to work together towards completion of the ongoing projects under CPEC and agreed to expand CPEC to new areas of cooperation in line with the vision of the leadership of Pakistan.

The two sides also exchanged views on international political situation with a particular focus on Afghanistan and South Asia.

Pakistan has been elected as the Vice President and the Rapporteur of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, at COP 24 in Katowice, Poland on 15 December 2018.

The other bodies in which Pakistan secured seats include the Executive Board of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Standing Committee on Finance (SCF), Adaptation Committee (AC), Consultative Group of Experts (CGE), and Technology Executive Committee (TEC).

Advisor to the Prime Minister, Malik Amin Aslam, who led Pakistan’s delegation to COP24 said, “Pakistan’s election to the second highest position at the UN Climate Convention, as well as to the five other bodies related to climate change, is a strong reaffirmation by the international community of both, Pakistan’s strong credentials within the multilateral arena and a strong vote of confidence in Pakistan’s substantial contribution towards international efforts aimed at tackling climate change”.

Finally, some news on activities of our Missions abroad for the welfare of Pakistani nationals in their area of jurisdictions.

Our Mission in Colombo responded actively to the news of Pakistani Prisoners in Colombo jails being on hunger strike. Our First Secretary visited the prison and held discussions with the prisoners, on hunger strike and the prison authorities. The officer tried to persuade the prisoners to call off their hunger strike, who were demanding their early repatriation to Pakistan, keeping in line with the agreement between the two countries to exchange prisoners which are being held in each other’s prisons.

Presently, there are 46 convicted prisoners, mostly on drug trafficking charges, in Walikada prison and 8 in Angunakolapelassa Prison. The Mission has been providing legal assistance to all the prisoners through a dedicated legal advisor. Moreover, bi-monthly packages of food / hygiene items are being provided along with special packages on the eve of Eid. Mission has already spent LKR 6,018,373/- on account of legal assistance and food packages during last three years.

Case for transfer of the convicted prisoners has already been initiated by the Mission and is with the Ministry of Justice of Sri Lanka. Efforts in this regard will be reinforced new Government in Sri Lanka takes office. Our own Ministry of Interior, the line Ministry is also in the process of finalization of the eventual transport arrangements of the said prisoners back to Pakistan.

I thank you all.

Now the floor is open for questions.


The Foreign Minister in his press conference, few days earlier, had stated that Pakistan has proposed organizing an international conference on Jammu & Kashmir in Islamabad. He further said that this conference can also take place in Jeddah. What is the progress on this proposal?

Secondly, the Indian government has announced that the Indian Ministry of External Affairs plans to take over the custody of Jinnah House. What is your response on this matter? (Ms. Rashida Sial – Aab Tak)


The Foreign Minister did not speak about an international conference on Jammi & Kashmir rather he said that the Meeting of the Contact Group of OIC on Jammu & Kashmir can take place either in Islamabad or Jeddah. The Contact Group Members are Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Niger, Azerbaijan and obviously Pakistan. The last meeting of this Contact Group was held on 27 September 2018 on the sidelines of UNGA. We are actively pursuing the matter with the OIC and the Member countries of the Contact Group and will update you soon.

Regarding your second question, we have a longstanding claim on Jinnah House which has been accepted by India at the highest level. We have documentary evidence to that extent. India has to honor its commitment.


Pakistan has supported Afghan efforts for holding elections in Afghanistan. We see that Taliban are a reality in Afghanistan. Do you think that the upcoming Presidential elections, without the involvement of Taliban, can prove to be a step towards peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan?

Secondly, we have seen media reports that an Envoys’ Conference is being organized in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 27-28 December 2018. Can you please share the details of this Conference? (Mr. Mazhar Iqbal – Public TV)

Supplementary Questions

Can you update us on the recently concluded dialogue between the US and Taliban that took place in UAE? When will the second round of negotiations take place? What was the level of Pakistan’s participation in the meeting?

Secondly Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad made a short visit to Pakistan yesterday. Can you please tell us something about his meetings with officials in Pakistan? (Mr. Naveed Siddiqui – Dawn News)

Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad paid a short visit to Pakistan followed by a visit to Afghanistan. Has Pakistan been given any indication to the effect that the United States is trying to get out of Afghanistan and is pursuing a face saving exit strategy? (Khawaja Nayyer – Kashmir Post)

Mr. Zalmay Khalilzad, before his arrival to Pakistan, in a tweet, stated that the meetings in UAE remained very productive. Can you share some details regarding Pakistan’s representation in the meeting?

Secondly, what are your comments on Mr. Khalilzad’s statement on the UAE meetings being productive? (Mr. Muhammad Jaleel – VoA)

Reportedly, the Afghan PR in his statement to the UNSC meeting on Afghanistan recently stated that Afghanistan had reiterated its request to Pakistan to facilitate the dialogue process. Your comments please? (Mr. Mateen Haider – G-News)

Recently, there have been talks and there is a general agreement among parties to work towards peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. My question is that we have seen American decision to withdraw from Syria. Is there any indication given by the US for their withdrawal from Afghanistan? In case, US does decide to withdraw abruptly from Afghanistan what would be Pakistan’s position on this matter? (Mr. Ayaz Gul – VoA)

Pakistan has maintained, and you have repeated many times, that it has limited influence over the Taliban. What has changed now that you have been able to bring the Taliban to the negotiation table? Reportedly, the Haqqanis were also represented in the recently concluded UAE talks. Was Pakistan instrumental in bringing the Haqqanis to the negotiation table? (Mr. Sib Kaifee – Arab News)

The Prime Minister of Pakistan mentioning president Trump letter to him had divulged that the US has sought Pakistan’s assistance in bringing the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table. Is this akin to an admission that Pakistan wields influence on Taliban and we have close relations with them? (Ms. Rashida Sial – Aab Tak)


Pakistan played a role as part of a shared responsibility in the meeting held in UAE for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. Our role has been widely recognized and appreciated. We cannot comment more on this.

Regarding, Presidential elections in Afghanistan, it is there internal matter and I cannot comment on this.

Regarding Envoys’ moot, on 27-28 December 2018, an Envoys’ Conference will be held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on economic diplomacy.

Regarding Pakistan’s representation in UAE talks, an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan was present during the talks.


On Kartarpur, on one hand, Pakistan’s gesture was highly acknowledged by the Sikhs community, yet Sikhs belonging to “Sikhs for Justice” and “Khalistan Movement” have stated that Pakistan, in view of the 1971 events should assist them to further the Khalistan Movement. They have further requested to open an office in Lahore. Will Pakistan consider such a request? (Mr. Zahid Farooq Malik – Daily Metro Watch)


Let me be absolutely clear that Pakistan does not intervene in the internal matters of any country.


Pakistan does not interfere in the internal matters of any country, yet Bangladesh has accused Pakistan of interfering in their national elections set for December 30, 2018. Secondly, Indian Punjab Assembly has passed a resolution demanding that Pakistan should make a deal with India, swapping Kartarpur for another piece of land. Will Pakistan consider handing over its territory or its heritage s? (Mr. Shaukat Mehmood Paracha – Aaj News)


Regarding KArtarpur, there is absolutely no question of any land swap.

The Kartarpur Corridor was a gesture for the Sikh minority community made on their request to provide a visa free corridor, facilitating their visit of a shrine of importance to them.

Regarding your first question, the news published in Bangladesh, as you said, is fake. It is out rightly rejected. Being a democracy we respect all democratic processes and believe that these should run their course.


Can you confirm, if Hamid Nihal Ansari was a spy or simply an illegal border crosser?

Secondly, reportedly two mosques have been demolished in Allahabad. What are your comments on this? (Mr. Naveed – Aaj News)


Mr. Hamid Nihal Ansari crossed the border, illegally, into Pakistan. He was arrested, and convicted of spying and anti-state activities and was sentenced by the Court of Law in Pakistan. After completion of his sentence, he was released and repatriated to India, as per the law of the land.

On your second question, we have time and again made it clear to India that respecting and safeguarding the rights of minorities is in India’s own interest. International obligations, to which India is a signatory, including the ICCPR, have to be honored. India must revisit its treatment of the minorities in India, especially the Muslims.


How many Pakistani prisoners are there in India awaiting repatriation to Pakistan? What efforts are being made for repatriation of these Pakistanis from India?

Secondly, what is the status of Chinese women married to Pakistani nationals reportedly arrested by Chinese authorities? (Mr. Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)

Normally when prisoners are exchanged between two countries, some give and take takes place. What does Ministry of External Affairs of India has to say on repatriation of those Pakistani prisoners who have completed their sentences and are still languishing in Indian jails?

Secondly, there are also around 50 prisoners in Sri Lanka who have completed their sentences awaiting repatriation? What are your comments on that? (Ms. Benazir Mehdi – Neo TV)


Regarding your second question first, some sections of the foreign media are trying to sensationalize the matter by spreading false information. We should try to discern truth from fiction and not fall victim to disinformation.

The matter pertains to Chinese nationals married to Pakistani men. As per Chinese authorities, out of 44 women, 6 are already in Pakistan; 4 have been convicted on various charges; 3 are under investigation, 8 are undergoing voluntary training 23 women are free and living in Xinjiang of their own free will.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chinese authorities will continue to coordinate on this matter. The Chinese side has also offered to arrange visits to Xinjiang of the families of the convicted women.

Regarding your first question, with India, prisoners’ lists are exchanged twice a year, on the 1st of January and 1st of July every year.

The law of the land clearly states that once the sentence is completed the individual is to be released. When the sentence of an Indian prisoner is completed, we normally do not wait for India to offer a Pakistani prisoner in exchange but release and repatriate him.

I will share the updated data regarding Indian prisoners in Pakistan and Pakistani prisoners in India in my next briefing.

Regarding your question about Pakistani prisoners in Sri Lanka, I have also already shared the number of Pakistani prisoners in Sri Lanka i.e. 48 in one prison and 8 in another jail in Colombo in my opening statement. The issue of their repatriation is pursued actively by the line ministry i.e. Ministry of Interior who will first confirm their nationality.

Once the verification is done and the process on the Sri Lankan side is completed, we will repatriate our nationals.


Pakistan has opened the Kartarpur Corridor for Sikhs. What will be Pakistan’s response if India reciprocates and decides to open its border for organizations in Pakistan? (Mr. M. Arif Chaudhary – Soch TV)

Supplementary Questions

Moulana Fazal-ur-Rehman in his remarks has stated that Pakistan has opened Kartarpur Corridor without taking India into confidence and has made this gesture specifically for one specific community. He further stated that what if India, on a request from non-state actors/ organization in Pakistan, decides to open its border for them. How would Pakistan respond to such a situation? (Mr. Hamza Rehman – APP)


Let me clarify that the groundbreaking of the Kartarpur Corridor was inaugurated after consultations with the Indian government. We received a formal request from India subsequent to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initiative on Kartarpur. Two Indian Federal Ministers and Mr. Navjot Singh Sidhu visited the groundbreaking ceremony in Pakistan.


My question relates to Syria, where 500 thousand people have been killed. Further 30 thousand have perished in this bloody war with another 100 thousand under asylum in Germany. There is famine like condition in Syria where thousands of children are at the risk of dying. My question is has Pakistan done anything to provide food supplies to Syria? (Mr. Salman Hashmi – Forensic Eye)


Our position on this issue is very clear.


Going back to Kartarpur, my question is that Pakistan has conveyed that this initiative was undertaken keeping in view the rights of the minorities. Few weeks earlier, there was a press conference where Pakistani Christians demanded that they should be allowed to visit their religious places in Israel. Your take on this? (Mr. Shamim – Online News Agency)


We have not received any such formal request.


Repatriation of an Indian spy Hamid Nihal Ansari, especially when Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir is burning with 24 martyrs and more than 300 injured, and firing across the LoC injuring civilians, gives an impression that Pakistan is more inclined towards making peace overtures to India, even without positive response from them. What are your comments on that? (Mr. Aun Sherazi – Such TV)

Supplementary Question

You stated that Hamid Nihal Ansari has been repatriated. Yesterday, a border crosser Ram Chand Santoshi who entered through Khem Karan into Pakistan was repatriated to India. A list released in July this year indicated that 357 Pakistani prisoners including 249 civilian prisoners and 108 fishermen are in Indian jails, whereas Indian prisoners in Pakistan jails are numbered at 471, including 418 fishermen and 53 civilian prisoners. I want to ask about these prisoners? Secondly, there are 5 Pakistani prisoners in Guantanamo jail in US. What is the government doing to have them released? (Sardar Amer H. Alamgir – Royal News)

Yesterday a 16 year old boy and a senior citizen were injured due to Indian firing across the LoC in Rawlakot Sector in Azad Kashmir. Can Pakistan involve a third party for putting an effective end to these ceasefire violations? (Mr. Razik Bhatti – Kashmir Express)


On Jammu & Kashmir, our stance is very clear. The atrocities perpetrated by India in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir are highly condemnable. We raise this matter on all fora. On the recent killing spree, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan has written to the UN Secretary General and OIC Secretary General. Our Missions have been instructed to actively raise the issue. The OIC Contact Group has been activated and its meeting is being planned.

The Jammu & Kashmir dispute and repatriation of an Indian prisoner is not related. Pakistan is a State that abides by the rule of law. Our law states that once a prisoner completes his/her sentence, he/she must be released and repatriated. We cannot keep a person incarcerated because of political issues between two countries. We have a transparent Foreign Policy and are not fearful of making difficult decisions. Repatriation of Hamid Ansari has not, and will not change our fundamental position and support to Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

On your question regarding, firing across the LoC, we have presence of UNMOGIP on both sides of the border. UNMOGIP is fully active and has unrestricted access everywhere on our side. However, it is severely restricted on the Indian side and has almost been made nonfunctional. We have repeatedly called for more proactive involvement of UNMOGIP on the Indian side of the LoC. UNMOGIP draws its mandate from the UNSC resolutions.

On your question regarding Pakistanis detained in Guantanamo Bay jail, we are pursuing the matter with the American authorities.


Can you please share the steps taken by the Government of Pakistan, so far, toi comply with the FATF Action Plan?

Secondly, when will the second round of negotiations between the US and Taliban take place? (Ms. Rabia Peer – VoA Dewa Radio)


Your first question pertains to the M/o Finance.

Regarding your second question, I cannot comment on the future dates for these negotiations.


What is the amount of Coalition Support Fund for Pakistan pending with the US? Now that Pakistan has brought Taliban to the table, can this be used as an advantage to seek reimbursement of the Coalition Support Fund? (Mr. Sib Kaifee – Arab News)


I do not have the exact figure of the Coalition Support Fund with me now. I will revert on this after checking details next time.


You have spoken about the Kartarpur Corridor. I want to draw your attention to Kargil-Ladakh area which is a peaceful area with no confrontation. Despite the current situation in IOK, the Kashmir Bus Service across Srinagar, Muzaffarabad and Rawlakot-Ponch is running. The divided families of Kargil-Ladakh area want to have similar kind of arrangement for meeting their relatives across the LoC. When will the Government of Pakistan take steps for facilitating them? (Mr. Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)


As I have repeated time and again, Pakistan offered a comprehensive roadmap to India for dialogue in which all matters were to be discussed. The offer was made by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, our highest office. You all know how India responded to that.


Ex-Indian RAW Chief had made a statement that India should negotiate with Pakistan. What in your opinion is keeping the Indian government from coming to the negotiating table despite voices from India in support of the India-Pakisan dialogue? (Khawaja Nayyer – Kashmir Post)


This is a statement coming from ex-Indian RAW Chief. Only he will be able to answer this question.


There have been a series of meetings in the Foreign Office with regard to our response to the letter from Mr. Trump. Is there any update? Has the draft for the letter been prepared?

Secondly, you promised two weeks ago that an update on the corruption cases within the Foreign Office, referred to NAB, both of the diplomatic and non-diplomatic cadre, will be shared. Is there any update on the matter? (Mr. Mateen Haider – G-News)


I will respond to your second question first. We have the information that you seek. I will collate and respond to your query in the next briefing.

With regard to your first question, a response to Mr. Trump’s letter is being prepared and will be sent in due course.

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