(2016-08-04) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.]
Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim! Assalaam Alaikum!
Daily we read the news of continued killings of defenceless Kashmiris in Indian Occupied Kashmir by the Indian forces with impunity. Besides over 60 who were martyred, we are gravely concerned about those youngsters and children who lost their eyesight because of pellet firing. This is an attempt to silence a generation of Kashmiris who are struggling for an indigenous movement for self-determination. This is going on, presently, for one month now. All means of communications to the outside world remains blocked while killings of innocent Kashmiris continues.
Pakistan remain steadfast in extending our moral, diplomatic and political support to Kashmiris in their movement for self-determination and have strongly taken up the blatant violation of human rights and atrocities in IOK with the international community. A number of countries and international organizations have expressed concerns and human rights activists have peacefully demonstrated to protest Indian atrocities against Kashmiris. Our Missions abroad are constantly engaged in sensitizing the world on Kashmir issue.
This week saw an important 3-day Envoys’ Conference in Islamabad. I am sure you may have questions related to this significant event, which was concluded in the gracious presence of the Prime Minister.
Turkish Foreign Minister paid a very productive bilateral visit as part of our regular high level exchanges. You are aware of the outcome. Turkey reaffirmed its continued support to Pakistan on the Kashmir dispute and expressed deep concern over the ongoing killing of innocent Kashmiris. Both Houses of Parliament adopted a resolution to express solidarity with the democratically elected Turkish Government in the wake of the failed coup attempt. Bilateral trade and investment between the two countries is on the rise and the two sides have taken measures to further enhance them.
Pakistan is hosting the SAARC Interior Ministers’ Meeting, which will be concluded today. All the SAARC ministerial meetings lead up to the Summit, which Pakistan is proudly hosting.
Now the Floor is open for Questions
Pentagon has withheld US$ 300m in military aid to Pakistan despite Pakistan’s successes and sacrifices in counter-terrorism. Your comments please. (Khawaja Nayaar Iqbal – Kashmir Post)
The Coalition Support Fund (CSF) is one of the many cooperative arrangements between Pakistan and the United States to pursue common objectives. These reimbursements enable the United States to support Pakistan’s on-going counter-terrorism efforts in a manner that serves shared interests of both countries. Under this arrangement, both countries continue to work closely to build on the gains achieved over the past years that have improved security in the tribal areas.
Over the past decade, Pakistan has conducted a large number of military operations that have sequentially dismantled and destroyed terrorist infrastructure on its side on the international border with Afghanistan. The latest of these major operations, ‘Operation Zarb-e-Azb’ has been a resounding success and it has cleared North Waziristan- the last bastion of militant networks- from terrorists of all affiliations. This decade long effort in Pakistan has caused 60,000 fatalities including 6000 security forces personnel involved in the operations.
Senior members of the Congress and representatives of the media have visited the areas cleared from terrorists’ control and observed for the gains made in these operations as well as the development work underway, including projects undertaken in partnership with the US, for restoration of normal life in affected areas.
Pakistan remains committed to counter terrorism for ensuring security and stability in the region.
This is regarding the Envoy’s Conference in the past, Pakistan was not focusing on economic diplomacy, was it discussed this time? What other issues were discussed during the conference? (Tariq Siyal – Daily Times)
Let me give you a more comprehensive response on the Envoys’ Conference because of its importance. Envoys’ Conference is a regular feature, a consultative mechanism. The Envoys made presentations reflecting major developments in the regions of their accreditation with bearing on Pakistan in particular, and our region, in general. They also assessed the state of relations with their host countries and Pakistan’s significance at various multilateral forums and vis-a-vis issues of international concern and interest. In their assessments of the rapidly changing strategic, political and economic scenarios, the Envoys highlighted the factors that evinced major powers’ interests in this region. They underlined the challenges, which could be transformed into opportunities through skillful diplomacy. They recommended policy approaches to that end for the Prime Minister’s endorsement.
The Prime Minister commended the efforts by the Envoys and achievements of the Ministry on the foreign policy front. The objectives attained were in line with the election manifesto of the government.
The objectives include using all approaches to raise the profile of Pakistan and achieve the country’s national objectives. Strengthening the economy is one of the core objectives of the government. Towards this goal, both domestic organs of the government as well as our Missions abroad play a key role. Therefore, economic diplomacy is of vital importance in our foreign policy.
We saw two major incursions of Afghan terrorists in the Pakistani area of Chitral. Two shepherds were killed and cattle were taken away. Pakistan seems to be silent on the issue. Will we take it up with the Afghan government? (Muddasir Hussain – Khyber News)
I don’t have complete information about this incident and we usually don’t comment on media reports.
As you know, Pakistan and Afghanistan have recently agreed to establish a ministerial level mechanism for consultation on border management related matters. Such a mechanism may also help to address issues like the one you have mentioned. In case such an incident has happened, we will take it up with the Afghan government, appropriately.
Pentagon has withheld US$ 300m in military aid to Pakistan. It is reported that the US wants more action against the Haqqani Network and Afghan Taliban. Will Pakistan’s policy change in this regard or will Pakistan stick to its previous stance that it is taking action against all militants without discrimination? (Nasir- BBC)
This question has been asked umpteen times and I have responded to it repeatedly that Pakistan does not make any distinction between terrorists. We have taken decisive action against terrorists and extremists and also cooperate widely with other countries to defeat it. Phenomenon of terrorism is not country specific but it is a global issue. Our sincerity and resolve is unquestionable and acknowledged in the West including the US government. We have lost more than sixty thousand Pakistani citizens in this fight, including six thousand brave soldiers and law enforcement officials. No other country has given comparable sacrifices. These sacrifices not only include human lives but huge economic losses. It is our firm resolve that we will take action against any terrorist in Pakistan, whatever colour or shape it manifests itself in.
PTI is criticizing the Government for not doing enough to highlight Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir. Your comments please. (Shaukat Paracha – Aaj TV)
With regard to this question, I would like to refer to the statement of the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, which he made in the Parliament on the killings and blatant human rights violations in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. He also elaborately underlined numerous actions that the Government took to raise the issue on every forum and sensitize the international community and human rights organizations through various channels. These inhuman treatment to Kashmiris in IoK has been going on for the past one month. The atrocities by the Indian forces have going on for decades and more than hundred thousand Kashmiris have been martyred. I have earlier briefed you on Government’s policy approach and the steps taken by the government to sensitize the world on this gross violation of Kashmiris’ rights in the present instance also.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has been banned by the US. How do you see this development? (Rabia Akram Khan – Radio Free Europe’s Radio Mashaal)
The United States has domestically proscribed this group, which we welcome. Pakistan has for long pleaded to take concrete action against TTP and the likes, who hiding in Afghanistan. From Afghanistan, these terrorists plan and launch attacks in Pakistan. You are right that this group was involved in the terrorist attack in Lahore’s Children Park where innocent people, including a large number of children and women were killed.
The Indian Home Minister, Mr. Rajnath Singh, is visiting Islamabad. Any meetings planned between him and his Pakistani counterpart? Will he make a courtesy call on the Prime Minister and President? If the answer is yes, will Pakistan forcefully raise the issue of atrocities in IoK with him? (Mateen Haider – Dawn TV)
As per tradition, there will be a collective call of all the visiting SAARC Interior Ministers on the Prime Minister. There will be no bilateral meeting, because as you know, even before his arrival, the Indian side had said that there will be no bilateral meetings and they did not make any request.
We have raised the Kashmir issue bilaterally with all SAARC countries. This visit is in the SAARC context, which works according to an agreed agenda. I am not aware of the agenda of the meeting. You may like contact Ministry of Interior for this. On all occasions, where there is an opportunity we always flag the Kashmir issue. In the wake of the recent brutalities and killings of innocent Kashmiris by the Indian forces in IoK, Pakistan has very vigorously and strongly raised the issue with the international community.
If a Resolution is presented in the United Nations to declare Fateullah Gulen a terrorist organization, what will be Pakistan’s response? (Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)
I think this is a speculative question. Pakistan and Turkey have very close and brotherly relations and we cooperate on all issues of international and regional concern. When the Turkish Foreign Minister was here, in the Joint Stakeout with Adviser Sartaj Aziz, it was stated that both countries closely cooperate with each other on all issues of mutual concern.
A Pakistani had crossed inadvertently into Indian territory and he was killed by Indian security forces. Last week, BSF and Pakistan Rangers already had a meeting in which it was agreed that if any person crosses either side inadvertently he will be repatriated. But it seems that there have been some violations, has Pakistan taken up the issue with the Indian side? (Fakhar ur Rehman = Turkish News Agency)
We have seen these reports and are ascertaining the facts. We certainly take up all such issues with the Indian government.
The question is in reference to Pakistanis stranded in Saudi Arabia; we have seen that usually our embassies abroad and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are slow in responding and only take action belatedly after the PM issues orders.
Secondly, according to some videos that are coming out, the aid and assistance is insufficient and not enough. Comments please. (Fayyaz Raja – Channel 92)
We have taken all measures and are constantly in contact with the Saudi government, the companies and the Pakistani employees. The Government of Saudi Arabia has extended cooperation. To a great extent, the matter has been addressed adequately.
I am aware of the irresponsible reporting by a segment of media and unfortunately we were not contacted. It compelled me to give a comprehensive comment on the matter to PTV and later that news channel also when it contacted me. A video of the efforts that were carried out was also circulated; it was not the intention to flaunt the actions on camera as this is a humanitarian situation.
Furthermore, we have provided rations to our expatriates staying in the camps of the two companies.
We were given the assurance by the companies that rations would resume soon. However, during the time when food was not available to their employees and companies were paying them 200 riyals each for their ration for the month, instead. The Embassy on several occasions arranged food for them to which some affluent Pakistanis Community members also voluntarily contributed. We have now given them 200 Riyals to each for their monthly ration. We will continue helping them, to the best of our ability and capacity, until their problem is resolved amicably.
Sir, Pakistan has been talking about border management with Afghanistan and making efforts to regulate the movement across the border. I want to know, will it also check the movement of terrorists? Afghanistan has reacted to the construction of a gate at Torkham and called it inappropriate and violation of previous agreements with Pakistan. Your comments please. (Amjad Ali – PTV)
The primary purpose of border management is to regulate the movement of people and vehicles across the border with a view to prevent movement of terrorists, militants and undesired elements. The two sides have established a High Level Consultation Mechanism for effective coordination on this issue. The first meeting of the Joint Technical Working Group under this Mechanism was held in Kabul on 26 July. We are surprised and also disappointed, at Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ press release a couple of days back. Let me put the record straight:
i) The construction of gate and other facilities is not an unfriendly act as it is meant to prevent movement of terrorists, which has been a matter of concern to primarily, Pakistan, and also the US and Afghanistan;
ii) There are no such previous agreements barring construction on our respective territories; and
iii) The gate being constructed by us is 37 meters inside Pakistan territory and does not in any way constitute an “encroachment”.
Now that the agenda of the upcoming SAARC Summit is being decided and this important regional forum remains less effective due to high tension between Pakistan and India. In your opinion, isn’t SAARC a forum where the issue of IoK should be taken up? Furthermore, do you believe that all SAARC members should take a stand against the atrocities? (Essa Naqvi – Dunya TV)
Kashmir is a subject that we address on all occasions and at all appropriate forums. We have taken it up with all SAARC members bilaterally and they have expressed their concerns on the situation in IoK.
We are increasing our efforts to sensitize the world about the situation in IoK in wake of the increased atrocities against innocent Kashmiris.
Our Missions abroad are constantly sensitizing human rights organizations in their respective areas and their host Governments. Human rights activists have organized seminars in a number of countries to protest violations of Kashmiris’ rights by India.
We are making all efforts and these efforts will continue until the ultimate resolution of the Kashmir issue.
A Minister from India a country that is responsible for all atrocities in Kashmir is coming to Pakistan and he is refusing to have a meeting with anyone. On which forum do you think we will raise the issue of Kashmir because atrocities in IoK are continuing? (Asghar Ali Mubarak – Daily Mail Islamabad)
Kashmir is an international issue. It is on the agenda of the UN Security Council. There are UNSC resolutions that have been there for the last 60 years. A plebiscite has to take place under UN supervision. We have taken up this issue bilaterally with most countries. We have briefed all UNSC members here in Islamabad, OIC member countries, African countries and European countries representatives.
Mr. Sartaj Aziz has written letters to the High Commissioner of UNHRC, the President of UNSC, Secretary General United Nations, OIC Secretary General, Foreign Ministers of the OIC Contact Group on Kashmir Members.
Last modified: November 22, 2019
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