(2017-11-16) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.]
Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum Ladies & Gentlemen!
Yesterday, the Indian Deputy High Commissioner was summoned to the Foreign Office to condemn the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian forces in Chirikot Sector on 14 November 2017, resulting in the Shahadat of a 75 year old lady Ms. Mehmooda Begum w/o Mr. Sher Wali Muhammad. Despite calls for restraint, India continues to indulge in ceasefire violations on the LoC and the Working Boundary. In 2017, to date, the Indian occupation forces have carried out more than 1300 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, resulting in the Shahadat of 50 innocent civilians and injuries to 165. This is a phenomenal increase as compared to 382 ceasefire violations in 2016.
Earlier this week, Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif presented Pakistan’s national report on Universal Periodic Review (UPR) before the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The Foreign Minister outlined the wide range of legislative, institutional, administrative and policy measures to advance and safeguard human rights in Pakistan. While highlighting the substantial progress, the Foreign Minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to promote human rights in the spirit of constructive dialogue, engagement and cooperation. Pakistan’s active role and contribution as a consensus builder within the international human rights policy debates was also underscored.
You would have seen our Press Release on the successful review of Pakistan`s national report at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
As you may know, this was our third report for review since the establishment of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism in 2006. Our first and second reports were reviewed in 2008 and 2012, respectively.
The report was viewed positively for a number of reasons. First, 117 states, both members and observers of the Human Rights Council, actively participated and contributed to the review process. This large participation demonstrated the keen interest of these States in our efforts, progress, achievements and challenges.
Secondly, a vast majority of states recognized and appreciated the substantial progress made by Pakistan since our 2012 UPR in the area of human rights through a wide range of legislative, institutional, policy and administrative measures.
Thirdly, many states complimented Pakistan for the gains made in this important area despite its preoccupation with countering terrorism and its negative fall-out including in the further advancement in implementation of human rights agenda.
We note with concern however that a leading Pakistani newspaper chose to report on Pakistan`s UPR selectively and in a partisan manner. The newspaper ignored a) the fact that 117 states made comments and recommendations and b) a very large number of States acknowledged and appreciated the substantial progress made by Pakistan in the area of human rights.
The Foreign Minister noted the implementation challenges by providing not only the context but also expressing commitment to continue work in this important area. We would encourage the newspaper to ascertain facts before filing important reports, in line with the internationally recognized norms of objective reporting.
During his visit to Geneva, Switzerland’s prestigious Institute of Peace and Security Studies of the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations (GSD) has conferred the degree of Honorary Doctorate on the Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif for his meritorious services as an elected Parliamentarian for over two decades, and as Member of the various Federal Cabinets of Pakistan, holding important portfolios of Defence, Privatization, Energy, Water and Power and Foreign Affairs at various points of his illustrious career.
Pakistan has strongly condemned the cross border terrorist attack at Pakistani check post in Bajaur Agency on 13th November, 2017 that resulted in the Shahadat of two Pakistani military personnel – Captain Shaheed Junaid Hafeez and Sepoy Shaheed Raham. In this regard, Afghan Cdâ€™a was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a strong protest was lodged with the Afghan government over this incident. These cross border terrorist attacks on Pakistani forces confirm the presence of a large number of terrorists in the increasingly ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan. We expect Afghanistan and Resolute Missions to eliminate the anti â€“ Pakistan terrorist sanctuaries and ensure that attacks against Pakistani posts do not take place.
The Government of Pakistan has offered to arrange a meeting of Commander Kulbhushan Jhadev with his wife, in Pakistan, purely on humanitarian grounds. Commander Kulbhushan Jhadev alias, Hussain Mubarak Patel, a serving Commander of the Indian Navy, working with Indian Intelligence Agency/RAW was apprehended by Pakistani law enforcement agencies on March 3, 2016 after he illegally crossed over into Pakistan. He confessed before the Magistrate and the Court that he was tasked by RAW to plan, coordinate and organize espionage, terrorist and sabotage activities aimed at destabilizing and waging war against Pakistan.
On the tragic loss of precious human lives and injuries caused to hundreds of others by the devastating earthquake that jolted the bordering regions between Iran and Iraq on the night of 12th November 2017, the people and Government of Pakistan extend their deepest condolences and sympathies. Pakistan has offered material support to the affectees of the quake and awaits a decision by the Government of Iran on whether to accept international assistance or not.
Pakistan appreciates the prompt steps taken by UK Government on the display of anti-Pakistan propaganda on London Cabs, which are a violation of the UN Charter. Pakistan also believes that it will also take action against the display of anti-Pakistan slogans which are now affixed on London buses. Our High Commission in London has already taken this up with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the relevant authorities.
In Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir, in the past week the Indian occupation forces during violent, armed and illegal operations and fake encounters killed three Kashmiri youth including a B. tech student Muzamil Ahmad, Toib Majeed Mir and 18-year old Ashiq Ahmed Bhatt in Kulgam and Handwara areas. Massive blinding of innocent, defenceless Kashmiris by Indian occupation forces in IoK has deprived hundreds of people, including young women and children of eyesight.
The Hurriyat Leadership Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Mohammad Yasin Malik and Shabbir Ahmad Shah, Massarat Alam Bhat, Aasiya Andrabi, Fehmeeda Sofi and over eight hundred (800) innocent defenseless Kashmiris, including students languishing in different jails of Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir and in India is highly condemnable.
Indian occupation forces in Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam, Kupwara and Bandipore districts continue to terrorize innocent Kashmiris by illegal house searches, mostly at night. The courageous Kashmiris continue to resists Indian state terrorism. We strongly condemn the Indian atrocities in IoK and call upon the human rights defenders to stand up for Kashmiris in IoK.
Now the Floor is open for Questions
My question pertains to Foreign Office offer of allowing Commander Kulbhushan Jhadevâ€™s wife to meet him. In this regard, Pakistan has also written a note to Indian High Commission. Have we received a response from the Indian side so far? (Rashida Sial â€“ Abb Tak)
The gesture by Government of Pakistan regarding the visit of wife of Commander Kulbushan Jhadev is purely based on humanitarian grounds.
Commander Kulbhushan Jhadev alias, Hussain Mubarak Patel, a serving Commander of the Indian Navy, working with Indian Intelligence Agency/RAW was apprehended by Pakistani law enforcement agencies on March 3, 2016 after he illegally crossed over into Pakistan. He confessed before the Magistrate and the Court that he was tasked by RAW to plan, coordinate and organize espionage, terrorist and sabotage activities aimed at destabilizing and waging war against Pakistan.
According to credible reports, a number of senior officials were denied visas by Swiss Embassy in Islamabad, including a retired Justice and Speaker of Balochistan Assembly, who were part of a delegation that was proceeding to Geneva. What is the reason that despite being part of the official delegation, they were not issued visas? On the contrary, Switzerland is on the forefront of displaying anti-Pakistan material and slogans on its streets. Why is there a biased approach of Swiss authorities towards the Government of Pakistan?
Second, how many senior officials, part of the delegation, were denied visas by Swiss authorities? (Mateen Haider â€“ Bol TV)
I have no information that any visas were denied. I will check and get back to you.
Is Pakistan planning to hold SAARC Summit anytime soon? (Shabbir Waghra â€“ PTV World)
Pakistan remains committed to the SAARC process and has always played an active role in the organization. Last year, we had made all the arrangements to hold the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad which was unfortunately postponed when India decided to scuttle the SAARC process on the basis of some unfounded presumptions and allowed bilateral problems to cast shadow on this multilateral forum.
During the Informal meeting of SAARC Council of Ministers on the sidelines of 72nd UNGA held in New York on 21st September 2017, Pakistan reiterated that it looks forward to host the Summit as soon as possible. We are in touch with the SAARC Secretariat and hope that with the consensus of all member states, the Summit will be held in Islamabad.
As you are aware, the Foreign Secretary visited Sri Lanka for Bilateral Political Consultations and had a very positive meeting with the President. The President Office issued a very strong and detailed Press Release supporting the holding of the SAARC Summit in Pakistan. All these are positive developments.
Is there any possibility that Pakistan and India will talk about CPEC directly, as Chinese authorities have hinted that China is trying to convince India to join CPEC? (Kausar Lodhi â€“ Prime News)
Pakistan continues to hold the position that only through uninterrupted, uninterruptible, meaningful and result oriented dialogue will all outstanding disputes with India, including the Jammu & Kashmir dispute, be resolved. At the moment, India is not willing to hold any dialogue, therefore, I donâ€™t see any prospects of what you have mentioned.
India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) successfully test-launched a nuclear-capable Nirbhay cruise missile. It is Indiaâ€™s first indigenously designed and developed long-range cruise missile. Do you have any information about the test? What is Pakistanâ€™s reaction? Also, how will it impact regional peace and strategic balance? (Saad Umar â€“ Roze News)
The test was not notified to Pakistan. The bilateral agreement on pre-notification of missile tests covers only ballistic missiles. Cruise missiles are not covered. Developments like these endanger the strategic stability in South Asia. This underscores the need for Pakistan and India to engage in meaningful discussions on further measures for confidence-building, avoidance of arms race and promotion of strategic stability in South Asia, among other issues. Pakistan stands ready for such talks with India. Our proposal for a Strategic Restraint Regime for South Asia is still on the table.
The international community should also take note of the reports that India had been exercising â€œstrategic restraintâ€ on its missile development prior to getting the MTCR membership. This speaks of the Indian duplicity in paying lip service to the objective of non-proliferation, while secretly pursuing a conventional and strategic arms buildup. Massively increased Indian defence budget and intensified buildup of arms by the Indian army is spurring an arms race in the region which is counter-productive.
Has Pakistan prepared any contingency plan to counter Indian propaganda of display of anti-Pakistan material in European countries, as we have recently seen in London and Geneva?
Secondly, Indian media is reported to have claimed that Pakistan has offered Commander Kulbhushan Jhadevâ€™s wife to meet him because of ICJâ€™s pressure. Can you confirm? (Hassan Khan â€“ Daily Times)
On your first question, Our High Commission in London has made a fresh demarche to Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) regarding display of anti-Pakistan slogans on London buses. Separately, our Mission has taken up the matter with Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), to stop the ongoing malicious campaign using billboards.
Earlier, on the Ministry’s intervention, Transport for London (TfL) had initiated an inquiry in the matter and removed the slogans that were displayed on London cabs.
It is a matter of deep concern for us, as these slogans directly impinge on our sovereignty and territorial integrity, are a violation of UN Charter and are completely unacceptable to us. Pakistan is aware of the intentions of such sinister campaigns, which should not be allowed on the soil of a friendly country.
I have already replied to your second question about Commander Kulbubshan Jhadev earlier.
Recently, many incidents of terrorists infiltration on Pak-Afghan border have been reported, in which precious lives of our valiant soldiers were lost. Has Pakistan taken up the issue of terrorist infiltration with Afghan side diplomatically?
Secondly, Afghan media has alleged that one person is wounded in shelling from Pakistani security forces in Afghan province of Kunar. How do you respond to such a claim?
Thirdly, is there any update on the whereabouts of Lt. Colonel Habib Zahir, and did we get any response from Indian Government in this regard? (Essa Naqvi â€“ Dunya News)
Pakistani security personnel have been martyred by terrorists operating from sanctuaries in Afghanistan. Just day before yesterday, the Afghan Charge dâ€™ Affaires was summoned to MOFA and a strong protest was lodged with the Afghan Government, asking them to take effective action against terrorist sanctuaries. We have also asked Afghan Government to share the investigation with us about the Shahadat of the Pakistani diplomatic official in Jalalabad last week.
The presence of terrorist safe havens in Afghanistan is an established reality. The report of US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) itself confirms that more than 43% of Afghan territory is not under control of the Afghan Government. This is alarming as it provides opportunity for all kinds of terrorist groups to use these as sanctuaries for terrorist activities. Afghanistan neighbors including Pakistan are seriously affected by this situation. Pakistan never initiates fire. We only fire when we are fired upon.
On your third question, we have not had any positive response from India, despite sharing information that the website used to contact Rtd. Col Habib was being operated from India.
Reportedly, American Congress has authorized up to $700 million in Coalition Support Fund (CSF) to be reimbursed to Pakistan for activities carried out in support of US operations in Afghanistan. Can you confirm and was it withheld earlier? If yes, is there a change of mind as a result of the structured negotiations between the two sides, including US Secretary of State Rex Tillersonâ€™s recent visit to Pakistan? (Shaukat Paracha â€“ Aaj News)
The US Congress, while finalizing the National Defence Bill for 2018, has authorized $700 million in CSF for Pakistan. This is a new authorization for Financial Year 2018 and has no linkage with the previous amounts of CSF. Pakistan is actively engaged in dialogue with the US at all levels, and believes that dialogue is the best way forward to enhance cooperation between the two sides.
As you mentioned in your opening remarks, Indian occupation forces ruthlessly killed several innocent Kashmir youth during last week. It is similar to systematic genocide of a whole generation! Your comments please. (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal â€“ Daily Kashmir Post)
Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee has recently stated that Indian Intelligence Agency RAW has launched a special cell against CPEC. Do you have any other details regarding this and what are your views on this development? (Anwar Abbass â€“ Waqt News)
Regarding Khawaja Sb’s question, the Indian state terrorism in IoK continues unabated. Indian atrocities against innocent Kashmiris in IoK have made a mockery of the Human Rights Charter. We call upon the champions of human rights and the international community to urge India to put an immediate halt to the gross human rights violations by Indian occupations forces. It is time for the international community to put political and economic exigencies aside and fulfill the promise made to the people of Jammu & Kashmir for the realization of the right to self-determination.
Pakistan continues to support the struggle for the realization of the right to self-determination of the people of Jammu & Kashmir morally, diplomatically and politically, and will continue to do so until the wishes of the Kashmiri people in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions are realized.
Pakistan has raised the issue of Jammu & Kashmir at all relevant international forums, as well as in its bilateral interactions with various countries. We also strongly take up the dispute at the OIC. All 57 countries of OIC condemn the gross human rights violations that Indian occupation forces are committing in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. OIC also sent the delegation of the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) in March 2017 that visited Azad Jammu and Kashmir and the LoC, and has issued a detailed report. India did not permit the visit of the IPHRC to IoK.
India has not been able to suppress the struggle of self-determination in the people of Jammu & Kashmir. The recent appointment of Ex-IB Chief Dineshwar Sharma is a manifestation of Indiaâ€™s attempt to deflect the international pressure generated due to its unacceptable and grave human rights violations being perpetrated in the Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir issue. The Jammu & Kashmir dispute has three stakeholders, namely Pakistan, India and people of Jammu & Kashmir. All the three stakeholders must be involved in any resolution of the dispute.
On Mr. Anwar Abbass question, it is a matter of public knowledge that India has created a special cell specifically to target and sabotage CPEC. Various statements of Indian leadership are on record to this effect. We continue to work with China on trade, and connectivity related projects, and are not deterred by such statements.
Reportedly, US has asked Pakistan to amend the controversial blasphemy laws. Can you confirm? Isnâ€™t this an open interference into the internal matters of a sovereign country? (Mohsin Raza Khan â€“ Asas Group of Publications)
I am not aware of any such request. I will check and get back to you with further details.
What is Pakistan’s position on the political uncertainty in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia as both are important countries for Pakistan? Is Pakistan playing any mediatory role to defuse tensions among these countries? (Ali Hussain â€“ Business Recorder)
I will refrain from commenting on the bilateral relations between two sovereign countries.
Are you seeking long term extension in the Coalition Support Fund contract? (Shahid Rehman â€“ Kyodo Japanese News Agency)
There is a comprehensive dialogue with US on this and other issues.
Reportedly, India has decided to equip its troops deployed on borders with Pakistan and China with 600 drones. How do you see the Indian aggressive designs against Pakistan and China and how will Pakistan respond? (Amjad Ali â€“ PTV News)
Pakistan has repeatedly raised its concerns about the hegemonic conduct of India, which threatens the regional peace and tranquility. Pakistan, on its part, in line with the Quaidâ€™s vision of a peaceful neighborhood, Pakistan wishes to have friendly relations with all its neighbors, including India.
However Indian actions, including jingoistic claims about the so called surgical strikes, the unprecedented escalation at the LoC and the Working Boundary to try to deflect international attention from the human rights atrocities in IoK and the arms race spurred by India, all threaten regional peace. Pakistan, as a responsible member of the international community believes in peace. At the same time let me assure you that our armed forces are fully prepared and competent to defend our country against all threats.
Some sections of media have reported that Commander Kulbhushan Jhadevâ€™s wife is missing in India. While Pakistan has offered to arrange a meeting between the two, where does this offer stand if she is missing?
Secondly, US Defence Secretary was due to visit Pakistan in December, has Pakistan been intimated in this regard? (Shahid Maitla â€“ ARY News)
I have no idea if she is missing, but Pakistan’s offer stands.
I have no information on US Defence Secretary’s visit.
Indian media is quoting Indian intelligence agency reports that Pakistan is pumping fake currency into India using Bangladeshi soil, and is using its state and non-state actors, to float rupees two thousands and five thousands fake notes into the Indian economy. The report has even mentioned that high quality machines and ink has been used in a place under ISI command in Azad Jammu & Kashmir to launch these activities. Your comments please!
Secondly,RECCA conference is going on in Turkmenistan, what is Pakistan’s role in that? Whether under the TAPI agreement, Pakistan is going to re-negotiate on the Sale Purchase Agreement, or is it going to delay the project? (Faisal Raza Khan â€“ 92 News)
On your first question, there is no formal intimation in the matter from the Indian side. Media reports do not warrant any comment. UN mandated UNMOGIP observers are present on the LoC and Working Boundary for the sole purpose of managing them and to monitor and prevent the ceasefire violations. We have repeatedly called on India to let UNMOGIP work unhindered, something that India has denied the UNMOGIP so far.
On your second question, I will get back to you with details.
Recently, European MEP Sajjad Karim visited Pakistan and highlighted the efforts European Parliamentarians of Pakistani origin are undertaking to raise the voice of Jammu & Kashmir dispute in the EU Parliament. What role is the Foreign Office playing in this regard? (Shahzad Raza â€“ Royal News)
Both in our Missions in the European capitals, as well as in our outreach in the EU Parliament, we have regularly raised the Jammu & Kashmir dispute and the grave human rights violations being perpetrated by the Indian occupation forces. The President and the Prime Minister of Azad Jammu & Kashmir and various members of Parliament regularly visit EU countries to specifically raise awareness about the sensitivity and importance of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute. All efforts are underway in this regard.
Indian MoS for Foreign Affairs, M.J. Akbar has accused Pakistan of blocking land access between India and Afghanistan. Your comments please!
Secondly, we have recently released an Afghan soldier. Are there any details available on that? (Rabia Pir â€“ VOA DEEWA Radio)
I will get back to you on the Afghan soldier.
On your first question, there were agreements on connectivity within SAARC, which have been agreed to be negotiated during the SAARC Summit last year, which was postponed due to Indian intransigence. Therefore, it is strange that now they are saying that Pakistan is blocking any such access. Unless we sit and talk among ourselves, it is very difficult to negotiate and find a solution to a problem.
What are your views on President Mugabe’s house arrest in Zimbabwe following a coup? What is Pakistanâ€™s formal position on this? (Faisal Raza Khan â€“ 92 News)
This is an internal matter of Zimbabwe.
You have just mentioned in one of your replies that Pakistan is engaged in a dialogue with the US on Coalition Support Fund. I understand that we already have the mechanism of Strategic Dialogue with the US, under which six different tracks exists. The dialogue that you are mentioning is a part of this mechanism or something else? (Shaukat Paracha â€“ Aaj News)
We have the Strategic Dialogue mechanism with the US, which is dysfunctional since 2013. When I talk about engaging with US in meaningful dialogue, I refer to the recent meetings between the Prime Minster of Pakistan and the Vice President of US at the sidelines of UN General Assembly this year, and the subsequent visits of our Foreign Minister to Washington and US Secretary of Stateâ€™s visit to Pakistan. Moreover, Ms. Lisa Curtis and Ambassador Alice Wells have also visited Pakistan twice in this time. The efforts are underway to bridge the gap between the perceptions of the two countries in the wake of President Trumpâ€™s South Asia and Afghanistan policy, and to arrive at a consensus on moving forward and exploring avenues of cooperation between both sides.
In the case of peace in Afghanistan, how much do you expect Iran to help? (IRNA)
Pakistan is all for long lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. We are working with all the stakeholders to arrive at a viable political solution of the Afghan conflict. The Chief of Army Staff was recently in Iran. The QCG meeting was also held in Muscat. We are closely liaising with all regional and international stakeholders in this regard.
United Nations said that Myanmar soldiers systematically targeted Rohingya Muslim women for gang-rape, which would be termed â€˜crimes against humanityâ€™. Your comments please! (Shabbir Waghra â€“ PTV World)
Pakistan has always raised its voice for protecting the rights of Muslim minorities worldwide.
We are concerned at the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, who are facing systematic and endemic discrimination. We have been consistently raising this issue at different international forums, including the UN and the OIC.
We will continue to support the efforts of the international community to find a lasting and just settlement for Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
Pakistan reiterates its commitment to take full part in any humanitarian effort by the OIC or the UN, to help the Rohingya Muslims.
Last modified: November 22, 2019
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