(2018-06-21) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.]
Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum
We have learnt with great sadness of the passing away of Ambassador Jamsheed Marker, one of our senior diplomats who remains a legend in Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ambassador Marker was renowned for his soft but effective diplomacy and continues to serve as a hallmark even now. He served Pakistan with distinction in numerous countries and is listed in the Guinness World Record as having been ambassador to more countries than any other person. Our condolences go to his wife and daughter at this difficult time.
An era in Urdu literature also came to an end with the sad demise of the celebrated humourist and satirist of our times Mr. Mushtaq Ahmad Yousufi – our heartfelt condolences go out to his family as well.
Let me begin by giving a brief round of activities on the foreign policy front:
The tragic and brutal killing of Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari Editor-in-Chief of theRising Kashmir by unknown gunmen outside his office in Srinagar on 14 June 2018 gave a serious blow to international human rights and freedom of expression. His assassination, due to his unremitting efforts for the Kashmiri cause will be remembered forever and is a clear manifestation of Indian state terrorism. Shujaat Bukhari’s brutal murder by Indian forces is reflection of the intolerance of Indian state apparatus who wants to stifle freedom of speech and expression. The Indian government remains fearful of international exposition of the brutalization of occupied Jammu & Kashmir. India can run, but can it hide? This remains to be seen.
Shujaat Bukhari’s targeted killing, within hours of his tweet on the OHCHR’s report on Jammu & Kashmir, raises serious questions about the motivation behind his murder. Indian attempts to politicize his death and to deflect attention, not only from the Indian atrocities in IoK, but also the very real threat faced by independent journalists in India, when they differ from the government’s stance, are condemnable. Shujaat Bukhari was renowned for carrying out his professional responsibilities with courage and conviction. He was a vocal voice, who consistently spoke out against the human rights abuses in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir and strongly advocated the need for the peaceful resolution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute.
Shujaat Bukhari has joined the ranks of thousands of Kashmiri martyrs who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of peace and justice for the people of Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Pakistan reiterates it call on the Government of India to conduct an independent, transparent and credible investigation into his murder and to bring the perpetrators to justice. As we pray for Shujaat Bukhari’s soul to rest in eternal peace, our profound thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time. May the Almighty Allah grant them the strength and fortitude to bear this irreparable loss. Ameen!
I have had the personal good fortune of meeting Mr. Bukhari in 2016. He was a very passionate soul and extremely committed to the Kashmir cause. I was very touched by his love for the Kashmiris and affected by his writings on the dispute. I, even then, feared for his life, as the new India is not known for its tolerance. My worst fears have come true. Let me assure you, Mr. Bukhari’s cause will live on, Jammu and Kashmir and the Kashmiri people are larger than all of us.
Pakistan welcomes the OHCHR Report’s recommendation for an independent, international Commission of Inquiry to assess the situation in IoK which is consistent with several calls by Pakistan and the OIC IPHRC to the same effect, since 2016.
The Report, which is sharply critical of the human rights atrocities being committed with impunity by Indian occupation forces in IoK, especially the use of pellet guns, draconian laws including the AFSPA and the SPA, use of rape to subjugate dissent, communication blockade, including the internet and violation of right to life, health, education and peaceful protests, confirms the humanitarian emergency in IoK. It also highlights the absence of recourse to justice by the victims. Indian knee jerk rejection of the report indicates its complete insensitivity to international law and its deplorable intransigence, which has delayed the resolution of the J&K dispute since the last 7 decades and holds the regional peace and development hostage, even now.
Despite hollow Indian assertions, Jammu and Kashmir remains an internationally recognized disputed area, pending on the agenda of the UNSecurity Council. The dissociation of India from reality is alarming. Indian attempts to exploit and cash in on the international environment by labeling the legitimate Kashmiris struggle terrorism makes a mockery of the victims of actual terrorism and is reprehensible. If it really has nothing to hide, India can address its claims of the report being based on unverified information by allowing the COI and OIC IPHRC access to IOK.
You would remember that Pakistan’s position remains consistent. We had nothing to hide in the case of Commander Kulbushan Jadhav and invited the Indian media to visit Pakistan and participate in a press conference in Ministry of Foreign Affairs. India backed out then also. Now again, we are ready for a Commission of Enquiry to visit both AJK and IOK. India has again backed out. The isolation of India in the international community is complete. The skeletons in Indian closet are growing in numbers and size. Right wing governments end up paying a high price.
Imposition of governor rule and the ongoing bloodshed in IoK alongwith statements emanating from India about the a ‘crackdown’ on Kashmiris in IoK, indicate an alarming Indian imperviousness to international opinion, as it continues with its gross violations of human rights in IoK. Pakistan is closely monitoring the developments in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. Such steps are likely to result in enhanced Indian brutalities and a virtual free hand to Indian security forces against innocent Kashmiris. Past experience has also shown that the so-called Governor’s rule is one of the ploys adopted by New Delhi from time to time to further suppress the will of the Kashmiri people. The level of repression in IoK has already significantly gone up in the last 2-3 days, while the Indian security officials are threatening even more stringent actions. The international community must urge India to put an immediate halt to the bloodshed in IoK and ensure an expedited establishment of the Commission of Enquiry, to ensure that the Human Rights Charter is not reduced to meaningless words.
On 13 June 2018, the Indian Acting Deputy High Commissioner was summoned to the Foreign Office over the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control on 12th June 2018 in Chirikot Sector, resulting in the shahadat of one innocent civilian (Mr. M Shakeel s/o Alam Din) in Trothi village. The Indian forces along the Line of Control and the Working boundary have continuously been targeting civilian populated areas. In 2018, the Indian forces have carried out more than 1100 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, resulting in the shahadat of 29 innocent civilians, while injuring 117 others.
We condemn Indian continued and unabated atrocities at the hands of Indian occupation forces, which continued with impunity during the holy occasion of Eid. During the past two weeks, Indian occupation forces have martyred sixteen innocent Kashmiris including Qaiser Amin Bhat (22-year-old),Wikas Ahmad Rathor (15-year-old),Nisar Ahmad Bhat, 27-year-old Aiaz Ahmad Bhat, Sheeraz Ahmad Naikoo , Danish Khaliq Dar and Adil AkramLonein Srinagar, Pulwama, Tral, Kulgam, Bandipore and Kupwara areas. India, again, did not allow the APHC Chairman, Syed Ali Gilani to offer Eidul Fitr and Friday prayers, which is deplorable.
Separately, at the invitation of President of the Republic of Tajikistan, Mr. Emomali Rahmon, President Mamnoon Hussain is visiting Tajikistan from 18-21 June 2018. He is participating in the High-Level International Conference on International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028, held on 20 June 2018 in Dushanbe. This is the President’s first visit to Tajikistan. The two leaders signed a Joint Declaration titled “Strengthening the Road to Strategic Partnership for Regional Integration” and witnessed the signing of two bilateral agreements. It was agreed to further consolidate the bilateral relations in all areas of mutual importance. The sides expressed satisfaction at their ongoing collaboration at the UN, ECO, SCO and OIC.
President of Pakistan also visited China at the invitation of President Xi Jinping to participate in the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Heads of State Meeting 9-10 June in Qingdao, China. The leaders exchanged views on contemporary regional and global issues. They agreed to further enhance cooperation and mutual trust to realize the maximum potential of the organization. The Heads of State reiterated their commitment to the Charter of SCO and to the ”Shanghai Spirit”. The President reiterated Pakistan’s offer to connect CPEC to the six main road corridors of SCO. President Mamnoon Hussain also underscored Pakistan’s commitment to peace and stability in Afghanistan through an Afghan led, Afghan owned process of peace and reconciliation. He welcomed President Ghani’s initiatives towards this end. The President held bilateral meetings with President Xi Jinping of China, President Putin of Russia, President Rahmon of Tajikistan, President Rouhani of Iran and President Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan. He also interacted with other SCO leaders at the sidelines of the Summit.
Separately, during the festivities of Eid, the Consulate General of Pakistan, Dubai has helped 350 Pakistani prisoners by providing them flight tickets, and financial and legal assistance. About 2000 prisoners, including 442 Pakistanis were released by the UAE government and granted royal pardon on the occasion of Eid ul Fitr. The Consulate also facilitated Pakistan Association Dubai in contributing air tickets to the 75 pardoned prisoners. We express our gratitude to the UAE government for pardoning 442 Pakistani prisoners for celebrating Eid ul Fitr with their loved ones in Pakistan. We also appreciate the efforts of the community for playing their due role in this noble cause.
On the World Day against Child Labour on 12 June 2018, the Foreign Minister in a message said that the World Day against Child Labour is significant in several respects at national and global levels: it is an important occasion to renew our shared commitment to promote and protect the rights of every child; to demonstrate our collective resolve to do everything necessary to eliminate child labour. Pakistan is a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and ILO core Conventions relating to Child Labour. We believe that children have their place in schools, not at workplaces.
Pakistan got elected to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for a three-year term starting 1st January 2019, during elections held on June 13 2018 at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Pakistan was one of the four countries elected to this important body from the Asia Pacific region. Pakistan secured 175 out of a total of 186 votes cast. Pakistan’s election is an endorsement and reaffirmation of Pakistan’s constructive leadership in these important areas and its role as an ardent advocate of dialogue and cooperation.
Now the Floor is open for Questions
US diplomat Ms. Alice Wells has said in a recent statement that despite positive indicators, US wants Pakistan to take sustainable measures in line with Trump’s South Asia policy last year, including expelling and arresting of suspected Taliban elements that are unwilling to negotiate. Your comments please! Where, in your view, is the disconnect?
Second, top security officials of Afghanistan, while talking on reviving the peace process, have said that Pakistan has considerable influence over the senior leadership of Taliban based in Pakistan. Your comments please! Do you confirm a recent Afghan high-level visit to Pakistan?
Is there any update on the shoe of Kulbhushan Jhadev’s family? (Sib Kaife – Arab News)
For a long time, we have been listening to hopeful news when it comes to Pakistan’s relations with US. Is the issue of FATF a real issue between US and Pakistan, which may be danger in the longer run, or is it a routine diplomatic matter? (Syed Mohsin Raza – Asas Group of Publications)
Regarding the first question, Pakistan has welcomed all Afghan initiatives geared towards bringing lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. We support Afghan government’s quest for peaceful settlement of the Afghan conflict. We, however, believe that it remains up to Afghans themselves to decide how they want to proceed in the matter.
Regarding your second question, I am not aware of any such visit. The Army Chief was in Afghanistan recently. Let me brief you on his visit. The Chief of Army Staff accompanied by the Foreign Secretary and the DG ISI visited Kabul on June 12, 2018. The delegation held frank and candid discussions with the Afghan leadership on the whole gamut of bilateral relations and peace and security situation in Afghanistan. The delegation level talks were led by NSA Atmar and Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua for their respective sides. The two sides agreed to carry forward the bilateral relationship through the implementation of APAPPS, which is the most effective mechanism for furthering bilateral relations. The COAS reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to support Afghan government in its quest for peaceful resolution of the Afghan conflict. He conveyed to the Afghan leadership that Pakistan has no favorites in Afghanistan and it is up to Afghans to decide who rules Afghanistan and what kind of rule they wanted to have.
On FATF, we continue to engage regularly with the US. For technical details, please consult Ministry of Finance which is the line Ministry.
There is no update on Commander Kulbushan Jhadev’s family’s shoe.
News have gone viral regarding our CG Houston Ayesha Farooqui’s meeting with Aafia Siddiqui, wherein she talked about being subjected to physical and sexual abuse by jail staff members and inmates. A letter was also handed over to CG by Aafia Siddiqui. Can you share something in this regard?
Second, China has offered trilateral talks for peace between Pakistan and India, as attributed to Chinese Ambassador to India. Has China officially approached Pakistan in this regard? If so, what stage is the mediation in? Does Pakistan welcome the Chinese role in this context? (Shaukat Paracha – Anchorperson)
Regarding your second question, we have seen media reports attributed to the Chinese Ambassador to India. We are awaiting further details on the matter. As you are aware, it is our position that disputes can only be resolved through negotiations.
On your first question, Pakistan Consul General in Houston visited Dr. Aafia Siddiqui on 23 May 2018. During the meeting, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui complained that she was being mistreated by the jail staff. We have already taken up the issue with the relevant US authorities asking them to investigate the matter and address the complaints. I will not comment on the letter or its contents, since it is a private family matter.
What is Pakistan’s position on the recent UN Report on human rights excesses in IoK and the setting up of a Commission of Inquiry to investigate these brutalities by the Indian occupation forces? (Kausar Lodhi – Prime News)
As I said earlier, Pakistan is ready to facilitate the Commission of Inquiry to visit AJK, as proposed in the recent UN Report, provided that India is ready to allow them access in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir – the actual problem-infested area, where India is using pellet guns and draconian laws to spread havoc and misery in the lives of Kashmiri people of IoK. India must not shy away from this international obligation if it has nothing to hide! It is about time that the world is shown the true face of India in IoK.
Do you confirm the death of TTP Commander Mullah Fazlullah in Afghanistan? And do you believe that it was a US-Afghanistan joint operation? (Aon Sherazi – Sach TV)
Yes, we confirm it. The killing of the terrorist Mullah Fazlullah, who has been directing terrorism against Pakistan, is a significant development in fighting terrorism. The news of his death has been received in Pakistan with relief, especially by the families whose loved ones were victims of TTP’s terrorist attacks, including the APS massacre. Pakistan believes in taking concerted action against terrorism in all its forms. We believe that a cooperative approach would be paramount to defeat the common enemy of terrorism.
Recently, Chief Secretary GB has given a statement saying that Gilgit Baltistan is not a disputed territory, which is why the Government has allocated a fixed budget to the region. Is this statement correct?
Second, in Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018, there is a provision for granting tax exemption for five years. How will it become legitimate after five years, as Supreme Court has already declared collection of any kind of tax in Gilgit-Baltistan illegal in the light of Al-jihad Trust vs. Federation of Pakistan case? Your comments please! (Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)
You talked about the recent UN Report on Jammu & Kashmir. The report also mentions about arbitrary detentions in GB area. What are you comments on that? (Gohar Abbas – AFP)
On your first question, Gilgit Baltistan is part of the state of Jammu & Kashmir and is a disputed territory. Please visit the UN website to see the numerous Security Council Resolutions on the Jammu & Kashmir dispute. Under International Law and as per the directives of the UN Security Council, the final disposition of the State of Jammu & Kashmir shall be made as a result of a free and fair UN-administered plebiscite, wherein the Kashmiris will decide their fate in accordance with their basic right to self-determination. The legality of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in rooted in these binding UNSC Resolutions. Therefore, there is no doubt about the disputed status of the entire state of Jammu & Kashmir, including Gilgit Baltistan.
On your second question, although the matter is not related to Foreign Office, I will try to get some details for you.
On the third question, I have already mentioned that Pakistan welcomes the UN Commission on Inquiry provided that India also allows the team to visit IoK. The hallmark of Pakistan’s foreign policy remains that we have nothing to hide. That is why we allowed Commander Kulbushan Jhadev’s family to meet him in Foreign Office in the presence of the media. It was India that backed out of our proposal to allow media interaction of Commander Kulbushan Jhadev’s family. There may be some problems in AJK, but the REAL problem lies in the Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir. The champions of human rights have to come out and address those problems – of pellet guns, merciless killings, assassinations, blinding, maiming and dishonoring and the draconian AFSPA and SPA etc laws – which are completely unacceptable. As part of humanity, how can we allow such brutality to continue with impunity?
Reportedly, Indian Army Chief has stressed the importance of dialogue for peace in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Your comments please.
Second, reportedly, India is going to release five Pakistani prisoners. Do you confirm? Pakistan released Indian fishermen last month in a friendly gesture. In your view, are we heading towards a rapprochement?
Third, a security think tank RUSI, in its recent report on Pak-Saudi relations has claimed that Saudi Arabia has announced its plans of joining CPEC. What is Pakistan’s position in this regard? (Essa Naqvi – AAP/Indus News)
On Indian Army Chief’s statement, Pakistan has always advocated the peaceful resolution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in line with the UNSC Resolutions. Indian statements would carry more weight if their actions on ground are synced with verbal rhetoric. What can you say about the credibility of such statements when they are accompanied by continuing massacre of Kashmiris – (2 Kashmiris were martyred most recently in Pulwama) and constant bloodshed. India has to come out of the Chanakya mindset.
On your second question, as you are aware Pakistan released 291 Indians on humanitarian grounds in the last 6 months as a gesture of goodwill and compassion. Similarly, Mr. Jitaendera, an Indian prisoner suffering from a debilitating disease was also released on compassionate grounds. India has released 6 Pakistani prisoners, yesterday. However, 52 Pakistani prisoners await repatriation since last year, despite having completed their sentences and completion of all formalities. While our actions are taken in line with Islamic traditions of mercy, however compassion should cut both ways.
Our High Commission in New Delhi is in constant touch with the Indian authorities for repatriation of Pakistani prisoners. We expect India to expedite their already delayed return.
On your third question, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a bilateral project. A number of projects have been completed in the Early Harvest phase of CPEC. The next phase is development of Special Economic Zones under the CPEC. Pakistan would welcome all countries to participate and invest in SEZs.
First, Pakistan and China are reported to have played a key role in brokering the ceasefire deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban on Eid. Can you confirm? How does Pakistan see this development?
Second, how many more targets are wanted by Pakistan after TTP Commander’s death in Afghanistan? (Rashida Sial – Abb Tak)
Taliban leader Mullah Yaqub has released an audio message from Quetta recently. I need your comment on what interest Pakistan has in retaining the ‘good Taliban’? (Haroon Janjua – Times of London)
On the last question, I need to ascertain the veracity of this audio message. Let me check details. In my view, an audio message with no visuals is not an authentic reference.
Regarding the first question, Pakistan’s position regarding peace and stability in Afghanistan is clear and well known. We believe that the only viable solution to the conflict in Afghanistan lies in an Afghan led and Afghan owned peace process. In this regard, Pakistan supports all efforts made to bring about lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. The ceasefire between the Afghan government and Taliban on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr was a step in the right direction, which Pakistan supported and welcomed.
On your second question, Pakistan will continue to hunt TTP militants who are involved in the killing and maiming of innocent Pakistanis.
Reportedly, the US State Department has approved the commercial sale of six additional attack helicopters to India. How significant is this approval keeping in view its impact on strategic imbalance in the region? Also, does it not speak of US double standards? (Saad Umer – Rose TV)
Pakistan has always pursued the objective of creating a peaceful neighborhood, where all countries can focus on meeting the socio-economic needs of their people, rather than squandering their resources on a futile arms race and acquiring destabilizing weapon systems and technologies. We have been a strong proponent of mutually agreed measures for restraint and confidence building.
We also urge the international community, particularly the major powers, to introspect the negative implications of their policies for our region’s short and long term peace and stability.
The meeting between our CG Houston and Aafia Siddiqui took place on 23 May, almost a motnh ago. You said that the Pakistani side has taken up the matter with the relevant authorities. How much more must we wait before there is any update? (Khalid Azeem – Samaa TV)
We are actively following up the matter through all diplomatic channels with the concerned US authorities. We will share any update in the matter.
Reportedly, Human Rights Commission has warned that due to continuous bombing in Yemen, there are chances of a large-scale catastrophe in Yemen, including famine. What is your position? (Anwar Abbas – Waqt News)
We have already conveyed our position on Yemen in previous media briefings.
Reportedly, Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to deploy liaison officers in each other’s capitals and establish coordination centers along the border to share intelligence on suspected militants. Can you confirm? When will this be operational, and what benefits does Pakistan see in these arrangements? (Amjad Ali – PTV)
In the light of seven Principles agreed during Former Prime Minister’s visit to Kabul on 6th April 2018, Afghanistan and Pakistan finalized the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and stability (APAPPS) on 14th May 2018. APAPPS envisages wide ranging and structured bilateral engagement through five working groups. The meetings of the working groups have already started and the two sides during the first meeting of military to military working group on 9th February in Islamabad, decided placing Liaison Officers at one another’s capitals and establish Ground Coordination Centers (GCC’s) at Chaman and Torkham to coordinate counter-terrorism and security cooperation. Exact modalities are being worked out with the Afghan government.
First, reportedly, Pakistan Navy Sea King helicopters have successfully rescued 11 crew members of the sunken Iranian boat. What are the details of the incident?
Second, what is Foreign Office doing to address the problems of our diaspora in the West, as they are increasingly being sidelined and facing many problems in the recent times?
Third, Afghan Interior Minister has stated that Afghan Government is seeking Pakistan’s cooperation in extending a temporary truce that it recently announced with the Taliban. Can you confirm? What substantial measures can Pakistan take in this regard? (Salman Hashmi – Forensic Eye)
On your last question, Pakistan welcomes all Afghan initiatives geared towards bringing lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. We support Afghan government’s quest for peaceful settlement of the Afghan conflict. We, however, believe it remains up to Afghans themselves to decide how they want to proceed in the matter.
On your second question, our Embassies in all countries are working round the clock for the cause of our diaspora.
Regarding the first question, On 8 June 2018, an Iranian Dhow developed some fault and was sinking when it sent distress signals. There were 11 crew members (fishermen) onboard. Pakistan Navy promptly responded and launched a search and rescue operation on two navy Sea King Helicopters. The Navy helicopters were directed to search, locate and rescue the distressed crew.
The Naval rescue team, equipped with search and rescue gears, alongwith paramedical staff, reached the area south-west of Karachi, in the shortest possible time and conducted aerial search for the fishing boat.
The sinking boat was located and the rescue operation was augmented by Pakistan Navy ship NASR, which was within the vicinity on a routine patrol. The 11 crew members were rescued by the Navy Sea King helicopters through a winching operation and necessary first aid was given to the injured.
The rescue operation lasted for about one and a half hours, resulting in safe recovery of all the Iranian crew members to Karachi. The salvaged crew members were handed over to the Iranian Consulate at Karachi.
On the Jammu & Kashmir dispute, last time after the Parliament’s Resolution, the Envoys were sent around the world to highlight the dispute and gather international support. Has the policy changed now? Pakistan received some hopes and promises of support regarding the Kashmir dispute. Will there be a second round of such visits by Special Envoys? (Majid Jarral – News One)
The Special Envoys on Kashmir were sent earlier on the directives of the National Assembly. Their visits were instrumental in garnering considerable international awareness and support against India’s gross human rights violations in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Once the elections are over and new National Assembly is in place, we will similarly implement any resolutions/directives. Our position on Jammu & Kashmir dispute remains consistent and unchanged.
A team from EU is coming to monitor the upcoming elections. How many other countries have expressed their desire to come to Pakistan for overseeing elections? (Naveed Akbar – Dunya News)
Please consult Election Commission for details.
On 18 June, a reported missile attack of Houthis was directed towards Saudi Arabia’s border city of Jazaan, as the Spokesperson of Said Coalition Forces stated. A Pakistan national was injured in the incident. Can you share the details of the Pakistani national, or the nature of those injuries? (Anas Malik – Republic)
Let me gather details and revert.
Secretary Election Commission has been warning that some major world powers may try to sabotage the election process in Pakistan. Has EC approached Foreign Office in this regard?
Second, can you please share the mechanism through which Pakistan confirmed that TTP Commander Mullah Fazlullah was really killed? (Shaukat Paracha – Anchorperson)
Your first question pertains to Election Commission and second to ISPR.
Last modified: November 22, 2019
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