(2017-11-23) Opening Remarks
Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum Ladies & Gentlemen!
Last week, many activities took place on the foreign policy front.
Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Farrukh Amil, has been elected as the President of the Commission on Investment, Enterprise and Development of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva, Switzerland. The Commission on Investment, Enterprise and Development is an important UN Forum, which brings together the UN Member States, investment promotion and technology agencies, the business community, academia and civil society.
The 8th Round of Strategic Dialogue between Pakistan and China was held in Islamabad on 20th November 2017. The Foreign Secretary, Tehmina Janjua led the Pakistani delegation, whilst the Chinese side was headed by the Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kong Xuanyou. Comprehensive discussions were held on the entire spectrum of the bilateral relations between Pakistan and China. The Foreign Secretary and the Chinese Assistant Minister also exchanged views on the regional situation in Afghanistan, the US Policy in South Asia, and matters relating to the Korean Peninsula. The Foreign Secretary also apprised her counterpart of the dire situation faced by the people of the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir and the ongoing grave human rights violations being committed by India. She expressed the hope that the international community would play its role in urging India to put an end to the blatant human rights violations in IoK. Both sides agreed to further augment cooperation in various multilateral fora including the United Nations, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and other multilateral organizations.
The Indian Deputy High Commissioner was summoned to the Foreign Office on the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces on 17 November 2017, resulting in the shahadat of 2 civilians and injuries to 5 others, including 2 women. The deliberate targeting of civilians is indeed deplorable and contrary to human dignity and international human rights and humanitarian laws. The ceasefire violations by India are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to strategic miscalculation.
The Indian occupation forces during violent, armed and illegal operations and fake encounters killed twelve (12) Kashmiri youth (including a 17-year old student Aadil Rashid and Parvaiz Ahmad Mir) in Srinagar, Tral, Hajin, Handwara and Kupwara areas. We condemn this continued ruthless killings by Indian occupation forces in IoK.
The Hurriyat leaders including Shabbir Ahmad Shah, Massarat Alam Bhat, Aasiya Andrabi, Fehmeeda Sofi and over eight hundred (800) innocent defenceless Kashmiris, including aged Hurriyet members, young boys, youth and students are languishing in different police stations, interrogation centers and in jails of Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir and India. This is highly condemnable.
We also strongly condemn the continued terrorization and abuse of innocent Kashmiris by the Indian occupation forces in Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam, Islamabad, Kupwara and Bandipore districts through illegal house searches in day and at night time. We call upon the world human rights defenders to stand up for the Kashmiris in IOK.
Pakistan dispatched relief assistance to the affectees of the deadly earthquake that struck Iran on 12 November 2017, and wreaked havoc particularly in the western Iranian province of Kermanshah. The relief assistance consisted of the items identified by the Iranian side in accordance with the requirements in the earthquake affected area.
A Pakistani national named Mr. Khurram Ashiq s/o Ashiq Masih, passed away in Bangkok recently. He was living with his wife and two children in Bangkok since 2013. His widow contacted Pakistan’s Embassy in Bangkok for repatriation of the dead body, as she did not have the financial means to bear the expenses. Through our Embassy’s prompt efforts, the deceased was repatriated to Lahore in time and with dignity. Our Missions all around the world constantly strive to serve the Pakistani community living abroad.
Now the Floor is open for Questions
According to the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) the production of opium in Afghanistan has increased by 87 per cent in 2017, as compared to the year 2016. With this illegal drug trade directly funneling into terrorist networks, in your view how will it impact the prospects of peace in Afghanistan? (Shabbir Waghra – PTV World)
We have consistently raised our serious concerns about the increase in cultivation and production of opium in Afghanistan. We are especially concerned about the links between narco-trade and terrorism, as narco-trafficking is considered to be one of the major sources of terror financing in Afghanistan. The issue of opium cultivation and drug production poses a serious threat to the socio-economic development, security and stability not only of Afghanistan, but also in the surrounding region.
The Afghanistan Government needs to take urgent steps for eradication, law enforcement, provision of alternative livelihoods, and public information campaigns to end this menace, consistent with the International Drug Conventions.
The Afghan Chief Executive, Mr. Abdullah Abdullah has recently admitted that TTP has a strong foothold in Afghanistan, which is an acknowledgment of Pakistan’s stance that TTP operates from Afghanistan to create instability in Pakistan. Your comments please! (Amjad Ali – PTV News)
Pakistan has repeatedly highlighted the fact that TTP, JUA, Daesh and other terrorist groups have established sanctuaries in Afghanistan and are involved in terrorist attacks inside Pakistan. The Leader of TTP Swat, Mullah Fazal Ullah, the mastermind and perpetrator of the Peshawar Army public school is hiding in Afghanistan. Additionally, we have information, that RAW has developed a robust network with the TTP, JUA and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan and they are being used for subversive activities in Pakistan. We have shared evidence with the Afghan side and expect Afghanistan to take action against these terrorist groups. Afghanistan should not allow its territory to be used by India 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 Baluchistan Assembly, who were part of a delegation that was proceeding to Geneva. What is the reason that despite being a part of the official delegation, they were not issued visas?
Secondly, there are reports that Pakistan High Commission in United Kingdom has awarded visa facilitation service contract to a firm with no relevant experience. Can you clarify Foreign Office’s position on the matter? (Mateen Haider – Bol News)
On your first question, initially, there was some miscommunication about visa applications of Pakistani senior officials, who were scheduled to travel to Geneva for official meetings. However, the Swiss Embassy opened its office on a Saturday (November 11, 2017) and entertained the applications submitted to it.
On your second question, it is being misreported in the media that the High Commission for Pakistan, London has awarded visa facilitation service contract to a firm.
Regarding your second question, it may be clarified that no decision has yet been taken in this regard. The existing 5 years contract with Gerry’s Offshore Incorporation Limited expired in May 2017. In order to undertake the process for selection of a new service provider in a transparent manner and as per the PPRA rules, a Committee of Officers was constituted at the High Commission in June 2016. The Expression of Interest (EOIs) were invited in November 2016.
The selection criteria clearly stipulated that the company should either have relevant experience or demonstrate the ability to deliver the requisite services. The shortlisted firms were also scrutinized and cleared by the concerned agencies in Pakistan.
After their security clearance, the shortlisted firms were invited for financial bidding. The bids were opened on 10 November 2017 at the High Commission. In order to ensure complete transparency, all the bidders were asked to bring their bids along, which were opened in presence of representatives of all the bidders and the Committee members.
The lowest bid will now be sent to the Ministry for approval. Once approved by the Ministry, a draft Service Agreement between the High Commission and the service provider will be sent for concurrence by the Ministry of Law and Justice.
The selection process is still not complete. The process has so far been carried out in a transparent manner as per the PPRA rules with the underlying objective of encouraging a healthy competition among the service providers to ensure maximum relief to the Community.
Reportedly, the Switzerland Government has prohibited the entry of Mehran Marri into its territory stating that he is a leader of a terrorist organization and poses a threat to internal and external security of Switzerland. What is Pakistan’s role in bringing about this change in Swiss Government’s attitude?
Secondly, Brahumdagh Bugti has tweeted that his asylum request to Swiss Government has been rejected on Pakistani Government’s request. He has alleged that his request was made purely on humanitarian grounds. Your comments please!
Thirdly, there are reports that Prime Minister is going to visit Saudi Arabia next week. Can you share the purpose and details of the visit? (Shaukat Paracha – Aaj TV)
We continue to impress upon friendly countries to deny space to all those who directly or indirectly threaten sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan. We are determined to redouble our efforts in this regard. Switzerland has realized that Mehran Marri was a threat to their national interest/security and decided to deny him entry. It is not in favour of any country to allow terrorists on its soil.
Regarding your last question, I have no information on the Prime Minister’s visit.
My question pertains to India’s recent letter to Pakistan in Commander Kulbhushan Jhadev’s case. Is there any further development on it so far?
Secondly, has Afghan side shared any update on the investigations of Shahadat of Nayyar Iqbal Rana with Pakistan? (Rashida Sial – Abb Tak)
Pakistan offered a meeting to Commander Jadhav’s wife, the next of kin, on purely humanitarian grounds. India has requested that the mother may be allowed to accompany the wife. The Indian request is under consideration.
On your second question, our Ambassador in Afghanistan has held meetings with relevant Afghan authorities, who are still investigating the matter. We will share any updates in due course.
Bangladesh has once again sentenced 6 people to death, who were involved in the Freedom struggle during 1971. This has once again mobilized protests and demonstrations in Bangladesh. What is your view on the matter?
Secondly, Indian media has adversely reported on the recent decision within Pakistan to release Hafiz Saeed, and has propagated the idea that Pakistan is supporting terrorists. Your comments please! (Syed Mohsin Raza – Asas Group of Publications)
Your question on Hafiz Saeed pertains to Ministry of Interior.
On your first question, Pakistan is deeply concerned over this development. We hope and expect that the government of Bangladesh should uphold its commitment, as per the Tripartite Agreement of 1974, wherein it “decided not to proceed with the trials as an act of clemency”.
Pakistan believes that matters should be addressed with a forward looking approach in the spirit of reconciliation.
Indian Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj has confirmed medical visa to a Pakistani woman for treatment. She has once again played up the politics of pick and choose, to gain political mileage, and politicize purely humanitarian issues. Your comments please! (Khawaja Nayaar Iqbal – Daily Kashmir Post)
It is regrettable that India continues to politicize humanitarian issues including provision of medical visas for Pakistani patients since May 2017. It is all the more reprehensible as these patients, many of whom have been consulting Indian doctors for a long time are seeking treatment, often lifesaving, on their own expense without any special discount from India – I repeat on their own expense. No one is fooled by Indian gimmickry. This is not a gesture of compassion but cold blooded politicking under which individuals are picked at will for political mileage.
What kind of relief assistance to the earthquake affectees has been provided by Pakistan? (Nimra – PTV)
Pakistan has dispatched a C130 plane carrying relief assistance for the affectees of the deadly earthquake that struck Iran on 12th November 2017. The relief assistance consists of the items identified by the Iranian side in accordance with the relief requirements in the earthquake affected area. The aid consignment from Pakistan was the very first cargo transported to Iran for the earthquake victims.
President of Iran has recently declared an end of Daesh in Syria. How do you view the statement, and what kind of cooperation can be held between the two sides in this regard? (Sheeraz Asad – IRNA)
Our statements on the presence and rise of Daesh and other terrorist groups in Pakistan’s immediate neighbourhood are on record. We are deeply concerned about the presence of Daesh in Afghanistan, particularly when more than 43% of the Afghan territory remains ungoverned, and serves as an abode to terrorist sanctuaries.
During the recently held Strategic Dialogue between Pakistan and China, did the Chinese side make any particular reference to the Korean Peninsula, and did they brief the Pakistan side on any latest development in this context? (Shahid ur Rehman – Kyodo)
In my opening remarks, I have already explained that all issues, including that of Korean Peninsula were discussed during the Strategic Dialogue.
If India can take the case of Commander Kulbhushan Jhadev to ICJ, why can’t Pakistan do the same in case of thousands of Kashmiris of Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir?
Secondly, why can’t we hold a conference at the level of Prime Ministers or Foreign Ministers on the issue of grave human rights violations committed by India in IoK, and submit the outcome declaration to the UN? (Shahzad Mirza – Royal News)
Pakistan has held numerous conferences with reference to the Jammu & Kashmir dispute, particularly since the July 8 shahadat of Burhan Muzaffar Wani. The Government of Pakistan sent Special Envoys to all major capitals of the world to raise awareness about the gravity of situation in IoK and urged the international community to call upon India to immediately halt the bloodshed of innocent Kashmiris. Moreover, members of civil society, Parliamentarians and human rights activists across Europe, Nordic States, Australia and North America have also underscored India’s excessive use of force and atrocities in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir to their host Governments and people.
Let me assure you that the Government of Pakistan is doing its utmost to highlight the issue of Jammu & Kashmir to the international community, and call upon India to stop its massive human rights violations, including killing, dishonouring, maiming and blinding of innocent and defenceless Kashmiris.
Regarding taking the matter of Jammu & Kashmir to ICJ, it is a complex legal problem. The Attorney General is working on the matter and may update in due course.
Reportedly, the US Congress has passed a bill that puts conditions on military assistance to Pakistan and links it with the performance and actions against the Haqqani network. Earlier, the bill also included Pakistan’s actions against Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), but decided to forego this at the later stage, much to Indian chagrin. How do you see this development?
Secondly, the US President declared North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism. What is Pakistan’s stance in this regard?
Lastly, Indian media reported that its Government has agreed to send Kulbhushan Jhadev’s wife to Pakistan. Has Indian side officially informed Pakistan in this regard? (Essa Naqvi – Dunya News)
On your first question, the US Congress recently passed the National Defence Authorization Bill for fiscal year 2018 which includes provisions for reimbursement of $700 million to Pakistan under the Coalition Support Fund (CSF). The conditionality with regard to HN is not new and was also part of previous authorizations. Efforts to stretch this conditionality by adding other organizations did not succeed. Pakistan and the US are engaged in discussing all issues of mutual interest including advancing peace and stability in the region. More than 43% of Afghan territory is ungoverned, which created space for sanctuaries and safe havens for terrorist outfits.
On your second question, Pakistan is monitoring the situation in the Korean Peninsula and shares the concerns over the tensions in the region.
Pakistan supports the resolution of the issue through peaceful means. We encourage DPRK and RoK to resume meaningful negotiations for this purpose. Pakistan also supports the resumption of Six-Party Talks process at an early date to reduce tensions. Pakistan welcomed the two Summits between DPRK and RoK in June 2000 and in 2007.
It has been Pakistan’s consistent position that all the relevant parties should comply with their international obligations, pursue the path of dialogue and diplomacy to reduce tensions, refrain from any action that is inimical to peace and stability in the region and work towards achieving a comprehensive solution.
On your last question, Pakistan’s offer for Kulbhushan Jhadev’s wife stands and Indian request for his mother is under consideration.
Reportedly, Defence Secretary James Mattis will arrive in Pakistan soon. Apparently, US has preconditioned his visit with US readiness to take decisive action against terrorists hiding in Afghanistan only when Pakistan eliminates Haqqanis from its soil. Your comments please!
Secondly, how do you view offer by the US for stopping cross border attacks into Pak areas?
Thirdly, reportedly, through air corridor between Afghanistan and India, suspicious goods are being transported to India. Does Pakistan has a mechanism to check the air cargo passing through its space, or is it only authorized to levy air passage fee? (Faisal Raza Khan – 92 News)
The visit of Secretary of Defence, Mr. James Mattis is expected in the next few weeks and the diplomatic channels are working on mutually convenient dates for this visit.
I have seen the media reports but we haven’t received anything official. If there is any such offer it would be a welcome development, as we have been asking the Afghan government and Resolute Support Mission to take action against terrorist sanctuaries hosting groups like TTP, JuA on the Afghan soil, who have been engaged in planning and sponsoring terrorist attacks in Pakistan.
We have at multiple occasions shared intelligence with Afghanistan and the US regarding the presence of terrorists along the border with a request to take action and not let Afghan territory be used against Pakistan.
Regarding your question on air corridor, I will get back to you.
Last modified: November 22, 2019
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