(2017-10-27) Opening Remarks
Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum
We have with us Dr. Muhammad Faisal, who has been nominated as Spokesperson of the Foreign Office, Congratulations Faisal. He will, Insha’Allah, be at this podium during the next briefing, when I’ll formally say ‘See you again.’
Last few days have seen some important events and developments on the foreign relations front. The Prime Minister led Pakistan’s delegation to Istanbul for 9th D-8 Summit. The Prime Minister as Chair of D-8, handed over the Chairmanship to President Erdogan. The major outcomes, inter alia, were ‘Istanbul Declaration 2017’ and ‘D-8 Istanbul Plan of Action.’ The focus of the two documents is on expanding economic cooperation among D-8 Members. The Members reaffirmed their resolve to fight against all threats, particularly, terrorism, extremism and sectarianism, to the economic development. It may be pertinent to mention that in terms gaining significance at the global level, during Pakistan’s chairmanship, D-8 achieved status of an Observer at the United Nations.
US Secretary of State, Mr. Rex Tillerson, visited Pakistan. The visit was part of the commitment by both the countries’ leadership to maintain contacts at all levels. During Mr. Tillerson’s call on the Prime Minister, bilateral and regional issues were discussed. There was desire on both sides to strengthen relations, based on better understanding of each other’s concerns and interests and cooperation in diverse fields. US Secretary of State was informed about Pakistan’s counter-terrorism operations and successes. Mr. Tillerson acknowledged Pakistan’s contribution and sacrifices in the fight against terrorists and the country’s strategic and economic importance in the region.
The Foreign Secretary concluded her visits to Oman, Sri Lanka and Italy for Bilateral Political Foreign Secretary Level Consultations. She also led Pakistan side to 6th QCG meeting in Muscat.
As part of celebrations of 200th birth anniversary of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the Government of Pakistan has issued a commemorative postage stamp.
27 October is observed by Kashmiris in IoK, Azad Jammu & Kashmir and world over as ‘Black Day.’ In solidarity with Kashmiris, Pakistani at home and abroad also observe Black Day. Almost seven decades back, on this day, India without any constitutional and moral justification forcibly took control of occupied Jammu and Kashmir and since then, Indian forces are mercilessly killing innocent and unarmed Kashmiris, vandalising their properties and indulging in other inhuman acts. There are harrowing tales of massacres of innocent Kashmiris at the hands of Indian occupation forces and RSS terrorists joined by the Dogra forces. During November 1947, according to authentic accounts, more 500,000 Kashmiris were massacred in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir’s areas, where Hindus had significant presence. Subsequent years also witnessed more than a dozen massacres in which scores of defenceless Kashmiris were targeted. Both President and Prime Minister have issued statements which are being conveyed to all the corners of the world. The International Community is being sensitized on the Jammu & Kashmir dispute and the plight of Kashmiris in IoK.
To suppress their legitimate indigenous struggle for their right to self determination, Indian forces have killed hundreds of thousands, injured and maimed tens of thousands, used rape as a tool in which they victimized thousands of women, and of late, they are deliberately blinding young Kashmiris and indulging in braid chopping. Against such Indian brutalities for over decades, Kashmiris have remained resilient and have been struggling for their right to self-determination as promised to them in the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. Last week also saw killing of Kashmiris and Indian atrocities that injured scores during Kashmiris’ peaceful demonstration. In an expression of solidarity with our Kashmiri brethren, the President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister have issued messages on the occasion of Black Day, to condemn Indian atrocities in IoK, and calling for implementation of UN Resolutions on Kashmir.
On behalf of all my media colleagues, I would like to express our warm gratitude to you Mr. Nafees Zakaria, for all your hard work and efforts during your tenure as Spokesperson at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We wish you the best of luck for your future assignment as High Commissioner to Malaysia. We also welcome the new Spokesperson, Dr. Muhammad Faisal, and look forward to working with you! [Shaukat Paracha – Aaj TV]
Now the Floor is open for Questions
Reportedly, India and European Union have restarted negotiations on a civil nuclear agreement signed in 2009. This will give India an opportunity to build its nuclear arsenals and open up a civil nuclear technology transfer without appropriate international checks and balances. Your comments please!
Secondly, US will provide India “armed drones”. How do you see the development and how will it impact the strategic balance of power in the region? (Essa Naqvi – Dunya News)
On your first question, access to nuclear technology for peaceful uses is the right of every state. However, this right has to be exercised under appropriate safeguards in accordance with the established non-proliferation standards. Any deviation from established international standards will undermine the objective of non-proliferation by opening up possibilities for diversion of technology intended for peaceful uses to military purposes.
The members of the EU, which proclaim strong commitment to non-proliferation norms, should carefully examine the implications of nuclear cooperation without appropriate safeguards. Many recent independent studies have pointed out the shortcomings of the country-specific NSG exemption of 2008, which allows India to maintain three parallel streams of its nuclear programme.
The minimum requirement for any nuclear cooperation agreement should be placement of all civilian nuclear facilities under safeguards, without exception. Moreover, IAEA safeguards should be permanent without any provision for their temporary application or the use of safeguarded nuclear materials in unsafeguarded facilities. The international community should also insist on a stronger commitment on nuclear non-testing.
Any agreement, which does not address these issues would be detrimental to the objectives of non-proliferation and strategic stability in South Asia and would also undermine the credibility of the multilateral global non-proliferation regimes.
Regarding your second question, Pakistan has consistently maintained that preserving regional stability should be the fundamental consideration in any international arms transfer. Extra-regional powers should be mindful of such actions, which can undermine strategic stability in South Asia. Use of armed drones can lower the threshold for conflict, since it can encourage military misadventures, especially in the backdrop of irresponsible discourse about limited military operations below the strategic threshold.
Any transfer of armed drones should also be closely examined in the context of the Guidelines of the multilateral export control regimes, including the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which place certain limitations on such transfers. Even if such transfers are below the prescribed thresholds, they definitely violate the spirit of the control regimes, which are aimed at controlling the proliferation of destabilizing weapon systems, which can threaten regional peace and stability.
We hope that the members of MTCR and other export control regimes fully understand their responsibility in not letting any country’s membership of such groupings constitute a carte blanche for proliferation of destabilizing weapon systems.
India has welcomed US strategy in Afghanistan and in the region while both Russia and Iran, with close ties with India, have out rightly rejected the US policy. How do you see Indian maneuvers to change allegiance? Do you see a new regional pattern emerging from this paradigm shift in global politics in this region? (Shabbir Waghra – PTV World)
We do not comment on relations between other sovereign states. Pakistan believes in friendly relations with all countries for inclusive development, peace and prosperity. Our bilateral relations are not determined by other countries bilateral and mutual relationships. We are following the vision of a friendly neighborhood to bring the people of South Asia out of abject poverty and to embark on the road to economic empowerment.
My first question pertains to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent visit to Pakistan. During his visit, did Pakistan take up the issue of Indian involvement in terrorism in Pakistan and use of terrorists in Afghanistan, to launch attacks in Pakistan? What was the Secretary’s reaction?
Second, Indian Vice President has urged the United Nations to isolate nations that sponsor terrorism. US alleges Iran and Russia to be sponsoring terrorists in Middle East and Afghanistan. Indian Vice President doesn’t seem to be mindful. Your comments please. (Shaukat Paracha – Aaj News)
There are media reports that Secretary Tillerson has given a tough message to our Government to take action against sanctuaries and terrorist safe havens within Pakistan, or face consequences. What consequences was he talking about, and what has been Pakistan’s response? (Rashida Sial – Ab Takk TV)
Responding to Mr. Paracha’s first question, yes, we did raise the issue of Indian involvement in terrorism in Pakistan, and also mentioned the subversive activities carried out by RAW using terrorists based in Afghanistan. We also raised the issue of ceasefire violations by the Indian forces along the Line of Control and Working Boundary and that it endangers peace in the region and beyond. We also highlighted plight of Kashmiris in Indian Occupied Kashmir.
The US side admitted that Pakistan had two troubled borders and South Asia Strategy would address these issues.
Your second question has no relevance to Pakistan. However, you may direct your question to the Indian official quarters as to why they want India to be isolated because it has been proven that India is involved in perpetrating terrorism and terror financing in Pakistan and also nurturing TTP, JuA and their affiliates in Afghanistan against Pakistan. You are aware of the statements issued from India also that have established without doubt, Indian involvement in State-terrorism in Pakistan, its use of Afghan soil and Afghan terrorist elements to launch terrorism in Pakistan.
On Ms. Rashida’s question, whatever transpired during Secretary Tillerson’s visit is already in the public domain. Prime Minister’s Office and US Embassy have separately issued Press Releases in which details are available. You must also be aware of Foreign Minister’s statement in the Parliament yesterday.
India welcomed US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments that US would rather work with New Delhi than Beijing over the next century. Reportedly, US has sought India’s help to counter China’s growing influence in the region. How does Pakistan see the regional alignment in the future? (Khalid Mahmood – Express TV)
President Ashraf Ghani, during his recent visit to India, has said that Afghanistan will not accept participation in CPEC unless Pakistan provides land access to India. Your comments on this please. (Naveed Siddiqui – Dawn News)
India is once again undertaking activities that may lead to military standoff or even confrontation with China in Donglang. Recently, it has starting announcing openly that its military capabilities are targeted against China. What is Pakistan’s position on the emerging situation? (Saima Shabbir – Bol TV)
On Mr. Naveed’s question, CPEC is an economic development project, which will benefit not just Pakistan and China but also the people of the entire region, including the people of the Central Asian states. As of now, CPEC is a bilateral project between Pakistan and China.
Regarding Mr. Khalid Mahmood’s question, today’s globalized world calls for cooperation and collaboration. We acknowledge the right of countries to make bilateral relations with countries of their choice, however, partnerships and alliances should not be directed towards other countries. Every country has the right to peaceful development unless it threatens others countries’ peace and security. As far as Indo-US coziness is concerned, it should not be based on agenda of containing China or threatening Pakistan. We are concerned with the role US is giving to India in the region. It will only aggravate the situation and endanger the peace and stability in this part of the world.
On Ms. Saima’s question, we do not want to comment on the bilateral issue of India and China. We are, however, concerned over Indian belligerence in the region. Indian actions and policies, as you are aware, have been a cause of serious concern for many of its neighbours over several issues. We believe that countries should resolve their issues through engagement and dialogue.
My question pertains to the Foreign Policy direction of Pakistan. So far, we have been criticizing India for its human rights atrocities in Kashmir. While Pakistan has been trying hard to sensitize the international community on Indian excesses in IoK, India is predominantly being given a new role in the region, and is increasingly becoming the blue eyed boy of the world powers. In this context, is a review of Pakistan’s policy directions warranted? (Syed Mohsin Raza – Asas Group of Publications)
Pakistan has been supporting Kashmiris’ right to self-determination morally, politically and diplomatically, but what about extending legal support? You must be aware that the Indian courts have discussed cases related to Article 370 Indian constitution. There is a doctrine of Responsibility to Protection. Why can’t the very doctrine be invoked in this particular case when India is continuously violating human rights in Indian occupied Kashmir? (Fareeha Hassan – Radio Pakistan)
Your question, Mohsin Sb, requires a long of explanation. You referred to whether we need to change our foreign policy direction, and how Pakistan has galvanized the international community in not only creating awareness about the nature of Kashmir dispute, but also underlining the urgency to resolve the dispute in accordance with UNSC Resolutions, and sensitizing the world about gross human rights violations by Indian occupation forces in IoK.
Our foreign policy direction is very clear. Our foreign policy is about nurturing friendly relations with all countries. We derive our foreign policy inspiration from Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s vision. The present Government pursues the policy of peaceful neighbourhood, and has the vision of exploiting full potential of this region. We are mindful of Pakistan’s strategic geographic location at the confluence of West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia and Western China. The Government envisages Pakistan to play the role of economic hub and energy corridor of the region.
We have no aggressive designs against any country. Pakistan believes in shared regional prosperity by exploiting the full potential of this region. The advanced countries, as you are well aware, are facing recession. Therefore, the world’s attention has now shifted to this region, which is full of potential with abundance of unexploited and under-utilized natural and human resources. In short, Pakistan’s foreign policy is in the right direction and the Government is aware of the opportunities and challenges surrounding today’s world. This is manifested in Pakistan’s successful holding of the ECO Summit and our leadership’s visits to Central Asian countries etc. Our policy thrust is on strengthening economy, for which energy shortage needed to be bridged.
As to Ms. Fareeha’s question, Pakistan extends moral, diplomatic and political support to the Kashmir cause. You have referred to Article-370 and also obliquely 35-A of Indian Constitution. In this context, Pakistan’s position is very clear. We call for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with relevant UNSC Resolutions, which have been pending for the last 70 years, and the wishes of the Kashmiri people. These unimplemented resolutions must be implemented as soon as possible, and India must be urged to immediately stop the bloodshed of innocent Kashmir in IoK.
We have heard media reports that US Defence Secretary will visit Islamabad in December this year. Can you confirm? (Tariq Sial – Morning Jinnah)
Answer I don’t have any information at this point in time.
Reportedly, during the last week in US drone strikes, a number of Afghan Taliban including leaders of JuA, Haqqani network and TTP were killed in Afghanistan, which vindicates Pakistan’s position that terrorists hideouts are in ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan. Your comments please! (Nimra Sohail – PTV)
Pakistan has always raised its concerns regarding the presence of large swathes of ungoverned spaces inside Afghanistan. These ungoverned spaces attract terrorists from all over the world. Terrorist groups including TTA, TTP, JuA, ETIM and Deash etc. have established sanctuaries in Afghanistan. The head of TTP, Mullah Fazlullah is in Afghanistan. The recent terrorist attacks in Pakistan have been traced back to the hideouts of JuA in Afghanistan and Indian involvement. We, on numerous occasions, have raised this issue with Afghan authorities to take action against these terrorist groups as well as address the issue of their soil by Indian agencies against Pakistan.
We see a stark difference in International Community’s attitude on the plight of Rohingyas and Kashmiris. Why? Your comments! (Tariq Mahmood – SAMAA TV)
Pakistan has consistently highlighted, at all the multilateral forums and bilaterally with all the countries, the intensified gross human right violation of innocent Kashmiris by Indian Occupation forces in IoK, especially after July 2017. The UN Human Rights Commissioner, OIC, Members of Parliaments and Civil Society in many countries including in Europe, Nordic states, North America and other countries have been raising concerns over the ongoing atrocities in IoK and called for sending ‘Fact Finding Missions’ there. Others also, who are the proponents of the protection of human rights but silently watching the crimes against humanity committed by the Indian occupation forces in IoK, should put aside political and economic exigencies and fulfill its promises to the Kashmiris otherwise it will reduce the Human Rights Charter to farcical verbal rhetoric.
US has moved against Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran nuclear deal. How does Pakistan see the US move? (Saad Umer – Roze News)
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) presents a good model for mutually agreed and negotiated settlement of issues at the international level. We have noted that the IAEA has repeatedly confirmed Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA. We have also noted that other parties to the agreement have lent their support for its continuation. We call upon all sides to adhere to their commitments pursuant to the JCPOA and uphold the agreement.
Reportedly, Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat has alleged that terrorist training camps exists in Pakistan. Your comments, please? (Khwaja Nayyar Iqbal – Daily Kashmir Post)
The biggest terrorist camps actively working are the ones of Indian Occupation forces in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir, which India will have to do away with, having failed miserably to suppress the legitimate Kashmiri struggle for realization of the right to self-determination.
Yesterday, during Senate proceedings, there was mention of exchange of list of terrorists between Pakistan and the US, with 75 prisoners on one side and 100 on the other. Can you share more details? (AFP – Joe Fioriti)
I don’t have specific details. Please refer your question to Ministry of Interior or those dealing with security matters.
Iran has been constructing a security wall on its border. What is Pakistan’s position on the construction of such wall, as it will limit entry points into Iran, and only Taftan border point will be available for Pakistan to cross border into Iran. I am aware that Baloch people do not agree to the construction of this wall.
Secondly, what is the status of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, whether it has been abandoned or Pakistan is still pursuing its early completion? (Faisal Raza Khan – 92 News)
With regard to the construction of the wall, I will have to check details pertaining to the veracity of this information and will get back to you.
Please refer your second question to Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources, which is the relevant Ministry in this regard.
Any update on the Pakistani arrested in Hungary involved in 70 murder cases within Pakistan? (Salahhudin – Reuters)
I don’t have the details at the moment. Usually, such matters are dealt with by the Ministry of Interior. We are ascertaining details.
Recently, we have seen Indian attempts to dissociate itself from its Muslim past by Indian leaderships’ controversial statements on Taj Mahal and Tipu Sultan. Do you think that India is destroying its own history by doing that?
Secondly, it has been reported around 3,000 to 4,000 Daesh militants are currently on the Pak-Afghan border and are planning to carry out some misadventure in Pakistan in coming March. Your comments please! (Anwar Abbas – Waqt News)
For your second question, please consult authorities that deal with border management or border security forces for details. However, the fact remains that Afghanistan has remained in turmoil for the last forty years, which has created ungoverned spaces within the country, which has afforded opportunity for various terrorist outfits to have a foothold in Afghanistan. Not only Pakistan but regional countries have also expressed their concern at the presence and expansion of Daesh and other terrorist outfits within those ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan.
Regarding your first question, UNESCO must be looking into the aspect of India extricating itself of such monuments and historical facts as the Taj Mahal. Rising extremism and intolerance in Indian society is a matter of deep concern for the International Community.
Last modified: November 22, 2019
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