[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]
Thanks for joining us for the Weekly Briefing.
Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday where he was briefed on Pakistan’s foreign policy. The briefing covered the entire spectrum of Pakistan’s external relations; the working of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; recent efforts to strengthen ties with different regions and countries; and priorities for the future especially in view of the developing regional and global developments. The Prime Minister was apprised of the steps being taken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Pakistan’s Missions abroad to facilitate Pakistanis working and residing abroad.
The Prime Minister shared his vision for a dynamic foreign policy and strengthening Pakistan’s relationships with countries around the world especially in terms of trade, investment, connectivity, economic diplomacy and public diplomacy. He directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our Foreign Missions to work diligently for the welfare of overseas Pakistanis.
The Minister for Hajj & Umrah of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Dr. Tawfiq Bin Fawzan Al Rabiah, visited Pakistan earlier this week. He was leading a high-level delegation that included members from Saudi Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior, Communication, Tourism, and the Civil Aviation Authority. The Minister called on the President Dr. Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar and Governor Sindh Kamran Tessori and held comprehensive talks with Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Aneeq Ahmed. The visit was an important opportunity for the two sides to discuss: arrangements for Pakistani pilgrims for Umrah and the Haj; increase in Haj quota for Pakistanis; matters relating to Umrah visas; and the possible extension of the Road to Makkah Project to major airports of Pakistan during the upcoming Haj season. An Air Services agreement was also signed during the visit between Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authorities of the two countries to streamline Haj services.
A 60-year-old civilian Mr. Ghias from Kotli district of Azad Jammu and Kashmir was killed as a result of unprovoked firing of Indian forces on 21 August 2023. The incident took place in the Nikial Sector of the Line of Control (LoC). This was a direct violation of the 2003 Ceasefire Understanding, reaffirmed in February 2021. We have strongly protested this latest provocation from the Indian side and emphasized the vital importance of maintaining peace along the LoC. Pakistan urges India to conduct an investigation into the incident and to honour the Ceasefire Understanding. The Indian forces must also exercise extreme caution and desist from targeting innocent civilians.
The UN Special Procedures for human rights have again expressed serious concerns about the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status by the Indian occupation forces and imposition of restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly, and association against civil society actors, human rights defenders, political figures and journalists in IIOJK.
These concerns were conveyed in a communication dated 8 August 2023 by the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the rights of freedom of opinion and expression; Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief.
The Special Procedures have also highlighted that the framework of India’s counter-terrorism laws is ripe for human rights abuse and potential violations of India’s obligations under international human rights law, particularly the obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights to equality and non-discrimination, the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association, and the right to liberty and security of person.
The UN Special Procedures have already issued multiple communications on individual allegations of human rights violations in IIOJK, including arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, ill treatment, intimidation, and reprise. The sudden closure of the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission, which rendered people in the region with little legal recourse in seeking redressal and accountability for violation of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The latest communication by the UN Special Procedures is a comprehensive document, covering multi-faceted human rights abuses in IIOJK, under the cover of counter-terrorism laws. It indicts India on its human rights record and the grave situation in IIOJK. We urge India to bring an end to its repression of the Kashmiri people so that they are able to exercise their right to self-determination in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions.
I thank you.
Question: As we know that Cricket World Cup is going to take place in India and Pakistani team is participating in World Cup. Have we contacted India regarding the visas for the spectators? (Azaz Syed, Geo News)
Answer: Regarding the participation of Pakistani cricket team and details about and arrangements for this participation in the World Cup, PCB is in contact with ICC as it take leads on these matters. So, further details may be asked from them.
Question: Yesterday, the US ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome visited Election Commission of Pakistan. Otherwise, it’s normal diplomatic norm like our ambassador in DC, he also visits so many government or state functionaries. But since the meeting has taken place during election time, how does Ministry of Foreign Affairs view this visit and especially his comments on the forthcoming elections in Pakistan. (Shaukat Piracha, AAJ News)
Supplementary Question: Do we need the US support and commitment for holding free and fair and transparent general elections in Pakistan? (Naveed Siddiqui, Dateline Islamabad)
Answer: First, regarding your first question about the meeting of the US ambassador with the Chief Election Commissioner, we can confirm that this meeting has taken place. I would advise you to contact the US Embassy or the Election Commission to ascertain the details of the meeting and any contribution that meeting will make for promotion of democracy and holding free and fair elections in Pakistan.
Question: Recently, a meeting has been held which was hosted by the Australian High Commissioner in which former Foreign Minister and vice-Chairman of PTI, Mr. Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Mr. Ali Zafar were invited. The US Ambassador and other western diplomats were also invited. Is the Foreign Office taken on board in these kinds of meetings? Or, what are the standard protocols for these kinds of meetings with politicians and Chief Election Commissioners? (Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)
Supplementary Question: In the meeting of the Election Commissioner with the US Ambassador, was there any representative from Foreign Office? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)
Answer: On this question and about details of this meeting, I would advise you to contact the US Embassy or the Election Commission for details. The Foreign Office was not present in that meeting. Regarding your other question, we have seen that there are a number of meetings that the foreign diplomats hold with Pakistani political figures. This is a normal diplomatic practice that diplomats in every country hold meetings with political leaders of the country where they are posted.
Question: Regarding BRICS, now they have decided to expand this organization. Very close friends of Pakistan are being included. Whether Pakistan is being ignored or Pakistan never wished to be part of such a rising organization? And then second part is some of our very close friends like Saudi Arabia, are joining this organization and they will be sitting and interacting with our adversary in the organization. Any comments? (Shaukat Piracha, AAJ News)
Supplementary Question: Last year when China hosted the summit meeting Pakistan was denied invitation and the Foreign office commented that due to the opposition of one country Pakistan did not attended that meeting. This time, six new members are being included into the BRICS bloc. Some of them very close friends of Pakistan. Has ever Pakistan’s expressed interest to join these groups, and whether or not Pakistan was in touch with China or other Pakistan friendly countries who are the members of the BRICS, because the Indian media is reporting that China expressed support for Pakistan that Pakistan should be the part of this BRICS organization. (Muhammad Jaleel, VOA)
Answer: I will respond to the two questions together. We have followed the BRICS related developments in Johannesburg. We have also noted its openness to inclusive multilateralism. Pakistan has said several times in the past that it is an ardent supporter of inclusive multilateralism. Pakistan has not made any formal request to join BRICS. We will examine the latest developments and make a determination about our future engagement with BRICS. Pakistan is an ardent supporter of multilateralism and as a member of several multilateral organizations it has always played an important role for global peace and development. Pakistan is also an important developing country that has made many important contributions to promote peace, solidarity and cooperation among countries of the South. We shall continue our efforts at the international fora for fostering the spirit of international cooperation and revitalization of inclusive multilateralism.
Question: A delegation of ISSI visited Afghanistan accompanied by former diplomats of Pakistan and Ambassador of Pakistan to Afghanistan and met leaders of Afghan interim government. What was the reason and objective of this visit? (Siyar Ali Shah, Khyber News)
Answer: This was a visit led by Director General of the Institute of Strategic Studies, Ambassador Sohail Mahmood. The visit took place from 21st to 23rd of August at the invitation of the Center for Strategic Studies in Kabul. The delegation held a meeting with the Center for Strategic Studies and called on Acting Foreign Minister of the Interim Government Amir Khan Muttaqi. In Kabul, Ambassador Sohail Mahmood also delivered a lecture on Pakistan – Afghanistan Relations at the Institute of Diplomacy of the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During these talks, the two sides discussed commonalities of faith and ethnicity and kinship between the two peoples and emphasized the importance of a strong bilateral relationship. Ambassador Sohail Mahmood emphasized that to place the bilateral relationship on a sounder basis, it is important to address the security concerns, strengthen efforts for robust economic partnership and promote the agenda of regional connectivity and economic integration.
Question: How does Pakistan see one the latest international development: India’s landing on the moon? Secondly, former foreign minister of Pakistan is arrested in the case of Cypher. Does the Pakistan Foreign Office think that it was misconduct by an ex-foreign minister and a diplomat? (Syed Faisal Ali, Daily State Views)
Answer: I will not comment on your second question because it is a political question. Regarding your first question, I can only say that it is a great scientific achievement, for which ISRO scientists deserve appreciation.
Question: The military media wing have claimed that they have arrested six Indian citizens who are smuggling ammunition narcotics into Pakistan. Regarding this development, is there any contact between India and Pakistan on the foreign office level? (Abdullah Momand, Dawn TV)
Answer: Yes, Pakistan Rangers deployed along the international border with India have apprehended six Indian nationals inside Pakistani territory. These criminals and smugglers were trying to smuggle narcotics, weapons and ammunition to Pakistan. The arrest of six Indian smugglers in a short span of time is a matter of serious concern for Pakistan. The development indicates that criminal elements are trying to smuggle unlawful items into Pakistani territory. We urge the Indian authorities to prevent recurrence of such incidents in future. Pakistan is in contact with Indian authorities with respect to our concerns.
Question: In an interview with international news agency few days ago, Taiwan authority’s Lai Ching-te, expressed his views on “Taiwan independence”. What are your comments? (Ali Jaswal, Xinhua News Agency)
Answer: Pakistan’s position on the Taiwan question is consistent and principled. We adhere to a One China policy and regard Taiwan Chinese Taipei as an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China.
Question: The conflicts on LOC have risen. Yesterday a young person wasdirectly targeted and killed. What is our plan? Secondly, some Afghan nationals entered illegally in AJK. They carry unverifiable documents and have been caught by locals. Do you have any information regarding their number and what is being done for their deportation? (Raziq Mahmood Bhatti, Daily Kashmir Express)
Answer: I do not have information regarding your second question and perhaps the Home Department of AJK and the Ministry of Interior would be a better venue for you to get a response to your question. With regard to your first question, I spoke about it in our opening remarks that the violations of the ceasefire and unprovoked firing along the Line of Control is unacceptable. We urge India to desist from such actions and ensure that the ceasefire agreement understanding continues to hold.
Question: As UNGA session is drawing near, will the acting Prime Minister represent Pakistan in this session? (Anwar Abbas, Bol News)
Answer: Regarding participation in UNGA, once we have a final decision, and a time for announcement, comes we will share it with the media.
Question: What are the developments on the incident of Nikial in which Nazimul Umoor was summoned? What are your comments on arbitrary arrests Kashmir youth in IIOJK? (Saqib Rathore, Daily Kashmir Times)
Answer: We have conveyed our concerns to the Indian authorities about the violation of the ceasefire understanding and the unprovoked firing across the LOC. We have condemned time and again the arbitrary arrests that continue to take place in Indian Illegally-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. This is something that is of concern not just to Pakistan, but to the international human rights community. I just briefed you about the communications which have been issued by the UN Human Rights mechanisms and their concerns about the grave human rights situation in IIOJK, including about the enforced disappearances in the occupied territory.
Question: Ma’am, there are reports that Pakistan and Indian Charged’ Affaires are being replaced. Your comments? (Naveed Siddiqui, Dateline Islamabad)
Answer: This is a normal transfer of officials that is taking place. Our former Charge d’ Affaires has completed his term and we have nominated a new officer. He will assume his position in due course.
Question: Afghan ministers stated various times that “terrorism is Pakistan’s internal matter and they are blaming Afghanistan just to hide their failures”. What are your comments? (Muhammad Awais, INP)
Answer: I have spoken about this in the past as well. Pakistan has said time and again that it is concerned about the terrorist threat that is emanating from Afghanistan. We have shared our concerns with the Afghan authorities on multiple occasions and Afghanistan has given assurances, including in the trilateral understanding between Pakistan, Afghanistan and China in May 2023, that its territory will not be used to project terrorism to any country, including Pakistan. We hope that the Afghan authorities will honour their commitments.
Question: As Indians have arrested the Hurriyat leader in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir and human rights has been violated there, was there any discussion held with US Ambassador in the meeting with Chief Election Commission regarding this issue? (Shakeel Kalyana, Dunya Numa)
Answer: You may like to ask the US Embassy or the Election Commission of Pakistan about the contents of their meeting. Meanwhile on the Kashmir question, we have spoken about it in the past. Our position again is very consistent that the true leadership of Kashmiri people is incarcerated illegally in Indian Illegally-Occupied Kashmir and their rights are being violated. They should be set free so that they can represent their people and continue to take forward the movement for self-determination of the Kashmiri people.
Question: Is it true that visa has not been granted yet for the new Charge d’ Affaires? There were recent reports that visas are already issued from both sides. Please comment on this. (Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)
Answer: Yes, I can confirm that exchange of assignment visas between the two countries has recently taken place. There is nothing unusual about this as both sides grant assignment visas on reciprocal basis. These are routine postings and transfers. Our Charge d’ Affaires was nominated recently and has recently applied for visa.
Question: Foreign Office in Pakistan has been raising objections and reservations for the human rights violation in Indian Occupied Kashmir and minorities in India. In recent past in Pakistan, a minority group’s worship places were demolished and most recently, the Christian community was attacked. So, what are your views about international community, especially the United Nations regarding situation of minorities in Pakistan? (Abdullah Momand, Dawn TV)
Answer: I would like to underline here that Pakistan has strongly condemned the recent Jaranwala incident. In Pakistan, when incidents of this nature happen, the state and media stand with the victims and immediate remedial actions are taken, including reconstruction of damaged properties and compensation to the victims. As a country of laws and the constitution, Pakistan cannot accept such intolerant and violent acts. We are proud of our multicultural and multifaith heritage and we will continue to defend that. We cannot draw equivalence to another country where government functionaries at the highest levels are party to violence, as attested by the BBC documentary earlier this year. We do not hide the reality of such unfortunate incidents that take place and have been very upfront in condemning the incident of 16th of August. The law enforcement authorities are taking action; we are confident that justice will be done and culprits will be brought to justice.
Last modified: August 26, 2023
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