Media Briefing|

[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]

Assalam-o-Alaikum. Thank you for joining our weekly briefing.

Tomorrow, 5th August, marks the third anniversary of India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 and subsequent steps that were designed to undermine the internationally recognized disputed status of occupied Jammu and Kashmir, and to alter the demographic structure of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) – all in violation of international law and relevant UN Security Council resolutions on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

Not only has India reneged on its obligations and the solemn commitments of its leadership to abide by the UNSC resolutions and let the Kashmiri people exercise their right to self-determination, it has let loose a reign of terror and suppression, gross and widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, in an attempt to perpetuate its illegal and forcible occupation of IIOJK.

And this situation has been particularly aggravated since India’s illegal actions of 5th August, that as you are aware, were accompanied by the inhuman siege, curfews, physical lockdowns and communication blackouts, enforced by over 900,000 Indian occupation forces, in what is considered the densest military occupation anywhere in recent history.

Since August 2019, at least 660 Kashmiris have been martyred by Indian occupation forces in IIOJK. Behind those figures is a systematic campaign of oppression, extra-judicial killings of innocent Kashmiris in fake encounters and so-called ‘cordon-and-search’ operations, custodial deaths, use of pellet guns, enforced disappearances, collective punishment, and incarceration of almost the entire Kashmiri leadership – their true representatives in order to prevent them from raising their voice for the peaceful and legitimate Kashmiri struggle for self determination.

In parallel, there is a series of arbitrary legal and administrative steps including land confiscation, influx of non-Kashmiris, creation of alien settlements, and issuance of millions of illegal domicile certificates – all aimed at demographic engineering in order to turn the Kashmiri Muslim majority into a minority in their own land.

In an attempt to hide its atrocities, India, the serial violator of human rights, has employed censorship, and crackdown on civil society, human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists, who are harassed and persecuted under the draconian laws.

Ladies and Gentlemen, despite all these actions, India has miserably failed to dampen the resilient spirit of the Kashmiri people, who continue to stand firm in their total rejection of Indian illegal occupation.

To embody this spirit of resistance and incredible will to fight for their just and inalienable right to self-determination, the Pakistani nation will join the Kashmiris in IIOJK, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and the world over in solemnly observing Youm-e-Istehsaal tomorrow, in denouncing Indian atrocities and expressing our full support for the realization of the right to self determination and peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with relevant UNSC Resolutions.

We appreciate prominent world leaders, parliamentarians across the globe, international media, civil society, think tanks and human rights organizations for upholding the cause of the Kashmiris. We are grateful to the OIC for its principled and strong support, as well as the consistent position of the UN Secretary General on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UNSC resolutions.

We believe India must reverse its illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 and take the necessary steps to create an environment conducive for meaningful result-oriented engagement and dialogue – that leads to peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant Security Council Resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

Till that time we continue to stand in solidarity with the Kashmiris. We pay rich tributes to their struggle and sacrifices and assure them of Pakistan’s unambiguous, steadfast and all possible support for the realization of their right to self-determination. Let me say that this support is based on complete unanimity and national consensus, and which will be on full display across the country tomorrow and showcased by many activities and diplomatic outreach by Pakistan Missions abroad alongside the Kashmiri and Pakistani diaspora.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Regarding the latest disturbing developments in the region, you would have seen our Press Release that reaffirms Pakistan’s strong commitment to ‘One-China’ Policy and firmly supports China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

We expressed our deep concern over the evolving situation, which has serious implications for regional peace and stability.

We strongly believe that inter-state relations should be based on mutual respect, non-interference in internal affairs, and peaceful resolution of issues by upholding of principles of UN charter, international law and bilateral agreements.

Let me now turn to Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s visit to Phnom Penh, Cambodia from 4-6 August where he is leading Pakistan’s delegation to the 29th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Foreign Ministers Meeting.

At the Ministerial Meeting and other interactions, the Foreign Minister will highlight Pakistan’s perspective on important regional and international issues of common concern. The Foreign Minister will call on the Prime Minister of Cambodia, and will have bilateral meetings with a number of his counterparts on the sidelines. You would have seen already information on FM’s meeting with the Foreign Minister of Singapore.

The Foreign Minister’s visit is a manifestation of Pakistan’s strong interest in advancing mutually beneficial relations with the ASEAN region. It may be recalled that since joining the ARF in 2004, Pakistan has played a proactive role at the Forum, which remains an important regional platform for consultations and dialogue on issues related to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific.

We look forward to a very productive visit and will keep you apprised of the Foreign Minister’s engagements.

You would have followed that the Ambassador of Indonesia called on Minister of State Hina Rabbani Khar on 2 August. During the meeting, MOS Khar desired to further strengthen bilateral ties and enhance economic cooperation.

Later the same day, MOS Khar received Japanese Parliamentary Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs and appreciated the trusted development partnership between Pakistan and Japan. During the meeting she also emphasized Pakistan’s desire to further deepen bilateral trade and investment relations with Japan.

Earlier yesterday, the Foreign Secretary also received the Japanese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs.

With this I conclude and am ready to take your questions.

Question: It is being reported in international and local media that the drone strike conducted by U.S. in Afghanistan killing top Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was carried out through intelligence sharing between Pakistan and U.S.; and also, that Pakistan was taken into confidence before conducting this operation. Is it true that Pakistan was aware of this drone strike? (Zulqarnain Haider, ARY News)

Supplementary Question: There are also media reports that U.S. drone used Pakistani air space for conducting this drone strike inside Afghanistan. What do you have to say about these reports? (Muhammad Asad, The Frontier Post)

Supplementary Question: The Afghan nominated representative for the United Nations Mr. Sohail Shaheen has stated that Afghanistan itself is investigating whether Ayman al-Zawahiri was present and whether he was killed in this drone strike. What reports do you have about this? (Aijaz Ahmed, GNN)

Answer: I would refer you to the statement that we have issued on this incident, and that is our stated position. There is no evidence of this action having been undertaken using Pakistan’s airspace, so this is something that I can add to that.

Question: Recently U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome visited Pak-Afghan border. Can you share some details about this visit? (Adil Nizami, Hum TV)

Answer: I don’t have specific details on this, can check and revert to you.

Question: If I correctly recall your statement which is being referred to, it was clearly stated that Pakistan aligns itself with counter-terrorism efforts which has been our stated policy as well. Does Pakistan welcome the development that Al-Qaeda chief was killed somewhere in Kabul. What is your position on the event that took place? (Shaukat Piracha, Aaj News)

Answer: As I said, our statement contains what we had to say. And I think one part that you mentioned in the beginning referring to our statement needs to be mentioned in its totality. We said that Pakistan stands by countering terrorism in accordance with international law and relevant UN resolutions. So that’s a very clear statement.

Question: UN has passed multiple resolutions against Al-Qaeda. Are we referring to those resolutions that authorized action inside Afghanistan few years back?

Answer: We are referring to various resolutions of the UN on countering terrorism, and they encompass different aspects of counter-terrorism. There are various international obligations under these resolutions. Regarding Al-Qaeda, I think it is clear that it is a terrorist entity, which is listed under the UN Security Council sanctions regime and states are under obligation to take actions that are prescribed by the UN Security Council. As you know, Pakistan has in the past, taken resolute actions and supported the efforts of the international community in fighting terrorism and particularly, you know, some of the notable success against Al Qaeda was possible because of Pakistan’s role and contribution.

Thank you.


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