Media Briefing|

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


Assalam-o-Alaikum and Welcome to our Weekly Press Briefing

Let me begin with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s address to the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on 25th September.

In his address, the Prime Minister shared Pakistan’s perspective on all major regional and international issues, including COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister’s debt relief initiative for developing countries, Jammu and Kashmir dispute, treatment of minorities in India, Palestine issue, Afghan Peace Process, Illicit financial flows, climate change, Islamophobia, and the United Nations reforms.

The Prime Minister also made specific recommendations on these issues.

On Debt Relief, the Prime Minister underscored the need for additional debt relief measures for developing countries.

He called for creation of at least US$500 billion in new Special Drawing Rights and reallocation of unutilized SDRs to developing countries.

On illicit financial flows, the Prime Minister called upon the General Assembly to take the lead in efforts to build a global framework to stem the illicit financial flows and ensure speedy repatriation of stolen wealth.

On Climate Change, the Prime Minister emphasized that commitments made through the Paris Agreement must be fulfilled, in particular the commitment to mobilize US$ 100 billion annually as climate finance.

Regarding Islamophobia, the Prime Minister reiterated that wilful provocations and incitement to hate and violence must be universally outlawed.

He called for the UN General Assembly to declare an “International Day to Combat Islamophobia” and build a coalition to end this scourge.

Once again raising the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, the Prime Minister drew the world community’s attention towards continuing military siege, extra-judicial killings, incarceration of Kashmiri leadership and youth, collective punishments, use of pellet guns and restrictions on all fundamental freedoms in IIOJK.

The Prime Minister particularly highlighted the reprehensible Indian efforts to illegally alter the demographic structure of IIOJK through distribution of fake domicile certificates to the non-Kashmiris.

He called upon the Security Council to ensure urgent implementation of its own Resolutions and take appropriate enforcement actions to grant the Kashmiri people their inalienable right of self-determination.

The Prime Minister underscored that there can be no durable peace and stability in South Asia until the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is resolved on the basis of international legitimacy.

Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) of Afghanistan, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, paid an official visit to Pakistan from 28-30 September 2020.

Dr Abdullah was accompanied by a high-level delegation, including prominent members of the High Council for National Reconciliation.

During his visit, Dr Abdullah called on the Prime Minister and the President and held meetings with the Chairman Senate, Speaker of the National Assembly, Foreign Minister and other dignitaries.

In his meeting with Dr. Abdullah, the Prime Minister reiterated his longstanding position that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and that a political solution is the only way forward.

Commending the start of the Intra-Afghan Negotiations in Doha on 12 September, the Prime Minister expressed the hope that Afghan leadership would seize this historic opportunity to work together constructively and secure an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement.

The Prime Minister also underscored that all Afghan parties must work for reduction in violence leading to ceasefire and conveyed that Pakistan would support whatever the Afghans agree upon about the future of their country.

He further reaffirmed Pakistan’s full support to the post-conflict Afghanistan, on its path to reconstruction and economic development.

During his meetings Dr Abdullah appreciated Pakistan’s critical role in facilitating the Afghan peace process, and thanked Pakistan for hosting millions of Afghan refugees.

He reaffirmed the Afghan commitment to further strengthen relations with Pakistan in all areas of cooperation.

Let me also share with you, Pakistan’s deep concern over the deteriorating security situation in Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The intensive shelling by the Armenian forces on civilian populations of Azerbaijani villages is reprehensible and most unfortunate.

Pakistan stands with the brotherly nation of Azerbaijan and supports its right of self-defence.

We support Azerbaijan’s position on Nagorno-Karabakh, which is in line with the several unanimously adopted UN Security Council Resolutions.

Since we have been receiving many queries regarding the extension of Saudi visas known as Iqamas (work permits), let me also update you in this regard.

As you would know, the Iqamas of many Pakistanis expired on 30 September 2020.

To extend full support to such Pakistanis, the Foreign Office took up the matter with the Saudi Authorities both for extension of Iqamas as well as well additional flights from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi authorities have confirmed to us that, now Iqama holders can get their Iqamas extended even from the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Islamabad after the requisite approval of their Kafeels (both private person and company).

If the kafeel is a company, then company will channel Iqama extension request to the Saudi Embassy, Islamabad through the Saudi Foreign Office.

And in case the Kafeel is a private person, Iqamas can be extended through an online website called, “Abshar”.

The Saudi authorities have also cleared 47 out of 118 PIA flights for the month of October 2020.

The clearance of remaining flights is under process.

Coming to the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the situation continues to deteriorate for 423 days since India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5th August 2019.

In brazen manifestation of state terrorism, Indian occupation forces martyred six more innocent Kashmiris in “fake encounters” and so-called “cordon-and-search” operations in Anantnag and Pulwama during the past week.

Another voice, critical of Indian illegal actions and brutalization of Kashmiris, was silenced when Kashmiri lawyer and activist Advocate Babar Qadri, was shot dead by unidentified attackers in Srinagar.

Pakistan strongly condemns and seeks independent investigation into the gruesome killings of innocent Kashmiris, including Advocate Qadri.

India’s efforts to subjugate the Kashmiri people through killings, torture, forced disappearances, incarcerations, brutalization and collective punishments have failed in the past and will not succeed in future.

By now India must have realized that the resolve of the Kashmiri people is stronger than the Indian occupation army, and the sound of their silence is louder than the gunshots fired upon them.

Pakistan will continue to call for holding India accountable for its crimes against the Kashmiri people.

In attempts to divert world attention, India continues to escalate tensions along the Line of Control.

The recent unprovoked ceasefire violations by India on 24th, 28th and 30th September have resulted in one shahadat and serious injuries to seven.

This year, India has committed 2404 ceasefire violations to date, resulting in 19 shahadats and serious injuries to 192 innocent civilians.

As part of Pakistan’s efforts to keep the UN Security Council and the Secretary General fully apprised of the grave situation in IIOJK as well as peace and security in the region, the Foreign Minister has addressed another letter to the Council President.

In his letter, the Foreign Minister has highlighted the gross and systematic violations of human rights in IIOJK, India’s illegal measures to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory, and the threat to peace and security posed by India’s belligerent rhetoric and actions.

Recent crackdown against Amnesty International by the Indian government is another manifestation of its extremist agenda and inability to hear the truth from independent human rights organisations.

The BJP regime’s action has once again revealed the true face of India to the world.

Today, the so-called largest democracy in the world stands fully exposed.

I would leave it to the conscience of the world to find a description that can more aptly describe today’s India, under its current political leadership.

Yesterday’s flawed decision by the Special CBI Court in India in the Babri Masjid demolition case is yet another manifestation of permeation of extremist ‘Hindutva’ ideology in all state institutions of India.

Pakistan strongly condemns the shameful acquittal of all 32 criminals responsible for demolishing the centuries-old Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in 1992.

The pliant judiciary’s decision is a sad reminder of the fact that under the fascist BJP-RSS regime, extremist ‘Hindutva’ ideology takes precedence over all principles of justice and international norms.

Pakistan urges the Government of India to ensure safety, security and protection of minorities, particularly Muslims and their places of worship and other Islamic sites on which the Hindu extremists and zealots have laid unfounded claims.

I thank you all and am happy to take any questions on these or other foreign policy related developments.

Question: My first question is about the alleged violation of posting policy in the Foreign Office, which was challenged in the Islamabad High Court. What are your comments?

Secondly, Islamabad High Court has directed the Foreign Office to take steps to bring back former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. What are your comments in this regard? (Zulqarnain, ARY News)

Supplementary Question: Reportedly, authorities in UK have refused to issue arrest warrants for former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, citing the political nature of cases as one of the reasons. How do you comment? (Naveed Siddique, Dawn News)

Supplementary Question: The British Government has refused extradition requests made by Pakistan in earlier instances as well, when Pakistan had requested cooperation in Altaf Hussein’s case. What can the Pakistan High Commission do in such a scenario where such requests are termed to be politically motivated? (Naveed Akbar, Aaj News)

Supplementary Question: After Brexit, will Pakistan sign a new extradition treaty with the UK Government, or will the earlier one be deemed as effective? (Anwar Abbas, Bol News)

Answer: As for the matter of former Prime Minister, this is primarily related to the Ministry of Interior. Foreign Office is responsible to execute honorable Courts’ orders, through Pakistan our Mission. In this regard, summons or notices sent to the Mission are promptly served, and a compliance report is submitted in the Honorable Court.

Regarding the question about the posting policy, I have seen such media reports.

Sadly, such reports are unfounded and based on either lack of information or understanding of the internal working of the Foreign Office.

Foreign Office is a national institution that takes a lot of pride in its professionalism and upholding meritocracy.

The decisions regarding postings and transfers are based on merit following objective criteria.

As for the assertions regarding violations of the 2015 Policy, the objective of the Posting Policy is to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of the organization, so that our Foreign Policy objectives are optimally advanced.

In this regard, like any professional organization, optimal utilization of available human resources to serve the needs of the Ministry and our Missions abroad is critical.

There is a proper multi-tiered mechanism in place to make recommendations for foreign postings.

Posting decisions are neither arbitrary nor made by any one individual. Any assertions made in this regard are contrary to facts.

Since the matter is sub-judice, I would not go into individual cases.

Question: The Indian Court has acquitted all culprits involved in demolition of Babri Masjid. Similarly, the Indian courts also exonerated culprits of Samjhauta Express. How do you see these developments in a country, which claims to be secular and the largest democracy of the world? (Rashida Sial, Abb Tak TV)

Supplementary Question: Indian Foreign Minister while addressing the United Nations General Assembly stated that India is focused on neighborhood first policy. Being India’s neighbor, what is your view in this regard? (Naveed Siddiqui, Dawn TV)

Answer: Yesterday’s flawed decision by the Special CBI Court in India in the Babri Masjid demolition case is yet another manifestation of permeation of extremist ‘Hindutva’ ideology in all state institutions of India. If there was a semblance of justice in the so-called largest democracy, the individuals, who had boasted of the criminal act publicly, could not have been set free. The decision has once again revealed the true face of India and its state institutions to the world.

The pliant judiciary’s decision is a sad reminder of the fact that under the fascist BJP-RSS regime, extremist ‘Hindutva’ ideology takes precedence over all principles of justice and international norms.

Regarding your question on India’s neighborhood first policy, the sad reality is that the so-called “neighbourhood first policy” is only a facade.

The current Indian leadership is in fact guided by the Chanakya doctrine – a doctrine deeply imbedded in the rank and file of the BJP-RSS combine.

According to the Chanakya doctrine “your immediate neighbour is your natural enemy as he covets your territory and resources and is positioned to take them if he is more powerful than you”.

This dangerous indoctrination of the Indian leadership is concerning for all of India’s immediate neighbours.

In the interest of regional peace and security, the current Indian leadership will be well advised to abandon the 3rd Century BCE doctrine and instead learn from the post World War II political history of the world where immediate neighbours have contributed immensely to the socio-economic development and security of each other.

It is time for Prime Minister Modi and his associates to do some serious introspection.

Question: There is hearing of Kulbhushan Jadhav case on Tuesday. Would you please update us regarding the appointment of lawyer?

Secondly, Pakistan offered a meeting to Kulbhushan Jadhav with his father and wife in July. Is there any development on this?

Thirdly, the Islamabad High Court has been apprised that former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had refused to accept the arrest warrants at his residence in London. Would you please share the details? (Anas Malick, Wion TV)

Answer: Regarding your first question, our offer for a meeting of Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav with his father and wife remains valid. However, we have not received any response from the Indian side as yet.

As for our position on Indian incongruous demand of allowing Indian or a foreign lawyer to represent Commander Jadhav, we have repeatedly told them that only those lawyers can represent Commander Jadhav in the Court who have the license to practice law in Pakistan. This is in accordance with legal practice in other jurisdictions as well.

Indian Supreme Court, in one of its judgments, has also ruled that foreign lawyers cannot practice law within the country.

Regarding your last question, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Pakistan High Commission in London comply with the orders of the Honourable Islamabad High Court. Reports are submitted to the Honourable Court in this regard.

The case being sub-judice, I cannot comment any further.

Question: According to the reports, at least 44 Indian banks appear in the recently leaked trove of data known as the “Fin CEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) files. The suspicious activity reports were filed for over 2,000 transactions between 2011 and 2017 for parties with listed addresses in India. What is your official take on it? (Khawaja Hamza, Media Today)

Answer: It is an acknowledgement of the involvement of Indian institutions in money laundering, terror financing and other financial crimes. The reports are actually an affirmation of what we have been sensitizing the international community about. These findings further vindicate Pakistan’s position that India is a state sponsor of terrorism.

Question: India, the so-called largest democracy and a secular country, has unleashed a reign of terror against its minorities, especially Muslims in India. What are your comments on this? (Shakeel Kalyana, Daily Relation News)

Answer: The oppression of minorities in India is a matter of deep concern, not only for the Indian minorities and the neighboring countries, but also for the international community.

The Gujarat massacre, Samjhauta Express and recent Delhi pogrom are glaring examples of systematic campaign against minorities in India. The desecration and vandalization of places of worship of minorities is reprehensible. These instances have been extensively documented in the Indian and international media.

Recent crackdown against Amnesty international by the Indian government is also manifestation of its extremist Hindutva agenda and inability to hear the truth, revealing the true face of India, the world’s so called largest democracy.

Question: The Prime Minister’s speech to the UNGA has been widely appreciated. How would the Foreign Office be following the suggestions given by the Prime Minister to the UNGA? (Naseem Siddiqui, Abb Tak)

Answer: As I have stated in detail in my opening remarks, the Prime Minister’s address to the 75th Session of the UN General assembly comprehensively covered important regional and international issue.

The Prime Minister shared Pakistan’s perspective on COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister’s debt relief initiative for developing countries, Jammu and Kashmir dispute, treatment of minorities in India, Palestine issue, Afghan Peace Process, Illicit financial flows, climate change, Islamophobia, and the United Nations reforms.

The Prime Minister also made concrete recommendations on these issues. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will actively pursue these recommendations.

Question: Azerbaijan-Armenia clashes over Nagorno- Karabakh continue to escalate. Earlier, during his visit to Azerbaijan the former President said that Pakistan would support Azerbaijan in case of any conflict. What is Pakistan’s stance now? (Syed Iqbal Mustafa Bukhari, Jag Beeti)

Supplementary Question: Does Pakistan recognize Armenia diplomatically?

Secondly, there are reports that Pakistani armed forces are fighting in support of Azerbaijan against Armenia. Will you please confirm? (Anwar Abbas, Bol News)

Answer: As for Pakistani armed forces fighting in support of Azerbaijan, I have seen those media reports and I do not want to comment on such speculative stories.

However, our position on Nagorno Karabakh is very clear. I have also reiterated it in my opening remarks. We also issued a Press Release in this regard on 27 September 2020. I would request you to kindly refer to the same.

Question: There are reports that Jared Kushner, adviser of the US President has said that after UAE, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is also considering recognizing Israel. Is Pakistan is in touch with Saudi Arabia and other important Islamic countries in this regard?

Secondly, reportedly track-II diplomacy was started with Saudi Arabia after the statement of the Foreign Minister through Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi. In this regard, Tahir Mehmood Asharafi also visited Saudi Arabia. After his return, he has been appointed as Special Representative to the Prime Minister. Was this step taken to further our relations or was it taken on Saudi request? (Aun Sherazi, Such TV)

Supplementary Question: In the backdrop of recognition of Israel by Muslims countries, do not you think that this is the right time to convene the special session of the OIC to move jointly on this? (Mazhar Iqbal, Public News)

Answer: As a matter of principle, we do not comment on bilateral relations of other countries. However, as for our position on the issue of Palestine, it remains clear, consistent and unchanged, which has been reiterated in our previous press briefings as well.

Regarding your question about appointment of Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi as Prime Minister’s Special Representative, I think it is an internal development which has nothing to do with our relations with any other country.

Question: In the knife attack that happened in Paris, French authorities have claimed that the suspect is a Pakistani national. Details about his background are now being sought. Would you like to comment whether Pakistani Government has been approached by the French authorities in this regard? (Jaleel Akhtar, VOA Urdu)

Answer: We have seen media reports regarding the Paris incident. We are in contact with our Mission in Paris.

We await further information from the French authorities about the incident and the arrests made in this regard.

Reportedly, some Pakistan nationals are also among those arrested but we still do not have any official confirmation from the French Government, including the nationality of the suspect.

Question: My question relates to Pakistan-Russia relations. Russia hosted military exercise Kavkaz – 2020 in which India did not participate, reportedly under the pressure of USA. How do you comment? (Adeel Bashir, Roz News)

Answer: A contingent from Pakistan participated in Kavkaz 2020 exercises. With regards to Pak-Russia relations, the upward trajectory is being maintained through sustained high-level interaction, strong institutional mechanisms and growing bilateral cooperation in various areas of mutual interest.

As for India’s decision to not participate in the exercises, I do not want to comment on it.

Question: My first question is about the extradition matter of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. There is a practice in UK that any person above the age of 60 is not extradited. Are you aware of any such practice?

My second question relates to an earlier question asked about Pakistan’s recognition of Armenia.

Thirdly, has Pakistan considered taking the Babri Masjid matter to OIC, or to ICJ considering the fact that Babri Masjid is a cultural heritage for Muslims all across the world? (Ejaz Ahmed, GNN)

Answer: Regarding your first question about Armenia, Pakistan does not have diplomatic relations with Armenia.

Regarding your question about the extradition practice in UK, I am not aware of any such practice. I will be happy to get further information and share details with you later.

Regarding your question about Babri Masjid verdict, Pakistan has been forcefully raising such issues at all international platforms, be it the Babri Masjid demolition issue, the treatment of minorities in India, or the Indian state terrorism in IIOJK. Let me assure you that Pakistan will continue to explore and utilize all possible options available in these matters, wherever and whenever necessary.

Pakistan will continue exposing India and urging the international community to hold India accountable for its serious crimes in IIOJK and against the minorities in India, particularly Muslims.

Question: A few months ago, stranded Pakistani students were repatriated from China. Now that the universities are open, what is it that Pakistan is doing to facilitate the students?

Secondly, there are thousands of Pakistanis who were repatriated through special flight operations from Saudi Arabia, and their Iqamas have expired. Is Pakistan Government going to take this up with the Saudi Government? (Waqas Ahmed, Tribal Post)

Answer: Regarding your question about expiration of Iqamas, I have already responded in my opening statement.

As for the question about Pakistani students in China, the Government of Pakistan is in contact with the Chinese Government. Every assistance, keeping in view the COVID-19 related health safety protocols, will be provided to the students.

Question: In his speech to the UNGA, the Prime Minister highlighted various issues. However, in the wake of current situation in IIOJ&K, for Pakistan Jammu and Kashmir dispute is the most important matter. Keeping in view, the speech of the Prime Minister and efforts of Pakistan Missions abroad, what changes have you observed with regard to IIOJK amongst world leaders and international community? (Khalid Azeem, SAMAA TV)

Answer: The Prime Minister of Pakistan’s speech made at the United Nations General Assembly, inter alia, highlighted the dispute of Jammu & Kashmir. Following the unilateral and illegal actions by India on 5th August 2019, Pakistan has amplified the voice of the suffering Kashmiri people and effectively raised the issue at all international fora. Today, there is wider condemnation of India for its illegal actions and the worst human rights violations being perpetrated by Indian occupation forces in IIOJK.

There has also been a drastic change in how the International media portrays the India and its repressive policies. Since last year, more than 1000 articles in leading international newspapers and magazines, including Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Le Monde have been published articles which were highly critical of Indian Government’s human rights violations, and its overall Hindutva driven policies.

Today, Amnesty International has closed its offices in India, which is a manifestation of loss of Indian Government’s international credibility.

India’s efforts to present the Jammu & Kashmir dispute as an internal issue have failed completely. The International community continues to acknowledge it as an international dispute.

The United Nations Security Council has discussed the Jammu and Kashmir dispute three times since 5 August 2019. The world leaders, international human rights and humanitarian organizations, parliamentarians, members of civil society as well as the media have been unanimous in their condemnation of India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 and the continuing human rights violations in IIOJK.

Question: What steps that Foreign Office taken to address the concerns of families of the 11 Pakistani Hindus who died in India under mysterious circumstances? (Syed Asif Ali, Din News)

Supplementary Question: Pakistan Hindu council is considering taking the case of 11 Pakistani Hindus to International Human Rights Organizations as well as the ICJ. Can Pakistan approach any of these organizations in this matter? (Khwaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: As for your question about Pakistan Hindu Council, it is their absolute right to raise the matter at every forum possible.

It has been communicated to the Indian authorities that in the interest of justice to the bereaved family and also to ensure the safety and security of other Pakistani nationals in India, it was of utmost importance for the Government of India to be fully transparent about this unfortunate incident.

It has also been emphasized that since the victims of “Jodhpur Incident” were Pakistan nationals, it was incumbent upon the Government of Pakistan to be fully aware of the circumstances under which its nationals died in India.

The Indian side has been urged to carry out a comprehensive investigation into the matter, provide access to the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi to the surviving member of the bereaved family, share copies of the FIR and the initial investigation report and facilitate the presence of the High Commission for Pakistan’s representatives during the post-mortem of the deceased persons without further delay.

I thank you all.

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