Media Briefing|

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

Good Afternoon and welcome to our Weekly Briefing.

In the beginning, let me convey our deepest condolences on the loss of lives in the tragic road accident in AJK.

We also strongly condemn terrorist attacks in Kabul on 2nd November. We share the pain and suffering of the families who lost their loved ones and we condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

By way of a round-up of diplomatic activities and engagements – as you would have followed there was a telephone call between Foreign Minister Qureshi and his Australian counterpart on 1st November, during which the whole range of issues relating to bilateral cooperation and regional situation including Afghanistan came under discussion.

Separately, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood met with visiting Special Representative of Australia on Afghanistan and shared our perspective on the regional situation.

In line with the Digital Diplomacy Agenda under Vision F.O. of the Foreign Minister’s thought leadership, and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision of catering to the needs of Overseas Pakistanis, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi launched the Foreign Minister’s Portal for all 114 Pakistan Missions covering 187 countries. This app will facilitate Pakistani diaspora by providing instantaneous access to a robust complaint registration and redressal system with our Missions.

In continuation of the Foreign Minister’s ‘FM Connect Agenda’ for greater stakeholder inclusivity, a delegation of young entrepreneurs from the Lahore Chapter of global non-profit Entrepreneurs Organization called on the Foreign Minister. The Foreign Minister spoke about the priority attached by Pakistan to economic diplomacy in the context of policy shift to geo-economics, and called for win-win partnerships between Government and private sector for economic development and prosperity, and greater trade and investment opportunities for Pakistan.

Also yesterday, Foreign Minister Qureshi received European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with the Countries of South Asia led by Mr. Nicola Procaccini. The Foreign Minister noted that Pakistan-EU Strategic Engagement Plan provided a solid framework for multidimensional cooperation, and reaffirmed Pakistan’s readiness to continue to work for a productive and constructive partnership with EU. Besides the mutually beneficial GSP Plus facility, there was also an exchange of views on Afghanistan. The Foreign Minister also apprised the delegation of the widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in IIOJK.

In the context of our continuous engagement with regional partners, the Secretary of the Security Council of Uzbekistan Lt-Gen Victor Makhmudov led a delegation to Pakistan from 1-3 November 2021. He called on the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and held one-on-one meeting and delegation level talks with National Security Advisor, Dr. Moeed Yousaf.

Bilateral cooperation, with specific focus on geo-economics vis-à-vis our ‘Vision Central Asia’ policy, besides regional issues including Afghanistan were discussed in various interactions. During this visit the two sides also signed a protocol to establish a Joint Security Commission.

Last week as you would have noted we also commemorated the 76th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, speaking on the occasion, noted Pakistan’s constructive contributions to the work of the UN in promoting the fundamental principles of the UN Charter, peacekeeping, refugee protection, humanitarian action, climate change, and international cooperation for sustainable development. Notably, he also underscored that the people of Jammu and Kashmir awaited the exercise of their inalienable right to self-determination as promised to them by the resolutions of the UN Security Council.

Coming over to Situation in IIOJK,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are deeply concerned over the grave situation in IIOJK with continuing widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the Indian occupation forces. In continued acts of state terrorism, Indian troops martyred 22 Kashmiris during the month of October in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

The people of IIOJK continue to suffer under India’s brutal military siege.Extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detention of Kashmiri youth, harassment and torture continue with impunity, while fundamental freedoms are suspended, and Hurriyat leadership remains incarcerated. It is condemnable that Kashmiri students continue to be penalized, threatened and persecuted by India over a cricket match between Pakistan and India. This is reflective of the extremist anti-Muslim and anti-Kashmiri Hindutva mindset in India that Pakistan has been forewarning about, and you would have seen recent reports in the international media critical of these worrying developments. We have also noted with serious concern the reports about Indian occupation forces setting up a so-called new investigation agency in IIOJK. This could be another repressive tool to further terrorize Kashmiris. We strongly condemn this continuing state-sponsored terrorism in IIOJK. Pakistan is also highly concerned over the frightening number of incidents of xenophobia, hate speech, hate crimes, discrimination and grave violations of religious freedom of Muslims and other minorities including Christians, Sikhs and Dalits in India.

It is extremely reprehensible that minorities, particularly Muslims are being unabatedly attacked by extremist Hindutva brigades with impunity and state complicity in BJP-RSS regime.

Disturbing recent incidents, including, stopping Muslims to offer Friday prayers at several places, attacks on many mosques and Muslim businesses in Tripura, rendering Muslims homeless and landless in Assam, victimization of renowned persons, targeting of Urdu language of Muslim minority and violence against Muslims on flimsy pretexts are clear signs of the fascist polity in India.
We call upon the international community to play its role to stop the rising tide of Islamophobia and attacks against minorities particularly Muslims in India, and ensure their safety, security and well-being and protection in particular of their places of worship and heritage sites.

With this I conclude my remarks and am happy to take questions.

Question: Pakistan is complying with the recommendations of FATF and has not been removed from Grey list, however, there are countries which do not comply with FATF recommendations but have not been included in Grey list. How do you see this discrimination against Pakistan? Do you see it as part of some fifth generation or hybrid warfare to pressurize developing countries?
Secondly in the ongoing Climate Change Conference Presidents of China and Russia did not participate. How do you see this? And how much countries like Pakistan have role in the increasing pollution and climate change? How do you comment on this? (Khawaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: On your second question I think it is abundantly clear that Pakistan is not a major contributor to climate change but we are one of the most affected countries from the consequences of climate change.Climate change is one of the top priorities of our government and as you are aware the Prime Minister himself has been in the lead globally in advocating strong action for combating climate change and we have a very constructive and strong participation in COP26 as well.

On your other remark regarding FATF, detailed statement has been issued by the Government following the recent plenary meeting and you may like to refer to it. Regarding your point, yes there are concerns about politicization by some countries, which is not consistent with the technical nature of the issues discussed in this forum.Irrespective of that,the fact is that Pakistan haseffectively implemented the Action Plan of 2018 and has already made significant progress in complying with the 2021 Action Plan, and this progress has been acknowledged by a large majority of members as well as the FATF Presidency. We remain actively engaged with strong political commitment to comply with the requirements.

Question: Recently Indian Home Minister during his visit to Jammu &Kashmir announced Rupees 500 billion worth of development plan, which has been rejected by the people of Jammu & Kashmir. Moreover India has also increased number of occupational forces in Kashmir, bulk of which will be deployed in Srinagar to cater for violations/protest and demonstrations. What is Foreign Office stance on this development? (Shahzad Mirza, Daily Media)

Answer: With regard to military deployment, we know that there are already over 900,000 troops and para-military deployment in IIOJK, which makes the occupied territory the most heavily militarized zonein the world, and they continue with this policy of subjugating the people of IIOJK through the barrel of the gun. This is the military siege that has been imposed on the Kashmiri people.

Regarding the reported investment/development projects in IIOJK, that clearly is an effort by India to divert international attention from its illegal occupation and human rights violations, serious violations of international humanitarian law, war crimes and crimes against humanity in IIOJK. India is trying to portray false sense of normalcy and development in IIOJK.But the reality on ground is totally different as you have also noted that the Kashmiri people have rejected these attempts. The fact of the matter is that Kashmirisare being suppressed and they are being tormented and are becoming increasingly alienated.Therefore, India will not succeed in misleading the international community on this aspect.

Question: There were over flights from Occupied Kashmir to Sharjah. Whether Foreign Office was taken on board when Pakistan permitted these flights and when these permissions were cancelled.Was it on the basis of some recommendations by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which is the focal ministry for foreign relations? (Shoukat Paracha, AAJ News

Answer: The over flight permission for such flights has been denied. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) would have technical details. As I said during the last briefing, there are various aspects to this issue and the concerned authorities are fully seized of it.

For us, it suffices to note that India is in illegal occupation of parts of Jammu &Kashmir. Jammu &Kashmir is an internationally recognized disputed territory, and its disputed status is clearly articulated in the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council. As a long outstanding dispute, it remains on the agenda of the UN Security Council pending its resolution and final disposition in accordance with UNSC resolutions.

Question: What is the situation on Kartarpur corridor? Reportedly many Indians have requested their government to keep the corridor open. How you will respond to that? Secondly it is reported that there are number of Pakistanis in Libyan jails whose, sentences have been finished but our Mission is not taking up matter with the concerned authorities. Your comments please? (Shamim Mehmood, Online news Agency

Answer: Regarding prisoners in Libya,I will need to ascertain the information. Our Missions follow these matters closely.

On Kartarpur, our policyhas been very clear. We value the significance of this corridor and remain strongly committed to its functioning, and support its early reopening. We hope India would respond positively.

Question: According to international media reports Israel and US naval ships are in the Persian Gulf Region, is that a preparation for a possible attack on Iran. How do you see this destabilization and escalation oftension in the Middle East in the context of Iran. There have been open threats from Israel on attack on Iranian nuclear installations. Iran being the neighbouring country, any attack on Iran can destabilize the region and Pakistan.

Secondly there was a very unfortunate incident of another bomb blast in Kabul,so Pakistan has attended a number of meetings and dialogues on Afghanistan in Russia, Iran and a number of other countries. In addition to condemnation what are your thoughts and take on that, who are these terrorists elements in Afghanistan and which countries are providing support to these terrorists and how this will be countered. As Pakistan has very close ties with the new government inAfghanistan, this rising terrorism isnot only a threat to Afghanistan but to Pakistan and the entire region? (Mateen Haider, G News)

Answer: On your first question, though a bit speculative, let me say that as a matter of policy, we want peace and stability to be maintained in our neighbourhood and the wider region and in line with that we do not support any steps that could escalate tensions and destabilize the region.

On your question about recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, I think it is a matter of common concern and we understand that would be a concern in the first place for the new authorities in Kabul as well. As you know there is expectation not only from Pakistan but also from the international community that the threat of terrorism from Afghanistan needs to be tackled effectively and we hope steps will be taken in this regard. As you know there are spoilers both inside and outside Afghanistan and thatis why besides the internal actions in Afghanistan, a regional approach and consensus and cooperative frameworks are essential to more comprehensively tackle this problem for durable peace in Afghanistan.

Question: There arereports that formerPresident of AJK has been appointed Pakistan’s Ambassador to U.S.Could you confirm these reports? How you see thatMr. Masood Khan is going to takePakistan-US relations in new direction especially in view of U.S.withdrawal from Afghanistan?(Jaleel Akhtar, VOA)
Answer: I have already responded to such questions in the past.These are issues of administrator nature and there are diplomatic procedures and protocols that have to be followed. So I am not in a position to comment on this.

Question: Recently Prime Minister’s Advisor on CPEC in his interaction with IBA students commented that India and US are trying to derail CPEC. I would like to have your comments. (Anwar Abbas, BOL News)

Answer: I believe clarification on that was already issued.

Question: Pakistan has performed very well in the ongoing T20 world cup. Initially Pakistan defeated India followed by New Zealand and won all their four matches and now we are in semi finals. How the world should see this performance and help / support Pakistan in bringing back sports to Pakistani grounds. Pakistani team visited Namibian team dressing room to show them support whereas there is rising extremism in India and 10 months old daughter of ViratKohli is being threatened of being raped. In view of this how can you compare both India and Pakistan? How can we show the positive face of Pakistan? (AunSheerazi, Such TV)

Answer: As Spokesperson, I would not venture into offering comments on some of these points, however, as a sportsman it is very evident that the kind of sportsman spirit and the positive attitude that Pakistan’s team displayed and they have been very mature and graceful in these victories,and it speaks for itself the kind of character this team carries. I think the same goes for our fans. You have drawn comparisons, I am not going to go into that, but it is quite evident that the kind of negative and hateful behavior that wason display especially after Pakistan India match, that was, indeed condemnable.We have therefore expressed our concerns onthe totally unjustifiable acts of hostility towards Kashmiris and others in India, which is very unfortunate.

Question: Has any terrorist group claimed the responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Kabul and how many precious lives were lost? (Sardar Amir, Daily Maddar/Royal News)

Answer: I do not have confirmed information about any group having claimed responsibility for this attack.

Question: India had registered strong protest against the construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam citing the construction being in a conflict zone as the reason for this protest? Now, UAE is investing in infrastructure and other projects in IIOJK. How do you comment on that? (Saqib Rathore, Daily Kashmir Times)

Answer: I have already responded to similar questions and let me add that we continue to sensitize our friends and remain in touch with them.

Question: What is the status of our existing understanding with the U.S. i.e. ALOCs and GLOCs, last updated in 2008. According to news reports, some amendments are being made. Can you share anything on it? (Nayyer Ali, News One TV)

Answer: I responded to similar questions earlier, and we also issued a press release clarifying the elements of a certain news report.
You would also appreciate that there is a new situation on ground in Afghanistan, that means a different context in which things have to be seen.

Question: Pakistan has always advocated for peace in Afghanistan, be it during the Ghani regime or the current political dispensation. However, terrorist attacks on the Pak-Afghan border continue to this day from the Afghan side. Recently too, a number of Pakistani lives were lost to these attacks. Are there any ongoing talks at the government or diplomatic level? (Czechangez Khan Jadoon, Daily Payam-e-Khyber)

Answer: This is a serious matter. We have been raising this concern with the previous governments and if the situation persists, we will naturally continue to take this up with the new authorities. We believe that it is in the interest of both Pakistan and Afghanistan that these elements are effectively taken care of.

Question: Pakistan has always respected UN, and continues to abide by the UNSC Sanctions Committee’s listings. However, two terrorist organizations are working openly in India; RSS and Shiv Sena. Should this matter not be taken up? Don’t you think this is double standard by the UN, and does Pakistan plan to raise this matter with the UN? (Zaheer Ali Khan, Samaa TV)

Answer: This is a very genuine question. Apparently the sanctions regime under which entities are listed under the relevant UNSC resolutions is somewhat restricted and there may be a need to review that to enable the international community to take a more holistic approach of the terrorist threats around the world. You mentioned two specific organizations – there must be spotlight on them and ways to hold them accountable for their actions.

Question: Would you like to comment on the appointment of Sardar Masood Khan as our Ambassador in Washington, and the current Ambassador Dr. Asad Majeed Khan as Foreign Secretary. (KousarLodhi, Prime News)

Answer:I have already responded to a similar question.

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