February 6, 2020| Media Briefing|
Bismillah Ir Rehman Nir Rahim,
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Foreign Office Press Corps,
Yesterday the entire Pakistani nation stood in solidarity across the country with our Kashmiri brothers and sisters. Across the globe, in Pakistani Embassies and Consulates, the voices of our Kashmiri brethren resounded in all four corners of the world that their inalienable right to self- determination must be given to them.
Exactly 6 months ago on 5 August 2019, India unilaterally and illegally attempted to permanently alter the internationally recognized disputed status of Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. On the 186th day of lockdown today, people of IOJ&K remain deprived of their fundamental freedoms; rights to Life, health, education and food as well as restrictions on their freedom of expression, assembly and religion. The Indian government has turned the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir into world’s largest open prison. It remains the most heavily militarized zone in the world.
Pakistan under the stewardship of the Prime Minister took the case of the people of Jammu & Kashmir to all international fora including at the UN Security Council, UN General Assembly, Human Rights Council, OIC, Global Refugee Forum and World Economic Forum.
In their separate messages on Kashmir Solidarity Day, the President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister condemned the humanitarian and human rights situation in IOJ&K due to unabated Indian atrocities.
The Foreign Minister in his message stated that it is imperative to understand that when India undertook its illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019, it not only violated the United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Jammu & Kashmir, International Law as well as violated its own constitution.
The National Assembly of Pakistan also passed a unanimous Resolution on the occasion of Kashmir Solidarity Day. The honorable Parliamentarians as representatives of the people of Pakistan expressed the unflinching, unwavering and unstinting commitment of the people of Pakistan with the people of IOJ&K.
Once again, due to indiscriminate and unprovoked firing by the Indian forces in Danna Sector of LoC on 3 February 2020, 22 year old Shamim Bibi d/o Muhammad Shabbir, 10 year old Farhaz s/o Muhammad Shabbir, 35 year old Ansar, all three residents of village Chatargam and 17 year old Moniza Bibi d/o Sain Noor, resident of Bagh Ali sustained serious injuries.
Consequently, a senior diplomat from the High Commission of India was summoned to the Foreign Office, today, to register Pakistan’s strong protest at the ceasefire violations by Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control (LoC), resulting in serious injuries to four innocent civilians, including two women and a child.
Pakistan calls upon the Indian side to respect the 2003 Ceasefire Understanding; investigate this and other incidents of deliberate ceasefire violations and maintain peace along the LoC and the WB.
On the invitation of Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Malaysia on 3-4 February 2020. He was accompanied by a high-level delegation including Cabinet members and senior officials.
Malaysia-Pakistan relations were elevated to the level of Strategic Partnership formally on 22 March 2019. During the recent visit both sides reaffirmed the strong and enduring bonds between the two fraternal countries marked by warmth, cordiality and mutual trust. They agreed that the Strategic Partnership status is a testament to the new level of bilateral cooperation between the two countries in various fields and entails further engagement and enhanced cooperation. Both sides reaffirmed their shared desire to continue to maintain regular high-level contacts, deepen friendly exchanges of visits, and expand cooperation in all fields.
The Prime Minister briefed the Prime Minister of Malaysia on the illegal and unilateral actions of the Indian Government of 5 August 2019 and the ensuing lockdown, communications blockade, media blackout and illegal detentions in Jammu and Kashmir which have brought immense suffering to the Kashmiri people. The Prime Minister of Pakistan also appreciated the efforts of Prime Minister Mahathir for raising awareness regarding the situation and underscored the imperative of peaceful resolution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute.
Key highlights of the Joint Statement issued at the conclusion of the visit include:
Question: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China has demanded the US to explain 08 biohazards containers found in the backyard of the US Consulate in Wuhan Province. What is your comment in this regard, please? (Naveed Iqbal Siddiqui, Dawn News)
Answer: I have not seen any official information on this from Chinese side as yet. I will have to check the veracity of the statement.
Question: Would you please share current situation of coronavirus in China and efforts of Pakistan Embassy including the condition of Pakistani nationals who are infected with coronavirus.
Secondly, the main gate of Pakistan Embassy in Afghanistan has been blocked by protestors. What is the current situation? (Tariq Mehmood, Hum TV)
Supplementary question: Yesterday, an event planned by Pakistan Embassy in a local hotel was unfortunately cancelled by the Afghan administration at the eleventh hour. Later, the event was held within the premises of the Embassy but due to closure of main gate most of the participants were unable to attend that event. How do you respond to such persistent incidents? (Faisal Raza Khan, 92 News)
Answer: Regarding coronavirus, Dr. Zafar Mirza, Prime Minister’s Advisor on Health, has been giving regular updates, including the situation of Pakistani students and citizens who are in China currently. As you know, that Wuhan city remains closed for public movement and transportation. However, the Chinese government is vigilant and is providing all the necessary support and treatment not only to Pakistani students/citizens but all in Wuhan city and other parts of China. So far the figures remain the same as informed earlier, four Pakistani students were infected with the coronavirus. However, they are stable and improving and also getting best treatment possible.
As for protests outside Pakistan Embassy in Afghanistan, we are aware of it and have taken up the issue with the Afghan authorities. Regarding the event to commemorate Kashmir Solidarity Day, the venue was changed and the matter was officially taken up with the Afghan authorities.
Question: Pakistan has observed Kashmir Solidarity Day nationally and in various capitals by our Missions abroad. However, it has been observed that we have not engaged notable people in the world capitals. Therefore, it seemed a national event rather than an international. Would you please comment? (Aijaz, GNN)
Answer: All Pakistan Missions abroad had organized events, seminars and other activities across the world. They also invited local dignitaries, parliamentarians, and notable members of the civil society, academics, intellectuals, students and Pakistani Diaspora. This is an ongoing process and our Missions remain engaged with the host government in different countries all over the world.
Question: Prime Minister during his recent visit to Malaysia expressed regret at not attending the KL Summit and stated that he would attend the next Summit. Will you please confirm the participation of the Prime Minister in the next KL Summit? Does the Foreign Office also share the regret of the Prime Minister for not attending the Summit? (Aoon Shirazi, Sach TV)
Supplementary question: The Prime Minister in Kuala Lumpur said that some friends of Pakistan considered the KL Summit as an effort to create division in Ummah, which he said was not correct. Earlier, Pakistan’s stance was that to avoid division in Ummah the Prime Minister did not attend the KL Summit. How do you comment on it? (Saima Shabbir, Arab News)
Supplementary question: It has been reported that Saudi Arabia has shown its reluctance to hold OIC’s CFM meeting on Jammu & Kashmir. Earlier, while talking to a think tank in Malaysia, Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his frustration in this regard. What is your response on it? (Sahar Baloch, BBC News)
Answer: As most of you are aware that OIC and Pakistan have deep engagement. Historically, OIC has been one of the strongest proponents of Kashmir Cause and several OIC resolutions have been passed on different aspects of Jammu and Kashmir dispute, including human rights violations, legal aspects of the dispute and the peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute as per the UNSC Resolutions. For decades OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir has played a dynamic role in bringing this issue to the forefront at the international level. Since 5 August OIC Contact Group has played an active role. The OIC Contact group met at the Ministerial level on the sidelines of UNGA. The OIC IPHRC reported extensively on the human rights situation in IoJ&K. Pakistan remains engaged with OIC at leadership level on the Kashmir cause and several ideas are discussed regularly in this regard.
Question: While acknowledging the Prime Minister’s very powerful speech in the United Nations, the Parliamentarians of Pakistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir have said that there has not been active follow up in this regard. Is the Foreign Office taking this seriously? What measures regarding aggressive diplomacy are being taken? (Mazhar Iqbal, Public News)
Supplementary question: The Parliamentarians of Pakistan have categorically said that Foreign Office has narrow vision and does not have an effective policy. What is the vision of Pakistan on Jammu & Kashmir dispute and other issues? Who is to give guidelines to the Foreign Office viz-a-viz vision on different issues? (Mr. Mateen Haider, G News)
Supplementary question: There are reports that Pakistan is going to take the dispute of Jammu & Kashmir to the International Court of Justice. In this case what will be Pakistan’s position in the United Nations? What will be the stance of Pakistan in the International Court of Justice, whether it will take the entire Jammu & Kashmir dispute or o the unilateral and illegal actions taken by India on 5th August 2019? (Ashfaq, Aaj TV)
Answer: The vision of Pakistan’s foreign policy is given at the leadership level by the Government. The steering of this vision is carried out under the direction of the Foreign Minister by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We take the cause of Jammu & Kashmir very seriously, it is the core issue of Pakistan’s foreign policy. The observation that the Foreign Office is not taking it seriously is not accurate.
Following the illegal and unilateral actions of India on 5th August 2019, the Kashmir Cell was established in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is a multi-agency unit dedicated to monitor the evolving situation in Jammu & Kashmir and to take forward the strategy articulated by the Government and steered by the Foreign Minister and executed by over 100 missions of Pakistan all over the world. As I said earlier, taking forward the strategy on the Kashmir cause is not an event, it is a process. All aspects of Jammu & Kashmir dispute including legal, political and humanitarian are taken forward in accordance with the UNSC Resolutions. Pakistan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have never been shy or negligent towards this core issue of our foreign policy. We are dedicated in taking it forward.
Question: US-Taliban talks have been suspended for some days and there has been an increase in violence in Afghanistan. What is Pakistan’s stance in this regard? Secondly, did Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad have any specific message for Pakistan, considering that he visited Pakistan recently? (Rabia Pir VOA Deewa News)
Supplementary Question: The American President, in his State of the Union address, endorsed the Peace Talks with Taliban and stated that America is working to end the longest war in Afghan history and to bring back their troops. The Taliban have responded that in order to end the war practical steps need to be taken and mere statements do not suffice. How does Pakistan see these statements? (Jalil Akhtar VOA)
Answer: We have said this on multiple occasions and you are aware of Pakistan’s stated policy. We are closely following the developments regarding the US-Taliban peace talks. We believe that it was a good development that Taliban have showed their readiness to agree to call for reduction in violence. This is a step forward towards the peace agreement. We hope that the US-Taliban peace talks would come to its logical conclusion leading to Intra-Afghan negotiations. This was also the subject of Ambassador Khalilzad’s recent visit to Pakistan.
Question: It has been reported that Saudi Arabia has turned down Pakistan’s request of holding Council of Foreign Ministers on Jammu & Kashmir? Your comments please?
Secondly, the Turkish President is scheduled to visit on 13th February. Has the schedule been finalized and what will be the composition of his delegation? (Zulqernain Haider Ary News)
Supplementary Question: Reportedly, the Turkish President’s visit has been cut short from 3-4 days to one day only. What were the reasons behind this drastic reduction of days in his visit? (Shabbir Wahgra PTV World)
Supplementary Question: Reportedly, Pakistan is considering a plan regarding the signing of an agreement with Turkey to allow dual citizenship for citizens of the two countries. Would you please confirm and share detail of the terms of this proposed agreement? (Adeel Warraich Dunya TV)
Answer: In response to the last question, both sides are engaged on this issue. Details are being explored and discussed, once it is finalized, details will be shared with you.
In response to the questions on the Turkish President’s visit, as you mentioned it yourself that there were reports on this issue, one cannot comment on their veracity. The Turkish President is visiting Pakistan next week. The visit is taking place as per schedule agreed by both sides. Both the sides are working very hard to finalize the substantive program of this visit. Pakistan and Turkey have very warm, brotherly and cordial relations. We stand by each other in good and in hard times. We support each other on core issues. Pakistan looks forward to the visit of the Turkish President. All details of the visit will be shared with you in due course.
Lastly, I have spoken comprehensively on the OIC question already and shared Pakistan’s position on the matter.
Question: There was a proposal given in the National Security Committee that the illegal steps taken by the Modi Government in IOJ&K will be challenged in the ICJ. In the session of NA Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir, the Chair told media that many options are on the table with respect to the future course of action. Are we taking the matter to ICJ? (Ali Hussain Business Recorder)
Answer: As I have already explained that all aspects of the IOJ&K dispute are carefully analyzed i.e. legal, political and humanitarian.
Question: After 9/11, the treatment that was being accorded to the Pakistanis in various other countries is now being replicated by visa officers and embassy staff in the resident missions in Islamabad. Some missions, such as that of U.K., are charging exorbitant visa processing fees, which has resulted in making the visa issuance activity a lucrative business for them. How do you see this situation, and do you see that an improvement can be brought about through intervention at the policy levels? (Khalid Mehmood Express News)
Answer: I will have to check with the concerned department. I am not aware of the visa fees being charged by different embassies, so I will check will revert to you accordingly.
Supplementary Question: It was officially reported that on the instructions of the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, the Foreign Office had taken up the matter of visa policy relaxation for Pakistani applicants with the British authorities. Also, as rightly pointed out by Khalid Mehmood sahab, the British embassy in Islamabad charges exorbitant visa fees yet refuses visas to a lot of applicants arbitrarily. So, can you share any response that the Foreign Office may have gotten from the British authorities on this matter so far?
Answer: Again, I will check with the concerned department and revert to you.
Supplementary Question: It was also discussed in the meetings held at the Foreign office that in the Abu Dhabi offices of the same countries, a lot of Indian officials and staff has been recruited. Quite a number of visa applications of the Pakistani applicants were being rejected, even though they had all the requisite credentials. Can you please follow up on this as well? (Ali Jaswal Xinhua News)
Answer: I need to get more information on this issue. I will revert to you.
Last modified: February 6, 2020
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