Media Briefing|

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

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to our press briefing.

At the outset, let me join all of you in conveying our condolences on the sad loss of life in the earthquake that occurred this morning in Balochistan.

Coming to the briefing, this has been a pretty busy period in terms of diplomatic activity.

Just by way of a run down, as you are aware, the Foreign Minister was in New York for the high-level segment of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). On the way back, he also had a number of official engagements in London.

The Prime Minister’s address to the General Assembly, and a host of engagements and outreach by the Foreign Minister served well to advance Pakistan’s key objectives, and to share our perspective on important regional and international issues from the global platform of the United Nations.

In his policy address, the Prime Minister deliberated on a range of issues that are of common interest for the international community, such as COVID-19, economic recovery, and Climate Change. He once again alerted the international community about the dangers posed by Islamophobia, that was manifested particularly in the BJP-RSS led Hindutva ideology and persecution of minorities particularly Muslims in India.

The Prime Minister also shared Pakistan’s perspective on the developments in Afghanistan, the immense sacrifice and losses we have incurred over the years, our constructive role and sincere advice throughout, and the imperative of engaging with Afghanistan now to ensure durable peace in that country.

On Jammu and Kashmir, the Prime Minister’s forceful and passionate presentation drew attention to India’s egregious human rights violations in IIOJK, as also evidenced by the comprehensive Dossier presented by Pakistan, and India’s unilateral and illegal measures aimed at altering the demographic structure of the occupied territory. He urged the international community to shun selectivity and double standards on human rights. The Prime Minister spelt out our position clearly – that we were desirous of peace with India, but sustainable peace in South Asia was contingent upon resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UNSC resolutions and wishes of the Kashmiri people. The onus was on India to create a conducive environment for meaningful and result oriented engagement with Pakistan.

Also from the perspective of Jammu & Kashmir, most significant was the Ministerial Meeting of the OIC Contact Group, which unanimously adopted a strong Communiqué that inter-alia:

  • reaffirmed OIC’s solidarity and support for the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiri people for realization of their inalienable right to self-determination and freedom from Indian occupation, and
  • demanded that India reverse all illegal and unilateral measures taken on or after 5 August 2019, immediately stop human rights violations, and halt and reverse the illegal demographic changes in the occupied territory

Let me also state that in the Foreign Minister’s various interactions in New York, key messaging was on Jammu and Kashmir, Afghanistan, the importance of multilateralism to address the global challenges, and Pakistan’s policy shift to geo-economics based on peace, partnerships and connectivity.

You have also followed the Foreign Minister’s engagements in the UK. Then we had the Danish Foreign Minister in Islamabad last week, and Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs earlier this week, all reflective of our continuing engagements with the international community.

The US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is visiting Pakistan on 7-8 October 2021. Her visit follows the recent meeting between the two Foreign Ministers in New York. During the visit, views will be exchanged on all issues of mutual interest including the bilateral relationship as well as the regional situation.

Close and regular engagement between Pakistan and the United States has always been mutually beneficial and a factor for stability in South Asia. We look forward to reinforcing a balanced Pak-US relationship that is anchored in mutually beneficial cooperation in all areas including security, trade, investment, energy and regional connectivity.

We remain deeply concerned on the grave situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, where the brutality, state-terrorism, war crimes and systematic violations of human rights continue unabated by the Indian occupation forces.

A young Kashmiri Mujeeb Lone was martyred during cordon and search operation in Shopian district recently. 14 innocent Kashmiris were martyred by Indian Occupation Forces in month of September alone, while over 440 Kashmiris have been killed by the Indian troops since 5 August 2019.

The extra-judicial killings of innocent Kashmiris and the blatant attempts to turn Muslims into a minority in the IIOJK through distribution of fake ‘domicile certificates’ is another testimony of India’s rapid descent into fascism.

Indian illegal actions in IIOJK and the unresolved Jammu and Kashmir dispute have serious consequences – in terms of threat to international peace and security, and the human rights violations. We continue to sensitize the international community in this regard, utilizing all occasions, including in the ongoing debates at the UNGA in New York and the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Incidentally, we are also extremely concerned about the rapidly deteriorating situation of human rights and rights of minorities in India. Not only Muslims but also Dalits, Christians and other minorities in India live in an environment of perpetual fear and intimidation.

In an extremely disturbing incident on 3 October, a mob of around 500 violent Hindu extremists ransacked and vandalized a Christian prayer house in Roorkee, Uttarkhand and harassed the Sunday Mass attendees. On August 29, in an equally reprehensible incident, a right-wing Hindutva group tried to attack three churches in the district of Kawardha in Chattisgarh.

Targeting of Muslims also continues with complete impunity in India, aided by the highly discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the Hindutva driven RSS-BJP Combine’s hostility towards Muslims. The brutal eviction drive against the Muslims of Assam which has rendered thousands of Muslims homeless is a despicable example of this policy.

Recent incidents of demolition of the ancient Bilal mosque in Haryana and Masjid Ghareeb Nawaz in Uttar Pradesh are glaring examples of Indian State complicity in the acts of repression against Muslims.

Minorities in India are being willfully targeted by fascist Hindutva mobs on flimsy pretexts. All of this must be an eye-opener for the world. Beneath the veneer of democracy, the reality of today’s India is morbid. The world must arrest India’s open and remorseless transgressions before it is too late.

I thank you all and am happy to take questions.

Question: Please comment on the recent discussions in the US House regarding Afghanistan and its implications for Pakistan. (Khalid Mehmood, Express News)

Supplementary Question: US Senate Committee has discussed Afghanistan. Later a bill has been presented to the Congress where Pakistan has been discussed and it has been mentioned that the countries that have supported Taliban be asked to explain their position. Does Pakistan think that its contributions have been ignored?

Secondly, American Deputy Secretary of State Ms Wendy Sherman is undertaking a visit to Pakistan, will Pakistan raise these matters with her? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: You would have seen the press release issued by us in this regard. Let me reiterate that the U.S. Congressional hearings represent a continuation of the debate underway in Washington to reflect on and draw lessons from the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan. While the views being expressed by lawmakers and experts during these hearings do not necessarily reflect the United States’ official position, they are a matter of concern, and are nonetheless inconsistent with the reality of the ongoing cooperation between Pakistan and the United States on Afghanistan.

The two countries are maintaining high-level engagement on a broad range of bilateral and regional issues, including Afghanistan. In his regard, as I said, we look forward to the visit of the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, and continuing our discussions on these important issues.

Question:    For past 74 years, Human Right Violations are occurring in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK) despite Pakistan’s efforts towards peace. What are your views on this? Will the issue be raised with the U.S. during the visit? (Shakeel Ahmad Kalyana, Relation Times)

Answer: As you have rightly pointed out, this is an ongoing situation, and I spoke in detail on our concerns on this. We are taking it up at all levels – through bilateral and multilateral channels, including particularly with the UN leadership. I am certain this issue is going to be raised during the visit of the Deputy Secretary of State. We think that important countries like the US have a very special responsibility – as the permanent member of the UNSC and as advocates of human rights globally – in addressing the grave concerns regarding the human rights situation in IIOJK.

Question:    I have two questions:

Firstly, American Deputy Secretary is visiting Pakistan and just a few hours prior to her visit a fake letter was spread in the media. Will the Foreign Office investigate the matter?

Secondly, Pakistani students want to go to China but are unable to do so. Is the Foreign Office undertaking any steps to help the students? (Zulqernain Haider, ARY News)

Answer: You referred to a fake letter that was circulating in the media yesterday. It has been rebutted. We have also issued a Press Release stating that this letter was completely fake and baseless. Its origin is also being looked into.

On your second question about the Pakistani students who are studying in China, this has been under discussion and review. Let me say that Pakistan and China have a very robust bilateral cooperation and that includes people-to-people exchanges and education. China is one of the major destinations for our students. There are over 28,000 Pakistani students undertaking studies in different Chinese educational institutions. Pakistan is also one of the biggest recipients of the Chinese scholarships.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, China extended maximum facilitation to our students for their well-being and continued study. China also extended full support in our efforts to look after our students in Wuhan and in their travel to Pakistan after the restrictions were lifted. We appreciate the cooperation extended by the Chinese side.

The two countries attach great importance to the well-being and the continued education of Pakistani students. We believe that these students are an asset for our time-tested friendship and a bridge between the two countries.

Both the countries are constantly engaged in resolving the important issue of the return of Pakistani students to China. And the issue has been discussed at various levels with the Chinese authorities both in Beijing and Islamabad.

We understand the measures taken by China to curtail the spread of the virus.

We are also exploring the possibility of addressing the issues of research, lab work, scholarship etc. with the relevant Pakistani and Chinese authorities and institutions.

Meanwhile, we expect all Pakistani students to continue regularly attending the online classes to meet the academic requirements. We shall keep the students informed.

Question:    Pakistan had given a list of wanted TTP individuals to Afghan Taliban. Later, Prime Minister gave a statement that negotiations are underway with some factions of TTP. Has TTA refused to hand over the people to Pakistan and what is the status of these negotiations? (Rashida Sial, Abb Takk TV)

Answer: I don’t see any linkage in this. In any case, with regard to our concerns on the TTP, the matter is being regularly taken up with the new authorities in Afghanistan. On the issue of talks or negotiations with TTP, I have nothing to add to what has already been said at the highest levels.

Question:What impact does changeover of ISI chief have on talks with TTP and the security situation? (Khawaja Hamza, Media Today)

Answer: Well, that’s not a question for me to address. Anyhow these are changes that take place institutionally and normally do not affect policies.

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