May 14, 2020| Media Briefing|
Bismillah Ir Rehman Nir Rahim,
Today is the 284th day of the continued oppression, deliberate acts of terrorizing, inhuman lockdown and military siege faced by the innocent people in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan strongly condemns the continuing extra judicial killings by Indian occupation forces in fake encounters and phony cordon and search operations in IOJ&K.
The cold-blooded murder of innocent Kashmiris like Peer Mehrajuddin in Budgam on 13 May is another clear manifestation of the state terrorism to which unarmed Kashmiris have been subjected to for the past seven decades.
In April alone, Indian occupation forces martyred 33 Kashmiris and seriously injured over 150 with complete impunity under draconian laws such as Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Public Safety Act (PSA) and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
As a testament to the inhumanity of Indian occupation forces, even the mortal remains of the shuhuda are not handed over to their families. When thousands of Kashmiri men, women and children take to the streets to protest against Indian brutalities, pellet guns and live ammunition are used against them resulting in further human loss.
Indian occupation forces’ relentless campaign of brutalization, including incarcerations and arbitrary arrests, even during the holy month of Ramadan continue unabated. The repression of journalists to muzzle the voices of Kashmiri people and utter disregard for human rights and humanitarian norms even in the middle of a pandemic is reprehensible.
India must realize that it cannot suppress the will of Kashmiri people and their indigenous movement against the illegal Indian occupation. The rightful struggle of Kashmiri people will continue till the realization of their right to self-determination in accordance with the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions.
We call upon the international community to take immediate notice of the alarming situation in IOJ&K and hold India accountable for state-terrorism, extra-judicial killings, and gross and systematic violations of human rights. It is a shared responsibility of world community to seek immediate resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UNSC Resolutions and aspirations of the Kashmiri people.
In its latest report, the Human Rights Watch has noted that hate speech against Muslims, already a serious and growing problem since the election of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2015, increased in connection with the spread of COVID-19. The report has also underlined that several physical attacks on Muslims have also occurred, adding that some mainstream media supportive of the BJP have used terms like #CoronaJihad, causing the hashtag to go viral on social media. The situation grew so serious that the WHO issued a statement of caution, noting that it is very important that we do not profile the cases on the basis of racial, religious, and ethnic lines. The Indian authorities at the national and local level have not taken adequate steps to stem the increasingly toxic atmosphere or conduct adequate investigations of attacks where appropriate”.
We have seen reports about the framework agreement by Israel’s coalition government proposing “annexation” of the West Bank with grave concern.
Pakistan is opposed to any move for annexation of the occupied Palestinian territories as it would be a serious violation of International law and a dangerous escalation in an already volatile situation. The West Bank and Jordan valley are Palestinian territories, illegally occupied by Israel since 1967. Pakistan supports the position adopted by the UN and OIC on the issue of Palestine and calls upon the international community to uphold and support the rights of the Palestinians.
We reiterate our consistent support for the two-state solution of the Palestine issue as enshrined in the relevant Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions. Pakistan renews its call for establishment of a viable, independent and contiguous State of Palestine, on the basis of internationally agreed parameters, the pre-1967 borders, and with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its Capital.
We would also like to underscore that the Jammu & Kashmir dispute and Palestinian issue continue to be the longest standing items on the UN and OIC agenda. The attempts being made by the occupying powers in Palestine and Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir are essentially similar, particularly with reference to human rights violations, seeking to alter the demographic structure, and posing threat to peace and security. Both these situations are worsening and call for urgent attention of the international community.
Yesterday, Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi participated in the Council of Foreign Ministers Video-Conference of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The CFM was convened by the Russian Federation in its capacity as current chair of SCO. Apart from the prevailing pandemic situation, matters relating to peace and security in the region including Afghanistan came under discussion.
In his remarks, the Foreign Minister underscored that the Covid-19 pandemic posed a challenge of unprecedented scale and magnitude to humanity that necessitated coordinated responses. The Foreign Minister lauded China’s responsible handling of the crisis and its leading role in assisting the international community, as well as extended gratitude for the continued assistance rendered by China to help Pakistan tackle the pandemic. The Foreign Minister also highlighted the socio economic repercussions of this crisis and in this context, highlighted the salience of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s “Global Initiative on Debt Relief” for developing countries as a means to formulate a comprehensive multi-stakeholder plan of action to shore up economies and promote sustainable growth. He emphasized that SCO’s coordinated efforts in this context would be crucial.
In the context of the regional situation, the Foreign Minister hoped that the Afghan leadership would seize the historic opportunity to work out a comprehensive and inclusive political settlement. The SCO, through the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, could play a facilitative role in this regard. The Foreign Minister called for the international community to condemn and hold accountable the perpetrators of State terrorism, including against people under illegal occupation. He also stressed the importance of rejecting xenophobic ideologies including Islamophobia.
Pakistan also condemns the cowardly terrorist attack on a medical facility in Kabul as well as the suicide attack at a funeral in Nangarhar province, which resulted in loss of precious lives. It is horrifying that women and infants be targeted in a hospital, or mourners be killed in a funeral. These terrorist acts are particularly despicable as they take place in the holy month of Ramzan and at a time when Afghanistan is grappling with Covid-19 pandemic. Pakistan stands with the Afghan people in this hour of grief. Underscoring our strong condemnation of these heinous terrorist attacks, we once again reiterate our condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and reassure the Afghan people of our unflinching support for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our Missions across the world, continue to provide overseas Pakistanis with relief and assistance wherever required. Our Embassies and Consulates are working round the clock in facilitating repatriation of our citizens back home, in accordance with a comprehensive repatriation plan devised in consultation with all stakeholders.
In the past few days, 570 Pakistani nationals were brought back from the United States on two special PIA flights. These are the first two of the six special charter flights arranged for our stranded citizens in the United States. We thank the authorities in the US for their cooperation in safe repatriation of our nationals through these special flights. In addition to these, in the past week, 263 nationals returned home safely from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, 120 from Bangladesh, 108 from South Africa and several neighboring African countries including Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia, 65 from six European countries (Germany, Finland, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium and Czech Republic).
So far 24,466 have been repatriated from more than 35 countries. Weekly number of nationals returning home has been steadily increased from 2000 to about 7000 per week.
Question: What is the latest update on Pakistan-Iran border fencing work and what is the level of cooperation between the two countries to stop the terrorists from exploiting the joint border? (Afzal Reza from IRNA)
Answer: Pakistan and Iran share common border of more than 900 kilometers. Pakistan-Iran border is also called the Border of Peace and Friendship. Relevant authorities from both countries have been in coordination to manage the regular flow of people and enhance bilateral trade. The two sides also remain in touch to ensure that criminal elements do not get any space to create misunderstanding between the two countries.
Question: Is Pakistan going to host intra-Afghan negotiations in Islamabad? (Asghar Ali Mubarak, Daily Mail)
Answer: Right now, efforts are underway to help get the intra-Afghan negotiations initiated, which is the next logical step after the signing of the US-Taliban Peace Agreement. We hope that these efforts are successful at the earliest. At this stage, what you have asked in the question is not envisaged.
Question: Reportedly, Indian External Affairs Minister and Advisor on National Security conveyed their strong concerns on spike of violence in Afghanistan to US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad and blamed Pakistan for it. They also called for rooting out terror sanctuaries in Pakistan to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan. How do you comment on this? (Ishtiaq Ahmed, News One TV)
Answer: We have seen the statement. Pakistan is not mentioned there. As regards the insinuations about so called terrorist sanctuaries, we completely reject such statements.
Question: After Taliban rejected calls for humanitarian ceasefire and increased attacks on government forces, Afghan President Ghani, ordered forces to switch from active defensive mode to offensive mode and to resume attacks on the Taliban. How does Pakistan see future of the US-Taliban deal in such a situation? (Tahir Khan, NNI news agency)
Answer: Pakistan believes that the U.S.-Taliban Peace Agreement has provided a window of opportunity to the people of Afghanistan to work together for the ultimate aim of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. We hope that the Peace Agreement is implemented in its entirety so that it leads to the next stage of Intra-Afghan negotiations.
Question: The Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Traders from both sides are showing concerns at the negative impact on transit and bilateral trade due to restrictions on cross border movement of trucks. They want permission to more trucks instead of 100 trucks daily. Any plan to allow more trucks on 5 days in a week? (Tahir Khan, NNI news agency)
Answer: Pakistan is fully cognizant of the difficulties being faced by the traders from Pakistan and Afghanistan. A number of steps have been taken in this regard to facilitate the movement of people and cargo trucks and containers. Pakistan has opened border crossing point at Chaman and Torkham to ease cross border movement of trucks. The current mechanism is functioning and any modification in it to enhance trade between the two countries will be considered after implementing all necessary protocols related to COVID-19.
Question: How close are we with the Afghanistan government as Pakistan and the US look for peace in the war-torn country? (Shafqat Ali, The Nation)
Answer: Pakistan and Afghanistan share the ultimate objective of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. Pakistan has always supported a peaceful, democratic, united, stable and prosperous Afghanistan connected with the region. Both countries maintain regular contact on issues of mutual concern. Pakistan hopes that a lasting peace will be established in Afghanistan.
Question: Mike Pompeo said that US is ready to recognize Israel’s annexation of the West Bank but asked the new unity government for negotiation’ with Palestine. Secondly, as per Middle East Plan, Jerusalem would remain fully under Israeli sovereignty. According to reports, Israeli coalition deal could happen as soon as July. How does Pakistan see this whole development and what role Pakistan can play to protect rights of the Palestinians? Don’t you think, it is time for OIC to be more practical and play effective role for their due rights? (Waqas Ahmed Capital TV)
Supplementary Question: US Secretary of State arrived in Israel to discuss annexation plan of West Bank which is being criticized by Islamic World. What is Pakistan’s stance on annexation plan of Israel? (Saima Shabbir Arab News)
Answer: Pakistan is opposed to any move for annexation of the occupied Palestinian territories as it would be a serious violation of International Law and a dangerous escalation in an already volatile situation. The West Bank and Jordan valley are Palestinian territories, illegally occupied by Israel since 1967. Pakistan supports the position adopted by the UN and OIC on the issue of Palestine and calls upon the international community to uphold and support the rights of the Palestinians.
Pakistan has consistently support for the two-state solution of the Palestine issue as enshrined in the relevant Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions. Pakistan renews its call for establishment of a viable, independent and contiguous State of Palestine, on the basis of internationally-agreed parameters, the pre-1967 borders, and with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its Capital.
Question: What are the updates regarding large number of Pakistanis stuck up in the UAE, including a pregnant woman in Dubai. What measures Pakistan is taking for their repatriation? Your comments Please. (Khawaja Hamza, Media Today)
Answer: Around 10,000 Pakistani nationals have been repatriated from UAE so far, through special flights, operational since 23 March 2020. Frequency of special fights will be increased in the next phase. Pakistan’s Missions in the UAE are continuously gathering, compiling and updating their data, giving priority to those on medical visas, or on limited expiry visas as well as those who may have lost their jobs.
Question: What steps have been taken by our foreign missions for overseas Pakistanis who have lost their jobs abroad especially in Arab countries? (Asghar Ali Mubarak chief Reporter Pakistan –International Press Agency/The Daily Mail Islamabad)
Answer: Our leadership is fully cognizant of the difficulties being faced by our compatriots in many parts of the world. In order to provide relief in this crisis situation, the matter related to their employment especially in GCC countries has been part of the discussions during the recent diplomatic outreach. The matter we hope would be reviewed in a positive light by the authorities in these countries.
Question: How the international community is helping Pakistan to get out of the economic crisis due to Covid-19, and what kind of support we are getting from Arab countries? (Asghar Ali Mubarak chief Reporter Pakistan –International Press Agency/The Daily Mail Islamabad)
Answer: The international community has been helping Pakistan through provision of relief supplies. Moreover, the Prime Minister’s call for debt relief and restructuring has been positively viewed in many parts of the world including amongst Arab countries.
Question: What are your comments on the Indian Army Major (Retd) Guro’s recent statement regarding Indian involvement in Balochistan? (Khawaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)
Answer: Such statements reaffirm what we have been stressing about Indian state-terrorism and its Intelligence Agency RAW’s involvement in sponsoring and conducting terrorist activities. Our law enforcement agencies have foiled several terrorist plans linked to RAW. The international community must take notice of Indian illegal actions.
Question: Indian Army Chief Gen Naravane has asked Indian Government to adopt a “whole-of- Government approach” in decisively confronting the “strategic uncertainties” adding the Indian armed forces are determined to cement the country’s reputation as a net security provider. How do you see this statement in the current regional environment?
(Asghar Ali Mubarak, Daily Mail)
Answer: False Indian claims and irresponsible rhetoric are motivated by an exaggerated view of its own capacities and hegemonic designs. While India continues to engage in border skirmishes with neighbouring countries and remains the primary impediment to peace in the region due to its hegemonic designs and illegal occupation of IOJ&K, claims of being a ‘net security provider’ are delusional.
Question: India has strongly reacted to Pakistani court’s decision on early polls in Gilgit Baltistan, which is an undisputed area of Pakistan. Reacting to such matters indicates that India is now planning beyond Jammu and Kashmir dispute and directly interfering in Pakistan’s internal matters. Shouldn’t this issue be taken up with the UN? Should this Indian move not be taken as an attempt to sabotage CPEC and BRI? (Asghar Ali Mubarak, Daily Mail)
Answer: On India’s reaction to Supreme Court of Pakistan’s order regarding elections in Gilgit Baltistan, a senior Indian diplomat was summoned to the Foreign Office to convey our strong rejection of India’s baseless and fallacious contentions. It was clearly conveyed that the entire territory of Jammu and Kashmir is disputed and is recognised as such by the international community. No illegal and unilateral Indian actions, or any number of false statements, can alter the status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Furthermore, the issue of Kashmir has already been taken up by the United Nations Security Council three times since 5 August, 2019 and Pakistan is constantly pursuing the matter and raising it at all appropriate forums including the UNSC for its early resolution. United Nations Secretary General in his statements has recognized that the UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir are still valid which explicitly discredits any irresponsible statement or illegal action taken by India in violation of these Resolutions.
Question: There are reports that 3000 to 5000 Covid-19 cases have been reported in the Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir, whereas there are less than 100 cases in Azad Jammu & Kashmir. Don’t you think that India should be focusing more on fighting virus and saving lives of civilians instead of exploiting the health emergency and indulging into CVFs at LoC and Working Boundary? Your comments please. (Asghar Ali Mubarak, Daily Mail)
Answer: It is unfortunate that despite the surge in COVID-19 cases in IOJ&K, Indian security forces continue their campaign of brutalization in IOJ&K. The continued restrictions on communications and movement have aggravated human suffering and have made it difficult for Kashmiris to access basic medicines and essential supplies.
To divert the world attention from the humanitarian and human rights crisis caused by these restrictions, and to externalize indigenous Kashmiri struggle, India has resorted to increased Ceasefire Violations (CFV’s). These CFV’s pose serious threat to regional peace and security. Therefore, we have persistently urged India to respect 2003 Ceasefire understanding and give access to UNMOGIP to independently investigate these CFV’s while at the same time, lift the restrictions and create favourable conditions in IOJ&K for the implementation of the relevant UNSC resolutions for durable peace in South Asia.
Question: Pakistan has strongly rejected the ‘baseless, inaccurate’ allegations by Harish Salve, India’s legal counsel in the Kulbushan Jadhav case. Has the Government of Pakistan received another request from India for the consular access to Kalbushan Jadhav. (Asghar Ali Mubarak, Daily Mail)
Answer: Pakistan has granted India consular access to Commander Jadhav and is processing measures for effective review and reconsideration as per the guidelines provided by ICJ in its Judgment.
It may be recalled that on humanitarian grounds, Pakistan even arranged meeting of Commander Jadhav with his mother and wife.
Being a responsible state, Pakistan abides by all its international obligations and will continue doing so.
Question: There are reports that India is continuously violating Indus Water Treaty in contravention of International Law. How do you see this? (Khawaja Hamza, Media Today)
Answer: Our concerns on this score are well known. Pakistan has unambiguously raised its concerns with India via the mechanisms provided within the Treaty and will continue to pursue a resolution of these issues through all possible avenues.
Last modified: May 14, 2020
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