Media Briefing|

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


Welcome to the Weekly Press Briefing of the Foreign Office.

Let me begin with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s two-day official visit to Tajikistan on the invitation of President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan.

This will be the third visit of the Prime Minister to Central Asia, underlining Pakistan’s enhanced engagement with the region.

The Prime Minister will participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Council of Heads of State (SCO-CHS) Summit in Dushanbe.

The Prime Minister had earlier participated in SCO Summits in Bishkek in June 2019 and the Summit hosted by Russia in November 2020 (through video-conference).

In Dushanbe, the Prime Minister will also have bilateral meetings with other participating leaders on the sidelines.

After the SCO related engagements, the Prime Minister will have the bilateral segment of the visit. He will also inaugurate the first meeting of Pakistan-Tajikistan Business Forum for which a group of Pakistani businessmen is also visiting Dushanbe. A meeting of Pakistan-Tajikistan Joint Business Council will also be held. These meetings will catalyze our growing trade and investment relations and promote business to business contacts between the two countries.

On the larger plane, the Prime Minister’s visit is part of Pakistan’s deepened engagement with Central Asia through ‘Vision Central Asia’ policy, having revitalized focus in five key areas

• Political ties;
• Trade and investment;
• Energy and connectivity;
• Security and defense; and
• People-to-people contacts

Let me come now to the situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

The draconian military siege, media and communication blackout in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir continue unabated. Extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions and other atrocities, enabled by the draconian laws, are the new normal in IIOJK.

Pakistan strongly condemns these continuing grave violations of human rights and curbs on fundamental freedoms by Indian occupation forces. India must be held accountable for these crimes against the innocent Kashmiri people.

Despite India’s denial of access to international media, human rights and international organizations, the grave situation of human rights in IIOJK has been extensively covered by international media, reported by the UN and prominent human rights organizations, and have been raised at numerous platforms, including world parliaments.

Therefore we have seen that despite India continuously peddling false propaganda and trying to push its sham narrative of so-called ‘normalcy’ in IIOJK, the global concern and censure of Indian atrocities in IIOJK has continued especially since India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019.

The United Nations Security Council has discussed the issue of Jammu and Kashmir on three occasions since 5 August 2019;

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has issued two reports in 2018 and 2019, making specific recommendations including the institution of an Independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate the gross and systematic human rights violations by India in the occupied territory.

A number of Special Procedures/Rapporteurs of the Human Rights Council have expressed serious concerns and have remained actively engaged on the human rights situation in IIOJK.

The OIC on its part has consistently voiced its support for the legitimate struggle for self-determination of the Kashmiri people and condemned the human rights violations in IIOJK. OIC has also demanded revocation of all illegal measures taken by India since 5 August 2019 including those designed to alter the demographic structure of the occupied territory. This has been reiterated during the ongoing 48th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 14 September.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights in her report to the HRC Session on 13 September expressed concerns that:

o Indian authorities’ restrictions on public assembly and frequent communication blackouts continued.
o Hundreds of people remained in detention for exercising their right to the freedom of expression, and journalists faced ever-growing pressure,
o Ongoing use of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act throughout India was worrying, with IIOJK having the highest number of cases

India must realize that it cannot keep the Kashmiris silent through oppression and illegal occupation, and cannot ignore the calls for bringing an end to its human rights violations in IIOJK. International community is increasingly becoming the voice of the Kashmiri people.

And in this regard, Pakistan continues to inform and sensitize the world about the grave and persistent human rights violations being committed by the Indian Occupation forces in IIOJK.

On 12 September, we have presented a comprehensive dossier containing concrete evidence of egregious human rights violations in IIOJK, exposing the true face of the Indian Occupation. This dossier has been made public.

It is also being widely shared with members of the international community. It contains specific recommendations and expectations from the international community to fulfill its obligations towards the besieged Kashmiris by playing their part to end India’s tyranny and oppression; to compel the Government of India to allow free access to special procedure mandate holders of the HRC for independent investigations of HR violations, and other recommendations including forcing India to comply with its international obligations and allow the Kashmiris to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination as enshrined in international law and relevant UNSC resolutions.

The presentation of this dossier is yet another step towards sensitizing the international community about India’s rogue behaviour and defiance of international law and all humanitarian norms.

The international community must act now before it is too late.

You would also recall that in November last year, Pakistan presented a detailed dossier providing irrefutable evidence of India’s active planning, promoting, aiding, abetting, financing and execution of terrorist activities in Pakistan.

Later, the findings of EU DisinfoLab corroborated Pakistan’s long-standing position about India’s nefarious designs and smear campaign aimed to malign Pakistan.

While the Indian propaganda continues, it is also being increasingly and effectively countered and exposed by independent sources.

In this regard, we have emphatically rejected the Indian media’s baseless claims that Indian authorities have busted a so-called ‘terror module’ having alleged links with Pakistan.

Fabricating unfounded allegations and peddling white lies are part of India’s well-known smear campaign against Pakistan, which has already been fully exposed by EU DisinfoLab and others. Propagation of false news is India’s state policy steered by its pliant media.

The fact of the matter is that in reaction to Pakistan’s recent dossier containing irrefutable evidence of India’s egregious human rights violations in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, India is desperately seeking to create a diversion, hence, the continuing insinuations by Indian officials and media. The reality of India’s false flag operations, fake encounters and recovery operations stands completely revealed. And we have been alerting the members of the international community about this track-record of India’s stage managed false flag operations and fake encounters.

Coming to Afghanistan, we continue to follow the situation closely.

On the humanitarian side, Pakistan has led the way, having sent already 4 planes containing relief goods and medical supplies for the people of Afghanistan. We also welcome the high-level meeting convened by the UN in Geneva earlier this week to mobilize urgent humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi represented Pakistan.

We also continue to emphasize that sustained, constructive engagement of the international community is imperative to avoid a humanitarian crisis and help ensure durable peace and stability in Afghanistan. Well-being of the Afghan people should be the foremost priority.

Pakistan remains actively engaged with the international community and continues to consult our friends and partners.

The Prime Minister recently spoke again with President Vladimir Putin of Russia. And since my last briefing, the Foreign Minister has held conversations with his counterparts from Denmark, UAE and Bahrain. Afghanistan is also expected to be in discussion during the engagements in Dushanbe.

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

Question: In the dossier presented by Pakistan to the international community regarding Human Rights violations in IIOJK, Pakistan has provided evidence of the usage by India of chemical weapons in the Occupied Territory. Meanwhile, incidents of illicit sale of nuclear material in India have also been reported. International community is silent in this regard. Your views please? (Asghar Ali Mubarak, The Daily Mail International)

Answer: As you know, we have exposed various dimensions of human rights violations being committed by India in IIOJK in the dossier that has been presented, and one of those dimensions is the possible use of chemical weapons. It is a matter of deep concern, and a blatant violation of Chemical Weapons Convention, and we hope that the international community will take action in this regard. It warrants investigations.

As for your question on nuclear material and its proliferation in illegal purchase and sale in India, it has been a matter of deep concern for quite some time now. It is a serious threat to peace and security. It is a concern about proliferation and it also exposes in a very clear way India’s institutional inability and incapacity to control and stop such kind of incidents. We have been, and will continue to raise this issue at the relevant fora.

Question: Pakistan has extensively coordinated with the U.S. on Afghan peace process, including by facilitating US-Taliban talks. However, Secretary Blinken recently stated that the relationship with Pakistan will be reassessed and reviewed. What is your response? (Mateen Haider, G News)

Supplementary Question: Is there any pressure on Pakistan to recognize or not to recognize the Taliban government. The statement by U.S. Secretary of State also gives this impression. Your views please? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: There is no pressure, and we do not take any pressure. We will take independent decisions in line with our interests.

As for questions regarding comments made by U.S. lawmakers and Secretary of State Antony Blinken during recent Congressional hearings on Afghanistan, we have noted that the comments were not in line with the close cooperation between Pakistan and the United States. This was surprising as Pakistan’s positive role in the Afghan peace process, recent facilitation of the multinational evacuation effort from Afghanistan, and continued support for an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan have been duly acknowledged, including most recently by the U.S. State Department spokesperson in his briefing of 15 September 2021.

Let me further recall that Pakistan had played a critical role in helping the United States degrade Al Qaeda’s core leadership in Afghanistan, which was the international coalition’s core objective. At the same time, Pakistan had always maintained that there was no military solution to the larger Afghan conflict and that a political settlement offered the only plausible pathway to sustainable peace in Afghanistan – a position now shared by the United States.

I would add that achieving an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan that represents Afghanistan’s diversity and reflects the gains made by the country remains a shared objective for Pakistan and the United States. We look forward to building on this convergence while also strengthening other aspects of a broad-based and constructive relationship.

Question: As a neighboring country has Afghanistan requested Pakistan for any specific help or facilitation? (Khalid Mehmood, Express News)

Answer: The assistance we have provided in terms of humanitarian support to Afghanistan is in line with the current requirements of the situation. We remain engaged and will continue to assess the situation.

Question: As indicated by some members of the current government, will Pakistan take up the matter of imprisoned Kashmiris with the International Court of Justice (ICJ)? (Raziq Mehmood Bhatti, Daily Kashmir News)

Answer: If you have been following what we have been doing in this regard specifically, and human rights violations in IIOJK generally, and the dossier that we have presented is a part of our continued efforts, we have been taking up this matter with the international community, including the UN. We will keep pressing it.

Question: I have three questions. Firstly, what is Pakistan doing about the Afghan refugees that are coming in the wake of the recent situation?

Secondly, are there any American soldiers in Islamabad after their evacuation from Afghanistan?

Thirdly, is the international community extending any support after the presentation of the dossier on human rights by Pakistan? (Sardar Aamir, Royal News)

Answer: The dossier has been made public. It is being shared widely with member states, UN, and human rights organizations. This is an ongoing process. We will be actively propagating the contents and the message of this dossier and the specific recommendations contained in it.

As for your question on refugees, fortunately there has been no recent mass exodus from Afghanistan. As you know Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees for decades. Approximately 4 million are still in Pakistan. We are not in a position to take any more, as also indicated by the leadership.

Question: President Arif Alvi recently commented about the possibility of negotiations with TTP. What are your comments? (Allah Noor, Mashriq TV)

Supplementary Question: There are media reports regarding the possibility of Pakistan pardoning certain members of TTP. Is there a change in Pakistan’s position regarding TTP? (Mateen Haider, G News)

Answer: I have no comment to offer on this at this stage.

Question: China, Russia and Pakistan are apparently creating new bloc with regard to Afghanistan. Do you have any comment? Will Pakistan go to European side or Russian side? (Tariq Wardak, Freelancer)

Answer: We are not into the politics of blocs. We believe in open and constructive engagement and partnership with all friendly countries.

We have “All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership” with China. Our relationship with Russia is also marked by growing mutual confidence and cooperation. These two countries are also coordinating with each other on a number of important issues. We have commonality of views with regard to peace and stability and development with both China and Russia and we collaborate on many things.

We also have long-standing partnership and cooperation with EU and many others. So we do not see our relationship with some from the prism of our relationships with others.

Question: Is there any interaction planned between Foreign Secretaries of Pakistan and Afghanistan? Also, is there any visit of the Foreign Minister planned? (Shahzad Hassan Mirza, Daily Media)

Answer: I have no information to that effect.

Question: Regarding the illicit sale and purchase of fissile material in India and the black market existing for it, several cases were reported in the last four years. How do you see this aspect because this is entirely related to Pakistan’s core security issues? It will have implications not only on the region but the world at large?

Secondly, will Pakistan continue the existing state-to-state agreements with Afghanistan, especially APAPPS, Transit Trade Agreement and other agreements that still exist?

Thirdly, is Afghanistan going to be a participant in the next Ministerial meeting of neighboring countries to be held in Tehran? (Faisal Raza khan, 92 News)

Answer: As for your question on the fissile material, this issue is of serious concern for Pakistan, the region and for the global community. As I said we will continue to raise this. With so many incidents, this issue has to be taken seriously and questions have to be asked about India’s capacity or willingness to effectively address these concerns.

As for your question on agreements, normal state practice is that bilateral agreements and understandings are taken forward. Way forward is to be agreed through bilateral consultations.

As for the question on Afghanistan’s participation in the forthcoming meeting in Tehran, I understand there is ongoing discussion, but I have not much to share as of now.

Question: Ever since the change in Afghanistan, there is an environment of fear and suspicion in India. Do you think that it is time that something can be done about India’s atrocities in IIOJK? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)

Supplementary Question: You spoke in detail about dossier. With whom have the copies of the dossier been shared on the international level? Or was it only for domestic consumption?

Secondly, what are the plans about Pakistan’s participation at upcoming session of UNGA? Will we participate at the level of the Prime Minister? Will Foreign Minister be a part of the delegation too? (Mateen Haider, G News)

Answer: As for the question on feelings of sense of fear among the Indian population, it is not for me to comment whether it was linked to what was happening in Afghanistan. But they should be worried and fear more as to what was happening in IIOJK itself.

As also detailed in the 12 September dossier, the way India has tried to suppress the voices of the Kashmiri people and the way they have committed human rights violations in IIOJK is a serious concern for the international community. India has committed wrongs since 1947, and they have tried to perpetuate this illegal occupation through the barrel of the gun and through oppression. So I think this is something they should worry about. History is witness that illegal occupations cannot be sustained for long, and wishes and the will of the people prevails in the end.

As for your question on the dossier, it is obviously not meant only for domestic consumption; international community is the main audience.

It is being shared widely here in Pakistan and globally. The Foreign Secretary has briefed envoys yesterday, and we are briefing the OIC ambassadors today. We are going to continue to do this over the next weeks, in Islamabad and other world capitals, and also in New York and Geneva.

As for your question on UNGA, details will be shared as soon as finalized. As I also mentioned in the previous briefing, Jammu and Kashmir will be a major focus.

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