Media Briefing|

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

Assalaam-o-Alaikum and a very Good afternoon

Welcome to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since it is my first weekly press briefing, let me once again thank all those who have been sending me best wishes

I look forward to working closely with all media friends and colleagues.

Let me begin by sharing with you a summary of important developments in the foreign policy domain since our last briefing.

Fifth August 2020, marked the completion of 365 days since India’s illegal and unilateral actions in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The people of IIOJK remain under an inhuman military siege, deprived of their fundamental rights for over a year.

The Indian occupation forces continue to violate every single right of the Kashmiris including their right to liberty, health, education, expression, assembly and freedom of religion. The Indian government has turned IIOJK into the world’s largest open prison and the most militarized zone in the world.

Pakistan strongly condemns the recent extra-judicial killing of three Kashmiri laborers from Rajouri by the Indian occupation forces in a fake encounter in Shopian region of IIOJK.

Over 200 innocent Kashmiris have been martyred by the Indian occupation forces since the beginning of this year in fake encounters and so-called ‘cordon-and-search’ operations.

The killings of innocent Kashmiris and destruction of their houses is a part of BJP’s “Hindutva” agenda which is attempting to target defenceless Kashmiris with mindless violence and inflicting collective punishment to break their will. India has not and will not succeed in its designs. The martyrdom of each Kashmiri has only strengthened their resolve for freedom from illegal Indian occupation.

Pakistan welcomes the call by the Human Rights Watch for an independent investigation into these extra judicial killings of innocent Kashmiris by Indian occupation forces.

Pakistan will continue to call for holding India accountable for its crimes against the Kashmiri people and extend its full support in the just struggle for their inalienable right to self-determination.

Over the past few days there have been two separate incidents of derogatory and blasphemous remarks against the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in India and IIOJK.

First, an incident of derogatory and blasphemous social media post took place in Indian state of Karnataka and then blasphemous remarks were posted by a Hindu extremist on social media in IIOJK.

Pakistan strongly condemns these deliberate and premeditated attempts to instigate communal violence, which may be used for targeting Muslims.

Protection and patronage of the perpetrators of such acts by the Indian authorities is reprehensible.

These rising incidents of hate crime and hate speech are a direct and inescapable consequence of the RSS-BJP combine’s extremist “Hindutva” ideology.

Pakistan has been consistently sensitizing the world community about the risks of unabated attempts by Hindu extremists to target and demonize minorities in India and IIOJK.

Pakistan calls upon the Government of India to investigate these incidents and take immediate action against the perpetrators of hate crime and ensure prevention of such incidents in future. The Indian Government is also called upon to ensure the safety, security and well-being of the Muslim community and ensure protection of their religious rights.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, accompanied by senior officials, has left for an official visit to Hainan, China today. He will lead Pakistani delegation to the Second Round of the China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue. The Chinese side will be led by State Councilor and Foreign Minster Wang Yi. The first meeting of the Dialogue was held in March last year.

During the Dialogue both sides will, inter alia, discuss cooperation on Covid-19, bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual interest.

The visit will play an important role in further strengthening Pakistan-China “All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership” and deepening strategic communication and coordination with China on a range of issues.

The President-elect of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Volkan Bozkir visited Pakistan on 9-10 August 2020.

During his visit Mr. Bozkir held wide-ranging discussions with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. He also called on the Prime Minister.

The Foreign Minister briefed Mr. Bozkir on Pakistan’s priorities for the 75th session of the General Assembly, situation arising from COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister’s “Global Initiative on Debt Relief” and matters related to regional and international peace and security.

The Foreign Minister also apprised him of the gravity of the situation in IIOJK and urged that the United Nations must play its rightful role in addressing the grave situation and seeking a resolution of the dispute in accordance with the relevant UNSC Resolutions.

During his call on the Prime Minister, Mr. Bozkir was apprised of the Government’s initiatives to mitigate and suppress the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic. The Prime Minister shared that his Government was following a ‘people centric’ vision in providing relief to the poorest of the poor while simultaneously promoting the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.

The Prime Minister also briefed the PGA-elect on historic, legal and political aspects of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, which remains on the agenda of the UN Security Council for over seven decades.

The Prime Minister made a telephone call to the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, H.E. Mahinda Rajapaksa, to congratulate him on his party’s victory in the General Elections held on 5 August 2020. He also expressed the hope that bilateral relations between the two countries will be further strengthened during Prime Minister Rajapaksa’s new term in office.

Prime Minister Imran Khan also held a telephonic conversation with the President of Maldives H.E. Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. The two leaders held wide ranging discussion covering all areas of cooperation. The Prime Minister also shared with President Solih Pakistan’s perspective on peace and security situation in South Asia.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi held a telephone conversation with the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. The two leaders discussed bilateral relations, and developments in the region with a view to promoting peace, prosperity and stability.

Secretary Pompeo appreciated Pakistan’s role in the Afghan peace process.

The Foreign Minister apprised Secretary Pompeo of India’s continuing regressive policies in IIOJK manifested in gross violations of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Foreign Minister thanked the US Secretary of State for the United States’ participation in the UN Security Council meeting of 5 August 2020 to discuss the situation in IIOJK.

The Foreign Minister also held a video conference with his counterpart from Uzbekistan. Matters of mutual interest, including the Covid-19 Pandemic, bilateral cooperation and regional situation were discussed.

To recognize the contributions made by overseas Pakistanis in the context COVID-19 pandemic, the Foreign Minister honoured 86 Overseas Pakistanis from the world over.

While appreciating the services of those honoured at a Webinar hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Foreign Minister underscored that Overseas Pakistanis were a great asset for the country.

Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood held wide-ranging consultations with the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Ambassador David Hale.

The two sides reviewed Pakistan-U.S. bilateral relations, its present trajectory, and future direction. In the regional context, the two sides shared their perspectives on the progress made in the Afghan peace process as well as peace and stability in South Asia.

Pakistan is happy to see progress in the Afghan peace process. Our collective efforts have so far succeeded in advancing Afghan peace process to the current unprecedented point.

All stakeholders must ensure that residual issues are resolved to commence Intra-Afghan negotiations without delay. Pakistan believes that every effort must be made to seize the historic opportunity we have in Afghanistan today.

I will now be happy to take questions from you on these or other developments.

Question: What is the status of Pakistan-Saudi relations right now, especially after the statement made by the Foreign Minister on which Saudi Arabia had expressed its reservations. Secondly, what is our stand on Israel because there are apprehensions about the Foreign Office’s recent statement after the UAE’s recognition of Israel? (Zarghoon Shah, Geo TV)

Supplementary Question: Do you think that Muslim Ummah is facing division after finalization of Agreement between the UAE and Israel?

Secondly, how do you comment on recent attack on Gaza from Israel? What could be the role of the OIC in this regard? (Khawaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)

Supplementary Question: What is the current status of relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia? Do you see any rift in the bilateral relationship? (Saima Shabbir, Arab News)

Supplementary Question: During an interview the Foreign Minister expressed his dissatisfaction on the role of the OIC with regard to the dispute of Jammu & Kashmir, saying if OIC does not convene a meeting of CFM then Pakistan would hold a meeting of like-minded countries. Is there any development or response from the OIC? (Zulqernain Haider, ARY News)

Supplementary Question: Can you please elaborate particularly on OIC Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Pakistan as mentioned in a letter to the Secretary General of OIC. Pakistan has also discussed this with Saudi Arabia but no fruitful results came out as indicated in the statement by the Foreign Minister. What is the current status on that? Pakistan has already offered to convene that meeting in Islamabad particularly on one point agenda of Jammu and Kashmir dispute. Your comments please.

Secondly, what is the status of OIC right now after UAE and Israel deal because OIC charter clearly states unless the resolution the Palestinian issue, diplomatic relations with Israel are questionable. How do you see this particular thing because OIC status is being compromised? (Faisal Raza Khan, 92 News)

Supplementary Question: There is an impression that the current visit of the Foreign Minister to China is taking place in the backdrop of Saudi Arabia’s demand to Pakistan to repay its loan. How do you comment on this? Secondly, what is the current status of Pakistan- Saudi Arabia relationship? (Adeel Bashir, Roze News)

Supplementary Question: In the current context of Pakistan Saudi relations, what is the position of former Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif? Is he still working in the military alliance in Saudi Arabia? (Anwer Abbas, Bol News)

Supplementary Question: How does Pakistan respond to Israel-UAE ties after formalization of recent agreement between the two countries? (Amjad Ali, PTV)

Answer: First I would like to touch upon the Middle East peace process. The Foreign Office has already issued a clear statement on its position on the Middle East peace process and on Pakistan’s position on the Palestine issue.

Peace and stability in the Middle East region remains Pakistan’s key priority. There is no change in Pakistan’s principled position on Palestine.

We have an abiding commitment to the full realization of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination.

For a just, comprehensive and lasting peace, Pakistan has consistently supported a two-state solution in accordance with the relevant United Nations and OIC resolutions as well as international law, with pre 1967 borders and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as the capital of Palestine.

As for the recent developments, Pakistan’s approach will be guided by our evaluation of how Palestinians’ rights and aspirations are upheld and how regional peace, security and stability are preserved.

Regarding our relations with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have always enjoyed unique relations deep rooted in historic, religious, cultural and social ties. The two countries have strong economic, political, security and military cooperation at all levels. Relations between the two brotherly countries have continued to grow over time.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have not only closely cooperated with each other at international fora but have always stood by each other at times of need. Pakistan values Saudi Arabia’s important role in the OIC Contact Group on Jammu & Kashmir. Pakistan has an abiding commitment to defending the sanctity of Harmain Sharifain. Pakistan remains firmly committed to the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia.

The people of Pakistan have special reverence and affection for the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques (Khadim ul Harmain Sharifain).

Frequent high-level visits and close leadership level contacts have been the longstanding tradition of the brotherly relations between the two countries. The visits by Prime Minister Imran Khan and the landmark visit of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman in February 2019 have further cemented our relations and provided new avenues of cooperation in trade, investment and other fields.

The long-term strategic relationship between the two brotherly countries is time tested and will continue to grow to our mutual benefit.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks on the subject issue in his recent media engagement and COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa’s just concluded visit to Saudi Arabia testify to the unchanged fraternal relations and close contact between the two brotherly countries.

On Pakistan’s recognition of Israel, let me reiterate that the recognition of Israel by Pakistan is not under consideration.

As for divisions within OIC, Pakistan remains committed to the unity of Muslim Ummah and has always worked toward that end. Pakistan will continue its efforts to keep the Muslim Ummah united.

Regarding OIC’s role, it has indeed played an important role in the context of Jammu & Kashmir dispute. It has established a Contact Group on Jammu & Kashmir and has also appointed a Special Envoy of the Secretary General on the Jammu & Kashmir dispute. The Contact Group on Jammu & Kashmir has held four meetings so far on the dispute of Jammu & Kashmir since India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5th August 2019. Three of those meetings were held at the level of Foreign Ministers.

The OIC has also passed a number of resolutions, condemning Indian actions and continuing human rights violations in IIOJK. The resolutions have also called for a just resolution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in accordance with the United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

Regarding your question on the Foreign Minister’s visit to China, Foreign Minister’s visit to China is not linked to Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia. It is a part of our continued strategic engagement with China. The Foreign Minister is leading Pakistan delegation to the Second Round of the China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue

As for General Raheel Sharif’s position, there is no change in that and there is no rift in Pakistan-Saudi Arabia relations that could lead to any such situation.

Question: Federal Minister for Human Rights has criticized the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Foreign Affairs in failing to carry forward Prime Minister Imran Khan’s narrative on Jammu and Kashmir. How do you comment on it? (Zahid Farooq, Daily Metro Watch)

Answer: As a policy we do not comment on the comments made by a Federal Minister. But as far as the Foreign Office’s efforts and the national efforts on Jammu and Kashmir are concerned, you all know that how much we have achieved in this regard and how successful we have been in effectively raising and further internalizing the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

Question: It is being reported that President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping is visiting Pakistan in September this year and the Foreign Minister will also be discussing this in his ongoing visit to China.

Secondly, there are reports that a group of TTP backed by NDS and RAW held a meeting in Kuner Province of Afghanistan with an objective to de-stabilize Pakistan. Recently, we have also seen frequent incidents at Pak-Afghan border which disturb the border management between Afghanistan and Pakistan as well. How do you comment on these issues? (Naveed Akbar, Aaj News)

Supplementary Question: There is a joint framework between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS), to discuss various issues between the two countries, the meeting of which is long overdue. Would you please update us when the meeting of APAPPS will be held and whether in Islamabad or in Kabul?

Secondly, recently the Afghan government agreed to release 400 Taliban prisoners and a group of 80 prisoners was also released. However, the recent statements from Kabul again indicate a deadlock in Afghan peace process. How do you see the peace process moving forward in this context? (Muhammad Jalil, VOA)

Supplementary Question: Anti- Pakistan elements have been using Afghan soil for terrorism in Pakistan. Pakistan has repeatedly been discussing and raising this issue with the Afghan side. What is their response in this regard? (Khawaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: Regarding President Xi’s visit to Pakistan, I do not have the exact details at this stage to share with you.

As for APAPPS, it is the most comprehensive official framework between Pakistan and Afghanistan, covering all areas of cooperation and all areas of mutual interest. There have been meetings of this framework in the past and there will be meetings in future as well. I do not have an exact date for the next meeting to share with you but both sides remain committed to the APAPPS process and to take it forward.

Pakistan believes that Afghan soil should not be used for anti-Pakistan activities and we have repeatedly conveyed this to our Afghan friends we believe that every effort would be made to not let the Afghan soil be used by RAW or any other anti-Pakistan agency or group.

Question: Two weeks ago, the then spokesperson said that Pakistan has formally asked India for the lawyer regarding Kulbhushan Jadhav and Pakistan was awaiting a reply from India. Has there been any movement on that? What about the third consular access that Pakistan had offered? Have they agreed yet or has there been no response yet? (Anas Mallick, Wion TV)

Answer: Let me share with you some details of the case. When the ICJ gave its judgment with regard to Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, it asked for four things: to apprise Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav of his rights under the Vienna Convention; provide consular access to him by the Indian consular official; provide effective review and reconsideration and stay the execution till an effective review and reconsideration is provided. Pakistan is complying with all of these.

Immediately after the ICJ verdict, Pakistan informed Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav of his rights, we have provided consular access and there is a stay on Commander Jadhav’s execution. Provision of effective review and reconsideration is also under process. Since the review and reconsideration in this case will be provided by the Pakistani courts and to be precise in this case the Islamabad High Court, we have been calling upon the Indian Government and urging them to cooperate with the courts in Pakistan. Rather than indulging in blame game they should come forward, cooperate with the Pakistani courts so that full effect could be given to the ICJ judgment. The Islamabad High Court has its next hearing on the 3rd of September and we will be happy to share further details with you.

India has always in this regard been looking for a pretext to somehow delay the process and not cooperate with the courts in Pakistan. All we can say is that India should come forward and rather than playing a blame game cooperate with the courts in Pakistan.

Question: Yesterday on the Line of Control, a mosque was also targeted along with civilians. Why have you failed diplomatically so far to ensure protection to the civilians along the Line of Control? (Raziq Mehmood Bhatti, Daily Kashmir Express)

Supplementary Question: Has Foreign Office summoned the Indian diplomat today to register protest on the cease fire violations? (Naveed Siddiqui, Dawn TV)

Supplementary Question: 381 days have passed since lockdown and curfew were imposed in the IIOJ&K. What reports do we have about the Human Rights violations, kidnappings, killings and how many youth are missing? (Syed Asif Ali, Din News)

Answer: Let me first of all talk about the ceasefire violations. Since the beginning of this year there have been 2,027 ceasefire violations resulting in 176 injuries and 16 shahadats of innocent people on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control.

Pakistan has been protesting and calling upon India to respect the 2003 ceasefire understanding between the two countries. It is unfortunate that by such acts India has been imperiling regional peace and stability. By increasing the ceasefire violations, the Indian government is trying to divert attention from its internal issues as well as from the gross human rights violations in the IIOJ&K.

We have also been sensitizing the International community about the risks that such violations pose to regional peace and security. Even this morning, a senior Indian diplomat was summoned to the Foreign Office to record Pakistan’s protest on the continuous cease fire violations.

As for recording the human rights violations in IIOJK, the difficulty is that India does not allow access to independent observers to IIOJ&K. There are strict restrictions on media, 4G internet is still not allowed. International humanitarian and human rights organizations are not allowed entry into the IIOJ&K. However, despite these challenges, the human rights violations are well documented. Let me salute the journalists who made tremendous sacrifices while contributing towards highlighting the Indian atrocities and violations of human rights in the IIOJ&K.

The UN Human Rights Council came up with two reports in 2018 and 2019 respectively. There are reports by Human Rights Watch as well. As I shared with you in my opening statement, the HRW has condemned the extrajudicial killing of three Kashmiris in Shopian district and then there are reports by International media and other international organizations, so plenty of evidence is available in this regard.

Question: How does Pakistan look at the role of the OIC? The OIC could not hold a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers on Jammu and Kashmir. There hasn’t been a reaction on the recent developments regarding the Palestine issue by the OIC. Recently, the UAE has recognized Israel and there are reports that other Muslims countries are going to follow the suit. What are your comments in this regard? (Essa Naqvi, Indus TV)

Answer: We don’t have any information on other Middle Eastern countries recognizing Israel and I will certainly not be able to comment on that.

As for OIC’s role on Jammu and Kashmir dispute, I have already responded to this. There have been four meetings of the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir and three of them were at the level of Foreign Ministers. You must have also read the communiqués issued after those OIC Contact Group meetings. OIC has a clear position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. They continue condemning the Indian actions and calling for a just resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UNSC resolutions. You must have also seen the statements and tweets by the OIC’s Independent Permanent Human rights Commission. They have spoken openly about the Indian atrocities in IIOJK. OIC has and continues to play an important role on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

Question: Is Pakistan going to convene OIC session on the situation emerged after the UAE and Israel peace Agreement? (Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)

Answer: I have shared Pakistan’s position on this. I have nothing further to add.

Question: A follow-up on the new Pakistani map. As stated by the Foreign Minister that these maps will be submitted to the UN for recognition, has Foreign Office approached UN and have the maps been submitted and has UN recognized these maps? In addition, it was also committed by the Foreign Office that these maps will be shared with Google, Yahoo and other groups because millions of people around the world find and trace the maps through these search engines.

Thirdly, few weeks are left in the UNGA session, could you please give us an update who will be representing Pakistan in the UNGA and if not then any plans for virtual participation?(Mateen Haider, GTV)

Supplementary Question: Pertaining to this political map, Pakistan has re-asserted its position within the region. How do you comment on that particular perspective that Pakistan has also re-asserted its position on Junagardh and Manavadar. Is Pakistan going to UN on this particular subject as Pakistan is pursuing its case regarding Jammu and Kashmir? (Faisal Raza Khan, 92 News)

Answer: Regarding the political map that Pakistan has issued, there is no change in Pakistan’s historical position. Pakistan has always believed and continues to believe that IIOJK is not a part of India. And by drawing an International border between India and the IIOJK, we have rejected the illegal Indian claim on Jammu and Kashmir. As for sharing the maps, I will revert to you with the precise details but I can confirm that the concerned Division within this Ministry and all other stakeholders are taking all necessary steps in this regard to ensure that only the official political map of Pakistan is used locally and internationally.

The Indian occupation of Junagarh and Manavadar is illegal. Pakistan’s claim in this regard is based on legal and historical facts. The Instrument of Accession to Pakistan by the Nawab of Junagarh is a legal reality that cannot be denied.

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