[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to our Weekly Press Briefing.
Let me begin with the Kashmir Black Day, observed yesterday to condemn 74 years of Indian illegal occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir, and to reaffirm Pakistan’s unwavering support for the just struggle of the Kashmiri people. And you saw a strong demonstration of this solidarity throughout Pakistan and countries across the world.
To honour the supreme sacrifices of three generations of Kashmiris, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood planted three Chinar saplings at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A solidarity walk initiated from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was led by President Dr. Arif Alvi, who also addressed the participants. A memento depicting the ongoing human rights violations in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) was also presented to the President.
In their messages on the Black Day, the President, Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister reiterated Pakistan’s strong resolve to continue its support for the Kashmiri people until the realization of their inalienable right to self-determination.
In continuation of Pakistan’s regular communications since August 2019 to keep the United Nations fully apprised of the grave situation in IIOJK, the Foreign Minister has also addressed a letter to the UN Secretary-General and President of the Security Council. A letter has also been addressed to the European Union High Representative Josep Borrell.
The Foreign Minister has drawn attention to India’s continued denial of the right to self-determination to the people of IIOJK for more than seven decades, and to its recent illegal and unilateral actions since 5 August 2019, including the demographic re-engineering, that are in blatant violation of UNSC resolutions and international law, especially the 4th Geneva Convention.
The Foreign Minister also highlighted the ongoing widespread human rights violations by Indian occupation forces in IIOJK, which have also been documented with incriminating evidence in the comprehensive dossier presented by Pakistan last month to the international community.
Around the world, a range of activities took place, including by our Missions to raise global awareness about the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and to reaffirm solidarity with the Kashmir cause.
Meanwhile in IIOJK, India has unleashed worst form of state-terrorism. Ten Kashmiris have been martyred in Srinagar and Pulwama districts since 15 October.
It is deeply concerning that India continues to expand its tool kit to oppress and harass the innocent Kashmiris, and India’s minorities particularly Muslims on baseless grounds. We saw that in the reprehensible attacks against Kashmiri students following Pakistan’s win in the T-20 match against India. There are also disturbing reports about Kashmiri students and youth being charged under the draconian and arbitrary Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
India’s aggressive and malicious designs against Pakistan also continue otherwise.
For example, the reported killing recently of a Pakistani civilian prisoner Mr. Zia Mustafa, in an incident involving Indian occupation forces in Poonch sector of IIOJK. We have condemned this and the Indian Charge d’affaires was summoned to the Foreign Office. A strong protest has been lodged – the Government of India was urged to urgently authenticate this particular incident, undertake a credible and transparent investigation, and ensure justice by holding the perpetrators to account.
While explanation on this case has been sought, let me remind you that we still await the findings of an investigation into the Jodhpur incident in which 11 Pakistani citizens lost their lives under mysterious circumstances.
As you are aware, climate change is one of the top priorities of the Government, and the Prime Minister is a leading advocate. Pakistan’s policies and initiatives have been widely acclaimed. In this backdrop, and keeping in perspective our long-standing, fraternal ties with Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the Kingdom from 23-25 October 2021 to attend the launch of the “Middle East Green Initiative (MGI)”.
At the MGI Summit, the Prime Minister shared his perspective on the challenges faced by the developing countries due to climate change and highlighted Pakistan’s experience of launching nature-based solutions to address the environmental challenges.
The Prime Minister also addressed the Saudi-Pakistan Investment Forum, and has a number of bilateral interactions including with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, and the US Special Envoy on Climate Change.
During the last week, the Prime Minister also held telephonic conversations with world leaders including most notably with President Xi Jinping of China, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan, and Prince Charles Prince of Wales.
Coming to Afghanistan, you have seen Pakistan’s continued engagement and active diplomacy.
Foreign Minister Qureshi was in Tehran for the second Ministerial Meeting of Neighboring Countries of Afghanistan held yesterday. In the Meeting and other bilateral engagements, the Foreign Minister shared Pakistan’s perspective on the latest developments in Afghanistan. He reiterated Pakistan’s belief that the neighbors have a direct stake in the peace, stability and prosperity of Afghanistan. It was therefore important to remain engaged with a view to evolving a coordinated regional approach.
During the visit the Foreign Minister also interacted with the Iranian leadership, and held meetings with his Uzbek, Turkmen, and Tajik counterparts.
Earlier, the Foreign Minister had visited Kabul on 21 October, during which he had wide-ranging talks with the leadership of the interim government. The Foreign Minister already had a detailed interaction with you on his return, and shared some key takeaways with regard to what Pakistan was doing to help, and this included for example:
• Abolition of gate pass for travel to Pakistan from Afghanistan.
• Exemption on visa fee applicable till 31 December 2021.
• Issuance of online visas to avoid heavy rush outside our Missions.
• Inclusion of Afghanistan in the Business Visa List, which allows 5-year multiple entry visas
• Revision of NCOC SOPs for Afghan students
• Grant of visa upon arrival for medical cases.
Besides, the Foreign Minister announced Rs. 5 billion for humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.
I thank you and am happy to take questions on these or other foreign policy related issues.
Question: Sir, you have mentioned regarding the T20 match, other than this Pak-India has many issues. What message Pakistan want to give to India on this occasion? Also, India has once again violated Pakistani Sea boundary and Pakistan Navy has detected India submarine for the third time. Pakistani side has detected and taken notice of this violation but no action was taken against it. How do you comment? Recently Special Representative of the U.S. on Afghanistan resigned and the U.S. has appointed new Ambassador to Pakistan. How do you comment? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)
Answer: On your question regarding the appointment of new U.S. Ambassador, this is a process that takes its due course of time and I have nothing in particular to comment on that but we would naturally welcome this – it will be good to have Ambassador in place.
On your other observation, what was witnessed in the wake of the T20 match, was a reflection of the kind of environment in IIOJK and India in general – and the reaction that translated in harassment of the Kashmiri students and others was reprehensible and you would have seen the press statement that we issued. It is a clear statement of concern and condemnation of such behavior which is reflective of the dangerous trends that have been on the rise under the BJP-RSS regime. We also know that India’s overall hostile behavior towards Pakistan also flows from this mindset.
On the detection of the Indian submarine, as you rightly noted this was not the first time. And you would have seen the statements from our armed forces and the civilian side on this. The main point here is that it was yet again demonstrated by Pakistan, and in this case by our Navy, that we are ready and are most capable of defending our frontiers and thwarting any aggressive designs.
Question: On 26th October, the Chinese President had a good telephone conversation with Prime Minister Imran Khan. What do you think of China Pakistan cooperation and what is the focus of bilateral cooperation in the future?
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the restoration of New China’s lawful seat in the United Nations. What’s your comment on China’s role in international affairs? (Ali Jaswal, Xinhua News Agency)
Answer: Interactions between the leadership of Pakistan and China are a hallmark of the All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership. The telephone call between the Prime Minister and President Xi Jinping was held with traditional warmth. Our two sides have issued detailed press releases on the interaction.
But let me add that the relations between Pakistan and China are marked by mutual respect, mutual trust, and mutual understanding. This year has special significance as China is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, and 50th anniversary of the restoration of People’s Republic of China’s lawful seat at the United Nations. We are also celebrating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries in a befitting manner. In these seventy years, our bilateral partnership has withstood the tests of time, and grown from strength to strength.
Our multifaceted cooperation with China covers all aspects of inter-state relations. We support each other on all issues of national interest. The high quality development of CPEC has immensely contributed to Pakistan’s socio-economic progress. The 10th JCC meeting was held on 23 September 2021 to take stock of Phase-II of CPEC, which ventures to benefit from China’s stellar success in economic growth, industrial development, livelihood generation, health, education, modern agriculture and poverty alleviation. Both sides will convene the 15th session of the Pakistan-China Joint Committee on Economic, Trade, Scientific and Technological Cooperation (JEC) tomorrow, which will further consolidate our comprehensive economic engagement.
In the years ahead, we are committed to building a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era.
Responding to your second question, let me state that restoration of China’s lawful seat in the United Nations was a momentous event marking the return of the Chinese people, a significant part of the world’s population, back to the UN stage. Pakistan congratulates China on the 50th anniversary of this seminal event.
In these fifty years, China has emerged as a strong voice for the developing countries and championed the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, upheld equity and justice, strengthened multilateralism, espoused equitable development and as a responsible permanent member of the Security Council, contributed to peace and stability across the world.
Pakistan takes immense pride in its friendship with China, and in our own contributions to the lawful restoration of New China’s seat at the UN, and its reform and opening up.
Question: There are two reports that the Afghan Embassies and consulates in Pakistan which were closed have been reopened and Afghan government has sent/appointed new diplomats. That has also been shared with the Foreign office. What are your comments about that? And if the Embassy and the consulate are open, will you welcome?
In this year we have observed 5 February, we have observed 5 August and we have just observed Black Day. But the most unfortunate this is that UAE has made huge investments in Jammu Kashmir and there are also news about direct flights between Srinagar-Sharjah. This act of the UAE is a violation of the UN resolutions on Kashmir, as Kashmir is a disputed territory and the UAE is brotherly country. So, I will like to have your comments that is it confirmed and whether this information has been shared with Pakistan, as this will seriously affect the status and cause of Jammu and Kashmir? (Mateen Haider, G News)
Supplementary Question: Have Pakistan Foreign Office protested or shared their concerns with the UAE on these investments and direct flights? (Anwar Abbas, Bol News)
Answer: With regard to appointment of new staff in the Afghan Embassy, this is an administrative matter and is meant to enable the Embassy to perform its functions, primarily the consular functions as you are aware there are millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and there are visa issues as well. So this has to be seen in that context. I understand they have made similar appointments in their embassies in some other countries.
On the question of flights and some reported investments in IIOJK, there are various dimensions to it, especially in the case of flights that includes technical questions as well as international conventions on air navigation, the relevant authorities are seize of the matter.
The main aspect here is that India is seeking to divert attention from its oppression and human right violations in IIOJK, and continues to employ diversionary measures to portray fake sense of ‘normalcy’ and development in IIOJK. Let me state that Jammu and Kashmir remains an internationally recognized disputed territory. No such ploy to mislead the international community would succeed.
Question: There is news regarding change of Pakistan’s Ambassador to KSA. What does Foreign office say about that? Secondly there are ongoing protests and demonstration regarding the expulsion of the French Ambassador. What is Foreign Office stance on that? Thirdly the Foreign Minister visited Tehran from KSA. How would you comment on that in context of the mediation role Pakistan had been playing between KSA and Iran? (Rashida Sial, Abb Tak News)
Answer: On your last question, we had covered that in the previous briefing as well wherein I referred to our relations with these two countries. I had also expressed our hope that enhanced confidence and engagement between the two countries would foster durable peace in the region and this would be a very positive development.
Here, I don’t see any connection between the visit of the Prime Minister to KSA, where the Foreign Minister accompanied him, and the Foreign Minister’s subsequent visit to Tehran. Invitation for participation in the MGI Summit was received long time back and was accepted by the Prime Minister, while the meeting in Tehran you know is part of the recent processes, specially the regional engagement on Afghanistan, in which Pakistan is very closely associated.
On your second question about our Ambassador in KSA, basically I do not have anything to say as these are administrative matters. Not specific to this particular case, but as a matter of practice, these are administrative and protocol issues that involve diplomatic norms, and are handled accordingly.
On your last question, that issue is being handled by the relevant authorities and there was also a clarification that there was no French Ambassador currently in Islamabad.
Question: How is Pakistan impacted by takeover of Afghanistan government by Taliban? Why is Pakistan hesitant in recognizing Taliban government? (Allah Noor, Mashriq TV)
Answer: It has been made abundantly clear by numerous statements by Pakistan including at the leadership level that the situation in Afghanistan has direct implications for Pakistan, and therefore we naturally want peace and stability in Afghanistan. We are working with regional partners and others to encourage engagement with Afghanistan, to find best ways forward on so many issues that Afghanistan faces today, this includes the humanitarian crisis, economic issues, and other concerns and expectations such as with regard to an inclusive set-up, respect for human rights, and not allowing usage of Afghan soil for terrorist activities against any other country etc. So, in this overall effort, Pakistan is very much engaged and as the Foreign Minister has noted on many occasions, we are desirous of proceeding in close consultation and coordination, especially with the neighboring countries. That explains the emphasis on the regional approach.
Question: How many Afghan refugees have entered Pakistan since the takeover of government by Taliban? How many Pakistani prisoners are in Indian Jails, how is Pakistan taking up the matter internationally in context of recent killing of Pakistani civilian in Indian Jails?
Answer: Refugee is a specific term, and to my knowledge there was no recent refugee exodus from Afghanistan. Yes people have been coming over to Pakistan under different visa categories.
With regard to the recent killing of the Pakistani prisoner in India, we have issued statement and summoned the Indian Cd’A as I said before. We take these issues very seriously and all options are open with regard to further steps that can be taken to press these concerns.
With regard to Pakistani prisoners in India, the current number is 345 that include civilians and fishermen.
Question: Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory then how can UAE announce investment programs there? Is there any policy or has Foreign Office conveyed its concerns on the issue? (Kausar Lodhi, Prime News)
Answer: I have already responded to a similar question but let me take this opportunity to clarify as to what is happening in IIOJK and what India is trying to do, because it is important to see the bigger picture. So, let me say that Pakistan remains deeply concerned at the deteriorating human rights situation in IIOJK. We have seen extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detention of Kashmiri youth and harassment which is continuing with impunity. And while the military siege remains in place and fundamental freedoms remain suspended in IIOJK, the Indian occupation forces have further intensified their repression in recent days. Amidst the staged visit of Indian Home Minister for example, hundreds of innocent Kashmiris were reportedly rounded up including under the draconian Public Safety Act and meanwhile the coercion of Kashmiris continues unabated. Hateful terms such as ‘hybrid terrorists’, and ‘white collar terrorists’ are being used to demonize Kashmiris. India’s deep-rooted malice and vindictiveness against Kashmiris was on full display before the international community. Amidst all this, the visit of the Home Minister was another ploy to divert attention from India’s state-sponsored terrorism in the occupied territory. I would say no amount of lies, deceit or publicity stunts by BJP-RSS in the name of fake normalcy and development can mask or address or remove the growing alienation of Kashmiris in IIOJK, and that is very important. We believe that India will be well advised to understand that only path to peace and development in IIOJK is through resolution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions and wishes of the Kashmiris. As a principal party to this dispute, Pakistan will continue to extend political, moral and diplomatic support to the people of Kashmir as they are struggling for their right of self-determination.
Question: Has Pakistan received any formal request from the U.S. side for usage of airspace? (Muhammad Imran, Dunya News)
Answer: We have already issued a statement clarifying our position.
Question: We have had statements from our Ministers stating that there is external/Indian backing of TLP? In that case, has the Indian Charges d’Affaires been summoned to lodge protest? Has any evidence been shared with the Foreign Office indicating India’s involvement? If yes, which forum would be used to highlight the same? (Aoon Sherazi, Such News)
Answer: As I said before, this matter was not being dealt by the Foreign Ministry, and if there was any requirement on the part of this Ministry, we can take that up.
Question: Prime Minister visited Saudi Arabia to attend the MGI Summit, but returned with a hefty amount of $3 billion and $1.2 billion. Was there any discussion going on regarding this prior to Prime Minister’s visit? How is this gesture going to further promote Pakistan-Saudi Arabia relations? (Shaukat Piracha, Aaj News)
Supplementary Question: There were media reports suggesting Pakistan will provide 2500 troops to Saudi Arabia for its internal security? Your comments please? (Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)
Answer: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have close cooperation on security and defence. Pakistan’s commitment to the security of Saudi Arabia is very clear and is entrenched in the sanctity the entire nation associates with the two Holy Mosques. I do not however, have any information with regard to the specific media report you have referred to.
As for the assistance provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we are grateful to the Kingdom on the recent announcement to deposit $3 billion and financing $1.2 billion refined petroleum products during the year.
This budgetary support will help the balance of payment of Pakistan in the backdrop of rising commodity prices globally.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have long-standing and historic fraternal relations, rooted deep in common faith, shared history and mutual support. Saudi Arabia has always extended generous support to Pakistan in difficult times.
Question: I have two questions; firstly, could you please clarify in clear terms Pakistan’s position on investment by UAE in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir?
Secondly, addressing the Conclave organized by the Indian Air Force, the Vice Admiral of Indian Navy stated that the plans to break Pakistan started right after 1965 War, and it was the Indian security forces and the Indian State that were involved in the separation of erstwhile East Pakistan. How do you comment on this public admission of something that Pakistan has been saying that was orchestrated by India as a rogue state? (Essa Naqvi, Indus TV)
Answer: As for your question on IIOJK, I have already responded to similar questions.
On your other question, it is abundantly clear and we have always maintained that there was a sinister role of India in the events that led to the separation of East Pakistan. Such statements emanating from within India corroborate its already known negative role and hostility towards Pakistan, and expose its true colours to the international community.
Question: Can you please clarify regarding the exact status of GSP+, as reportedly additional conventions are being added to the terms and conditions implying Pakistan will have to apply again for GSP+ status? (Shamim Mehmood, Channel 5)
Answer: The current GSP+ regime expires in December 2023. I understand the European Commission has moved a legislative proposal to renew the scheme for the next ten years from January 2024. All beneficiary countries including Pakistan would be required to apply for the new scheme once it is in place. The European Commission has also added, as you pointed out, some additional international conventions to the existing list of 27 in the GSP+ scheme.
Question: You would have seen the media reports and social media activity regarding reported banning of the Quran mobile app in China. It is also being reported that action is being undertaken against mosques. Do you think these media reports are authentic, and is Pakistan raising these issues with China as well? (Aijaz Ahmed, GNN News)
Answer: We are not in a position to comment on anything that is not verified.
Question: I have two questions; firstly, India had invited us for i) the centenary celebrations of India’s Public Accounts Committee to be held on 5 December, and ii) the conference of NSAs on Afghanistan to be convened by India. Can you update on the status of these invitations?
Secondly, the regional players are trying to avert a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. In this regard, the international aid to Afghanistan will be through Pakistan, as direct contact is being avoided. Can you please share the exact statistics as to how much aid is required by Afghanistan and how much has actually been sent by the donor agencies? (Zaheer Ali Khan, Samma TV)
Answer: As for your first question, yes the invitations have been received. But these need to be viewed in the overall context of Pakistan-India relations, and the regional situation.
With regard to the conference on Afghanistan, it seems India is trying to find some relevance in the context of Afghanistan. As you are aware, various other regional mechanisms and processes are in place, including the one initiated by Pakistan itself – involving the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, the first meeting was held in Islamabad in September and the second Ministerial Meeting was held in Tehran only yesterday. There were also meetings held in Moscow before that. In this overall context, we are assessing the Indian invitation.
As for your question on the assistance required by Afghanistan, you would recall that the UN Conference held in Geneva received pledges of over $1 billion, however, the status of their actualization is not clear.
I do not have exact figures to share with you with regard to Afghanistan’s economic and humanitarian requirements but clearly the situation is very serious and requires urgent attention of the international community.
Question: Reportedly, Afghanistan has made certain appointments for its Diplomatic Missions in Afghanistan. Can you please share details of the appointments? And does this imply establishment of Pakistan’s diplomatic relations with the Taliban government? (Nayyar Ali, News One)
Answer: I responded to a similar question earlier.
Question: Amid rising tensions with China, India test fired Agni-5 inter-continental nuclear-capable missile. What are your comments on it? (Naveed Siddique, Dawn TV)
Answer: We are concerned at India’s jingoistic pursuit of lethal weapons, which coupled with its hostile posturing vis-à-vis neighbours, further imperils peace and stability in South Asia.
It must be alarming for the international community that at a time when the region is already facing the growing and real threat of extremist Hindutva ideology which espouses territorial expansionism, the BJP-RSS combine is recklessly seeking an arms race.
The recent missile test by India would further vitiate the political and security environment in South Asia.
Let me also add that India’s behavior defies the oft-propounded argument that its mainstreaming in the international export control regimes will further the non-proliferation objectives of the regime by promoting restraints. To the contrary, India seems to have been imbued with a sense of entitlement to access technologies for advancing its weapons programs, and it is a source of concern for us.
Question: The other day, Prince of Wales called Prime Minister Imran Khan and discussed COP26. Can you please share details? And does this high-level contact indicate that Prime Minister Imran Khan is going to United Kingdom to attend the event?
Will the Prime Minister also be interacting with the British leadership bilaterally, including the British political leadership besides attending the COP26 in London? (Mateen Haider, G News)
Answer: You would have seen the press release on the Prime Minister’s telephone call with the Prince of Wales. The preparations for Pakistan’s participation in COP26 are underway, and we will share the level of Pakistan’s participation soon.
Last modified: October 28, 2021
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