October 7, 2022| Media Briefing|
[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]
Assalam-o-Alaikum and welcome to our weekly briefing.
As you would have followed, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is on official 2-day visit to Germany on the invitation of German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. The visit is an important opportunity to strengthen bilateral cooperation and exchange of views on issues ranging from the climate-induced floods in Pakistan to regional and global situation. We will keep sharing further details as the visit progresses.
Sustaining the momentum of flood relief efforts and continuing international spotlight on the challenging situation remains top priority of the Government of Pakistan.
UN Revised Flash Appeal to the tune of USD 816 million was launched in Geneva earlier this week on 4 October. The revised appeal up-scales the Floods Response by USD 656 million from the initial appeal of USD 160 million. This increase reflects the rising needs and the unprecedented scale of destruction caused by the disaster and is focused on provision of urgent and lifesaving assistance and protection to the affected people. Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Director General WHO represented the UN in the event, whereas the Minister for Climate Change represented Pakistan attending in-person, and the Minister for Economic Affairs and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs participated virtually.
The Government of Pakistan, the United Nations, humanitarian and philanthropic organizations, and local communities have been working hard to assist flood-affected areas across Pakistan. The global community has stepped forward with valuable assistance. Sustained international support is going to be crucial to complement the national efforts going forward, ensuring effective rehabilitation of the millions who have been affected, and rebuilding and reconstructing in a more resilient and sustainable manner.
Our Missions across the world are engaged in extensive outreach to better inform the international community and to mobilize response. You would have seen the European Parliament’s debate in Strasbourg with some very powerful statements and expressions of support for Pakistan.
Let me also inform you that later today, in New York, the UN General Assembly will adopt a resolution, which has been introduced by Pakistan, and co-sponsored by over 140 countries. This resolution expresses strong solidarity and support for the Government and people of Pakistan in the wake of the devastating floods. So this is going to happen today.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
There was a flurry of diplomatic engagements during the course of the week.
On 4th of October, Mr. Janez Lenarčič, European Commissioner for Crisis Management called on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. EU has committed further Euros 30 million in humanitarian aid for the flood affectees.
The same day, Right Honorable Angela Reynar, the Deputy Leader of the British Labour Party, accompanied by Lord Wajid Khan, Member of House of Lords, called on the Prime Minister. The visiting delegation assured the Prime Minister of their continued cooperation to garner support for flood affected population.
Turkish Red Crescent Goodwill Ambassador and Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan Mehmet Pacaci also called on Prime Minister the same day.
Yesterday, His Excellency Sheikh Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League called on the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister appreciated the efforts for Muslim unity, highlighting important causes such as Kashmir and Palestine, and spreading the message of peace, tolerance and inter-faith harmony. He also appreciated the support provided by Saudi Arabia to Pakistan in the aftermath of the floods.
During the week, the Ambassador of China H.E. Nong Rong, U.S. Special Representative on Afghanistan, Mr. Thomas West, the European Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič and the Ambassador of Kuwait, H.E Nassar Abdulrahman J. Almutairi called on Minister of State Hina Rabbani Khar. During these meetings, diverse areas of bilateral cooperation and global and regional issues of mutual interest came under discussion.
Pakistan-EU Joint Commission Session was also held in Islamabad on 5th of October.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
You must have seen our strong statement rejecting Indian External Affairs Minister’s highly irresponsible remarks insinuating at Pakistan’s so-called involvement in “international terrorism”.
Pakistan’s contribution to world peace, from successful counter-terrorism operations to our role in the global fight against terrorism, is widely acknowledged by the international community.
In stark contrast, nowhere is state-terrorism more evident than in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK), where over 900,000 Indian occupation forces continue to terrorize, torture and torment innocent Kashmiris with impunity.
No pretense at portraying normalcy, as is attempted by the recent visit of the Indian Home Minister to IIOJK can hoodwink the world into believing that the situation is normal in IIOJK. The visit means nothing for the oppressed and subjugated Kashmiris; it is a mere smokescreen aimed at diverting international attention from the grave human rights violations being perpetrated by the Indian occupation troops in IIOJK.
The world is also aware of the “saffron terror” orchestrated and unleashed by the BJP-RSS zealots against Muslims in India. Most recent harrowing example is the public floggings meted out to Muslim men in Gujrat for allegedly disturbing the Hindu religious festival of Navrati.
Indian Charge d’Affaires (Cd’A) in Islamabad was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs last week and conveyed Government of Pakistan’s serious concerns over the deteriorating health condition of Hurriyat leader Altaf Ahmed Shah who has been incarcerated in the infamous Tihar Jail for the last five years and is suffering from renal cancer and is consistently denied medical care by Indian authorities.
We also remain deeply concerned over the deteriorating heath, and continued incarceration of Kashmiri political prisoners including Hurriyat leaders like Yasin Malik who are languishing in different jails of India and in IIOJK.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq remains under house arrest and is continuously denied access to go to the Jamia Masjid to deliver the Friday sermon.
Worryingly, IIOJK continues to be strangled economically, facing the brunt of Indian occupation forces ‘economic terrorism’. While the region has a stark unemployment rate, its farmers are faced with prolonged and forced road blockades by the occupation forces, exposing them to risks of their produce going rotten. This is a deliberate attempt to destroy the region’s economy.
Reprehensibly, in the past one-week, Indian forces have blatantly carried out a series of extra-judicial murders with impunity. Eight innocent Kashmiris were mercilessly martyred by Indian occupation forces in Baramulla, Shopian and Pulwama. Since its unilateral and illegal actions of 5th August 2019, Indian occupation forces have martyred more than 678 Kashmiris, including at least 158 this year.
Pakistan reiterates its call for the investigation of extra-judicial killings in IIOJK by a Commission of Inquiry as recommended by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in its Kashmir Reports of 2018 and 2019.
Pakistan urges the international community to hold India responsible for its brazen persecution of innocent Kashmiris and play its role in ensuring a just and peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
Question: Gross human rights violations are being conducted in IIOJK since decades. But, livelihoods of local people are being targeted now by Indian Occupation forces which are dependent on the trade of fruits particularly apples. What are your comments on this?
Secondly, India is increasing its influence in an important Central African country Rwanda which is expected to become the new technology-hub in Africa. What steps are being taken by Pakistan to expand its bilateral ties with Rwanda?
Thirdly, it is being reported in media that U.S. is going to impose new sanctions on Iran. What are your comments on this issue? (Khawaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)
Answer: With regard to your first observation, this is something that I just referred to in my opening remarks. I mentioned this in the previous briefing also. I think it is quite evident that India has failed to suppress the voice and the legitimate demands of the Kashmiri people for freedom and self determination. The Indian occupation forces are resorting to a host of other measures and this is yet another reprehensible action through which they are trying to attack and damage the economy of the occupied territory. As you mentioned, apple production is one of the key sectors of economy in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and by blocking the movement of trucks for several days, allowing the fruit to rot, is a direct attempt to jeopardize and financially hit the farmers. This is totally unacceptable and that is why we are raising it. I think it is incumbent on the international community, especially the media to highlight this. This is another facet of the range of illegal activities that the Indian occupation forces are carrying out to the detriment of the besieged population in IIOJK.
Secondly, you mentioned Rwanda, you are aware that Pakistan in recent years has been actively reaching out to Africa, including through the Engage Africa Policy. We are collaborating with many of our partners in Africa, we have opened new embassies, and we have appointed a number of honorary consuls who are working with the specific objective of promoting trade, investment and economic ties. Two major trade shows have been held in Kenya and Nigeria. So this is something that is ongoing. We attach great importance to the economic potential of Africa and much of our effort in recent years has been directed to fully exploit this potential to the benefit of Pakistan and our partners in Africa.
On your third question, it is our position and we have always advocated resolution of disputes and any such issues through dialogue and diplomacy. In principle, we are opposed to unilateral sanctions. We think that it has been counterproductive in the past.
Question: Can you please share how much total amount in rupees has been received from various countries for the flood affected people of Pakistan?
Secondly, Amit Shah External Affairs Minister of India has recently visited IIOJK and while addressing a public gathering he said that on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir we will not talk to Pakistan rather we will talk to the Kashmiri youth. What are your comments on this, please? (Mudassar Chaudhary, The Destination)
Answer: We have been giving you the figures of the flood relief assistance that is coming in. It’s also available with the Economic Affairs Division. Around 355 million US$ assistance has been pledged so far, of which around 90 million is under the flash appeal. The amounts that are coming in the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund are separate from this. As I mentioned last time also, there is about $290 million that has been repurposed by the World Bank, and that is separate. We can share more details.
About your other question, we have always said that the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute lies in the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions, and it is very clear, the stipulations of these resolutions are very evident. They provide the legal basis on which this issue needs to be resolved. Importantly, it revolves around the organization of a UN supervised plebiscite to ascertain the will of the Kashmiri people. So it is very evident that the desire, the will of the Kashmiri people is very primordial in the solution to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. We have always advocated and I just said in my opening remarks, we support a solution that is in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people. So I think the Indian side needs to understand that if they are really genuine and serious in resolving this dispute, they have to proceed in accordance with this international legal framework, which is there, which has been there for seven decades, which has the legitimacy and acceptance of the international community.
Question: During the last week an important leader of the political party in government said that Foreign Office officials have told the Prime Minister that foreign countries are not sending us ciphers anymore. What are your comments on this?
Secondly, is it true that due to on-going political situation in the country, Pakistan’s relations with other countries have been affected either positively or negatively? What are your comments on this please? (Ghazala Noreen, SUNO TV)
Answer: I don’t really get your first question and it is not clear what you are trying to ascertain. So I would not wish to offer any comments so as to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding.
On the other observation, I think you would have noticed the conduct of foreign policy, the way the engagements are taking place – with the major powers, with the region, with our traditional partners, and also beyond, regions with which we want to enhance our cooperation and partnership. I think it is very evident that there is a positive, forward movement; there is improvement and further strengthening of bilateral relations and cooperation with a host of countries. That is evident from the series of interactions, the various visits and meetings that are taking place, the intense diplomacy that you have observed in the last couple of months.
Question: On 1st October we saw an order from the Taliban intelligence that has banned the use of Pakistani currency for major transactions in Afghanistan. Now, this is something that we had not seen even during the previous regime or previous governments that were considerably anti-Pakistan. How do you comment on that?
Secondly, British High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis has been quoted as saying that, “Our focus has shifted towards India. I keep saying it is Indo-Pac with a ‘c’ rather Indo-Pak with a ‘k’. The UK relationship has changed with Pakistan a lot as it withdrew from Afghanistan.” How do you see this comment as well? (Anas Mallick, Capital TV)
Answer: On your first question, basically, we understand that the restriction on Pakistani currency in Afghanistan, you are referring to, has been suspended. We hope that this matter will be decided by the Afghan authorities in the best interest of bilateral trade and our two countries.
With regard to your other question, although I mean, it is not sometimes very useful to comment on statements from envoys that are stationed in third countries and talking about relations with other countries. But I think as far as Pakistan is concerned, the importance of Pakistan in the region, and globally, is very evident, and widely acknowledged. Pakistan is a key player in South Asia. Pakistan’s role in addressing the situation in Afghanistan was crucial and remains very important. Pakistan has a voice of influence in the region and beyond. If you look at it globally, Pakistan is an important member of the OIC; we are leaders in the multilateral arena, chairing the G-77 right now, for example. And I think even from the perspective of bilateral relations, it is very obvious, the kind of cooperation we have had with major countries, including the UK; you have seen some very significant interactions in recent months also; and this shows the vitality and importance of this relationship. So I think it is quite evident that we attach great importance to this relationship. I don’t know in what context specifically he was talking about this being in New Delhi; may be an advice for him to also consult London on this.
Question:TTP has recently issued a statement in which various districts of KPK province including Dera Ismail Khan, Peshawar, Malakand, Bannu etc. have been named as ‘Wilayat’ and it has also appointed various individuals as governors, deputy governors of these areas. What is Pakistan’s view on this, please? (Allah Noor, Mashriq TV)
Answer: This has no basis whatsoever. Anything that goes against the Constitution and legal provisions of Pakistan is totally unacceptable.
Question: Yesterday, in a Press Conference Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif said that on the issue of cipher ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan conspired against the interest of Pakistan. Some time ago Interior Minister also said during a press conference that ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan has destroyed Pakistan’s foreign policy. Because Chief Executive and Interior Minister have mentioned destruction of Foreign Policy, can you please explain how Pakistan’s foreign policy was affected by the issue of cipher? (Shaukat Piracha, Aaj News)
Answer: I think, I don’t need to go into this or add to or explain the statements, but if you are talking about the perspective of the Foreign Ministry on the issue of the cypher, we have spoken about that in detail in the past. You can refer to the transcripts, it is stated on record and our position is very clear.
Question: U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Bloom visited Azad Kashmir two days ago. No information was received from the Government on this. But, the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan issued a tweet on this. Can you share some details about this visit as it was a visit of a sensitive area which was not officially notified? (Rizwan Ahmed Abbasi, Daily Ausaf)
Answer: I think, this is welcome and besides enabling them to have firsthand information about the region, interacting with the political leadership and others in AJK, I think one important aspect would be the kind of comparison that they can draw between the peaceful and normal situation in AJK as compared to the very disturbed situation in IIOJK, which is marked by continuing and serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. This stark contrast comes out for anyone who visits AJK, and this is a dimension that we need to keep in mind and this is very important.
Question: I want to know if master copy of cipher which is kept in Foreign Office safe from any kind of theft or not? (Anwar Abbas, Bol News)
Answer: As I was referring to in response to one earlier question, we have stated our position clearly; including about the system that handles these documents. So you may like to refer to that. It is very evident that these documents are handled, and are present in the Foreign Ministry, in a proper, safe and secure situation.
Question: In a press conference yesterday Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif leveled some serious allegations against former PM Imran Khan vis-a-vis Foreign Policy and said that through this cipher he definitely compromised National Security, Foreign Policy and damaged Pakistan’s relations with the U.S. So we need your comments on where Pakistan-US relations stand now. Since the change of the government how much improvement damage control exercise has been done? (Mateen Haider, G News)
Answer: A similar question has been posed earlier as well. I think what the Prime Minister has said is clear. I don’t have anything to add to that. As far as relations with the U.S. are concerned, we have informed and you are aware yourself; there is a lot of positive momentum and energy in the Pakistan-U.S relationship and this is manifest from the very intense engagements, visits, meetings and interactions at various levels that have been taking place. I think it is in the interest of our two countries to keep this positive trajectory and healthy engagement progressing for the mutual benefit of our two countries.
Question: After the visit of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to Pakistan he rightly mentioned about the climate justice in the wake of devastating floods in Pakistan. Foreign Minister and the Pakistani leadership during the UNGA visit have also stressed upon the same. Also, Foreign Minister coined a term as ‘Green Marshall Plan’. My question is, whether any sort of initiative has been taken by United States and rest of the developed countries to initiate or mobilize the climate finances particularly for Pakistan to tackle this unprecedented catastrophe?
Secondly, French president during meeting with the Prime Minister generously offered to have a Donors Conference and the United Nations Secretary General also offered that. I want to know if the decision for venue or any sort of planning regarding the Donors Conference has been done. Has Ministry of Foreign Affairs any role regarding the damage needs assessment report for conducting the Donor Conference. (Faisal Raza Khan, 92 News)
Answer: Actually, all of these points are interlinked. The main thing is that Pakistan has faced a natural disaster which is climate-induced. That is why the discussion is revolving around the negative consequences of climate change, and countries like Pakistan have been affected in a very disproportionate manner. We are one of the least contributors to climate change, but amongst those who are at the highest risk. In this context there are several tracks on which discussions are taking place on how to go forward. Many of these ideas were discussed in the bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the UNGA session, and some of the meetings that Pakistan itself organized, like there was a high-level event on loss and damage that the Foreign Minister chaired while he was in New York. Then there was another meeting of leaders that was co-convened by the Secretary General and the Egyptian Presidency of COP, this was also a recurring theme, and as the chair of G-77 and China, we also floated this proposal that the loss and damage issue be placed on the agenda of COP-27 in Sharm-El-Sheikh and these discussions will be taken forward. The other aspect of this is the international assistance that needs to come forward for Pakistan now to address and respond to this disaster and the damages that have been inflicted. We are currently passing through the relief phase, side-by-side the damage needs assessment is being done. It is expected that this process will be completed anytime between mid to end of October and then the next steps are going to be about the longer-term rehabilitation and reconstruction. That’s going to be a huge task and that is where the continuing, sustained support and solidarity of the international community will be required and in that context, as you mentioned, the French President has offered to host an international conference. The UN Secretary General is also on board. So, it could be co- convened and a comprehensive plan will be taken to this conference. We can expect this to take place towards the end of the year, perhaps end November; final decisions would be taken on this, about the exact timing and the venue of this conference. What needs to be understood is that we are we trying to do this in a different, slightly non-traditional manner. So, it is not the usual way of going to a conference and putting up the requirements of reconstruction and rehabilitation, but the idea is to have a plan, a comprehensive model, in which the reconstruction is going to be structured around the concepts of sustainability, renewability and resilience. These elements are going to be weaved around the rehabilitation and reconstruction plans. So this is something that will be prepared by various concerned ministries in Pakistan, involving Planning, Economic Affairs, Finance, Climate Change, Foreign Affairs, NFRCC, and others together with the assistance of global institutions like the World Bank and ADB. The idea is to take this plan to the international conference that is envisaged.
Question: On the occasion of Eid Milad-un-Nabi my question is that how successful we have been on the issue of Islamophobia and what further steps are being taken in this regards? (Asghar Ali Mubarak, The Daily Mail International/ World Echo News)
Answer: I think this issue is very close to the heart of Pakistanis and the Muslims around the world. We attach great importance to all the concerns that have been there regarding Islamophobia. You will recall that Pakistan steered a process initially within the OIC and then we took it to the UN General Assembly, and through consensus support of the entire membership a resolution on combating Islamophobia was adopted designating 15th March as the International Day of combating Islamophobia. But, this was just one part of it; the important thing is about implementation. We keep on discussing this issue, we raise this at all important forums and we know that the OIC itself remains very relevant and very active in promoting this issue, trying to see how the Islamic world and others can join hands in addressing it in the most effective manner. Thank you.
Last modified: October 7, 2022
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