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.
Just to review for you, some highlights of the diplomatic activity and outreach during the course of the week, let me begin with the Prime Minister’s visit to Kazakhstan for the 6th Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA).
In his address to the Plenary, the Prime Minister articulated Pakistan’s key priorities and perspectives on a range of issues – including the urgency of climate action, win-win cooperation to promote the common objectives of peace, economic development, and enhanced trade and investment, and connectivity in the region.
He also spoke about the Indian atrocities in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, calling upon India to respect its international obligations and undo all unilateral and illegal actions since 5 August 2019 aimed at undermining the internationally recognized disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir.
CICA members expressed solidarity with Pakistan facing the unprecedented climate induced floods and called for supporting the relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts.
On the Summit sidelines, the Prime Minister held bilateral meetings with the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan besides interacting with other leaders.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari undertook an official visit to Germany on 6-7 October. The delegation level talks and the press briefing with the German counterpart covered a whole range of issues from bilateral cooperation to regional and global issues including Jammu and Kashmir and Afghanistan. Germany also announced additional 10 million Euros for flood relief assistance. The Foreign Minister also met the President of the upper house of the German Parliament.
In New York, on 7th October, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution expressing the international community’s solidarity and strong support for the Government and people of Pakistan in the wake of the devastating floods.
Proposed by Pakistan, this resolution was co-sponsored by an overwhelming number (151) of countries from all regions. The President of the General Assembly, the UN Secretary-General and member states expressed solidarity with the Government and people of Pakistan, and committed full support for the ongoing relief efforts and the subsequent rehabilitation and reconstruction phase.
You would have also followed the UN General Assembly proceedings on the situation in Ukraine, and Pakistan’s principled position stated therein.
Also during the last week, Under-Secretary-General (USG) for UN Department of Peace Operations Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, during his visit to Pakistan, called on Minister of State Hina Rabbani Khar, besides other engagements with the military leadership and UNMOGIP. The visit was an important opportunity for exchange of views on further enhancing the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping operations, and Pakistan’s continuing active participation therein.
Pakistan-China Spokespersons’ Dialogue was held virtually on 10th October. It was an occasion to exchange views on strengthening cooperation in the domains of media and public diplomacy to project the strategic partnership, shared objectives, and people to people linkages.
A group of UN Disarmament Fellows comprising officers from 24 countries visited Pakistan from 8-10 October 2022 as part of the international study tour under the auspices of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNoDA). They visited various institutions and state-of-the-art facilities, and were also briefed at the Foreign Office.
Recently, Pakistan Navy flotilla comprising Pakistan Navy Ship HAIBAT and Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) Ship BASOL visited Kuwait, Iraq and Bahrain during overseas deployment. The port calls will further enhance our close and cordial relations with these friendly countries.
Coming to the situation in IIOJK, you are aware, and we are deeply saddened, at the inhuman custodial death of Hurriyat leader Altaf Ahmed Shah, who remained imprisoned in the infamous Tihar Jail for the last five years.
The Indian Charge d’ Affaires (Cd’A) in Islamabad was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and conveyed Pakistan’s strong protest over the death of Mr. Shah caused by Indian government’s willful and deliberate negligence, and utter disregard for human rights, which was part of India’s systematic campaign to suppress and brutalize the Hurriyat leaders and the Kashmiris.
Indian government must immediately investigate the custodial death of Mr. Altaf Ahmed Shah and hold to account all those responsible.
Pakistan strongly condemns the extra-judicial killing of two more Kashmiris in fresh acts of state-sponsored terrorism by Indian occupation forces in IIOJK.
The latest incidents of violence and hostility perpetrated by Hindutva extremists against Muslims in India, during the recent Hindu festivals are a matter of grave concern. This is yet another manifestation of the growing ‘saffron terror’ that has deeply permeated the Indian society.
We call upon the international community to hold India accountable for its crimes against humanity in the occupied Jammu and Kashmir and to take cognizance of the rapidly deteriorating situation of Islamophobia in India and the resultant threat to the safety and security and wellbeing of its Muslim citizens and other minorities.
You would have also seen our rejection of the Indian Prime Minister’s remarks about IIOJK during a public rally in Gujarat. The Indian Prime Minister’s farcical contention that he has, somehow, “resolved the Kashmir issue”, is not only false and misleading but also reflects how oblivious the Indian leadership has become of the ground realities in IIOJK. Jammu and Kashmir is an internationally recognized dispute that has been on the agenda of the United Nations for over 7 decades awaiting a just and peaceful resolution in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions and wishes of the Kashmiri people.
Thank you.

Question: Recently a travel advisory was issued by U.S. This time of the year it is season for tourism in northern areas of Pakistan and such an advisory will affect tourism and businesses of local people. A similar advisory was issued for India as well but we understand that the situation of security is worsening in IIOJK and few other provinces. Do you think that the situation in Pakistan is such that such an advisory should have been issued?
Secondly, for the first time German Foreign Minister has highlighted the issue of Kashmir. What are your comments on her remarks?
The U.S. President has warned Saudi Arabia of serious consequences on the decision for reduction in production of oil? Your comments, please. ​(Khawaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: On your last question, it is not for me to comment on the statements of other governments.
With regard to your first question, I think this is an issue that we have been discussing, with our friends and partners, for quite some time. We believe there is a significant improvement in the security situation in Pakistan, and travel advisories should be reflective of that out of fairness and objectivity.
With reference to the remarks by the German Foreign Minister on Jammu and Kashmir, we welcome it. It is our expectation from the prominent members of the international community to advocate and support peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the international legitimacy that is enshrined in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

Question: Pakistan’s Foreign Policy has been going very well for the past few months and Foreign Office has a very important role in that. Recently, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister visited United Nations and Prime Minister also attended the CICA summit and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir was highlighted at all forums. Is there any chance that pressure will be created on India by UN and international community to stop human rights violations in IIOJK? (Shahzad Hassan Mirza, Royal News)

Answer: We have been raising the Jammu and Kashmir dispute at different regional and international forums as well as during our bilateral interactions with friends and partners, and it certainly puts the spotlight on the issue. The international community must realize that this is an unresolved issue, which has been festering for over seven decades. It is not only a threat to regional and international peace and security, it also concerns the Kashmiri people – the people of IIOJK have been suffering for more than seven decades – the widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, the whole policy of persecution of Kashmiris by the occupation forces – so we must keep on pressing this issue. There is receptivity and increasing understanding in the international community. You must have seen the statements from leaders of several countries; debates and hearings in various parliaments, especially with regards to the human rights situation in IIOJK. UN’s position is very clear and consistent and in line with the relevant UNSC resolutions. You have also seen the reports in the mainstream international media, and despite lack of access, special reports by the human rights organizations, Amnesty and HRW and others. So there is certainly attention and pressure. We will continue to forcefully raise the matter at all fora.
Question: It has been reported that there was an agreement with TTP for ceasefire in Swat. The people who returned to Swat have been violating terms of their agreement. Can Pakistan hold those people accountable who were part of peace talks and provided guarantee for agreement with these people? What are your comments on this? (Khalid Mehmood, Express News)
Answer: I think you are talking about specifics, and these should be referred to the concerned quarters. Just a note, that on a number of occasions, we have stated that whether it is negotiations or any process, the key objective of the Government and the State of Pakistan is to ensure peace and stability, and no one can be allowed to work against that.
Question: ​After the ‘cypher’ issue, has U.S. shown any displeasure on the way this issue was politicized? Secondly, it is also said that our diplomatic relations were affected by such politics and the world doesn’t trust us anymore (Amir Saeed Abbasi, Dunya News)

Supplementary Question: ​As a result of UN Flash Appeal we have received only US$ 90 million as of now, where as the actual appeal was for US$ 816 million. Is the international community not willing to help Pakistan in this hour of need because after 2010 floods we received much more assistance from international community and even from the U.S. Is this a failure of our foreign policy? (Ghazala Noreen, Suno TV)

Answer: As for the issue of cypher, and the Foreign Ministry’s perspective, we have stated our position on a number of occasions, and that is on record, and you may like to refer to the transcripts for that. We had also said that it was time for us to move on with our diplomacy and build our relationships, and that is what we have done, and it is quite evident from the results that are before you.
On your observation about the assistance that is coming in, we have clarified that before with regards to different observations and queries on this issue. There is a lack of understanding here. The response from the international community has been very forthcoming. The initial flash appeal of 30th August was for 160.3 million US dollars; and within a couple of weeks a large portion of that had been pledged. Subsequently, as was already anticipated, a revised flash appeal of 816 million US dollars was launched on 4th October.
So far, pledges over 205 million US$ have been made, of 90 million have been committed or actualized. Let me note again that this is the flash appeal we are talking about, and it relates to the urgent humanitarian needs.
Now the overall damage that has been caused by the floods and that is expected to run into tens of billions of dollars, and the assistance required for that will be part of a separate international conference focusing on sustainable rehabilitation and reconstruction for which there is a separate process.
The response from the international community, in terms of bilateral and multilateral assistance, is much beyond the figure of US$ 90 million. There is additional assistance that does not come under the flash appeal. So if you look at the total financial assistance that have been pledged, it is more than US$ 425 million now and it includes assistance offered at bilateral level from a large number of countries and others. Countries are also providing substantial in-kind assistance. Again this does not include the repurposed funds of around US$ 290 million by the World Bank, and assistance pledged or offered by other financial institutions. Sum total of all pledges exceeds US$ 1.1 billion.
Question: ​US issued its national security strategy two days ago. It has been stated in this policy that US will forge partnerships and alliances with the countries, states and nations that would help it to maneuver out its most serious strategic competitor China. We have a strategic partnership with the US, now that US is saying that we consider those countries our partner and allies which share their common objective, do we seek such a partnership with the US? (Essa Naqvi, Independent)

Answer: I will not comment on the new document because it just got out. Obviously once we have reviewed it carefully, then you can expect substantive observations or comments from our side. But as regards this thing that has already been there in the past, this concept of strategic competition between the major powers, our position as articulated at various forums and on multiple occasions, is that we think that it is in the interest of the developing countries including Pakistan, if there is more talk of cooperation rather than confrontation. We have also said many times that we do not want to be part of any bloc politics. That is the overall umbrella in which our policy is situated. With regards to our relations with US and China, we have said time and again that we want to have broad-based, objective, balanced and mutually beneficial relationship with all major powers.

Question: In his recent statement Prime Minister Sharif offered talks to India in a very categorical manner after mentioning Jammu and Kashmir dispute. He said, “we are ready to engage with India for the sake of our future generations.” My question is that without mentioning Jammu and Kashmir, has Pakistan changed its policy position?

Secondly, we have seen a lot of flip flops from Pakistani side on the Russia Ukraine conflict. On 25th February the then Foreign Minister called it a conflict, then on 3rd March you said from here in this ministry that it is a conflict, on 2nd April, Chief of Army Staff said that it was an invasion, on 22nd April your ministry said it was a conflict, last week the Foreign Minister said it was a war, so have we made up our mind on the policy position? What is it? A War, an invasion or a conflict, can you clear the policy position?​(Anas Mallick, Capital TV)
Answer: I would invite your attention to the full text of the Prime Minister’s statement in which he clearly outlined Pakistan’s principled and consistent position on Kashmir. There is no question of deviation from Pakistan’s longstanding position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, and the basis on which we want to see it resolved.
With regard to your second question, Pakistan’s policy on the conflict in Ukraine is clear and has not changed. Getting entangled in terminology can sometimes take us away from the essence of our position, which is, for the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law and UN Charter principles. The Foreign Minister in the joint press stakeout with his German counterpart reiterated this position, emphasizing the necessity of dialogue and diplomacy for the resolution of this conflict. The Foreign Minister also highlighted that despite Pakistan’s economic difficulties, as a gesture of solidarity, Pakistan had sent humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. Emphasizing consistent and universal application of UN Charter principles, the Foreign Minister said that we could not talk about the UN resolutions and Charter in the Ukrainian context, and forget that in the context of occupied Jammu and Kashmir. So I think our position has been clear and consistent and you may like to have a further look at the statement in the explanation of vote that Pakistan made at the UNGA the other day.

Question: We have seen that since this government came in, whenever the Ministries of this Government visit foreign countries they have to face undesirable behavior from overseas Pakistanis, recent example is that of situation faced by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar. What is the view of Foreign Office on this? Can such incidents stop on complaint of Foreign Office or will they continue? (Mudassar Iqbal Chaudhary, The Destination)
Answer: I think this is a question of somewhat political nature. We are aware of these incidents and the host authorities also take notice of these incidents, and often they take actions according to their own rules and regulations. What happened in Saudi Arabia, you are aware of that, the Saudi authorities took notice of that and took action. We keep track of this, and I think it is incumbent on all of us, Pakistanis here and abroad, to be mindful of the image of the country, always.

Question: ​Has the state of Pakistan devised any policy to recognize the interim Afghan government? It seems that Pakistan and the entire international community is silent on this issue. Your comments, please. (Naveed Siddiqui, Dawn News)
Answer: This is an important and a complex question. You know that we have said this before, that this is something that should be considered through consultation, particularly in the region, and that it would be better to have a consensual way forward. It is yet to be seen how this will eventually happen. So if you are asking about any immediate things coming up on this, I don’t see that. But this is a question that remains under discussion, among the regional countries in particular.
Question: Pakistan abstained from the vote in UNGA on the resolution on Ukraine. I just want to ask whether the United States approached Pakistan to support the resolution and as we have abstained from voting, will it be affecting the recent improvement in U.S.-Pakistan relations? (Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)
Supplementary Question: You would recall that when the last time Pakistan had abstained from voting in the UNGA on Russia, a video of Donald Lu also came in which he had said that the US was working to persuade countries to vote against the Russian aggression, which was also politicized by PTI. You would note that the words of ‘regime change’ were also used after that. Will it affect Pakistan’s relations with the U.S. again? (Aijaz Ahmed, GNN)
Answer: Pakistan has taken a well-considered, principled, and objective position on this issue. We have maintained that position and we feel that it has also enabled us space to engage with both sides. We hope and expect that other members of the international community, who have their own perspectives and positions, will also understand and respect Pakistan’s independent position, which is based on our own considerations and context.
Moreover, when countries have different positions, they interact; they try to explain their positions to others, so this is part of the process and normal diplomatic activity, and I don’t think it should have any impact on any bilateral relations.
If you were specifically talking about the current vote, I would invite you to have a look at the explanation of the vote by Pakistan, which for example clearly calls for respect for the principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States. We believe that these principles must be consistently and universally respected. We were also unambiguous in pronouncing our position on the illegality and unacceptability of the referenda organized in Ukraine.
You would have also seen the reference to Jammu and Kashmir in our statement and our expectation that India’s illegal actions in IIOJK that were in complete violation of international law and relevant UNSC resolutions must also receive similar concern and condemnation.
The reasons that obliged us to abstain were also outlined in our statement, which also reiterated the call for immediate cessation of hostilities and the imperative of peaceful resolution of this conflict through dialogue and diplomacy.
Question: ​When Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif was elected, Indian Prime Minister Modi congratulated him in a tweet. On 17 April, in his tweet, Prime Minister Shahbaz replied that Pakistan intends to resolve the issue of Kashmir in a peaceful way through negotiations, which was also highlighted by the PM in his recent statements at CICA. In contrast, recently, the Chief of Army Staff during a ceremony in Kakul said that Pakistan’s intent for peaceful resolution of disputes with India must not be seen as a weakness. What are your views on this, please? (Asghar Ali Mubarak, The Daily Mail International/ World Echo News)
Answer: I think we have been discussing this. This was part of several other questions also. It is quite evident, and I think the logic and the circumstances inform us that in order for the South Asian region to make progress, and for the benefit of the people of this region, it is very important to resolve the outstanding issues between India and Pakistan, of which Jammu and Kashmir is the core dispute. I think this is a major impediment to the normalization of relations and for development in this part of the world to take a huge lunge. So, it is in that context that Pakistan has been consistently advocating and adopting this position that we need to seriously address the Jammu and Kashmir dispute with a view to resolving this dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions. There is understanding and support for this position by other members of the international community, including the UN. You know that successive UN Secretaries General have time and again, spoken about this and also offered their good offices. The problem, the main impediment, however, is India’s behaviour.
Question: ​There have been audio leaks from PM Secretariat. Has the Foreign Office been scanned for any bugs after that incident? (Mohsin, 24 News)
Answer: I have no comment on that.
Question: Can you share any update regarding negotiations with TTP going on in Afghanistan? Secondly, is the situation in KPK getting worse because of failure of negotiations with TTP? If the negotiations have failed what are the reasons for that? ​(Allah Noor, Mashriq TV)
Answer: I don’t have any particular update on this.

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