Media Briefing|

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

Assalam-o-Alaikum. Thanks for being with us for the briefing.

Let me first of all convey our sincere condolences at the shocking and untimely death of prominent journalist, anchorperson and colleague Mr. Arshad Sharif in Kenya. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the deceased.
We have remained engaged with the Kenyan authorities at multiple levels on this matter, including for the speedy repatriation of the mortal remains of Mr. Sharif, and for detailed investigation into the incident. As you recall the Prime Minister had also spoken to the Kenyan President. Pakistan has formally requested the Kenyan government for detailed investigation. The Government has also formed a two-member team to ascertain the facts related to the murder from Kenyan Police and relevant authorities. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our High Commission in Nairobi are facilitating the team’s visit.

Kashmir Black Day was observed yesterday to condemn the 75 years of Indian illegal occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir, and to reaffirm Pakistan’s strong support for the just struggle of the Kashmiri people.
The President, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, in their special messages on the occasion, underscored Pakistan’s principled position, and resolve to support the Kashmiri people, and called upon the international community to play its due role in urging India to end its illegal occupation, halt massive human rights violations and cease repressive measures against the Kashmiris. Pakistan’s Missions abroad also organized a range of activities to raise global awareness about the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and to reaffirm solidarity with the Kashmiri people.
A special Kashmir Solidarity Walk was initiated from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was led by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar from the Foreign Office and later joined by other dignitaries including the Adviser to the Prime Minister on Kashmir Affairs Mr. Qamar Zaman Kaira.
The Foreign Secretary briefed the resident Ambassadors of OIC, P-5 and European countries on the egregious human rights situation in IIOJK as well as India’s continued efforts to bring about demographic changes in IIOJK and to deny the Kashmiris their inalienable right to self-determination.
The Foreign Minister addressed letters to the President of the UN General Assembly, President of the Security Council, UN Secretary-General, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the OIC Secretary-General to apprise them of the grave situation in the IIOJK, and India’s continued denial of the right of self-determination to the people of IIOJK for more than seven decades.

The situation remains grave meanwhile in the IIOJK. We condemn the recent killings of civilians in fake encounters in Shopian and Kupwara district. Also condemnable is the stopping of Kashmiri photojournalist Sanna Irshad Mattoo at Delhi airport to prevent her traveling to New York to receive her Pulitzer Prize.
We are seriously concerned over the recent attack and ransacking of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference head office in Srinagar by Hindutva fanatics supported by the Indian Army. Such brutal acts cannot subdue the Kashmiris’ resolve for freedom.
Here I would like to convey condolences on the passing away of former Chairman All Parties Hurriyat Conference Maulana Abbas Ansari after a prolonged illness in Srinagar on 25th October. He spent years behind bars for his relentless struggle for the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people.
The alarming state of human rights in IIOJK and the brutal treatment of minorities in India are a matter of serious concerns for the international community. You must have seen the remarks by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during his recent visit to India, whereby he also reminded India of its responsibility towards global human rights, and to protect and promote the rights of all individuals, including members of minority communities.

As you would have followed, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visited Riyadh on 24th October on the invitation of His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. During the visit, Prime Minister held consultations with the Saudi Crown Prince. Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to enhance bilateral ties and fraternal bonds between the two countries.
The Prime Minister also attended the Saudi Future Investment Initiative Summit, where in his address, he noted that clean energy potential would be the new driver of economic prosperity, and stressed upon the world community to come forward and support these joint efforts. The Prime Minister underlined that Pakistan was ready to reach out to potential investors to grab the future for its coming generations, adding that young women and men were crafting their careers through means of modern technology.

You would have seen our statement condemning the terrorist activities perpetrated by the Houthis’ in violation of UNSC Resolutions against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and reaffirming our strong support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as the Kingdom’s efforts for achieving a peaceful settlement in Yemen.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will visit China on 1-2 November, accompanied by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
The Prime Minister is undertaking the visit at the invitation of H.E. Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. The Prime Minister will meet with President Xi Jinping and hold delegation level talks with Premier Li. The two sides will review the All-Weather Strategic Cooperation Partnership and exchange views on regional and global developments.
The Prime Minister’s visit is also expected to advance wide-ranging bilateral cooperation agenda with the conclusion of a number of MoUs/Agreements in diverse areas, and consolidate the momentum of CPEC cooperation in the wake of the 11thmeeting of the CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) held yesterday, in which both sides expressed satisfaction over the ongoing projects under CPEC while several new projects were also proposed.
Last week, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister also congratulated President Xi on his reelection as CPC’s General Secretary for the 3rd term.

On 25th October, US Ambassador Donald Blome called on the Foreign Minister. They discussed rehabilitation of flood-affected people, advancement of mutual relations and further enhancement of trade relations between the two countries. We also appreciate the additional USD 30 million flood assistance for Pakistan announced by the US.

Just to recall, last week in its plenary meeting held in Paris, the Financial Action Task Force decided by consensus that Pakistan has completed all substantial, technical and procedural requirements of both 2018 and 2021 Action Plans. And as a result, Pakistan has been taken out of the list of jurisdictions under increased monitoring, with immediate effect. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs/Chairperson National FATF Coordination Committee, Hina Rabbani Khar, led the Pakistan delegation to the FATF Plenary. On 21 October, the Minister of State also held a press conference post – FATF plenary to congratulate the entire nation on this significant development.
During her visit to France, the MOS also had a number of interactions with high-ranking French officials besides engaging with media, scholars and think tanks. Bilateral relations, including parliamentary cooperation, situation of floods in Pakistan, as well as regional and global issues of mutual interest were discussed during these meetings.
Question: ​A two-member Pakistani fact-finding team has gone to Kenya to conduct investigation into Arshad Sharif’s killing. May I know what kind of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) agreement do we have with the Kenyan side? If we do not have any particular agreement, what kind of assurances Kenyan Government has given that they would support the two member team regarding the fact finding inquiry into the killing of Mr. Arshad Shareef? (Azaz Syed, Geo News)

Supplementary Question: Pakistan’s investigation team will take a lot of time to share anything. We have followed the Press Releases of Kenyan official authorities. In the light of post-mortem report which came recently and investigation of Kenyan police authorities what other information can you share, something out of the box, regarding the investigation of the incident other than press releases? (Naveed Siddiqui, Dawn News)

Supplementary Question: Can you share some information regarding the whereabouts of laptop and mobile of Mr. Arshad Sharif? (Sardar Amir Hussain, Daily Madaar/Royal News)

Answer: Thank you very much. This is a very serious matter, which is why it requires detailed investigations. There cannot be anything out of the box. This is not that kind of a situation. At present, there is no MLA between Pakistan and Kenya, but we have been assured of full cooperation in this matter. As you would recall, the Prime Minister in his telephonic conversation with the Kenyan President had also requested this and the Kenyan President had very kindly agreed to this request. The two-member team whose mandate is to ascertain the facts related to the murder is on its way to Kenya. They have left this morning and will be there tonight. We have been in touch with the Kenyan authorities at various levels here in Islamabad and in Nairobi to facilitate this visit and we look forward to full cooperation and coordination to facilitate the work of this team.

On the last one, I don’t have any detailed information in this regard. I think these specifics relate to the concerned quarters. Any information that would be available would be shared at the appropriate forum.

Question: ​Yesterday, 75th Black Day was observed in Pakistan. Kashmiris who are living in and outside Pakistan desire that Kashmir issue should be resolved according to the UN Security Council resolutions. But, we are seeing the silence of international community for the past 75 years, particularly on the human rights violations conducted by Indian occupation forces against in IIOJK after 5th August. What are you comments on that? What other steps can be taken for the cognizance of international community? Do you see India and Pakistan working bilaterally to resolve this issue or any third party can play role of a mediator? (Asghar Ali Mubarak, The Daily Mail International/ World Echo News)

Answer: I think, you know the history of the Kashmir Black day which goes back to 27th October 1947. The purpose of commemorating or observing such days is to express solidarity with the Kashmiri people. This is an issue on which there is complete national consensus, which is manifested when such occasions/days are observed inside Pakistan, in Kashmir and across the world. I believe that this is our moral responsibility to express our support to the Kashmiri people who are waging a legitimate struggle for their right to self-determination.

You have mentioned about the response of the international community which is valid in the sense that this dispute has remained unresolved for over seven decades, which is unacceptable. To date, the UN Security Council Resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir dispute are relevant, and which clearly stipulate how this dispute had to be resolved – through a free and impartial plebiscite to be conducted under the auspices of the United Nations to ascertain the will of the Kashmiri people. This is an unresolved issue that has been a threat to international and regional peace and security. This is also an issue that has led to serious and egregious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in IIOJK, and that is where it has assumed another significant, serious dimension. This is something that we have been raising awareness about before the international community.

On your comment regarding the response of the international community, allow me to disagree a bit; I think there is a great deal of responsiveness from the international community to the plight of the Kashmiri people and to the situation of human rights in IIOJK, particularly since 5th August 2019. There has been a lot of focus on what has been transpiring in IIOJK in terms of the blackout, killings and the human rights violations. You need to look at the two Kashmir Reports of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. You need to look at the very clear and categorical statements of the UN Secretary General on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, numerous statements by world leaders, debates and discussions that took place in many Parliaments and think tanks. I think a lot is being said, done and written about the situation. We continue to highlight this situation and we need your support to further project it.

Question: ​Firstly, we have seen a barrage of press conferences which seemingly don’t seem to be convincing on what the Kenyan police has said that this was a murder that took place as a result of mistaken identity. What does Pakistan government believe was this a case of mistaken identity or was this a targeted killing as is being said by the family of the deceased and by the opposition parties as well?

Secondly, we’ve seen a statement coming in from the defense minister of India with regards to Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. What does Pakistan have to say on that? (Anas Mallick, Capital TV)

Answer: I think on your first question, as I just mentioned, you are aware that an incident has happened which needs to be investigated properly, a two-member team has been constituted with the mandate to ascertain the facts related to this matter. I think it would only be proper for me to say that we need to wait for the reports of the investigation, what the Kenyan authorities will formally come up with and what this team will report back.
On your other question or observation, we have said this before many times and although I do not feel obliged to again comment on such statements, but even at the risk of repetition, I think to put it on record, India and its leadership needs to seriously introspect its policy with regards to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, its behavior in the region vis-à-vis its neighbors, its hostility and arrogance. Only through such a behavioral change, we can expect betterment in the situation. As far as the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is concerned, Pakistan’s position is very clear and consistent and is in conformity with the position of the United Nations on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. India might be taking whatever line; its position has no basis whatsoever in accordance with, in terms of international legitimacy. And Pakistan has the capability to defend ourselves against any aggression or ill designed moves, and we have proven that on many occasions and Indian misadventures in the past. Bizarre statements from Indian leadership also indicate their nervousness arising from the fact that the Kashmiris are today totally alienated in IIOJK. India needs to allow the people of IIOJK to exercise their free will in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions so that this dispute can be resolved in accordance with international legitimacy. In the end, the difference between our two positions lies in the fact that Pakistan is ready to implement these resolutions. We are ready to accept whatever will be the wish expressed by the Kashmiri people in accordance with these resolutions about their future, but India is not. It does not have the courage for obvious reasons. This is the hard fact.

Question: ​Has the Foreign Minister of Pakistan written any letter to UAE authorities to expel Arshad Sharif from UAE or to send him back to Pakistan? (Allah Noor, Mashriq TV)

Answer: There is no such letter to our knowledge. We have seen such reports, spreading disinformation on social media as well, where some people were suggesting that there was a letter and it was allegedly signed by the Foreign Minister. I would like to say very clearly, this is absolutely baseless; there is no truth in it whatsoever. And even this matter does not relate to the Foreign Ministry.

Question: ​In your opening statement you mentioned Prime Minister’s upcoming visit to China in which many high-profile meetings are also expected. Can you share Pakistan’s expectations from this visit? Also, can the internal situation of the Pakistan negatively affect this visit?

Secondly, the vision of current government regarding trade is that they will procure items where they will be available at cheapest price. Has there been some progress regarding procurement of wheat and oil from Russia? Please share some details. (Khawaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: I think as far as trade is concerned, this is very clear. I think the Ministry of Commerce’s position on this is clear, the political leadership has been saying this, that when it comes to trade, you have to look at your interests and the interests of the people of Pakistan. So wherever you find better terms of trade, you go for that, so that remains the policy.

With regard to the visit to China, you can understand very well that in the current circumstances, this is a very significant visit. Prime Minister is going to be among the first world leaders to visit China after the 20th CPC Congress, and this will be the Prime Minister’s first official bilateral visit to China. I don’t need to elaborate on the significance of Pakistan-China relations. The main areas of discussion during the visit would include the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership, the broad areas of cooperation between the two countries, and their convergence of views on regional and global issues. I think this visit is going to be another milestone in further strengthening of Pakistan-China relation and our collective vision about the prosperity and development of our two peoples and for Pakistan-China to continue to work together for the peace and stability of the region. We will share more details about the visit subsequently. And we also have a background briefing for you on this issue.

Question: ​Prime Minister was on a visit to Saudi Arabia. Can you share some details regarding the visit?

Secondly, there were reports in media that Pakistanis who were arrested in Mecca and Medina due to misconduct have been released. Have they been released only or their visas have also been reinstated for stay in Saudi Arabia and to continue with their jobs? (Mudassar Iqbal Chaudhary, The Destination)

Answer: I don’t have detail about the visa status but as it has been in the news, it has been announced that they are being released.

With regard to the visit of the Prime Minister, I also mentioned in my opening remarks, this was a two-day official visit to the Kingdom on the invitation of HRH the Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister. It was the second visit of the Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia since assuming office and this manifests the cordiality of relations between our two brotherly countries. A broad range of bilateral issues were discussed during the visit. Prime Minister also congratulated the Crown Prince on assumption of the Office of the Prime Minister recently. Pakistan’s solidarity and support to Saudi Arabia on all major issues of concern was reiterated during this visit. The Prime Minister also attended and addressed the Future Investment Initiative Summit. The Prime Minister also reiterated his invitation to the Saudi Crown Prince for his upcoming visit to Pakistan. I think we can say that this was a significant milestone in Pakistan-Saudi relations and we look forward to further strengthening of these relations.

Question: ​There is a new Prime Minister in UK. How does Pakistan view this change? How do you see relations between Pakistan and UK in the coming days as the new Prime Minister is of Indian origin? How will it be for the region? (Mohsin ul Mulk, 24 News)

Answer: Pakistan enjoys cordial and multifaceted relations with the United Kingdom. Our relationship is rooted in shared history and mutual interest. Our ties continue to grow irrespective of whosoever is in power in the UK. The Prime Minister has congratulated Rishi Sunak on becoming the leader of the Conservative Party and the Prime Minister of the UK. He is also looking forward to working with PM Sunak to advance shared interests and further deepen the abiding Pakistan UK partnership. We are hopeful that our ties with UK will further strengthen under PM Sunak.

Question: ​In response to Pakistan’s removal from the FATF grey list, India’s Ministry of External Affairs has said that Pakistan has been forced to take actions against some terrorists. So what is your response and comment on it? (Namra Sohail, PTV News)

Answer: We have seen India’s negative reaction on Pakistan’s delisting by FATF on 21 October 2022.
Pakistan was removed from FATF’s Grey List by a consensus decision of FATF’s Plenary on completion of all substantive, technical, and procedural requirements of FATF and we have earned delisting on technical grounds. We will continue our cooperation with FATF for further improvement of our AML/CFT systems and for our own good. We have time and again highlighted that our actions under AML/CFT regime are in compliance of our international obligations and commitments.
India is isolated in FATF due to its anti-Pakistan and irresponsible posture that has found no takers or backers. We have repeatedly brought to the attention of FATF India’s breach of confidentiality requirements and they have taken serious note of it. Pakistan’s success testifies to the fact that India’s politicization efforts in FATF have eventually failed.
Let me also emphasize here that India with a tainted track record in AML/CFT domain is in no position to define “global interest” and should desist from rendering unsolicited advice for Pakistan on this account. A country with proven credentials of state sponsored terrorism in IIOJK and against Pakistan, needs to mend its own ways before pointing fingers at others.

Question: With reference to some media reports about late Arshad Sharif that he was facing treason and mutiny charges and there were FIRs which are on record. With these facts, how would you justify the official condolence you have made for a person who was facing these serious allegations?​(Mazhar Iqbal, PNN News)

Answer: Our statements are quite clear and I don’t feel the need to respond to your somewhat twisted comments in this regard. We should be sensitive, a life has been lost.

Question: ​In the aftermath of the assassination of Mr. Arshad Sharif there are comments from around the world regarding freedom of expression and freedom of media in Pakistan. There are statements that Pakistan is not a safe country for journalists. Being Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, how would you like to comment on such statements? Is Pakistan open and safe for Pakistani and international media to report various political events and different developments taking place here? (Mateen Haider, G News)

Answer: I think more than me, all of you, our dear friends and colleagues can judge this and comment on this. We are always guided by your opinion on this. But I think, given the evolution of, especially private media in Pakistan, in recent years, we can say with confidence that media in Pakistan is quite free and there are no threats as such with regard to free and fair reporting by journalists, and we see this on a daily basis, the free debate on our television screens and in print and electronic media. As a matter of policy, Pakistan is committed to freedom of expression and opinion.

Question: ​Yesterday in a press conference DG ISPR and DG I mentioned that there was nothing regarding conspiracy for change of government in the cypher. Contrarily, Chairman PTI Imran Khan is of the view that the actual copy of the letter is in Foreign Office. Can you share whether DG ISPR is right or Chairman PTI Imran Khan is right about what was present in that cypher based on the information contained in the copy of the letter, which is in Foreign Office? (Shahzad Hassan Mirza, Royal News)

Answer: Just to recall for you, if you have been following our briefings, we have on a number of occasions very clearly stated the position of Ministry of Foreign Affairs on this matter. The Foreign office and the officials of this institution have handled this matter in a very professional manner and with complete integrity. Thank you.

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