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

Assalam-o-Alaikum and Happy New Year. Thank you for joining us for the Weekly Briefing.

Let me begin with the “International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan”, being held in Geneva on 9 January 2023 and co-hosted by the Government of Pakistan and the United Nations.

The Conference will be co-chaired by the Prime Minister of Pakistan Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif and the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. The programme will feature a high-level opening segment, where leaders will make supportive statements. In his remarks at the Conference, the Prime Minister will outline Pakistan’s vision for rehabilitation and reconstruction in a climate resilient manner. The Prime Minister and the UN Secretary General will also hold a joint press stakeout.

At the Conference, Pakistan will present the Resilient Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Framework (4RF). 4RF is a strategic policy and prioritization document of the Government of Pakistan that will guide the recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction after the recent devastating floods in a climate-resilient manner. It draws from the findings of the Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) and presents sequenced priorities across sectors around four strategic objectives.

The 4RF document presents a policy framework, a financing strategy, and implementation and monitoring arrangements. It also includes institutional arrangements for its implementation in an open, transparent and collaborative manner with the support of development partners.

Leaders and high-level representatives from several countries and International Financial Institutions, Foundations and Funds are expected to attend the Conference, both in person and virtual format. The conference would be a demonstration of the international community’s continued support for the flood-affected people of Pakistan.

You may have seen that we have categorically rejected a series of baseless and frivolous accusations made against Pakistan by the Indian External Affairs Minister. These remarks once again reflect India’s growing frustration over its failure to malign and isolate Pakistan.

For a country that has a grandiose vision about itself and its place in the world, India’s obsession with Pakistan is unfathomable and absurd. For the last several years, India has been engaged in a malicious campaign to mislead the international community through a fictitious narrative of victimhood and vile anti-Pakistan propaganda.

India’s continued anti-Pakistan diatribe cannot hide its brazen involvement in fomenting terrorism on Pakistan’s soil; nor can it conceal the reality of state-sponsored terrorism in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). Instead of pointing fingers at others, India should itself end its involvement in terrorism, subversion and espionage against Pakistan.

On the first of January at 1100 hours, in fulfillment of our legal obligations, Pakistan and India exchanged Lists of Nuclear Installations and Facilities; and the Lists of Prisoners in each other’s custody. These exchanges take place annually as per the Agreement on Prohibition of Attacks against Nuclear Installations and Facilities, signed on 31st December 1988 and ratified on 27th January 1991; and the Consular Access Agreement of 2008.

As this is our first media briefing in 2023, I would like to give a brief overview of the human rights violations in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) during the year 2022.

India continued with its policy of oppression and intimidation of the people of IIOJK. Indian forces reportedly killed 214 Kashmiris; 57 of them in custody or in fake encounters. Only last week, four individuals were killed in a fake encounter in Sidhra town in Jammu. There are reports that bodies were charred beyond recognition. We call upon the international human rights machinery and organizations to take note of this tragedy.

According to available accounts, over 4,000 Kashmiris remain imprisoned in different jails of IIOJK and India. A large number of these detainees were arrested under the draconian laws in force in IIOJK such as Public Safety Act (PSA) and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

Political prisoners and human rights defenders continued to be targeted and incarcerated. Resistance leaders, including APHC Chairman Masarrat Aalam Bhat, Muhammad Yasin Malik, Shabbir Ahmed Shah, Nayeem Ahmed Khan, Aasiya Andrabi; and prominent human rights defender, Khurrum Parvaiz continued to remain in detention in fake cases.

The imprisoned APHC leader, Altaf Ahmed Shah, passed away in detention. He was incarcerated in the infamous Tihar Jail in New Delhi. He was denied timely and suitable cancer treatment. Those currently in detention are facing similarly callous treatment at the hands of the occupation authorities.

In 2002, Kashmiris were also prevented from exercising their right to freedom of religion and of assembly as the Indian authorities repeatedly prohibited religious gatherings and Friday prayers in IIOJK.

It is especially important to remember these facts as we observe the Right to Self-Determination Day for the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

On the 5th of January in 1949, the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) adopted a resolution that guarantees a free and fair plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir to enable the Kashmiris to realize their right to self-determination. Since 1981, the UN General Assembly has adopted an annual resolution on “Universal Realization of the Right of Self-Determination” that draws international attention to the plight and the right of self-determination of peoples subjected to colonial, foreign and alien domination.

Regrettably, the oppressed people of IIOJK have not been able to exercise this right. This day reminds the international community, especially the United Nations, of the imperative of honoring its commitment made 74 years ago towards the people of Jammu and Kashmir and supporting their struggle for self-determination.

Pakistan will continue to extend unstinted moral, political and diplomatic support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their quest for self-determination in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

I thank you.


Question: ​Pakistan has been hit by devastating floods. Another conference is being held in Geneva to seek pledges to help Pakistan deal with climate change which has caused huge devastating floods in Pakistan. So, my question is that previous pledges or appeals have not been answered the way it should have been by the international community. I mean, it has been recognized in UN, as well as by other major countries that Pakistan has been hit by these devastating floods, but pledges were not made the way it should have been made. Is there a diplomatic failure in that? Can we say that it was a diplomatic failure on our part that Pakistan could not get that much pledges? Your comments, please. (Saima Shabir, Arab News)

Answer:​ First of all, Pakistan is grateful to all our friends and partners in the international community who came out and supported Pakistan in the wake of the devastating floods of this summer. We have seen that there was an outpouring of support from countries around the world – developed countries and developing countries provided relief assistance, both in-kind and financial assistance. A large number of countries and international partners contributed when we were in the relief phase.

Pakistan has now moved into a recovery rehabilitation and reconstruction phase for which the Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan is being held in Geneva. It will be an occasion for Pakistan to introduce its plan of reconstruction, rehabilitation and recovery in a climate resilient manner. Reconstruction and rehabilitation and rebuilding will be a multi-year process. We want to make sure that we rebuild in a climate resistant manner and immunize ourselves from future catastrophes. So, this is a multi-year plan and it will need multi-year commitments and approach from the international community.

Question: ​My first question is that yesterday we heard a statement from the Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid where he has stated that in an operation conducted against DAESH they’ve killed the attackers involved in the attack on the Pakistani embassy and the Pakistani Chargé d’Affaires. Can you confirm that?

Secondly, we heard the interior minister Rana Sanaullah saying that Pakistan is in all its right and can attack Afghanistan against terror sanctuaries. We heard a similar statement from the National Security Committee. Can you please elaborate on that? (Anas Mallick, Capital TV)

Answer: First of all regarding your first question, we have seen the reports. We are trying to verify these reports and we will get back to you once we have more information.

Regarding your second question, I would like to say that Pakistan is a responsible member of the United Nations, and as a responsible member of the United Nations it subscribes to and will always uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, which include territorial integrity and political independence of states. Pakistan has consistently said that it will continue to support the Afghan people in their quest for a unified, independent and sovereign Afghanistan that is at peace with itself and its neighbors.

Question: ​I need follow up on two questions. I asked in the last briefing about the story of Arab News regarding Iranian backed militants. Do you reject that story?

Secondly, a Jewish family faces deportation from Israel. Is Israeli consulate in UAE unofficially in contact with Pakistan? There are around 980 Jewish families which are unofficially registered in Pakistan. Your follow up is needed in this regard. (Syed Faisal Ali, Daily State Views)

Answer: Regarding your second question – You are aware that Pakistan does not recognize Israel and we do not have any diplomatic ties or mechanisms of engagement with Israel.

In response to your first question, I would just like to state that we believe Pakistan is fully capable to deal with any threat to our peace and security. Beyond this, I will not comment on the specifics of any such news item.

Question: ​Keeping in view the terrorist activities of Tehreek-e-Taliban and the recently issued statement about Pakistan Muslim League N and Pakistan Peoples Party. Has Pakistan demanded for action against Tehreek e Taliban from the Afghan Government? Has the Afghan side given any assurance on this matter?

Secondly, important officials of present Afghan Government have given statements like “Pakistan should leave Afghanistan’s matters and should take care of itself”. As Pakistan is helping Afghanistan in every hardship and also sending relief goods to Afghanistan. What is the position of Pakistan regarding these types of statements from Afghan officials? (Allah Noor, Mashriq TV)

Answer: As I here said earlier as well, it is not wise for me to give importance to social media charter and comments by individuals who do not have official positions. Secondly, I would like to say that Pakistan and Afghanistan have mechanisms of engagement and dialogue and these mechanisms are functional. We would continue to engage with Afghanistan on all matters relating to security and border management issues.

Question:​ Today, Kashmiris all over the world are observing the Right to Self-Determination Day. Does Pakistan think that the resolutions which were passed in United Nations regarding this issue are being implemented or not?

Secondly, the current economic situation of Pakistan is very dire and IMF is also imposing strict conditions on Pakistan. It is being said that there are chances of getting financial support from some friendly countries. Have we received assurances from any friendly country in this regard? Kindly comment on this. Thank you. (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)

Supplementary Question:​We are hearing for a long time that there is a Kashmir desk in Foreign Office. Does Kashmir desk exist, what is the way of working of this desk, how much is it connected with the foreign missions of Pakistan and how much is it benefitting us in lobbying? (Adeel Bashir, Roze News)

Answer:​ You’re absolutely right that there is a Kashmir desk at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Actually it’s a directorate focusing exclusively on Kashmir affairs. It is responsible for policy implementation and issues pertaining to Kashmir. It collates information and ensures that our Missions have all the necessary information when they engage with their host governments and highlight the situation of IIOJK internationally. It coordinates with departments within Pakistan, collates information, and then disseminates information to our Missions. It is also responsible for briefing our parliament and remaining engaged with the parliament and the people’s representatives on issues relating to Kashmir. It is involved in a continuous process of policy updates with a view to implementation of UNSC resolutions on IIOJK.

I would like to highlight that the Kashmir Directorate has special oversight by our Director General South Asia and then by the Additional Secretary Asia Pacific. Projection of the Kashmir cause is an important responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that of the South Asia division. It is also an important responsibility of our Missions abroad who project the Kashmir cause internationally including at the United Nations and OIC. When we engage with the international community, whether it is in Pakistan or abroad, Kashmir issue is always on our agenda.

Regarding your first question, you’re absolutely right. I have already mentioned in the opening statement that today we are commemorating the anniversary of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan’s resolution adopted on the 5th of January 1949 that guarantees a free and fair plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir to enable the Kashmiris to realize their right to self-determination. For the last 74 years, Pakistan has been raising this issue at the international front and it will continue to do so. We will continue to extend our unstinted moral, political and diplomatic support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their quest for self-determination in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

Regarding your last question, we are engaged with Pakistan’s friends and international financial institutions on matters relating to financial assistance and we will continue to engage with them.

Question: In current economic and regional situation don’t you think that despite aid Pakistan needs a big economic package from the international financial institutions. Yesterday, the spokesperson of U.S. State Department said that U.S. is a security partner of Pakistan. Don’t you think that America should be our economic partner too so that we could get out of economic crisis? Are there any talks being held regarding this? (Syed Asif Ali, Din News)

Answer: We are witnessing a positive momentum in our relations with the United States and we want to proceed forward and further our relations based on mutual respect, trust and mutual interest. The issues that you mentioned are on the agenda of Pakistan’s engagement with international financial institutions, and we will continue to raise them.

Question:​As Donors Conference is going to be held on 9th of January in Geneva, are you in a position to brief us something about how many heads of states or heads of governments are going to participate in that very important conference? (Mazhar Iqbal, PNN)

Answer:​ There are a number of leaders or their representatives who will attend the Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan in person or virtually. I am not in a position at this stage to share the list because that list is still evolving. But I can inform you that there will be several leaders and high-level officials who will participate in the conference either in person or virtually.

Question:​ Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir is visiting Middle East. Since our Ambassador over there in Saudi Arabia was part of the meeting. About what particular agenda that he is talking to them, especially there are good rumors that I must say that Saudi Arabia will be doling out massive assistance to salvage Pakistan from this economic crisis?

When we’re talking about relations with the United States, two important statements that I want to take into consideration in my question. one is that the US said that “we are willing for cooperation to secure part of one border”. Secondly, they are saying that “Pakistan has the right to defend itself”. Whether we shared something with them so serious that we are under threat from Afghanistan that they are assuring us their cooperation. (Shaukat Piracha, AAJ News)

We saw a statement by the US State Department along the lines that Pakistan has the right to defend itself against terror sanctuaries. How do you see this statement from the US? (Anas Mallick, Capital TV)

Answer: ​First, let me say that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have close fraternal relations, rooted in history and common faith. We share similarity of views on a range of regional and international issues. Our relations are multi-dimensional that include cooperation in the defense domain. The visit of Chief of Army Staff is in the context of promoting Pakistan – Saudi relations and defense ties.

Regarding the second question, by Mr. Piracha and Mr. Anas Mallick, I would not go into the specifics of the statement, but I would like to reaffirm that Pakistan is both determined and capable to counter any threats to its peace and security and we will continue to be engaged with Afghanistan to discuss all matters of mutual concern, including safety and security along the border.

Question: ​It might be not in your notice, but I came to know that a Pakistani journalist with refugee status Fawad Ali Shah has been deported by Malaysia. He has been living there with refugee status for many years. Can you check with Malaysian authorities and get back to us please? (Naveed Siddiqui, Dawn News)

Answer: I will get back to you on this at our next briefing or before that bilaterally, as I don’t have a response on this right now with me.

Question:​ Just briefly, if you can elaborate that in the press release that was done on the first of this month that Pakistan and India had exchanged a list of prisoners where Pakistan had demanded consular access as well to the prisoners of 1965 and 1971 wars. Can you briefly elaborate that how many people are we looking at and the specifics of that and whether the Indian side has responded to it or not? (Anas Mallick, Capital TV)

Answer:​ Yes, there is a list of some missing defense officials. Pakistan has shared the list with India and asked for information and consular access to these individuals. We believe that the issue of 1965 and 1971 prisoners needs to be resolved at the earliest. I will not go into the specific names because I think it is not the right time for us to share these details.

Question: I have come across media reports suggesting that DAESH militants who were involved in an attack on Pakistan Embassy in Kabul have been killed. This is stated by Afghan Spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid and it has been reported by several media outlets like Dawn as well. So I would like to have your comment on that. How do you see this development? (Saima Shabbir, Arab News)

Supplementary question: When will Pakistan’s Chargé d’Affaires in Afghanistan return to Afghanistan? (Naveed Siddiqui, Dawn News)

Answer: The first question was asked earlier by Mr. Anas Malik just a while back. I will tell you what I told him, that we have seen the reports and are trying to verify them. We will share our position once we have verified this information.

On the second question, our Chargé d’Affaires is here for consultations. As I’ve said in my previous briefings, he will go back when these consultations are complete.

Thank you

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