[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]
Assalam-o-Alaikum and good morning.
A two-day UN Peacekeeping Ministerial Preparatory Meeting hosted by Pakistan was held in Islamabad on 31 August 2023. The event, co-hosted by Japan, was held under the theme of “Safety and Security of UN Peacekeepers.” It brought together a diverse range of participants including senior officials from the UN Secretariat and representatives from UN Member States, as well as local and international experts on the subject.
The Meeting featured rich and productive discussions, spread over five substantive sessions, on important aspects of safety and security of UN peacekeepers. These included: capacity building needs; the international law perspective; importance of medical care; role of technology and strategic communication; and the threats posed by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
These deliberations were geared towards producing concrete ideas that will serve as a foundation for enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of UN peacekeeping operations. The meeting explored the critical challenges faced by UN peacekeepers, ensuring their safety and security, and identifying effective measures to address these challenges. The valuable insights generated at the meeting will contribute significantly to the success of the Peacekeeping Ministerial meeting scheduled in Ghana in December 2023, and go a long way in strengthening UN peace missions.
In his keynote address at the Conference, Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani reaffirmed Pakistan’s strong commitment to UN peacekeeping and our vision for the safety and security of peacekeepers. He underlined the need to take proactive measures to address the rise in peacekeeper fatalities and to ensure their wellbeing with focus on capacity-building, medical care, legal frameworks and adequate accountability mechanisms.
In his concluding address, Foreign Secretary Dr. Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi underlined Pakistan’s vision for the future of peacekeeping. He stated that moving forward, Pakistan will strengthen and diversify our peacekeeping contributions to make them even more substantive and robust. In addition to pledging infantry units, Pakistan will strengthen its commitments in the fields of aviation, signals technology, mine action, medical support, peacekeeping intelligence, and innovative capacity building. Pakistan will also promote community engagement by maintaining its long tradition of holding free medical camps, providing trauma and psychological support, restoring essential infrastructure, and extending vocational and skill training. Our women peacekeepers will continue to play a pivotal role in all these endeavours.
During the last few days, the Foreign Minister has held important conversations with Foreign Ministers of Kuwait, Denmark and Cuba as well as the Acting U.S. Under Secretary of State. He also held meetings with the resident Heads of Missions in Islamabad. These include: Ambassadors of Australia, Czech Republic, Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, the United States the Charge d’ Affaires of China and the Resident Representative of UNDP Pakistan. These interactions have afforded an opportunity to told fruitful exchanges on further strengthening bilateral ties, charting future bilateral benchmarks and paving the way for enhanced collaboration in various domains.
Today is the second death anniversary of the iconic Kashmiri leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani. He breathed his last in a long-drawn house arrest on 01 September 2021. In a horrific act, his dead body was snatched by the Indian occupation forces from his family, and hurriedly buried in a graveyard in the absence of his family and friends. His family and friends were not allowed to pay their final respects or bury him in a graveyard of his choice.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani was a true voice and face of the Kashmiris’ struggle for their rights and freedom. His unflinching commitment to the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination, in the face of persistent persecution and tremendous personal hardship, has inspired generations of Kashmiris in resisting the occupation and tyranny. Syed Ali Geelani will be remembered for his matchless sacrifices and unconditional love for Kashmir and for Pakistan. Today, we pay rich tribute to his life-long dedication for justice and freedom and reaffirm our support to the people of Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir.
We also urge the Government of India to give unhindered access to his family and followers to his final resting place.
Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar will visit Nairobi, Kenya to participate in the Africa Climate Summit to be held from 4 to 6 September 2023. Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani will accompany the Prime Minister.
The visit is taking place at the invitation of President William Samoei Ruto of Kenya.
At the Summit, the Prime Minister will articulate Pakistan’s perspective on the global climate crisis and highlight our national efforts to rebuild in a climate-resilient manner after last year’s devastating floods. Prime Minister’s key messages in Nairobi would include the need for enhanced climate cooperation at all levels to confront the common challenge of Climate Change in an effective manner.
In Nairobi, the Prime Minister is also expected to hold a series of bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Africa, including Kenya, and with other high-level dignitaries.
The Africa Climate Summit is the initiative of Kenya and the African Union. Pakistan’s high-level participation in the Summit is not only in keeping with its traditionally proactive climate diplomacy, but is also in line with the ‘Look Africa’ outlook for enhanced engagement with countries in Africa.
I thank you.
Question: Caretaker Foreign Minister stated in a meeting with journalists couple of days back that the Afghan Taliban have taken action against violent non-state actors in Pakistan, and some of the detentions also took place. The Afghan Taliban are officially denying it. They have said that Pakistan does not have any documented proof regarding the detentions. What is your version of this? (Abdullah Momand, Dawn TV)
Answer: I am not sure about the context of what Afghans have said. I have not seen such a statement. But what I can say is that it is important for the Afghan authorities to take action against those individuals and entities that threaten Pakistan. And it is their responsibility, their international responsibility, their bilateral responsibility and their trilateral responsibility as they have committed in the trilateral between Pakistan, Afghanistan and China. So, how they do it we do not want to comment on it but it is their responsibility and we hope they will fulfill the commitments that they have made.
Question: It has been the stance of Pakistan that there won’t be any kind of negotiations or talks with India until the revocation of article 370. As this case is ongoing in the Indian Supreme Court, do you think there could be any chance of normalization of relations between Pakistan and India after Indian Supreme Court’s judgment? (Zahid Farooq Malik, Daily Metro Watch)
Answer: As we have said in the past, Jammu and Kashmir is an internationally-recognized disputed territory, whose final disposition is to be made in accordance with the United Nations Resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people. Any other process cannot serve as a substitute to the grant of the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people. Any other developments in IIOJK will be observed and examined in Pakistan and we will give our reaction if there are any further developments. Pakistan’s position is very consistent and clear that India must rescind its illegal acts of 5th of August 2019 and create an environment for peace and dialogue in the region.
Question: Tomorrow, Pakistan is playing an important match against India. Despite being host of Asia Cup, this match is not being played inside Pakistan and Pakistan team had to travel to Sri Lanka. How excited we all should be when our right to host a match is being denied? Second question is besides all this verbosity and exchange of harsh language regarding the question before the Indian Supreme Court, what if there is restoration of 370 or with or without, restoration of 35-A, will Pakistan accept the status of Jammu and Kashmir as a state of India not the Union Territory? (Shaukat Piracha, AAJ News)
Answer: I have responded to this question in the past as well. Pakistan has never accepted the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir as state or as part of India. It is a disputed territory as recognized in international law as per the UN resolutions and Pakistan cannot accept verdicts that perpetuate the Indian Occupation of Jammu and Kashmir. With regard to the Asia Cup, I can say that we have one of our best cricketing teams and like all Pakistanis, we are excited to play in the Asia Cup and host the Asia Cup. As far as the decision of the hybrid model, for that I would like you to refer to the PCB because that was something that they decided in consultation with the Asia Cricket Council.
Question: Has any Ambassador raised the issue of Pakistan’s current economic and political conditions, or discussed unresolved issues between Pakistan and India in the meeting with the caretaker Foreign Minister? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)
Answer: These meetings of the Foreign Minister with Heads of Missions of resident missions in Islamabad were his first meetings with these ambassadors. These were initial meetings where bilateral issues were discussed. The ambassadors congratulated the Foreign Minister on the assumption of his office and important aspects of bilateral relations were discussed in these meetings.
Question: G-20 Summit is going to be held in India, US president has already confirmed his participation but Chinese president is not expected to participate. As a Spokesperson of Pakistan’s Foreign Office, how do you see the absence of China in the summit in context of balance of power and what will be its impact on the region viz-a-viz Pakistan. (Adeel Bashir, Roze News)
Answer: As you know, Pakistan is not a member of G-20 and we like you, are following the developments and at this point, we do not have any comments to offer.
Question: Few questions, first is with regard to the alleged reports of the Saudi Crown Prince’s visit. Is it happening? Has it been canceled? Has it been deferred? Would you want to confirm or deny because there’s been a lot of back and forth in the media? Number two, the Russian Ambassador to India was quoted as saying that Moscow is aware of the reports that Pakistan is providing weapons to Ukraine to aid its war against Russia. He said that if reports are confirmed, it amounts to explicit anti Russia actions which cannot be ignored. What is your comment on this comment by the Russian Ambassador? (Anas Mallick, Capital TV)
Answer: I think the comment itself is clear that such reports are not confirmed. And Pakistan’s position is very clear. Pakistan continues to maintain neutrality between Russia and Ukraine in this dispute. We have long standing ties with both countries, and there is no change in Pakistan’s position. As far as your first question, as you know very well there has been no announcement from our side and we have not shared any details of any high-level visit from Saudi Arabia. When such a visit takes place and we have confirmed information and both sides agree to announce the visit we will make an announcement at the time.
Question: Recently, in a viral video, a Muslim boy was being humiliated in Indian school. What is your response on this? And what is your take regarding overall minority situation in India? (Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)
Answer: As you know, we have on several occasions in the past expressed our concern about the plight of Muslims in India. There is an alarming increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes in India and Pakistan can only condemn and deplore that a school teacher instigated her students to humiliate their Muslim classmate. This incident is yet another manifestation of the rising Islamophobia and communal hatred that is being promoted in India under official patronage. The primary schools should be the last place to witness such hate crimes. The efforts to promote anti-Muslim hatred must stop. The Indian government must ensure safety and security of the Muslim minority and hold perpetrator of this heinous crime to account.
Question: There are reports that the Kenyan police officer, involved in the assassination of senior anchor Arshad Sharif, is reestablished to his duties. What are your comments on this? Secondly, In the past, Indian Minister for External Affairs and other Indian official authorities have accused Pakistan but this time again he has used very undiplomatic language for Pakistan. What are your comments on this? (Siyar Ali Shah, Khyber News)
Supplementary Question: As PM is visiting Kenya in the upcoming days, will this issue be raised and discussed with Kenyan authorities? (Saqib Rathore, Daily Kashmir Times)
Answer: First your (Siyar Ali Shah) question, we have seen the reports. We are still awaiting confirmation of those reports. With regard to meetings with the Kenyan authorities when bilateral meetings take place, all aspects of interest and concern to Pakistan will be discussed. As for the recent statement by the Indian External Affairs Minister, this is nothing new. He has used undiplomatic language against Pakistan on number of occasions and we can only regret that. Indian leadership’s delusions of grandeur and their unhealthy obsession with Pakistan is incurable. They cannot resist the temptation to invoke Pakistan in their public discourse and to advance their domestic political agenda. We would however wish to remind them that no degree of sarcasm can hide India’s internal failings and its tainted human rights record. The oppression in IIOJK cannot be masqueraded as development.
Question: My question is related to the European Union parliamentarian’s letter on 2nd August. The leadership of the European Union and European Commission has responded where they stated that they will raise the issue of human rights violations within IIOJK not only with India, but also with at the United Nations as well. So how do you see this important development? (Faisal Raza Khan, 92 News)
Answer: As you said in your question, this letter and the response from the European leadership is very clear. It is in the context of the anniversary of the illegal measures taken by the occupation authorities in IIOJK on 5th of August in 2019. These letters basically reaffirm the concerns of the international community about the developments in IIOJK and the situation of human rights violations. This also reflects that the Indian narrative of so-called normalcy in IIOJK does not have many buyers outside of India.
Question: As we know that Indian government decided to hold the Miss World beauty contest in Srinagar to divert the attention of international community from the human rights violations being practiced there. Girls from 140 out of 182 countries are participating and its finale will be in IIOJK. What are your views on this? As G-20 Summit is also scheduled in IIOJK and Pakistan has already raised the situation of human rights violations in IIOJK on international forums. (Asghar Ali Mubarak, The Daily Mail International)
Answer: We have seen the news reports. As you said India has time and again, tried to project a false narrative of normalcy in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir by organizing different events. We believe that such stunts cannot legitimize India’s occupation or suppress the true sentiments of the Kashmiri people. India’s facade of normalcy is challenged by the harsh reality that IIOJK remains one of the most militarized zones in the world with extreme curbs on freedom of expression and assembly.
Question: Pakistan is an important member of OIC and there is consensus in OIC for two state solution of Palestine. Recently Libyan foreign minister has been dismissed for secretly meeting Israeli Foreign Minister and has been accused for secret talks. Similarly, there are similar reports regarding Saudi Arabia. Till now, the meeting of Libyan Foreign Minister has not been condemned from any other OIC member country nor from Saudi Arabia. Will Pakistan condemn this meeting? If Pakistan will not condemn then is there any secret policy in OIC regarding secret ties with Israel? (Syed Faisal Ali, Neo News)
Answer: I think there is already a process underway in Libya about this meeting. The Government of Libya is already seized of the matter and investigating it. So we do not need to comment on their internal political debate.
Question: Yesterday we saw that there was a suicide bombing in KPK in Bannu, and it was claimed by the Hafiz Gulbahadur group, a different faction of the TTP, which Pakistan has long been said and I quote the press conference by the former Foreign Minister and the then NSA on the 14th of November 2019 just four days before the Prime Minister’s visit to Afghanistan that ‘Hafiz Gulbahadur has been operating from Kunar and post in Afghanistan’. Has Pakistan taken up this matter or the alleged bomber being from Afghanistan with the Afghan authorities? (Anas Mallick, Capital TV)
Answer: You have mentioned an incident that took place just recently and our law enforcement authorities are collecting evidence and the details of this incident. When the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is called upon to share this intelligence and our concerns with the Afghan authorities we will do so.
Question: It’s related to the Jaranwala incident on 29th of August. There was a press conference by IG Punjab and he has elaborated the intelligence reports and the culprits apprehended after this incident. They revealed that Indian RAW was involved in inciting violence and the perpetrators have the direct links with the intelligence agency. So, how do you comment on that, besides spreading terrorism and having a state patronage on that using the third country’s soil now they are instigating violence in Pakistan, particularly among the minorities and the majority? So how do you see that aspect? (Faisal Raza Khan, 92 News)
Answer: On the statement that you mentioned of IG Punjab, I would advise you to get more details about this law and order and intelligence related matters from the Ministry of Interior. As far as Pakistan’s position is concerned, we have said time and again that we are concerned about India’s sponsorship of terrorism in Pakistan and at the same time Pakistan has very strongly condemned the Jaranwala incident. We believe that such incidents do not have a place in Pakistan’s polity and culture. The Government of Pakistan has initiated legal procedures and all those responsible for the incident will be held to account.
Question: UNGA 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly is approaching and caretaker Prime Minister is expected to visit the United States. If any bilateral meeting of caretaker PM with the leadership of the United States is on schedule or agenda? (Nouman Ishfaq Mughal, Daily Parliament Times)
Answer: I think your question is premature. When such a decision is announced we will be able to give you a better response to your question.
Last modified: September 1, 2023
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