Media Briefing|

(2019-10-23) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]

Bismillah Ir Rehman Nir Rahim,


Let me begin by giving a brief round-up of the events on the foreign policy front;

The Indian Occupation Forces continue their acts of state terrorism and have martyred three (3) Kashmiris, namely Naveed Hussain, Hamid Lone and Junaid Bhat in Rajpura and Tral area of Pulwama district, in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The humanitarian nightmare in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K) is worsening with continued military lockdown and complete communications blackout for 81st consecutive day (since the lockdown was imposed on 4th August 2019), which is affecting life and property of millions of innocent Kashmiris. Over 8 million people in the IOJ&K remain cut-off from the world, with continued concerns being raised about lack of medical supplies and other basic needs. These inhuman and unilateral actions by India are continuing in spite of international condemnation.

As Director General (SA & SAARC), I summoned the Indian Charge d’ affair’es Mr. Gaurav Ahluwalia on 20 October 2019 and condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jura, Shahkot and Nausehri Sectors on 19th and 20th October, 2019, which have resulted in several shahadats, and injuries.

Pakistan categorically rejects the claims of the Indian Army Chief about so – called “launchpads” being targeted by India along the LoC and called upon the P5 to ask India to provide information about the so – called alleged “launchpads”.

Yesterday, Pakistan arranged the visit of the diplomatic corps in Islamabad along with media, including international media, by helicopter, to the site of recent Indian ceasefire violations which resulted in the shahadats of five innocent civilians on the Pakistani side and injuries to six others.

After the baseless and fallacious statement of the Indian Army Chief alleging that recent Indian ceasefire violations were targeting ‘launch pads’ on the Pakistani side of the LoC, Pakistan requested the Indian High Commission in Islamabad to share details, including longitudes and latitudes of the alleged location to back the Indian allegations. Pakistan also invited the Indian High Commission to visit LoC, alongwith other diplomats from Islamabad and show the alleged “launchpads” to the world. No response has been received from India.

Pakistan does not harbor any aggressive designs but our armed forces and people remain ready to defend the country against any acts of aggression.

We have also noticed that the anti-Pakistan tirade of the BJP leadership has continued as the electoral process in the Indian states of Haryana and Maharashtra advanced. In successive election rallies in recent days, Pakistan has been invoked repeatedly. Statements have been made regurgitating baseless allegations of Pakistan’s support to terrorism and drug smuggling, threatening stemming the flow of river water to Pakistan, and taking credit for Pakistan’s historic decision of opening of Kartarpur Sahib Corridor. We categorically reject these allegations and threats as well as distortion of history and facts.

On the invitation of the Government of Japan, President Dr. Arif Alvi is visiting Japan from 20-24 October 2019. Yesterday, he attended the enthronement ceremony of His Majesty Emperor Naruhito. The President and the First Lady felicitated the Emperor and Empress on ascending the throne. Today, the President met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President of Japan-Pakistan, Parliamentarians’ Friendship League Mr. Seishiro Eto, and discussed matters of mutual interest. Th President will also be interacting with Japanese business persons and Pakistani community in Japan.

On 21 October, Foreign Secretary Ambassador Sohail Mahmood inaugurated the trilateral workshop for diplomats from Afghanistan, China and Pakistan at the Foreign Service Academy, Islamabad. The ceremony was attended by Chinese and Afghan Deputy Heads of Mission as well as senior officers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, other notable dignitaries were also present at the occasion. 39 diplomats from three countries will attend the two-week workshop.

While welcoming the diplomats from China and Afghanistan, Foreign Secretary underscored the importance of deepening cooperation under the rubric of Trilateral Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue, which is pivotal to advancing the shared goals of peace and security, trade and economic development and regional connectivity and prosperity. He urged the young diplomats to further fortify this trilateral cooperation in the years to come.

Question: Will Pakistan and India sign the Agreement on Kartarpur Sahib Corridor tomorrow? What would be timings for Sikh yatris to visit Kartarpur Sahib Corridor? (Ms. Rashida Sial – Aab Takk)

Answer: As of now, Pakistan and India would sign the Agreement for Kartarpur Sahib Corridor tomorrow. We are fully ready to operationalize the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on our side. We will also share clause by clause details after signing of the Agreement with you. Yatris will be permitted to visit the Gurdawara Kartarpur Sahib from morning till evening. Specific details about the timings etc. would be released after signing of the Agreement. Currently, we are in the process of devising a mechanism to charge US $ 20 per visitor per visit, as service charges. Media will be at the Zero Point tomorrow to cover the event. Further details will be released soon.

Question: My question is with regard to your recent visit to the LoC alongwith the diplomatic corps yesterday. Due to unprovoked CFVs and shelling at the LoC, which is on the rise from the Indian side, a number of Pakistani military personnel and civilians are being martyred or injured on regular basis. Do you think this would lead to possibility of a war between Pakistan and India? (Mr. Mateen Haider – G-News)

Supplementary Question: You might have observed that whenever there is any claim by the Indian Army Chief about an an alleged surgical strike or any other attempt near the LoC, the Indian government has supported the claims of its Army Chief. This time, Indian government has not supported the claim of Army Chief of hitting “terrorist camps” near the LoC. Your comments please? (Mr. Zahid Farooq Malik – Daily Metro Watch)

Supplementary Question: Would you please confirm whether anyone from Indian side has confirmed participation to attend the Opening Ceremony of Kartarpur Sahib Corridor next month? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Media Today)

Supplementary Question: Can you please confirm that the current situation at the LoC has worsened in recent past and is there any possibility of a war between Pakistan and India? (Mr. Zargoon Shah – Geo-TV)

Supplementary Question: As the claim of Indian Army Chief has been proven false, would Pakistan raise the issue officially with the Indian government to ask for an apology? (Mr. Amjad Ali – PTV News)

Answer: As you are aware, we took the diplomatic corps based in Islamabad to LoC, especially to town of Jurra, which took the major brunt of Indian artillery and fire. The diplomatic corps and the media witnessed that many shops have been completely burnt. The fire started at 10pm on Sunday, 20 October 2019 and continued till 04am of next day. Resultantly, more than 25 houses were destroyed. Many other were damaged. The diplomats and media personnel including the international media freely interacted with the residents of the area and also filmed the situation on the ground.

In this context, I had called in the Indian Charge d’ affaires on 20 October 2019, and asked him to share details, including the longitude and latitude of the alleged locations or any other evidence regarding the Indian Army Chief’s claims and also invited him to accompany other diplomats to visit the alleged “launch pad” area. However, we did not receive any response from the Indian side, so far. We wanted that the India should have visited the area, which their Army Chief alleged, so that this tendency of allegations should be stopped. The real issue is to resolve the Jammu & Kashmir dispute, as per the Resolutions of UNSC and the will of the Kashmiri people. Until and unless this issue is resolved, the peace and stability in South Asia will remain elusive.

Question: Would you please inform who has been invited from India to attend the Opening Ceremony of Kartarpur Sahib Corridor in Pakistan and what is the status of confirmation from the Indian side? Secondly, it has been reported that Paris Peace talks will be held next month. Will the Prime Minister of Pakistan participate in the talks? (Ch. Saad Umer – Roze News)

Answer: We are working on the invitations for the inauguration of Kartarur sahib Corridor.

Regarding Paris, I will check and get back to you.

Question: Who will participate from the Indian side on the occasion of 550th Birth Anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak? Secondly, the quadrilateral peace process is going to be held in Moscow. Will Pakistan be participating in it? (Ms. Kausar Lodhi – Prime News)

Answer: I have already responded to your question on Kartarpur.

Regarding your second question, Pakistan has been a part of all efforts and processes to discuss and facilitate peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s role is particularly noteworthy in crystalizing international convergence for a peaceful solution in Afghanistan. Pakistan had participated in the first round of 4 Party talks in Beijing, in July, this year. The next round is being held in Moscow at an opportune moment, as it would provide an important opportunity to review the currently stalled peace process. Pakistan side will be represented by Additional Secretary (Afghanistan & West Asia) in the meeting.

Pakistan will continue its effort, through wholehearted support as its part of shared responsibility, for making the international peace effort successful in Afghanistan.

Question: China is all set to hold Intra-Afghan peace process in Beijing after its Special Envoy on Afghanistan met with Mullah Baradar in Doha. According to the Taliban Spokesman, it is going to be a follow up of Qatar & Moscow talks. Has Pakistan played any role in it? (Mr. M. Jaleel – VoA)

Supplementary Question: Intra-Afghan Peace process is going to be held on 28-29 October 2019 in Beijing. Is Pakistan participating in it?

Secondly, what is the latest development regarding Pakistan’s mediatory role between Iran and Saudi Arabia? (Mr. Waqas Ahmed – Capital TV)

Answer: I do not have details regarding dialogue in China. However, will check and get back to you.

Regarding question on Saudi Arabia and Iran, it is a sensitive issue. Our efforts are continuing. I will update you in due course.

Question: What is Pakistan’s official stance on violent riots in Hong Kong? Do you think it is rightful to stop violent protests that destroyed public facilities in Hong Kong? (Mr. Ali Jaswal – Xinhua News Agency)

Answer: We have stated our position earlier as well. Pakistan reiterates that affairs of Hong Kong are China’s internal matter. All countries should uphold international law and basic norms of non-interference in internal affairs of other countries. Pakistan is committed to the “One China Policy” and supports “One Country Two Systems”.

We believe that the measures taken by the Central government of China and the Hong Kong SAR government are aimed at safeguarding national sovereignty and Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity.

Question: It has been reported that on 23rd September 2019 Pakistan scrambled two F-16 fighter jets and intercepted a Spice Jet plane as the passenger aircraft was making its journey to Kabul last month after a mistake by the Indian aviation regulator, which assigned it an electronic code of a military aircraft. Can you please clarify that? (Mr. Anas Mallick – WION TV)

Answer: I have checked with the relevant authorities and am yet to receive a response. Will update you as and when there is any response.

Question: There are reports that during your visit to LoC yesterday, some nationalists in Muzaffarabad chanted slogans of Independent/Sovereign Kashmir. Has Pakistan banned such protests because a number of nationalists were arrested, yesterday. Your comments please? (Mr. Razik Mehmood Bhatti – Kashmir Express)

Answer: I do not have any information on this. I will check details from the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and update you accordingly.

Question: The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has stated yesterday that they have not asked Pakistan or any other country for mediation with Iran. He rather said that some countries came to them with this suggestion and Saudi Arabia clearly informed them what Iran should do to defuse the tensions.

Secondly, would you please confirm that Pakistan will participate in Moscow Peace talks? (Mr. Essa Naqvi – Indus TV)

Answer: I have not seen the comments made by the Saudi Foreign Minister. Let me check and get back to you.

Regarding your second question, I have already responded to it.

Question: In response to Indian violations of LoC and Working Boundary, it has become a routine to summon the Indian Chargé d’affaires and condemn or convey Pakistan’s concerns in this regard. I believe that UNMOGIP is also being informed about the continuous Indian violations. Has Pakistan submitted any document or is considering submitting to the United Nations or the UNSC regarding continued Indian violations? (Mr. Khalid Azim Chaudhary – Samaa TV)

Answer: At the end of every year, the Foreign Minister or the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN sends a letter alongwith all the documents and details of the Indian violations to the President of the United Nations Security Council and Secretary General of the United Nations. It is a regular feature which is in practice for years.

Question: Will the repeated summons make the Indian DHM Persona non grata in the future? (Mr. Laiq-ur-Rehman – ARY News)

Answer: I cannot comment on the future. However, currently we are summoning the Indian Chargé d’affaires and conveying our concerns regarding violations at the LoC.

Question: The US State Department has expressed its concerns regarding deporting of Mr. Steven Buttler and requested for reconsidering the decision. Has the United States formally conveyed any such request? (Mr. Adeel Warriach – Dunya News)

Answer: I will get the details and get back to you.

Question: After the Malaysian Prime Minister’s clear stance on the Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir, India has stopped its import of palm oils from Malaysia. However, the Malaysian Prime Minister has refused to retract his stance/position. What is your comment on it? (Mr. Aun Sherazi – Such News)

Answer: We are proud of our Malaysian brothers and sisters. We, and the Kashmiris, appreciate Malaysian Prime Minister’s position on Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

Question: What options are available with Pakistan if India continues threats regarding Indus waters? Secondly, how many countries from P5 was part of diplomatic corps during the visit yesterday? (Mr. Ali Hussain – Business Recorder)

Answer: I have already shared details regarding our visit to LoC which was properly covered by media as well. I have nothing further to add.

As for your question on water, Indus Waters Treaty was facilitated by World Bank, between India and Pakistan. We are exercising all rights provided in the Agreement. In case, India takes any steps that are violative of the Treaty, Pakistan will exercise all options available in the Treaty to counter Indian moves.

Question: An investment conference is going to be held in Riaydh during 29-31 October 2019. Will Pakistan be represented in the Conference? (Mr. Sajjad – AFP)

Answer: I will have to check and revert:

Question: After the illegal action of India on 05 August 2019, the Federal Cabinet had decided to cut off all trade ties with India. What is the current state of trade with India? (Mr. Naveed Akbar – Aaj TV)

Answer: I will get update from Ministry of Commerce and will share with you accordingly.

Question: It has also been learnt that courier/mail services have also been stopped between Pakistan and India. Can you please confirm? (Mr. Mateen Haider – G-News)

Answer: I will have to check and will inform accordingly.

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