Media Briefing|

(2019-07-11) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]

BismillahIrRehmanNir Rahim,


We start with a brief round-up of the activities on the foreign policy front.

The Indian occupation forces in their recent acts of state terrorism martyred Mr. Sameer Ahmad in Shopian district of the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOK).

You have already seen our detailed press release on the second report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan welcomes the follow up report, which calls for fully respecting the right to self-determination of the people of Jammu & Kashmir as protected under international law. We again welcome the OHCHR’s recommendation for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to investigate the gross and systematic human rights violations in IOK.

The Report once again recognizes human rights violations in IOK. It documents in detail the excessive use of force by the Indian occupation forces, the continued use of pellet guns to kill and maim defenseless civilians, the extrajudicial killings in the garb of so-called cordon and search operations, use of various forms of arbitrary arrests and detentions to target protesters and political dissidents, the impunity from accountability enjoyed by the Indian occupation forces under the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Public Safety Act (PSA).

While we appreciate the Report’s efforts to document the human rights violations in IOK, we would like to reiterate that there is simply no parallel between the horrendous human rights situation in IOK and the prevailing environment in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Unlike IOK, which is the most militarized zone in the world, AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan remain open to foreign visitors.

As in its first report, the OHCHR’s second Report has again called for respect of the Right to self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir as protected under international law.

Moving forward, on the invitation of President Donald J. Trump, Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit the United States of America on 21-23 July 2019. This would be the first summit-level engagement between Pakistan and the United States since both leaders assumed their respective offices.

During the visit, Prime Minister Khan and President Trump would have wide-ranging interaction at the White House on 22 July 2019 covering bilateral and regional matters. The Prime Minister will also be meeting prominent members of the U.S. Congress, corporate leaders and opinion makers as well as members of the Pakistani diaspora.

During his various engagements in Washington, the Prime Minister will outline his vision of “Naya Pakistan” and underscore the importance Pakistan attaches to a broader and multi-faceted relationship with the United States. In the regional context, the Prime Minister will underscore Pakistan’s commitment to peace and stability and the importance of constructive engagement to promote a political solution in Afghanistan. He will also highlight Pakistan’s policy of ‘peaceful neighbourhood’ aimed at resolving disputes through dialogue and promoting the vision of peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia and beyond.

The Prime Minister’s visit will help renew and reinvigorate long-standing ties between Pakistan and the United States. It will contribute towards building a broad-based, long-term and enduring partnership between the two countries on the basis of mutual interest and mutual benefit.

Also, the Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi met with the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative (SRSG) on Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto at the Foreign Office and underscored Pakistan’s sincere and consistent efforts towards promoting peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan. The reconstruction and humanitarian activities of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) were also discussed. He stressed that while efforts of all stakeholders were important, the ultimate arbiters of the future of Afghanistan were only the Afghan themselves.

On 2 July 2019, the 4th round of Bilateral Political Consultations between Pakistan and Russia was held in Moscow. The two sides held a comprehensive review of the bilateral relations and identified areas for further cooperation in political, economic, trade, investment, defence, energy, agriculture, education, culture and tourism. It was agreed that the sixth session of Inter Governmental Commission would be held in Islamabad at mutually agreed dates. Both sides agreed to enhance parliamentary exchanges to deepen bilateral cooperation and develop understanding for each other’s view.

From 3rd to 4th July 2019, the first Six Nations Regional Cooperation Meeting against terrorism, drug trafficking, illegal migration and organized crimes was held in Istanbul, Turkey. The countries represented at the Meeting included Turkey, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan. Pakistan delegation to the Meeting was led by Secretary for Interior, Mr. Azam Suleman Khan. The Meeting was aimed at establishing a new cooperation mechanism among the regional countries to deal with the issues of terrorism, irregular migration, drug trafficking and organized crimes.

Finally, I would also like to mention that some 512 artifacts dating back to second and third millennium BC, stolen and smuggled from Pakistan to France were seized by French Customs at Paris Airport during 2006-7. Taking notice of the issue of stolen and seized artifacts of Pakistan in foreign countries, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi instructed the Ministry and its Missions in respective countries to engage with the host governments for their repatriation to Pakistan. After verification of their origin and completion of tedious and protracted legal and administrative formalities, four hundred and eighty six (486) archaeological artifacts were handed over by the French government to the Embassy of Pakistan, Paris on 2 July 2019.

Question: There has been controversy regarding Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Russia in the last few days. Will the Prime Minister go to Russia to attend Eastern Economic Forum? Is there any meeting of the Prime Minister with President Putin under consideration? (Ms. Rashida Sial – Aab Tak)

Answer: Media reports about the visit of the Prime Minister to the Russian Federation are speculative. The two sides remain engaged at the highest level. Details will be shared at the appropriate time.

Question: Why the State Department of USA was not aware of the visit of the Prime Minister to the US, which caused a lot of confusion. The White House had to issue a clarification in this regard? (Mr. Zahid Farooq Malik – Daily Metro Watch)

Supplementary Question: After the announcement in last briefing that the Prime Minister will be visiting the US on the invitation of President Trump, your tweet yesterday stating that confirmation of the visit will be shared “at an appropriate time”, created a lot of confusion. Would you please clarify? (Mr. Adeel Warriach – Dunya TV)

Supplementary Question: Would you please comment that why such confusion regarding Prime Minister’s visit to the US had emerged? Would you also share the official members of Prime Minister’s entourage to the US? Lastly, whether the Prime Minister will stay in Pakistan Embassy in Washington D.C? (Mr. Mateen Haider – G-News)

Supplementary Question: It has been reported that the visit of the Prime Minister to US is a state visit. In case of state visit, the Prime Minister is supposed to stay at Blair House. However, in this case, the Prime Minister has stated that he would stay in Pakistan Embassy. Your comments please? (Mr. Naveed Siddiqui – Dawn News)

Supplementary Question: Will the issue of Dr. Shakeel Afridi be discussed during the upcoming visit of the Prime Minister to the United States? (Ms. Rabia Peer – VoA Dewa Radio)

Supplementary Question: Will the Prime Minister raise the issue of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui during his upcoming visit to the US? There are reports in the media hinting release of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Media Today)

Answer: A detailed press release has already been issued. Both sides have issued curtain raisers about the forthcoming visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Washington. Further details are being worked out. The visit will have positive impact on Pak-US bilateral relations as well as regional peace, stability and prosperity.

Question: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will deliver it’s judgment in the case of Commander Jadhav on 17 July 2019. What are Pakistan’s expectations and likely reaction to the verdict?’ (Mr. Naveed Siddiqui – Dawn News)

Answer: As you are aware the ICJ will announce its verdict in the case of Commander Jadhav on 17 July 2019. Commander Jadhav is a serving Indian naval officer involved in espionage, subversive and terrorist activities against Pakistan. He is the overt face of Indian state terrorism against Pakistan. His terrorist activities have resulted in loss of many innocent lives and damage to property.

Pakistan is a responsible member of the international community and will not speculate or comment on a sub-judice case.

Question: Would you please share the agenda of upcoming Kartarpur Corridor meeting between Pakistan and India? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Media Today)

Supplementary Question: Reportedly, Pakistan has completed 80% of the work on Kartarpur Corridor. Has India shared any details of completed work on their side? (Mr. Adeel Warriach – Dunya TV)

Supplementary Question: During the last meeting on Kartarpur Corridor, the Indian side had raised some issues. Further to this, the Indian side is also claiming that Pakistan has not addressed their concerns. Your comments please? (Ms. Rashida Sial – Aab Tak)

Answer: A press release regarding the meeting between Pakistan and India scheduled to take place on 14 July has already been issued. Indian delegation will come to Pakistan for the meeting at Wagah. This is the second meeting to discuss the draft Agreement between Pakistan and India, on Kartarpur Corridor.

As announced by the Prime Minister, Pakistan is committed to operationalising the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor in time for the 550th celebrations in November this year. Work proceeds expeditiously on the Pakistan side with more than 70% of the Gurdwara complex, border terminal and the road being completed. Regarding the question on completion of work on Indian side, there are reports that work is ongoing.

As per practice, the details of the draft agreement cannot be shared with the media at negotiations stage. Therefore, Pakistan will uphold the sanctity of this practice. As and when the agreement concludes, we will share the details with you accordingly.

Question: Would you please update us on Doha talks? (Mr. Zargoon Shah – Geo TV)

Answer: We believe that “Doha talks” between the stakeholders are a positive development. Pakistan’s role in facilitating talks and Afghan Peace process has been acknowledged and appreciated. Pakistan has been supporting the Afghan Peace process with all sincerity and in good faith. We believe in a politically negotiated Afghan led and Afghan owned solution to the Afghan conflict.

Pakistan will continue its policy to support international efforts that are meant to bring durable and sustainable peace in Afghanistan.

Question: Iran has announced that it will enrich uranium and violate the terms of the JCPOA. IAEA special meeting has been called to review the situation. How does Pakistan view this situation? (Ms. Shumaila Andleeb – APP)

Answer: Pakistan hopes that all parties to the JCPOA will be able to take effective measures to ensure full compliance to the agreement and resolve all outstanding issues through negotiations within the framework provided in the agreement.

Question: The Foreign Minister while attending the ongoing Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers’ Meeting has welcomed the proposal of Commonwealth nations to be part of CPEC. Your comments please? (Ms. Kousar Lodhi – Prime News)

Answer: I do not have any such information.

Question: Anti-Pakistan activities and propaganda were seen during the world cup cricket match between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Has Pakistan taken up the matter with the British government formally? (Mr. Mateen Saeed)

Answer: We have condemned this incident. The issue has been raised with the Government of UK by our High Commission in London and also with the UK High Commissioner in Islamabad by the Foreign Minister. We believe that such sports events should not be used for political gimmicks.

Question: Why the news reports regarding the visit of the Prime Minister to Russia were refuted by the Russian Government first, whereas, the news reports regarding the visit of the Prime Minister of Pakistan were carried by the South Asian media. Later, the Foreign Office issued a clarification. Why there was such a delay in clarifying the situation? (Mr. Majid Jarral – News One TV)

Answer: I have already responded to this question.

Question: It is reported that embassies of various countries in Pakistan are allegedly involved in the smuggling of illegal liquor to Pakistan. Reportedly, during the last month containers of eight embassies were captured and seized by the Customs authorities in Karachi. Those containers were shipped to Pakistan in the name of food items.

Secondly, Express Tribune has carried a news report entitled “US concerned over North Koreans ‘working’ on CPEC projects” by Mr. Zafar stating that “the United States has expressed serious concerns over the possible employment of North Korean nationals in the China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects in Pakistan. Sources told the Express Tribune that the US Embassy in Islamabad had approached the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to convey its serious concerns over the “rumors” that Chinese companies were likely involved in hiring services of North Korea to execute CPEC projects in Pakistan.” (Mr. Anas Mallick – WION TV)

Answer: Regarding your first question, facts are being ascertained.

As for your second question, Pakistan has been fully implementing the UNSC sanctions relating to the DPRK and no work visas have been issued to any DPRK national.

Question: There was a story published in Economic Times that an understanding was reached between the US and China on the designation of Masood Azhar as a terrorist. In return, US declared BLA as a terrorist organization because China has huge investment in Balochistan. How do you see this story? (Mr. Aun Sherazi – Such News)

Answer: I have not seen the news story. Will check and get back to you.

Question: The Foreign Minister of Pakistan in the ongoing Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers’ Meeting has stated that the rights of the minorities are being protected in Pakistan, whereas, the British Foreign Secretary had raised many questions regarding this in the past. Reportedly, the British government is also investigating the utilization of aid given by it? (Mr. Shamim Masih – Online International News Network)

Answer: There is no connection between the two issues. As far as the protection of minorities is concerned, Pakistan is fully committed to protect rights of minorities and our policy in this regard is very clear.

As for your second part of question, I will check and let you know.

Question: Tensions in bilateral relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh have intensified once again. Has the government of Bangladesh issued Agrément to our High Commissioner-designate? Secondly, there was also ongoing problem regarding the issuance of visas to Bangladeshi diplomats based in Islamabad who cannot travel on account of expiry of their visas. Will you please update us in this regard. (Mr. Mateen Haider – G-News)

Answer: Earlier, the Government of Bangladesh had denied Agrément to our High Commissioner-designated to Bangladesh. We are in the process of designating a new envoy to Bangladesh.

Pakistan’s visas are pending with Dhaka. We are working to resolve the issue and would update you accordingly.

Question: What is the total expenditure on Kartarpur Corridor and who is funding the project? (Ms. Rabia Peer – VoA Dewa Radio)

Answer: The Government of Pakistan is funding the project. At present, I do not have details of the expenditure.

Question: Has the Agrément of our High Commissioner-designate to India been received? Secondly, there have been a series of attack on oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. What special measures the government of Pakistan is taking in this regard because Pakistan government is solely dependent on imported oil? (Mr. Faisal Raza Khan – 92 News)

Answer: Yes, we have received the Agrément of our High Commissioner-designate to India from the Government of India.

Regarding your second question, I will check the details and get back to you soon.

Question: When will the discussions regarding Transit Trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan take place? There are reports that Pakistan would allow Afghanistan to trade with India through its land. (Mr. Naveed Akbar – Aaj News)

Answer: I will check and update you accordingly.


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