Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 27 July 2017
(2017-07-27) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.]
Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is on official visit to Maldives on the invitation of President Abdulla Yameen, who personally received him at the airport. Prime Minister was invited as Chief Guest for the celebrations marking Maldives' 52nd National Day.
We are happy that the two Pakistani diplomatic staff members have been safely recovered by Afghan authorities, apparently, as a result of an operation by Afghan security forces. We have conveyed our thanks on behalf of the Government and the families of the two officials.
Grave human right violations of innocent and defenceless Kashmiris at the hands of Indian forces in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir continue. These are unprecedented in recent history. The oppressed Kashmiris in IoK are being brutalized by Indian occupation forces for 7 decades, taking a toll of over a million Kashmiris. Since 8 July 2016 alone, hundreds of Kashmiris have been mercilessly killed, over 8,000 are victims of pellet guns with many hundred youth blinded either completely or partially, 19,000 have been wounded many with life threatening injuries, over 18,000 arrested with their fate remaining unknown, and around a thousand cases of molestation of Kashmiri women have been reported. Among many other repressive measures, rape has also been used by Indian forces and RSS as a tool to terrorize Kashmiri women.
Int'l Community remains deeply concerned how minorities have been terrorized by the proponents of Hindutva (RSS affiliates) within India as well. Minorities including Muslims, Christians and Dalits have been lynched for trading, consuming or even transporting beef. Dozens of killings of Muslims and other minorities across the length and breadth of India have gone down annuls of the history.
In the overall context of terrorism in this region, there are hard and undeniable facts, which clearly identify the state actors of our eastern neighbor, perpetrating and financing terrorism and using their own and other countries' soil against Pakistan.
Unable to deter the indigenous movement for self-determination in IoK, spearheaded by Kashmiri youth, India has resorted to tactics of harassing relatives of the Hurriyat Leaders and meting out inhuman treatment to the Kashmiri Leaders. We have been sensitizing the Int'l Community as well as the UN and other relevant quarters on the grave human rights situation in IoK and unending bloodshed of Kashmiris by Indian occupation forces.
Friends, Ladies & Gentlemen! Young Pakistani scholars and sportspersons continue to make the nation proud of their achievements in competitions all over the world. We congratulate Hamza Haroon for receiving Engineer of the year award in UK, Maaha Ayub for the Bronze in Int'l Chemistry Olympiad in Thailand, Fahrid Chishty securing 1st Class honours in LLB from King's College UK, Tennis Star Aisam Ul Haq and Partner Rajeev on winning US Hall of Fame Championship, and Inayatullah for winning Silver medal in Asian Cadet Wrestling Championship in Thailand.
Now the Floor is open for Questions
Afghan media has alleged that Afghan children undergoing religious education in Pakistani seminaries are being radicalized by militant organizations to destabilize Afghanistan. How do you respond to Afghan media's false propaganda? (Shabbir Waghra - PTV World)
During my last week's Press Briefing, I had shared in detail as to how Pakistan has been assisting Afghan nationals and in reconstruction in Afghanistan. Pakistan continues to provide educational facilities to the Afghan students at par with its own students. As many as around 50,000 Afghans educated in Pakistan are working in Afghan institutions. About a million Afghan refugees' children are going to Pakistani schools. Under the Prime Minister's scholarship scheme, as I mentioned last week, 3000 Afghan students are studying in Pakistani universities. Another, 3000 scholarships are in the pipeline. These facts suggest that certain foreign sponsored sections in the Afghan media are engaged in propaganda against Pakistan. The fact remains that Pakistan's contribution in providing education to Afghans in our schools, colleges and universities is phenomenal and it emanates from the brotherly ties between our two peoples. Baseless negative news is the handiwork of the enemies of Pakistan-Afghanistan friendship.
Afghanistan says it is a victim of terrorism and they allege that Pakistani soil is used in this regard. It is also a proven fact that coalition forces in Afghanistan have, for decades, remained unsuccessful in eliminating terrorism. There is growing pressure on Pakistan for not doing enough in this regard. How do you comment on this blame game and do more mantra?
Secondly, amidst Indian atrocities in IoK, floods have caused human & material losses to already aggrieved Kashmiris in IoK. How will Pakistan offer assistance to its Kashmiri brothers and sisters in need? (Khwaja Nayyar Iqbal - Kashmir Post)
COAS has clearly underscored to Gen. Nicholson that some elements in both US and Afghanistan are promoting blame game, which undermines Pakistan's counter terrorism efforts. Has the matter been taken up through diplomatic channels also? Moreover, same rhetoric is also in the State Department report 2016 on terrorism. What was Gen. Nicholson's response? (Essa Naqvi - Dunya TV)
I will respond to Khwaja Nayyar Sb's questions first. Regarding your question on blame-game, Pakistan has been fighting its war against terrorism and carried out Operations Zarb-e-Azb, Raddul Fasaad and Operation Khyber IV under a comprehensive Counter-Terrorism (CT) strategy and the National Action Plan. Pakistan and its people have suffered immensely due to terrorism, both in terms of human and financial losses. Besides these costs, we incur huge expenditure on Counter-Terrorism operations. Various countries of the world, including the US, have acknowledged our efforts and sacrifices in fighting the menace of terrorism. The mere rhetoric of blame game is counter-productive, and serves no one.
As to your second question about floods in IoK, Pakistan stands ready to help alleviate its Kashmiri brethren's sufferings in IoK and would continue to raise the grave human rights violations in IoK globally and insist that the Int'l Community force India to stop the atrocities and bloodshed immediately.
With regard to Mr. Essa's question, in our interactions our viewpoint is appropriately conveyed to the US officials. Operations Zerb-e-Azb and Raddul Fassad have successfully fought back the terrorists. They are on the run. Pakistan has taken numerous steps for effective border management. The blame game that you are referring to is certainly counter-productive, and hampers cooperation in the context of counter-terrorism efforts, which is a global phenomenon.
My question pertains to the recovery of 2 Pakistani diplomats from Afghanistan yesterday evening, to which effect Foreign Office also issued a Press Release. There have been rumours that those abducted Pakistanis were sold off to extremist groups many times, and finally a ransom amount was negotiated. Would you be in a position to arrange their interaction with the media to get the information from them? (Syed Mohsin Raza - ASAS Group of Publications)
I have noted your query. I am not in a position to offer a comment right now.
As you mentioned in your opening remarks, eight thousands Kashmiris, including children have been blinded by Indian occupation forces with pellet guns. Pakistan had offered their treatment in Europe. Is that offer still valid and what was Indian response?
Secondly India is desperately trying to wriggle out its active service army officers running terrorist organizations Abhinav Bharat and RSS from Samjhauta Express terrorist attack after Sawami Aseemnand confessed their involvement. Your views please! (Shaukat Paracha - Aaj TV)
With regard to your first question, Pakistan has consistently condemned Indian atrocities by Indian occupation forces in IoK. The Prime Minister had offered treatment of pellet victims in any European country or anywhere in the world where the best facilities are available, which India refused. Our offer remains valid for all times in this regard. Pakistan is committed to extending political, moral and diplomatic support to our Kashmiri brethren.
As to your question regarding Samjhauta Express terrorist attack case, the facts of the matter are that member of RSS Hindu terroist organization, Swami Aseemanand, publicly confessed masterminding Samjhauta Express terrorist attack and identified active service Indian Army officer and officials inclduing Col. Sirikant Purohit, who headed another Hindu terrorist outfit, Abhinav Bharat as his accomplice.
According to Maharashtra's IG Police, S M Mushrif's account, ATS Chief Hemant Karkare had discovered that RDX procured by Col. Purohit from government supplies, was used in the terrorist attack on Samjhauta Express in which majority of Pakistanis were killed. Not only that but many other incidents were staged by Indian agencies and blamed on others. Karkare was subsequently removed from his post and eventually killed under mysterious circumstances. S.M. Mushrif, in his account of various incidents, has also mentioned about Mr. Karkare's mysterious killing. Ever since, the dynamics of the case were twisted in a manner to take Swami Aseemanand, Col. Purohit and other accomplices off the hook. Despite assurances at the highest political level of India and a lapse of 10 years, the investigations were not shared. Rather, efforts remained focused on absolving the actual terrorists of the charge.
A video has gone viral on social media of an Indian Muslim man being brutally lynched by 11 Hindus armed with swords in PM Modi's home state in Maharashtra state. This is yet another act of terrorism by BJP & RSS backed Hindutva proponents. Will not Pakistan or other Muslim country raise this issue at OIC & UN? (Amjad Ali - PTV News)
It was a very disturbing and gruesome episode in which an unprotected Muslim has been dragged in the street in India and brutally murdered with swords by Hindu extremists. Daily lynching of Muslims, Christians, Dalits, etc. in public by cow vigilantes and Hindutva proponents are manifestations of rising extremism, religious intolerance and bigotry in India, which are a cause of international concern. International human rights organizations including Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have amply reported on this. Regrettably, situation for the religious minorities and vulnerable segments of their society is worsening with each passing day.
US has blocked $ 50 million Pakistan funds, which were supposed to be paid under the coalition support fund. Your comments please! (Ishtiaq Ahmed - VOA)
Part of the reply I have already given in an earlier question. As I said, Pakistan has been fighting its war against terrorism and carried out Operations Zarb-i-Azb, Raddul Fasaad and Operation Khyber IV under a comprehensive Counter-Terrorism (CT) strategy and the National Action Plan. Pakistan and its people have suffered immensely due to terrorism, both in terms of human and financial losses. Besides these costs, we incur huge expenditure on Counter-Terrorism operations.
Cooperation with the United States forms part of Pakistan's overall CT drive. The blocked money is not aid but reimbursement of what has actually been spent by Pakistan on CT operations. US Legislators have been visiting Pakistan and have acknowledged the enormous success achieved by Pakistan in fighting back the terrorists, indiscriminately. Pakistan's Counter-Terrorism drive is against all terrorist outfits. We are firmly resolved to eradicate terrorism from our soil at all costs.
Reportedly, Afghanistan has agreed to hold 7th meeting of Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Co-ordination Authority (APTTCA) during the third week of August. Are there any specific dates announced for the meeting? (Saima Shabbir - Bol News)
The Sixth Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Coordination Authority (APTTCA) meeting was held on 14-15 February 2016. A number of important decisions were taken that included in principle agreement to examine the Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) in the light of the International Road Transport (TIR) convention to which both Pakistan and Afghanistan are signatories. To convene the 7th meeting of APTTCA, the two sides are finalizing the dates and it is expected to be held in Kabul in near future.
At a security conference in California recently, Afghan Ambassador to US is reported to have made malicious comments against Pakistan army. He alleged that Pakistan supports terrorism as part of foreign policy and that US should stop supporting Pakistan. Don't you think that such irresponsible statements undermine the efforts that two governments are making for better cooperation? Your views, please! (Tariq Mahmood - SAMAA TV)
At the outset, please note that one of the experts at the penal discussion had immediately countered Afghan Ambassador's reported statement. Remarks attributed to the Afghan Ambassador at Aspen forum by the media are part of a malicious campaign against Pakistan. Facts on ground belie such claims! In reality, since 9/11 Pakistan military has proven to be the most effective bulwark against terrorism in the region. Members from all ranks in the military, from three star and below, have made the ultimate sacrifice. In over 6000 martyrs, Pakistan has lost more security forces' personnel in fighting violent extremism than its international partners across the border. Pakistan not only continues to fight this war but is also winning. International visitors including media and members of US Congress have recognized these achievements. Only an unshakable determination and a deep commitment to fight terrorism can lead to such successes. In reality, it is across the border in Afghanistan where vast swathes of territory has been abandoned to the militants. These safe havens pose a security risk to Pakistan and the entire region.
Making devious claims against Pakistan military's commitment to fight terrorism is to trivialize its tremendous human sacrifices. It is also disrespectful to the families of martyrs and to the people of Pakistan and such outlandish statements are beyond the dignity of responsible offices. Continuing this negative rhetoric is itself a factor in regional instability as it weakens international partnership against terrorism.
Ever since Pakistan awarded death sentence to Indian spy Commander Kulbhushan Jhadev, India has not issued any visa to Pakistani nationals, including medical visas. They had put ridiculous pre-condition that Adviser Sartaj Aziz would verify every visa application before Indian High Commission could visa to Pakistanis. It appears as though India is placing the entire onus of non issuance of visas on the Pakistani Government. How do you respond to that? (Naveed Akbar - Dunya TV)
It is highly regrettable that India has placed such restrictions on visas for patients who are suffering from serious and terminal illnesses. Asking for a letter from the Foreign affairs Adviser is against the diplomatic norms. Such a requirement has not been prescribed for any other country. We are making suitable alternative arrangements, both within Pakistan as well as in friendly countries.