Transcript of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on Thursday 18 June, 2020
[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]
Bismillah Ir Rehman Nir Rahim,
At the outset, Pakistan warmly congratulates Ambassador Volkan Bozkir of Turkey on his election as the President of the 75th Session of United Nations General Assembly.
The General Assembly has elected four non-permanent members to the United Nations Security Council for a two-year term commencing from 1 January 2021.
We congratulate Ireland, Norway and Mexico on their election to the Council. The election of India, however, raises fundamental questions.
The UN Charter has entrusted the Security Council with primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. The Charter stipulates that in discharging this responsibility, on behalf of the member states, the Council shall act in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations. This is the touchstone for the Council’s credibility and legitimacy.
India stands in flagrant violation of several resolutions of the Security Council that prescribed a UN-supervised plebiscite to enable the people of Jammu and Kashmir to exercise their fundamental right to self-determination.
India’s gross and systematic violations of human rights in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K) have been extensively documented by international human rights and humanitarian organizations as well as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in its successive reports. India has incarcerated 8 million Kashmiris, including top Kashmiri leadership, with 900,000 occupation troops.
The people of IOJ&K have been suffering under inhuman lockdown and military siege for over 10 months, following India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019. The entire region has been turned into a large prison, with unprecedented restrictions which continue despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. India has persistently defied requests to allow international monitors in IOJ&K.
Indian actions aimed at illegally altering the demographic structure of IOJ&K are in violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions and international law, in particular the 4th Geneva Convention. While the world is grappling with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, India is busy unabashedly advancing RSS-BJP inspired extremist ‘Hindutva’ ideology.
Over and above, the current Indian leadership has perpetuated massive violations of human rights against its minorities, in particular Muslims; threatening them with statelessness. Rising Islamophobia in India is evident from the destruction of the Babri Masjid. The imposition of the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA); initiation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) process; and the targeted killings of Muslims in repeated pogroms in Mumbai (1993), Gujarat (2002) and New Delhi (2020) are various facets of this phenomenon.
The Indian State’s proclivity to violence is no secret, which is a direct consequence of its headlong militarization and unbridled hegemonic ambitions. It has routinely used aggression in seeking to coerce its neighbors. It has employed terrorism, at one time or another, as state policy to destabilize every neighboring state. It has border disputes with all of its neighours.
India’s so-called “5-S approach” in the UN Security Council is only a smoke-screen to mask the arrogant, belligerent and confrontationist side of India. Perhaps India would do well to consider another “S” i.e. Satya or truth: The truth of Indian oppression, aggression and occupation, which cannot be covered up by false espousals.
Indian actions in IOJ&K and beyond are fundamental negation of the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. India is a consistent violator of the UN Security Council resolutions on Jammu & Kashmir dispute. Rather than felicitated, a country with such credentials must be held accountable. India must be asked to abide by the resolutions of the Security Council.
Pakistan will be working with rest of the members of the Security Council in advancing the objectives of international peace and security in South Asia and beyond.
Pakistan strongly condemns the latest attempt by Houthi militia to target civilians in Khamis Mushait, Saudi Arabia. It is commendable that the bomb-laden UAV was successfully intercepted and destroyed.
Pakistan reaffirms its full support and solidarity with the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against any threats to its security and territorial integrity.
As part of his diplomatic outreach, Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi held a telephonic conversation with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Matters of mutual interest, including the Covid-19 pandemic, cooperation at the multilateral fora, prospects of enhanced bilateral cooperation, and regional issues were discussed. Foreign Minister Qureshi underlined that Pakistan considered Russia an important partner and desired to forge a long-term and multi-dimensional partnership with Russia.
In the context of IOJ&K, Foreign Minister Qureshi shared deep concern over the continuing double lockdown as well as the intensification of military crackdown by Indian occupation forces and attempts to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory. The Foreign Minister underlined the importance of urgent steps to address the grave situation.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our Missions abroad together with all stakeholders continue to facilitate and assist our compatriots across the world to return safely to Pakistan.
During the last two weeks, 7,001 Pakistani citizens were repatriated from Dubai, 111 from Mauritius, 250 from Toronto, 119 from Amman, 556 from Jeddah, 2,004 from Riyadh, 140 from Dammam, 253 from Baghdad, 439 from Kyrgyzstan and 70 from Norway. Till date, 82,462 Pakistani nationals have been repatriated from over 73 countries. We extend our appreciation to all the governments and authorities in these countries for their support and cooperation in facilitating the repatriation of our nationals.
We announce with profound sorrow the passing away of an eminent colleague and distinguished diplomat of Pakistan, Ambassador Gul Haneef, in Karachi today. The Foreign Office family extends deepest condolences to the family of Ambassador Gul Haneef and pray that Almighty Allah have mercy on the departed soul. Ameen.
Question: Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Afghanistan along with DG ISI and Special Representative for Afghanistan Muhammad Sadiq and met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul and also Abdullah Abdullah. What is the background of these meetings and visit to Kabul? Did both sides discuss Action Plan on borders? Any meetings done with Afghanistan defense high ups during the COAS visit? Any discussion about Afghani refugees in Pakistan? (Tariq Wardak, Frontier Post)
Answer: Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Afghanistan on 9th June 2020. During the visit, he met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chairman High Council for National Reconciliation of Afghanistan, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. The two sides discussed latest status of Afghan Peace Process. The two sides also agreed to a dignified and time bound return of Afghan refugees. President Ashraf Ghani thanked Pakistan for opening of Torkham and Chaman border to allow Afghan transit goods and facilitate Afghan nationals who wished to return to their country.
Question: Afghan traders claim curbs on imports of fresh fruits and vegetables by Pakistan have caused them huge losses as their hundreds of trucks loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables destined for Pakistan and then India remain stranded at the main Chaman and Torkham crossing points for months, is it true? While last week we saw that Afghan President thanked Pakistani leadership for opening the borders for trade? (Islamud din Sajid, Anadolu Agency)
Answer: Following the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, Pakistan-Afghanistan border was sealed. At the request of the Afghan government and on humanitarian considerations, Pakistan re-opened its border with Afghanistan to facilitate trade. At present, both Torkham and Chaman border crossing points are open for trade with Afghanistan. Pakistan looks forward to the early resumption of normal bilateral trade that would facilitate traders on both sides.
Question: Recent UNSC reports say that some militant groups in Afghanistan are a big threat to the CPEC also the report indicated the presence of large number militants of TTP in Afghanistan, did the Pakistan army chief raise this issue with Afghan President in his recent visit to Kabul? (Islamuddin Sajid, Anadolu Agency)
Answer: The Chief of Army Staff visited the Kabul on 9 June 2020 during which he met President Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. A host of bilateral issues came under discussion. A press release was also issued by ISPR which may be referred to for further details.
Question: China has recently passed national security legislation for Hong Kong to better implement "one country, two systems" and for peace and prosperity of Hong Kong. What are your comments about the development? What benefits it can bring to the citizens of Hong Kong? (Raheela Nazir, Xinhua News Agency)
Answer: The annual sessions of National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), collectively called the ‘Two Sessions’, are important national events in China’s political system.
Pakistan’s position on Hong Kong is consistent and clear. Pakistan adheres to One-China policy. Hong Kong is a part of China and it is important for China to safeguard its sovereignty, territorial integrity, and protect the lives of its citizens.
We reaffirm that matters related to Hong Kong are China’s internal affairs. We believe it is important to uphold international law and adhere to the basic norm of non-interference.
Question: What is Pakistan’s position on ongoing border tension between India and China, being an ally Pakistan would stand with China in case of an aggravated situation between New Delhi and Beijing? (Islamud din Sajid, Anadolu Agency)
Supplementary Question: What is Pakistan's reaction over developments in Ladakh, particularly the recent exchange of fire which resulted in causalities ? (ShumailaJaffery, BBC World)
Answer: We have noted the reports of renewed clashes at China-India border areas. We believe that the clashes happened as China was negotiating with India to resolve the conflict peacefully and through agreed mechanisms. India’s belligerent policies and actions seeking to unilaterally change borders with neighbors continue to pose a threat to peace and security of the region and undermine the efforts aimed at promoting stability and development in the region.
Question: Prime Minister Modi ordered air surgical strikes inside Pakistan and Indian politicians and Military forces are threatening Pakistan and busy in false propaganda. How do you see this situation? What are your comments? (Khawaja Hamza, Media Today)
Answer: Pakistan has strongly condemned and categorically rejected Indian Defence Minister’s remarks about the situation in IOJ&K and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) The statement is another manifestation of the BJP government’s delusions about AJK and incurable obsession with Pakistan. The Indian Defence Minister’s statement is another desperate attempt to divert attention from India’s state-terrorism and unacceptable human rights violations in IOJ&K. It is also designed to ramp up flailing support for the BJP through unabashed political opportunism and reckless disregard for the peace, stability and security of the region.
Question: Pakistani diplomats were summoned to the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi after IHC's staff members went "missing" in Islamabad on Monday. Later media reported that a case was registered against them on hit & run/ fake currency charges. Can you share the details of what happened to the Indian High Commission's staffers? Some reports suggested that it was a tit for tat move on expulsion of Pakistani embassy's staff members. Your comments please? (Shumaila Jaffery, BBC World)
Answer: Two officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, Dwimu Brahma and Selvadas Paul, were over-speeding and crashed their car into a pedestrian on 15 June 2020. The pedestrian was seriously injured and taken to the hospital for treatment. The officials attempted to flee from the scene; however, some passersby who witnessed the incident stopped them from fleeing and informed the Police. The police rushed to the scene and took the officials to the Police Station.
During the course of investigation, fake currency was also recovered from the aforementioned officials. After it was confirmed that the said officials were from the Indian High Commission, they were released and handed over to a senior diplomat from the Indian High Commission. The senior Indian diplomat was reminded that possession of fake currency and “hit-and-run” after an incident are serious offences. Such illegal actions and reckless conduct by the officials of the Indian High Commission are against the law and established diplomatic norms. He was also reminded of the Indian High Commission’s obligations to ensure that its members did not engage in illegal activities and adhered to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961.