Opening Remarks for the Weekly Press Briefing by Spokesperson25 August 2023


Assalam-o-Alaikum and welcome to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday where he was briefed on Pakistan’s foreign policy. The briefing covered the entire spectrum of Pakistan’s external relations; the working of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; recent efforts to strengthen ties with different regions and countries; and priorities for the future especially in view of the developing regional and global developments. The Prime Minister was apprised of the steps being taken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Pakistan’s Missions abroad to facilitate Pakistanis working and residing abroad.

The Prime Minister shared his vision for a dynamic foreign policy and strengthening Pakistan’s relationships with countries around the world especially in terms of trade, investment, economic diplomacy, connectivity and public diplomacy. He directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our Foreign Missions to work diligently for the welfare of overseas Pakistanis.

The Minister for Hajj & Umrah of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Dr. Tawfiq Bin Fawzan Al Rabiah, visited Pakistan earlier this week. He headed a high-level delegation that included members from Saudi Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior, Communication, Tourism, and the Civil Aviation Authority. The Minister called on the President Dr. Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar and Governor Sindh Kamran Tessori and held comprehensive talks with Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Aneeq Ahmed. The visit was an important opportunity for the two sides to discuss: arrangements for Pakistani pilgrims for Umrah and the Haj; increase in Haj quota for Pakistanis; matters relating to Umrah visas; and the possible extension of the Road to Makkah Project to major airports of Pakistan during the upcoming Haj season. An Air Services agreement was also signed during the visit between Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authorities of the two countries to streamline Haj services.

A 60-year-old civilian Mr. Ghias from Oli village in Kotli district was killed as a result of unprovoked firing of Indian forces on August 21, 2023. The incident took place in the Nikial Sector of the Line of Control (LoC). This was a direct violation of the 2003 Ceasefire Understanding, reaffirmed in February 2021. We have strongly protested this latest provocation from the Indian side and emphasized the vital importance of maintaining peace along the LoC. Pakistan urges India to conduct an investigation into the incident and to honour the Ceasefire Understanding. The Indian forces must also exercise extreme caution and desist from targeting innocent civilians.

The UN Special Procedures for human rights have again expressed serious concerns about the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status by the Indian occupation forces and imposition of restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly, and association against civil society actors, human rights defenders, political figures and journalists in IIOJK.

These concerns were conveyed in a communication dated 8 August 2023 by the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the rights of freedom of opinion and expression; Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief.

The Special Procedures have also highlighted that the framework of India’s counter-terrorism laws is ripe for human rights abuse and potential violations of India’s obligations under international human rights law, particularly the obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights to equality and non-discrimination, the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association, and the right to liberty and security of person.

The UN Special Procedures have already issued multiple communications on individual allegations of human rights violations in IIOJK, including arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, ill treatment, intimidation, and reprise. The sudden closure of the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission, which rendered people in the region with little legal recourse in seeking redressal and accountability for violation of their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The latest communication by the UN Special Procedures is a comprehensive document, covering multi-faceted human rights abuses in IIOJK, under the cover of counter-terrorism laws. It indicts India on its human rights record and the grave situation in IIOJK. We urge India to bring an end to its repression of the Kashmiri people so that they are able to exercise their right to self-determination in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions.