Transcript of weekly press briefing of FO


Transcript of the Weekly Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 21st November 2019

[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 humanitarian nightmare in IOJ&K is worsening with continued military lockdown and complete communications blackout for 110th 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. People of IOJ&K are not even allowed to offer Friday prayers at mosques. These inhuman and unilateral actions by India are continuing, despite widespread international condemnations.

The Indian government should immediately restore internet and mobile phone services, release all prisoners, especially civil society members and the abducted young children, remove Public Safety Act and other draconian laws, and allow the independent media and international human rights observers to visit the region to independently observe the situation of the Kashmiri people.

We urge the international community, the United Nations, and other human rights organizations to take notice of the brutal suppression of the religious rights and freedoms of the Kashmiri people in utter violation of international laws and conventions. The Indian government cannot suppress the aspirations of the people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir for exercising the right to self-determination as enshrined in the UN Security Council Resolutions.

Pakistan continues to internationally highlight the dire situation in the Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir and the plight of the Kashmiri people in the face of inhuman lockdown since India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019.

As a part of this ongoing effort, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has addressed a comprehensive letter to the President of the Security Council and the Secretary General of the United Nations on 31 October 2019.

Among other things, the Foreign Minister conveyed Pakistan’s rejection of the “bifurcation” of Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir; highlighted the continued violation of human rights by Indian occupation forces; underlined India’s belligerent rhetoric and actions vis-à-vis Pakistan; and reiterated the call for strengthening of UNMOGIP.At Pakistan’s request, the Foreign Minister’s letter has since been circulated to the UN membership as an Official document of the Security Council (text of the letter is available on our website).

Pakistan welcomes the public hearing on human rights in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir held by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. Congress, held on 14 November 2019 at Washington D.C. The deliberations of the Commission reinforced internationally recognized disputed nature of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and highlighted gross human rights violations and the humanitarian crisis in IOJ&K.A call for an independent fact-finding mission to IOJ&K was made. The right of self-determination of Kashmiri people was also duly underscored during the Commission’s proceedings.

Held less than a month after the hearing of the Subcommittee on Asia of the U.S.House of Representatives, the Lantos Commission hearing reflected continued international concern over the situation in IOJ&K. Pakistan recognizes efforts of Members of the U.S. Congress who have raised their voices of conscience on the ongoing persecution of the people of IOJ&K.

The courage of the panelists who became the voice of innocent Kashmiri people being brutally silenced by India’s communications blockade is laudable. They shredded the myth of so-called “largest democracy” and honestly exposed the authoritarian, nationalistic and extremist motivations driving the Indian government’s deplorable and repressive policies.

The latest hearing in the Lantos Commission of the U.S. Congress is another illustration of the world community’s serious concern over the unacceptable situation in IOJ&K and the need to address it urgently.

Moving forward, Pakistan was re-elected yesterday to the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with 154 votes out of 180 cast, for the next four-year term (2019-2023) in an election held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris yesterday. Pakistan`s reelection is a testimony to Pakistan`s long standing positive contribution to promoting educational scientific and cultural cooperation between nations, and its firm commitment toward achieving UNESCO`s goals and objectives.

It is a matter of pride that the Edhi Foundation has received the prestigious “Isa Award for Service to Humanity” on 12 November 2019 at the Isa Cultural Center, Bahrain.His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa, the King of Bahrain, presented the award to Mr. Faisal Edhi, the son of late Abdul Sattar Edhi and Chairman of Edhi Foundation. The award comprises US$ 1 million cash, gold medal and certificate of appreciation.

Conferment of the Isa Award in a ceremony graced by His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa represents another welcome recognition of the tremendous humanitarian work being done by the Edhi Foundation and of the generous support extended to it by the “giving people” of Pakistan.

The 10th session of the European Union-Pakistan Joint Commission (JC) was held in Brussels on 15 November 2019. The plenary of the JC was preceded by sub-group meetings on trade; development cooperation; and democracy, governance, rule of law and human rights on 13-14 November 2019.

The JC provided an opportunity to exchange views on all main areas of cooperation between the EU and Pakistan.

Pakistan briefed the EU side on the recent developments in the region and highlighted its concerns regarding the human rights and humanitarian situation in Indian controlled Jammu and Kashmir.

Moving forth, Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands will visit Pakistan from 25-27 November 2019 in her capacity as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate (UNSGSA) for Inclusive Finance for Development.

During the visit, Her Majesty Queen Máxima will call on the President and the Prime Minister of Pakistan, besides engagements with a range of stakeholders from the public and private sectors.Inclusive Finance for Development is one of the key priorities of the Government. Pakistan has taken a number of steps in recent years in order to promote the key objectives of financial inclusion.

Going forward, the Government and leadership of Pakistan warmly felicitated the newly-elected President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, on his electoral victory as the 7th President of the country. Pakistan is confident that under his stewardship, Sri Lanka will continue its journey towards greater prosperity and peace.

Pakistan appreciates the conduct of a free, fair and peaceful election by the Election Commission and the Government of Sri Lanka. The leadership of Pakistan looks forward to working with the new President and his team to further strengthen the already strong relationship between the two countries. The Government of Pakistan expresses the resolve to further fortify the fraternal ties and to take this vital partnership to a new level.

On 19 November, 2019, the 6th round of Pakistan-Australia Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC) was held in Islamabad.The two sides discussed the whole gamut of bilateral relations, including political, economic, trade and investment, and people-to-people exchanges, and developments in their respective regions. The two delegations exchanged views on important global and regional issues.

The Australian side was also briefed on the Indian government’s aggressive posturing after its illegal and unilateral actions to change the internationally recognized disputed status of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K) and alter its demographic structure.

Deputy Secretary Maude also called on Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood and exchanged views on bilateral, regional and international issues.

Question     Reportedly, Mr. Altaf Hussain has asked Prime Minister Modi to grant him asylum in India. Will Pakistan raise the issue with the UK authorities? (Mr. Anas Mallick – WION TV)

Answer:       It is a very serious issue of immense concern to us. A comprehensive response will be furnished shortly.

Question     It is circulating in the social media that retired ISI Col Habib Zahir, who was kidnapped in Nepal two and half year ago, has died in NIA Headquarters in New Delhi. Can you please confirm? (Mr. Zargoon Shah–Geo TV)

Answer:       I have seen the “death certificate”, which looks fake. It is obviously a campaign of sensationalisation being undertaken by hostile agencies against Pakistan and its nationals. The family of Col. Habib Zahir and Pakistan remain extremely concerned about his whereabouts, who is missing for more than two years from Lumbini Nepal, five kilometers from Nepal-India border.

Question     On 26 October 2019, a few Members of European Parliamentarian visited Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Yesterday, these Parliamentarians stated in the Parliament that they had visited unofficially and it was a private visit. How do you comment on this?

Secondly, when former Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was leaving the country, the government of Pakistan stated that the concerned country will be informed about the conditions on which the former Prime Minister was leaving. So, have you informed the UK government about the conditions? (Mr. Zahid Farooq Malik – Daily Metro Watch)

Answer:       Your second question does not pertain to Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Regarding your first question, there was an attempt made by the Indian government to show “normalcy” in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir with the personal/private visit of these few members of the European Parliaments, which has completely failed. The Indian attempt has not only failed but has also caused further embarrassment to India. The repression in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir cannot be hidden from the international community. We believe that the dispute of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir can only be resolved as per the Resolutions of the UNSC and wishes of the Kashmiri people.

Question     Recently, former Indian Army General, while speaking on national television, has publicly disgraced Kashmiri women. Such statements by the former Indian Army Generals and analysts have created insecurity among the people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, particularly women and children. How do you see these statements, as India has emerged as a country where lynching and disgracing Muslim women and other people living in IOJ&K has become common? How does Pakistan seethis?  (Mr. Mateen Haider – G-News)

Answer:       It is a very serious issue. The rising extremism and intolerance in India are cause of great concern, not only for the world but also for sections within India. I have seen the video that you have mentioned. It is the right time for Indian civil society, media and politicians to introspect that on which way they are embarking, especially regarding minorities and the people of Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

Question     As per media reports, the Indian occupation forces have committed mass killings in the occupied valley and adopted the same pattern like Burmese Army killing Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Your comments please? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Media Today)

Answer:       I have repeatedly condemned the gross human rights violations and heinous crimes being carried out by the Indian occupation forces in the IOJ&K.

Question     When will the Prime Minister of Pakistan visit Malaysia to attend the Kuala Lumpur Summit and what would be the agenda of the Summit?

Secondly, the Taliban have released an American and an Australian, held hostage since 2016, in exchange for three prominent members of the Taliban, who were set free by the Afghan government and flown to Qatar. In view of the current situation, will the US and Taliban resume talks for peace process? (Ms. Kausar Lodhi–Prime News)

Answer:       Regarding your first question, we will update you accordingly.

As for your second question, the Prime Minister has already tweeted, which is in public domain. I have nothing more to add to it.

Question     Reportedly, there is a deadlock in the negotiations between the US and Taliban for the peace process. Is Pakistan playing the role of mediator to facilitate the peace talks? (Mr. Khalid Azim Chaudhary – Samaa TV)

Answer:       I have no update on this.

Question     Reportedly, India has opened Siachen for the tourists since last month. Your comments please?

Secondly, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan fear that the Report of Sartaj Aziz Committee which was established regarding the status of Gilgit-Baltistan, will be shared publically to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. The Article 91 states that Foreign Office is obligatory to publish the report. How do you see this? (Mr. Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)

Answer:       As per my information, the report is already in the public domain.

I have only seen the press reports in the Indian media regarding opening of Siachen for tourists.  I have not seen any official statement by the Indian Government to this effect. Siachen is a conflict zone between Pakistan and India.

Question     The Indian Parliamentary Committee on Defence has included Pragya Thakur who earlier also threatened to drop a nuclear bomb on Pakistan during the election complain of BJP. Secondly, Amit Shah, Indian Home Minister has said that unlike Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, India will not usurp the rights of its people and would resolve their issues in Assam. How do you comment on this? (Mr. Haider Shiraze–G-News)

Answer:       These two questions are related to India. As I have already said that we do not expect any good from India. Such measures/comments reaffirm our position that India is sliding fast into religious intolerance and extremism under RSS-led Hindutva ideology of the BJP government.

Question     What is the reaction of Foreign Office on the United States endorsement of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank?

Secondly, chief diplomats of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran are expected to hold a meeting in Islamabad in second week of January 2020. Would you please confirm and share details? (Mr. Sib Kaifee–Arab News)

Answer:       Pakistan’s position regarding illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories remains unchanged, in line with several UN Security Council resolutions especially Resolution 465 (1980), 1860 (2009) and more recently resolution 2334 adopted in December 2016.We consider that all Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank are illegal under international law and it would further hamper the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects of a lasting peace in the region.

Moreover, the OIC has also repeatedly pronounced on the issue of illegal settlements considering it a violation of the international law. Being its founding member, Pakistan’s position is also aligned with that of OIC.

Regarding your second question, I do not have any such information.

Question     Pakistan agreed to accommodate five thousand yatrees per day from Kartarpur Sahib Corridor. Reportedly, only few hundred are visiting the Gurdwara on daily basis, from the Indian side. Do you think that the Indian side is creating hurdles for the yatrees to visit Gurdwara from Kartarpur Sahib Corridor? What do you say on it? (Mr. Adeel Warriach–Dunya News)

Answer:       The government of Pakistan has already agreed to receive five thousand pilgrims per day from the Corridor. However, there are some reports of Indian reluctance and creation of problems for the Yatrees. The government of Pakistan remains committed to implement the Agreement in letter and spirit.

Question     Nearly three months ago the postal services between Pakistan and India were suspended in the wake of India’s decision to end the special status of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Reportedly, Pakistan has resumed postal mail service with India, which was stopped by the Chief Minister of Indian Punjab. Can you please update on this? (Mr. Naveed Siddiqui–Dawn News)

Answer:       I will check and revert.

Question     The Indian Home Minister in his statement has said that during the last three months 5671 Kashmiris have been arrested. What are the latest updates with you? (Mr. Zulqarnain–ARY News)

Answer:       As you are aware that the Indian government has imposed unprecedented curfew and clamped down the communication system in the Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Therefore, we do not have the exact numbers but of course it is much more that what is being reported. The situation in the Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir is very serious. We have been continuously highlighting the appalling situation of the people of Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir at all relevant forums.

Question     Following the harassment incidents, Consular Services in Pakistan Embassy in Kabul were suspended. What is the latest update in this regard? Are the visa services being restored because people who are coming for medical facilities are facing difficulties? (Mr. Muhammad Jaleel–VoA)

Answer:       I have no update in the matter.

Question     Despite Pakistan’s efforts to curb terrorism, the State Department of the United States has once again criticized Pakistan for not doing enough against the Taliban and the Haqqani Network. How do you see this statement? (Mr. Rabia Peer–VoA Dewa Radio)

Answer:       Our position is very clear on this. Pakistan’s efforts against terrorism and extremism are recognized worldwide. Pakistan will continue with its actions.

Question     After opening Kartarpur Sahib Corridor as a goodwill gesture, is Pakistan considering to open nine other revered places in Azad Jammu & Kashmir?

Secondly, the government of India has made the Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir as part of its Union territory. Is Pakistan still considering to make Gilgit-Baltistan as its province? Does Pakistan still want to make Gilgit-Baltistan a province of Pakistan? (Mr. Babar Abbasi – GNN)

Answer:       We have always desired to have good neighbourly relations with India and have maintained that all issues between the two countries including the dispute of Jammu &Kashmir should be addressed through dialogue and negotiations. However, the Indian side has always been vacillating. With its illegal and unilateral actions taken on 5th August 2019, India has made it extremely difficult to move forward.

Because of Indian obduracy, we could not move on improving people to people contacts, reviving the composite dialogue and discussing the opening of other sacred places. All these things cannot be done by Pakistan alone.

As for the Gilgit-Baltistan, it is Pakistan’s considered view that the resolution of Jammu and Kashmir dispute should be as per the UNSC Resolutions and the wishes of Kashmiri people. we have never intended to make it a province. However, the economic and social development of people of the area cannot be held hostage because India is not willing to resolve the dispute of Jammu & Kashmir as per the Resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. In this regard, efforts were carried in the past and will also be done in future.

Question     Following the unilateral action of 5th August by the government of India, has Pakistan raised the issue of food shortages in the Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir with the United Nations Organization? (Mr. Shakeel Kilyana–Dunya Numa Newspaper)

Answer:       Yes, the issue has been raised time and again.

Question     In the recent Asia Pacific Summit held in Cambodia, the Deputy Speaker of National Assembly was interrupted unreasonably by BJP Parliamentarian who was escorted off the premises. How do you see such reaction of Indian delegates in international forums? Is Pakistan taking any measures to stop such incidents in future?

Answer:       Pakistan will continue to raise the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and human rights violations in IOJ&K at all important forums.

Question     Pakistan has always been on forefront to counter Islamphobia. Unfortunately, three days ago, in Norwegian city, an incident of burning and desecrating of Holy Quran occurred. How do you view the rise of hate crimes against Muslims especially this recent act? (Mr. Mateen Haider–G-News)

Answer:       I have not seen the report that you have mentioned. However, our policy on this is very clear and in accordance with the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). We utterly condemn such incidents. We respect all religions and expect similar sentiments from others.