Any ill-considered misadventure by India will invite an assured notch-up military response from Pakistan as manifested in 2019. Zahid Hafeez

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Transcript of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on Thursday, 28 January, 2021

[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]

Assalaam-o-Alaikum and Welcome to the Weekly Press Briefing of the Foreign Office.

Let me begin with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s virtual participation in the 4th Session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Intergovernmental Group of Experts (IGE), on Financing for Development (FfD).

During his address, the Prime Minister underlined the structural barriers hampering global prosperity and development.

The Prime Minister proposed a five-point agenda to counter these barriers:

First, a viable framework for equitable and affordable supply of COVID vaccine to developing countries;
Second, suspending debt re-payments for the most stressed countries until the end of the pandemic, restructuring of their public-sector debt and expanding concessional financing through multilateral development banks;
Third, a general allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) of 500 billion dollars to help alleviate balance-of-payment pressures;
Fourth, return of stolen assets held by corrupt politicians and criminals; and
Fifth, meeting the agreed target of mobilizing 100 billion dollars annually by developed countries for climate action in developing countries.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi addressed the High Level Replenishment Conference for the UN Secretary General’s Peace Building Fund (PBF).

The Foreign Minister urged the United Nations to address the root causes of conflicts including injustice, inequality and suppression of the right to self-determination of the peoples under foreign occupation, in order to build and sustain global peace.

Underscoring Pakistan’s longstanding commitment to the United Nation’s endeavors for peacekeeping and peace-building, the Foreign Minister recalled that over the last 60 years Pakistani troops and police had represented the UN in 46 peacekeeping missions across 4 continents of the world.

The Foreign Minister also announced a financial pledge as part of Pakistan’s contribution to the Peace Building Fund (PBF).

The Foreign Minister represented Pakistan at the 17th Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) Ministerial Meeting held virtually.

Highlighting the devastating repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Foreign Minister underscored the need to coordinate actions; benefit from each other’s experiences; and pool resources for responding to the pandemic.

The Foreign Minister also emphasized the need for the COVID-19 vaccine to become easily and equitably accessible to all.

The Foreign Minister held a telephone conversation with his Chinese counterpart, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

State Councilor Yi conveyed China’s offer of five hundred thousand doses of Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccine to Pakistan by the end of this month.

This gesture by Beijing reaffirms the strength of the ‘All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership’ between Pakistan and China.

Discussing the progress on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), both the Foreign Ministers reaffirmed their resolve to make CPEC a high-quality demonstration project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The two Foreign Ministers agreed to enhance communication and coordination to further solidify Pakistan-China ties.

The Foreign Minister also had a telephone call with his Afghan counterpart Hanif Atmar.

During the call, matters of mutual interest, including trade and economic activity in the border regions, establishment of Border Sustenance Markets and the Afghan Peace Process were discussed.

The Foreign Minister also expressed concern on the high level of violence in Afghanistan and emphasized that progress in the Intra Afghan Negotiations would also help reduce violence, leading to ceasefire.

Assistant Foreign Minister on Asian Affairs of the State of Kuwait, Ambassador Ali Suleman Al-Saeed, called on Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Reaffirming Pakistan’s desire to forge stronger bilateral relations with Kuwait, the Foreign Minister stressed the importance of deepening and diversifying bilateral cooperation.

The Foreign Minister particularly appreciated the role played by the Kuwaiti leadership towards resolution of differences among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

The Assistant Foreign Minister reciprocated the Foreign Minister’s views on further fortifying the bilateral relations.

Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood held the 5th Round of Pakistan-Italy Bilateral Political Consultations with Ambassador Elisabetta Belloni.

The entire spectrum of bilateral relations including fight against the COVID-19 Pandemic; political, trade and economic relations; energy; defence; migration and people-to-people exchanges were reviewed during the Consultations.

Views were also exchanged on regional and global issues.

The United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution, titled “Promoting a Culture of Peace and Tolerance to Safeguard Religious Sites”.

The resolution was co-sponsored by Pakistan along with a number of OIC and other countries.

Consistent with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, this resolution is a part of Pakistan’s continuing diplomatic efforts for the protection of religious sites, promotion of interfaith harmony, and combating intolerance on the basis of religion or belief.

The international scrutiny of India’s global disinformation campaign against Pakistan continues, following the release of EUDisinfo lab report.

The European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the European Union, including Disinformation, held a hearing on disinformation activities.

The hearing by the EU Parliament is an acknowledgment that that the international community is taking the massive disinformation campaign and misuse of prestigious platforms by India against Pakistan seriously.

For far too long, India has masqueraded itself as a victim of terrorism.

It is time that the world saw the reality of India as state sponsor of terrorism and a purveyor of anti-Pakistan propaganda globally.

Coming to the situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), the Kashmiris in IIOJK and all over the world observed the Republic Day of India on 26 January as Black Day.

By observing the Republic Day of India as Black Day, the Kashmiris, once again, made their aspirations clear.

They sent an unambiguous message to the world community that Kashmiris have not and will never accept India’s illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir.

The indigenous movement of the Kashmiri people for their inalienable right to self-determination, as enshrined in the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, will only become stronger in the face of state-terrorism by the RSS-BJP regime.

Pakistan is also deeply concerned over the continued incarceration and deteriorating health conditions of Kashmiri leaders, including Asiya Andrabi, Shabbir Ahmed Shah, Yasin Malik, Masarat Alam Bhat; Mohammad Ashraf Sehraie and others.

The Indian Government through invoking draconian laws promulgated in IIOJK has illegally arrested these Kashmiri leaders over malicious, false and fabricated charges.

Imprisonment and torturing of Kashmiri leaders on the basis of their political ideology and struggle against illegal Indian occupation is a true reflection of the extremist mindset of the RSS-BJP regime which has no respect for the human rights of the Kashmiri people.

Pakistan calls upon the international community, particularly the United Nations, ICRC and human rights and humanitarian organizations, to take notice of the Indian government’s inhuman treatment of the Kashmiri leaders and raise its voice for their immediate release from illegal Indian detention.

Independent voices continue to call out India on its systemic violation of human rights in IIOJK and minority rights inside the country.

Human Rights Watch in its World Report 2021 has highlighted that the BJP-led government has increasingly harassed, arrested, and prosecuted rights defenders, activists, journalists, students, academics and others critical of the government or its policies.

The report has further stated that, “hundreds of people remained detained without charge in Jammu and Kashmir under the draconian Public Safety Act”.

The South Asia Collective in its annual report titled, ‘South Asia – State of Minorities Report 2020’, has underscored that “India has become a dangerous and violent space for Muslim minorities,” ever since the ruling Hindu nationalist party BJP came to power.

The report underlined that hate crimes against minorities have seen a spike – taking the form of mob lynching and vigilante violence against Muslims, Christians, and Dalits.

The report particularly highlighted the human rights violations in IIOJK since India`s unilateral and illegal actions of 5th August 2019.

Pakistan rejects the launch of Ayodhya mosque project in India, replacing historic Babri Masjid, which was demolished by extremist Hindu mob comprising Sangh Parivar groups in 1992.

The BJP government cannot mislead the world by such fabrications or hide its deep hatred for minorities in India, especially Muslims.

The formal launch of the Ayodhya mosque on India’s Republic Day is feigning false pretentions of secularism in India while the minorities, particularly Muslims and their places of worship are increasingly under attack.

Willful targeting of Muslims is rampant in BJP’s India ranging from its policies of disenfranchising Muslims to the recent increase in targeting of Muslim men under the boggy of “Love-Jihad” and other anti-Muslim measures like demonizing, dispossessing, marginalizing and subjecting Muslims to targeted violence.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has passed numerous resolutions, condemning the odious act of demolishing the historic Babri Mosque.

At the 47th session of its Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM), the OIC called upon the Government of India to take immediate steps to implement its commitment to reconstruct the Babri Masjid on its original site and to punish those responsible for its demolition, prevent the construction of temple on its site, take immediate steps to ensure the protection of the other 3,000 mosques, and ensure the safety and protection of the Muslims and Islamic Holy sites throughout India.

Pakistan once again urges the Indian government to ensure safety, security and protection of minorities, particularly Muslims and their places of worship, and fulfill its responsibilities under Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments of the United Nations, including the recommendations of the OIC.

We also call upon the international community, the United Nations and relevant international organizations to play their role in preserving the Islamic heritage sites in India from the extremist ‘Hindutva’ regime and ensure protection of minorities in India.

I thank you for your attention and am happy to take questions on these or other foreign policy related developments.

Question: There is a wide spread campaign in support of Khalistan movement. In this regard protests were witnessed in France, London and other parts of the world. How does Pakistan see this movement? (Zahid Farooq, Daily Metro)

Supplementary Question: Like the people of IIOJK, now Sikhs are being treated inhumanly in India by the RSS-BJP regime. Recently, over hundred members of the Sikh community were killed in India. The Sikh community is appealing the international community and international organizations for help and support for their cause. What is Pakistan’s position on this? (Khawaja Nayyer, Media Today)

Supplementary Question: The Indian media has reported that Pakistan was involved in hoisting the Khalistan flag in New Delhi on 26 January 2021. What is your stance on this? (Abbas Jaffar, Daily District News)

Answer: Regarding the recent protests by farmers in New Delhi, we have been repeatedly saying that Indian is not a democracy but an extremist Hindutva regime. The BJP governments’ actions against minorities have revealed the true face of India to the world. Today, the so-called largest democracy in the world stands fully exposed. Minorities in India are finding themselves increasingly insecure.

The treatment of minorities in India is a matter of serious concern not only for the Indian minorities and the neighbouring countries but also for the international community.

It may be recalled that Indian Union Minister Raosaheb Danve had alleged that China and Pakistan were behind the ongoing protests by farmers. Such baseless and irresponsible statement from Indian Minister reflects the true mindset of the BJP Government, who finds it convenient to blame India’s neighbours for all its internal failings. Such mindset is not only dangerous for Indian minorities but also imperils regional peace and security.

Question: What are Pakistan’s expectations from the new U.S. Administration with regard to Jammu & Kashmir dispute? What is Pakistan’s strategy to stop the demographic changes being made in IIOJK? (Sardar Hameed, News One)

Answer: The people of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir have suffered more than seven decades of ruthless repression by India.

We continue to sensitize the international community, including the United States, about India’s continued defiance of the international law and consistent UN Security Council resolutions. The international community must take forceful action on India’s egregious human rights violations in the occupied territory and their denial of right to self-determination for the people of Kashmir.

Regarding demographic changes in IIOJK, India’s actions, aimed at illegally changing the demographic structure of the IIOJK, are in a clear violation of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions, bilateral agreements between India and Pakistan, humanitarian norms and international law, including the 4th Geneva Convention.

Pakistan has been consistently sensitizing the international community, including the United Nations and the international human rights and humanitarian organizations, about the BJP Government’s designs for demographic change in IIOJK to perpetuate India’s illegal occupation of the disputed territory

The fake domicile certificates issued by India to over 1.8 million non-Kashmiris to alter the demographic structure of IIOJK are illegal and need to be cancelled immediately.

On its part, Pakistan will continue raising the issue at all relevant international fora.

Question: The Supreme Court of Pakistan has ordered the immediate release of Ahmed Umar Saeed Shaik in US journalist Daniel Pearl murder case. Earlier the United States had demanded the repatriation of Umar Shaik to the United States? Has the U.S. contacted Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the custody of Mr. Shaikh? (Shabbir Waghra, PTV World)

Supplementary Question: In the wake of FATF meeting scheduled for next month, how significant is the judgement of the Supreme Court in Daniel Pearl case? Will the government of Pakistan be challenging the verdict? (Anas Mallick, The Correspondent)

Answer: We have seen the media reports. The detailed judgement of the court is still awaited. I am not in a position to offer any further comments.

Question: According to statistics by the Chinese government, over three million people in Xinjiang shook off poverty and population of Uygur ethnic group increased by over 25 percent from 2010 to 2018 and languages, traditions of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang have been well protected. Furthermore, there are no terror attacks in Xinjiang for years. How do you comment on Xinjiang’s social economic development, as well as trade with Pakistan regarding the CPEC? (Ms. Misbah, Xinhua News Agency)

Answer: During the past four decades, China has brought nearly 800 million people out of poverty. This scale of poverty reduction has been unprecedented in human history. Xinjiang has also witnessed a lot of economic growth and stability in the last few years creating economic and social opportunities for its people.

We believe that a lot of potential exists for promoting trade between Xinjiang and Pakistan. CPEC, a transformational project, provides access to China’s western region to Pakistan and its ports.

To tap the economic potential of the region, Gwadar Port is also being developed commercially to create a logistical and supply chain network between Pakistan and Xinjiang for trading of commodities, products and services.

Question: The new U.S. administration has started taking steps regarding different countries as it has stopped arms supplies to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Both are friendly countries for Pakistan. What will be the impact of this development on Pakistan?

Secondly, Pakistan must have prepared a blueprint for engaging the new U.S. administration. Would you please share the details in this regard? (Mazhar Iqbal, Public News)

Answer: Regarding the U.S.-Pakistan ties under the new U.S. administration, Pakistan attaches great importance to its partnership with the United States. This is a key bilateral relationship that has been a factor for regional peace and stability.

We have achieved a lot by working together in the past. The logic for continued engagement and coordination is even more compelling in the context of shared geopolitical and security challenges.

Pakistan and the U.S. have worked closely towards our shared objective of peace in Afghanistan.

President Biden is well familiar with our region. He visited Pakistan in 2009 and 2011.

We look forward to working with the new administration to further strengthen our bilateral ties to make it multifaceted, sustainable and mutually beneficial and continue our partnership to achieve peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

As for United States’ relations with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as a policy we do not comment on bilateral relations among other countries.

Question: A few days ago there was a demonstration by Pakistan Hindu Council on the incident in Jodhpur, where eleven members of a Pakistani Hindi family died in India under mysterious circumstance. Are there any updates on the case?

Secondly, the legal proceeding in Kulbhushan Jadhav case is still pending and Islamabad High court has given Indian side another opportunity. Has there been any progress regarding the case, and has the Indian side communicated anything in this regard? (Khalid Azeem, Samaa TV)

Answer: Those 11 Pakistani nationals died in India under very mysterious circumstances. India has not explained as to why the bodies of the deceased were hastily cremated without informing the High Commission for Pakistan in New Delhi (PHC) and why a postmortem in the presence of Pakistan High Commission’s doctor was not permitted despite repeated requests by the High Commission.

Since the deceased were Pakistani nationals, it is incumbent upon the Government of Pakistan to be fully aware of the circumstances under which its nationals died in India.

The Government of India is obligated to fully cooperate with Pakistan. Accordingly, we will continue urging the Government of India to fulfill its legal obligations.

The Minister of Human Rights, Dr. Shireen Mazari, has also addressed a letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), calling for constitution of an investigation team under the auspices of the United Nations to investigate the deaths of eleven Pakistani Hindus.

As for your second question, we have discussed the case repeatedly in my press briefings. Pakistan remains fully committed to the implementation of the ICJ Judgment. Our position is consistent that the Indian Government should come forward and cooperate with the courts in Pakistan so that full effect could be given to the ICJ Judgment. Sadly, India has so far been evasive and been looking for a pretext to somehow frustrate Pakistan’s efforts to implement the ICJ Judgment. The Indian side is using diversionary and dilatory tactics as it will have to answer difficult questions.

They will have to explain what a serving officer of the Indian Navy, Commander Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, was doing in Pakistan, why was he carrying an Indian Passport by the name of Hussain Mubarak Patel, why was the same person carrying two passports.

Any ways, on its part Pakistan has already provided consular access to India two times and have offered a third consular access as well.

We call upon India to come forward, avail the third consular access and let the case in Islamabad High court proceed further.

Question: Pakistan has made progress on 21 out of 27 indicators on FATF. What is the status of remaining items and do you think Pakistan will be removed from FATF grey list this time? (Raja Amir Bhatti, Diplomatic Star)

Answer: Pakistan has made substantial progress under a huge national effort including steps in legislative, regulatory and operational domains. FATF has assessed Pakistan to have completed 21 of the 27 Action items under the current Action Plan. In the six partially addressed items, significant progress has been made by Pakistan, which has been duly acknowledged by the wider FATF membership.

Question: Pakistan already cautioned that there is a possibility of a false-flag operation by India to divert attention from India’s internal situation. Do you think India will do so in the current circumstances? (Khawaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: Pakistan has consistently pointed out that the BJP government stages “false flag” operations; maligns Pakistan with terrorism-related allegations; stokes hyper-nationalism in the country; claims to have launched so-called “surgical strike”; and then deviously manipulates national sentiment in its bid to win elections. The pattern is unmistakable, and has been repeated to suit the RSS-BJP regime’s electoral calculations. The recently leaked transcript of the Indian Journalist is a manifestation of this very pattern.

Pakistan continues to respond to Indian war mongering and belligerent rhetoric with our desire for peace.

However, let me reiterate that any ill-considered misadventure by India will invite an assured notch-up military response from Pakistan as manifested in 2019. Pakistan’s Armed Forces are fully capable of defeating Indian ill designs.

Question: The new US Administration has highlighted the possibility of review of peace deal with Taliban. What are your views on this and has Pakistan been approached for the review and re-engagement, given Pakistan active role in Afghan peace process? (Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)

Supplementary Question: After the statement by the new US Administration, the Afghan Government also hinted at the review of the peace deal and condemned the Taliban. Do you think the peace process will be derailed again? Also the new US Administration seems serious about the peace process given the fact that Zalmay Khalilzad is continuing with his portfolio. How do you comment on it (Naveed Siddiqui, Dawn TV)

Answer: Pakistan has consistently maintained that there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict. An Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process for an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement is the best way forward for achieving lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Towards this end, Pakistan has been constructively engaged with all Afghan sides as well as the international stakeholders for facilitating the Afghan peace process. The international community has duly recognized Pakistan’s efforts in this regard.

Pakistan appreciates the progress made in the peace process during last one year, particularly the developments, including signing of the U.S.-Taliban Agreement, start of the Intra-Afghan Negotiations and agreement on the rules and procedures.

We believe that the Intra-Afghan Negotiations have now advanced into an important phase where all the negotiating sides are required to show continued commitment and responsibility for moving forward towards reaching a comprehensive political settlement. It is important for Afghan to seize this historic opportunity.

Pakistan has also continued to reiterate its calls on all sides for taking measures for reduction in violence leading to ceasefire, which is linked to progress in the Intra-Afghan Negotiations.

Pakistan reiterates its abiding commitment to a peaceful, stable, sovereign, united and democratic Afghanistan

Question: Regarding Pakistan-sponsored resolution recently adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, what will be the next step? Will it be taken forward to the United Nations Security Council? (Abbas Jaffar, Daily District News)

Answer: The resolution is part of Pakistan’s continuing diplomatic efforts for the protection of religious sites, promotion of interfaith harmony, and combating intolerance on the basis of religion or belief. In the background of recent incidents of vilification of religious personalities and symbols, and rising religious extremism and intolerance around the world, this resolution aims to mainstream steps for curbing such negative trends.

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