Saturday, January 29, 2022
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General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) visited Lahore Garrison today.

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Rawalpindi, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) visited Lahore Garrison today. COAS was briefed on various operational and training matters of the formation at Corps HQ. Later, COAS interacted with Vice Chancellors, faculty and students of LUMS, FCU, UET, LSE, PU and GCU. COAS appreciated the critical role being played by these premier educational institutions in preparing the future leadership and useful citizens of Pakistan.

COAS said that there is dire need of Human Resource development in the fields of education, health, infrastructure/ industry and environment. COAS also emphasised that spread of misinformation by vested interests is not only creating misperceptions but also threatening cohesion in the society. COAS stressed on the need to stay united in order to thwart designs of hostile forces.

Pakistani youth is extremely talented and enterprising, given the right opportunities and enabling environment they will lead the country to progress and prosperity, COAS remarked. Faculty members and students asked very candid questions during the exhaustive session and hailed the interaction as very positive and illuminating.

Corps Commander, Lieutenant General Muhammad Abdul Aziz, was also present during the session.

UN has launched a global appeal of US$ 4.4 billion, which is one of the biggest ever appeals corresponding to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Asim Iftikhar

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Transcript of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on Friday, 28 January, 2022

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

Good Afternoon and welcome to our Weekly Press Briefing.

Let us look at some important updates to start with.

As you are aware the Prime Minister will be undertaking a visit to China to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics next week. During the visit, the Prime Minister will have meetings with the Chinese leadership. The visit will reinforce the All Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership between our two countries, and further advance the objective of building a closer China- Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era.
Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood visited Jeddah from 22-25 January, where Pakistan assumed the Chair of OIC’s Senior Officials Meeting in run up to the 48th Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers to be held in Islamabad from 22-23 March. The Foreign Secretary steered discussions in the SOM on the range of issues under consideration. The Foreign Secretary also underscored the special importance of the 48th Session of CFM, coinciding with the 75th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence.

Separately, the Foreign Secretary also called on OIC Secretary General, H.E Hissein Brahim Taha, and exchanged views on Pakistan-OIC cooperation, IIOJK, situation in Afghanistan, Islamophobia and preparations for the 48th ICFM Session to be held in Islamabad.
Let me also state Pakistan’s strong condemnation of further attacks by the Houthis targeted against Saudi Arabia and the UAE. We call for immediate cessation of such attacks. Our position on this issue is well-known.

Let us take a look at some of the recent high-level engagements.
Foreign Minister Qureshi received the Minister of Trade of Sri Lanka, Dr. Bandula Gunawardhana and State Minister for Regional Cooperation Mr. Tharaka

Balasuriya at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 24 January. The Sri Lankan delegation also paid a courtesy call on the Prime Minister on 25 January. Accompanied by a group of Sri Lankan businessmen, the delegation had a number of interactions in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore with a view to strengthening trade and investment ties between the two countries.
Over the last few days, the Foreign Minister has undertaken a series of phone calls to his counterparts across the world as part of Pakistan’s diplomatic outreach at the start of the New Year, including:
1. Foreign Minister of Guinea HE Dr. Morissanda Kouyate
2. Foreign Minister of Benin HE Mr. Aurélien Agbénonci
3. Foreign Minister of Jordan HE Mr. Ayman Al Safadi
4. Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan HE Mr Mukhtar Tileuberdi and 5. Foreign Minister of Azerbaiijan HE Mr Jeyhun Bayramov
6. Foreign Minister of Cote d’Ivoire Her Excellency Kandia Kamissoko Camara
You would have seen our Press Releases detailing these conversations.

On 26th January, Foreign Minister Qureshi launched the “SDG Investment Report 2021: Leveraging Private Investments for Pakistan’s Sustainable Development” at a high-profile event held at the Foreign Office. The Report has been prepared under the lead of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in collaboration with UNDP and the Board of Investment. It showcases Pakistan’s business portfolio and potential for attracting private sector investments aligned with the UN Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In his key-note address, the Foreign Minister outlined his vision of Economic Diplomacy which is geared towards advancement of Pakistan’s Economic Security agenda. Noting the upward trajectory of Pakistan’s macro-economic indicators amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, he underscored the imperative of exploring innovative financing solutions, and involvement of both public and private sectors to increase investments in Pakistan’s development sector for attainment of the SDGs. He particularly highlighted the need to focus on health, agriculture, renewable energy and infrastructure to ensure that development is sustainable.
Yesterday, Pakistan and Singapore held Bilateral Political Consultations in which both sides resolved to further strengthen cooperation in economic, political, defense and security, education, science and technology, technical training, environment, culture, tourism and other areas.

On the cultural and public diplomacy front, Pakistan and Iraq signed an MOU in the Field of Tourism in Baghdad. The Agreement will promote two-way tourism and reinforce people-to-people linkages between the two countries.

Yesterday, in continuation of celebrations to commemorate 70 years of establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Spain, and in line with Vision Foreign Office of the Foreign Minister, a photo exhibition titled ‘Colors of Spain and Pakistan’ was inaugurated at Lok Virsa. The Exhibition will remain open to public till 30th January.

Let me now turn to the situation in IIOJK.

Kashmiris in IIOJK and around the world marked 26 January as a Black Day deploring the 7 decades of Indian illegal occupation and state-sponsored terrorism unleashing a reign of unprecedented violence and oppression against the Kashmiris while denying them their right to self-determination.
It is a matter of grave concern that India continues to commit widespread and gross human rights violations in IIOJK with impunity. These gruesome acts are well- documented by the UN and international human rights organizations. On various occasions, Pakistan has also presented to the UN and the international community evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity being perpetrated by the Indian occupation forces in IIOJK.

Pakistan also continues to draw attention to India’s irresponsible state behavior and track record of willful non-compliance with international rule of law. For over seventy years, India has violated the UN Charter and fundamental principles, norms and rules of international law. On Jammu and Kashmir for example, by refusing to implement the UNSC resolutions, India remains in consistent breach of its obligations under Article 25 of the UN Charter that stipulates that “The Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council”.
The world is increasingly aware of the grave situation in IIOJK. Let India be warned that its reign of terror and illegal actions cannot continue unchecked. The government and people of Pakistan reaffirm our strong resolve to continue to raise our voice and extend all possible support for our Kashmiri brothers and sisters in their just struggle.
We strongly urge the members of the international community to hold India to account for its atrocities in IIOJK, and to play their due role in enabling the Kashmiris to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination as pledged to them under the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Peace and development in South Asia must no longer be held hostage to India’s irresponsible and reckless approach.
I thank you and am ready to take questions on these or other foreign policy matters.

Question: In your Opening statement, you have drawn attention towards atrocities perpetuated by India in IIOJK. More than 907 days have passed (since August 5, 2019) that Kashmir continues to remain under siege. What has been the response of international community especially the United Nations to the worsening situation in IIOJK?
Secondly, people from IIOJK including various Hurriyat leaders have complained to the Government of Pakistan that their sentiments are hurt when sweets are exchanged on special days between India and Pakistan. How do you comment? (Raziq Mehmood Bhatti, Daily Kashmir Express)

Answer: Thank you for your question, I think what has been happening in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK) is quite evident to all of you and to the international community. This is a sad state of affairs that despite the increasing attention, condemnation and criticism of the Indian military siege and illegal actions in particular the human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law in IIOJK, India is continuing with its hostile, negative and repressive policies.
We have been drawing the attention of the international community towards the worsening situation in IIOJK. It is the direct responsibility of the international community, especially the UN and the Permanent Members of the Security Council that they take specific actions to refrain India from these illegal actions and human rights violations and we will continue to raise our voice on the matter.
A key point to note in IIOJK is the total rejection of the Indian actions and policies by the Kashmiri people. It is evident that the continued oppression and illegal actions of the Indian occupation has led to complete alienation of the Kashmiris from India. And this is manifested in strong rejection of what India is doing in IIOJK. The Kashmiris will continue their just struggle, Pakistan will continue to support them and we will continue to sensitize and urge the international community to fulfill its responsibilities for bringing an end to the Indian atrocities and for peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with international legitimacy.

Question: Keeping in view the current situation in Afghanistan, what kind of humanitarian aid is being dispatched by international organizations and international community. How is this aid being distributed and what is Pakistan’s role/ involvement in distributing it including managing logistics, providing transit facilities and providing security etc?
Secondly, Pakistan has repeatedly stated that it wants peaceful relations with all its neighbors. However, India has not responded positively to these statements. Have there been any indications that India is ready to conduct bilateral talks with Pakistan? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: Your first question relates to the situation in Afghanistan, particularly the humanitarian crisis that the people of Afghanistan are facing and the response of the international community, particularly the role of Pakistan.
You are well aware of the diplomatic activity that Pakistan has undertaken with regard to the situation in Afghanistan. We have encouraged the international community to engage with the Afghan authorities, leaving aside the political and other issues, to focus in the first phase, on the urgent humanitarian crisis confronting the Afghan people. And we have been able to mobilize good enough consensus on this point – from the immediate neighbors to other partners in the international community. You are aware of the extra-ordinary session of the OIC that was organized by Pakistan in December, and you have seen the kind of voices that have since been raised in support of the call for urgent humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan. Many countries and organizations are stepping forward with assistance, and there is also increased engagement. UN has launched a global appeal of US$ 4.4 billion, which is one of the biggest ever appeals corresponding to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
As for Pakistan, we were among the first to provide assistance, and you are aware of the Rs. 5 billion assistance package under which 50,000 tons of wheat, medication, shelters and other assistance are to be provided. The first tranche of 1,800 tons of wheat under this package has already been delivered and action is in hand to expedite further deliveries. Pakistan is also facilitating assistance from others. On the whole I agree with your point that there is a need for the international community to respond swiftly in view of the urgency of the situation in Afghanistan.
Regarding you second question, Pakistan is desirous of peaceful and friendly relations with all its neighbors including India, and we have said this a number of times, but unfortunately this desire for peace and friendship is not reciprocated by India. In fact India has troubled relations with most of its neighbours. While there is a long-standing hostile approach that India has adopted towards Pakistan, the situation has further deteriorated ever since India’s illegal and unilateral actions post 5 August 2019 in IIOJK. And I think that is despite the advice to India from many of our common friends, and despite this issue being highlighted at many fora including the UN Security Council, India has unfortunately not responded positively. It has vitiated the environment. As we have said consistently, onus is now on India to take the necessary steps to create conditions conducive for a constructive result oriented dialogue between the two countries.

Question: Pakistan has been consistently raising the humanitarian issue vis-a-vis Afghanistan and is playing its due role to avert any impending humanitarian crisis. On the other hand, Pakistan’s National Security Advisor has reportedly said that Afghanistan’s land is still being used against Pakistan. How do you see his remarks in the backdrop of recent incidents of violence and terrorism for which TTP has claimed responsibility? Your comments please? (Jaleel Akhtar, VOA, Urdu)
Answer: Our position on incidents of terrorism in Pakistan and their foreign supporters is well-known. As for your observation about the comments attributed to the National Security Advisor in some parts of the press, I understand they were misrepresented; and this was subsequently clarified.

Question: It has been noted that progress on CPEC projects has slowed down. Will the Prime Minister’s upcoming visit to China help accelerate progress on these projects? (Shakeel Kalyana, Daily Relation News)
Answer: This is entirely misplaced perception that work has slowed down in CPEC. In fact, CPEC has continued making progress over the last two years despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Last meeting of the JCC was very productive and many CPEC projects are ongoing as I also informed in a recent briefing.
As you are aware, the Prime Minister will be in Beijing and many issues of bilateral cooperation will be under discussion; one of them will be CPEC which is which is the high quality demonstration project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Both countries are strongly committed to take it forward and to make it successful.

Question: First, regarding the situation in Ukraine, does Pakistan plan on scaling down its diplomatic presence, given the current security situation?
Secondly, with regards to reports on Indian wheat being allowed to transit through Pakistan has there been any breakthrough / update that you can share with us. (Anas Mallick, The Correspondent)
Answer: On Ukraine, we continue to follow the developments closely through our Embassy . We hope for continued dialogue and engagement, and a diplomatic solution.
On the question about the Indian wheat as humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan, this keeps coming up and I have commented on this in my last press briefing also. By way of information let me state again that Pakistan has already conveyed its decision to allow the transportation of this humanitarian assistance based on the request from the Afghan authorities, and this is on exceptional humanitarian grounds without creating any precedent.
Subsequent to that, there have been further contacts. The Indian side came up with their own kind of conditions regarding the transportation modalities. To move forward we also agreed to the use of Afghan trucks for transportation. Complete information of arrangements put in place by Pakistan were conveyed to the Indian side last month. We are awaiting response on the information they have to provide.

Some of that they have shared such as names of the employees of the transportation company, and other information is still awaited, including the date of the first consignment, details of trucks and drivers and focal points etc. We have asked them to provide the requisite details, so that this moves forward.

Question: Last month, India suspended 35 Pakistani YouTube Channels and two websites for allegedly peddling fake news. This month approximately 20 YouTube channels have been additionally blocked. We are seeing with increasing frequency that the Pakistani content on digital media is often tagged as fake news and suspended. Is Ministry of Foreign Affairs along with other relevant government authorities taking up this matter with YouTube? How do you comment? (Syed Faisal Ali, Daily State Views)
Supplementary: Indians are heading many digital media enterprises such as Google at a global level. This adds to difficulties faced by Pakistan in the usage of digital media. What is Pakistan’s strategy to deal with this situation? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)
Answer: You made a full comment, and with regard to the original question, I think I do not need to say much. This is very evident that a country like India which itself has been exposed before the international community with regards to its activities in spreading disinformation directed against other countries is taking steps such as blocking channels and accusing others of false news and propaganda.
The stark disconnect between rhetoric and reality under the BJP-RSS dispensation at helm in India, where dissenting voices are being muzzled with officially sanctioned impunity, lies in public glare. The increasing intensity of attacks against freedom of expression, including the recent reprehensible act of de-registration of Kashmir Press Club by the IIOJK administration, reveals Indian hypocrisy of the highest order.
India’s own sustained disinformation and propaganda campaign to malign Pakistan was exposed by the EU DisinfoLab in 2020. This was the world’s largest disinformation campaign and one of its primary motives was to deflect global attention from India’s own atrocities and human rights violations. The Pegasus story is also known to the world. Furthermore, whipping up anti-Pakistan hysteria has become a quintessential element of the electoral exercise in India. Targeting Pakistan with false propaganda campaigns for ideological reasons and political expediency is a norm in today’s India.
We denounce such practices, and we will continue to take all actions to expose this to the international community. In this regard, I would like you to recall the initiative taken by Pakistan at the UN General Assembly, where the Pakistan sponsored landmark resolution on Countering disinformation for the promotion and protection of human rights was recently adopted by consensus.

Question: On the one hand Saudi Arabia and Iran are thinking to reopen their Embassies in each other’s countries. On the other hand, the Houthi rebels have extended their attacks up to UAE. How is Pakistan viewing this situation? (Shaukat Piracha, AAJ News)
Answer: We have expressed our views on the continuing Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia and UAE and you are aware of our clear condemnation of all such attacks, as I just mentioned in my opening remarks as well. Our position is well- known.

Question: Can we expect the restoration of full diplomatic ties between India and Pakistan including return of High Commissioners to respective capitals? (Zargoon Shah, Geo News)

Answer: I think this can be part of a process when things will be moving in a positive direction. At the moment, as you are aware, the current environment is not good and in our view the responsibility for that lies with India. So, I think India needs to take certain steps and actions, as we have clearly said, to move towards an environment that would be conducive for constructive dialogue and engagement between the two countries and then we can consider how we can proceed on various issues.

Question: Tomorrow, the chief of Pakistan Hindu Council Mr. Ramesh Kumar is travelling to India with a delegation which will visit various religious sites in the country. Kindly share details including number of people with the delegation, their names etc. Also, if you could comment on how will this visit benefit religious tourism between India and Pakistan? (Khawaja Hamza, Media Today)
Supplementary Question: India has denied permission to a special flight that was to fly to Jaipur which was to carry 160 Zaireen. How do you comment? (Zaheer Ali Khan, Samaa TV)

Answer: You are referring to the initiative by Pakistan Hindu Council to promote faith tourism. Let me recall that under that, at the start of the new year there was a large group of pilgrims from India that visited the Teri Mandir and other religious shrines in Pakistan. We understand there is a desire on part of the Pakistan Hindu Council to continue with this initiative. We are supportive of the idea and we understand the Indian side has a positive view as well. This obviously needs to be done with agreement and mutual understanding.

PAKISTAN NAVY INDUCTS PNS TUGHRIL AND SEAKING HELICOPTERS IN PN FLEET.

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Karachi, The Induction ceremony of PNS TUGHRIL, first of four Type 054-A/P, multi role frigates and 10 x Seaking helicopters was held at PN Dockyard, Karachi. Honourable President of Pakistan Dr. Arif Alvi graced the occasion as Chief Guest. Upon arrival, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi received the Chief Guest while a smartly turned out contingent of Pakistan Navy presented him Guard of Honour.

The contract for four multi-role frigates (Type 054-A/P) for Pakistan Navy was signed between Pakistan and China in June 2018. PNS TUGHRIL, the lead ship of Type 054-A/P has been inducted into PN fleet alongwith Seaking helicopters gifted by the state of Qatar.

During the welcome address, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi underlined that induction of PNS TUGHRIL and Seaking helicopters would further augment PN combat capabilities in safeguarding territorial integrity and maritime interests of Pakistan. The Naval Chief also elaborated the role of Pakistan Navy in promoting peace and stability in the region through various maritime initiatives.
The Chief Guest commended the induction of state of the art ship PNS TUGHRIL and Seaking Helicopters in PN Fleet. He expressed satisfaction and confidence that potent and highly capable Pakistan Navy Fleet and its air arm will continue promoting peace and stability in line with Government’s policy while devotedly guarding our maritime frontiers. The President of Pakistan stressed the need of well equipped Fleet with surface, air and sub-surface platforms to safeguard sea frontiers under the challenging security environment. The Chief Guest underscored that Pakistan is a land of peace and urges security and stability in the region.

During his address, honourable President congratulated all those involved in the Frigate and Seaking Helicopter Projects. Chief Guest emphasized that such projects are manifestation of the trust and mutual cooperation that exists with our time tested friends.

Later, the Chief Guest handed over traditional Ship’s scroll and aircraft documents to Commander Pakistan Fleet followed by prayers from Almighty.
The ceremony was attended by worthy guests from Embassies of China & Qatar, Governor Sindh and serving/ retired officers of Tri-services.

Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr. Shireen Mazari launches Human Rights Complaint Cell.

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Islamabad, Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr. Shireen Mazari launched the Human Rights Complaint Cell today in a meeting held at Ministry of Human Rights, Islamabad. Joint Secretary Ministry of Human Rights, all Directors General and senior officers of ministry attended the meeting. Whereas regional Directors Human Rights from Quetta, Lahore, Peshawar and Karachi participated in the meeting via Zoom link.

Human Rights Complaint Cell has been established under the Ministry of Human Rights for receiving, sifting, segregating and forwarding of complaints both at federal and provincial levels. At regional levels, ministry will be looking after the process of registration of complaints through its Directorate of Human Rights existing in provincial capitals. With the help of this cell ministry would refer complaints after their registration to concerned department/agency at any level and would be getting a regular feedback for their timely redressal. A dedicated team of the cell will maintain proper data on all kinds of complaints received. Apart from this, human rights violations have been categorized to ensure apposite scrutiny and strong coordination among the departments.

In the meeting, DG Human Rights briefed the participants that about the cell that how it has been established after multiple rounds of consultation at provincial and federal levels. It will be operated under a well devised system generating an automated database on registration as well as tracking of complaints. He told that a special code will be allotted to every application/complaint that may be registered through any channel including written application sent through post, email or recorded on assigned telephone numbers. After registration, ministry would perpetually monitor and take follow-up on all complaints.

While speaking on this occasion, Federal Minister lauded the system and congratulated the whole team for successfully making it happen. She said that she would personally get weekly and monthly progress report of this cell and advised all regional heads to keenly look into the cases of human rights violation in their respective area especially those reported on print, electronic and digital media. She also enquired about few cases of Quetta from Director Human Rights, Quetta region and urged him to check their current status from police department.

Prime Minister receives telephonic call from the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

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Islamabad, Prime Minister Imran Khan received a telephone call from His Highness Mohamed Bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, today.

The Crown Prince strongly condemned the terrorist attack in Lahore on 20 January 2022, which claimed three lives and left several injured. He offered deepest condolences to the families of all the victims and prayed for speedy recovery of the injured. The Crown Prince expressed solidarity with the leadership, government and people of Pakistan.

The Prime Minister thanked the Crown Prince for his condolences and strong expression of support. Reaffirming Pakistan’s firm resolve to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, he said that the perpetrators of terrorist attacks will be brought to justice.

The Prime Minister expressed Pakistan’s desire to work with the UAE for further strengthening of bilateral ties, enhancing cooperation in the multilateral fora and continue close coordination on regional and global issues of mutual interest.

Frequent and cordial interaction between the leaderships of the two countries is a hallmark of fraternal ties between Pakistan and the UAE.

Security Forces conducted an IBO in Sarwakai, South Waziristan District.

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Rawalpindi, Security Forces conducted an IBO in Sarwakai, South Waziristan District, on reports of a terrorists’ hide out in the area.

During search of the area, large quantity of weapons, ammunition and IED preparation material recovered from the hide out.
Recovered cache of weapons and ammunition includes Sub Machine Guns, RPG-7, hand grenades and large quantity of ammunition of multiple calibres.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Dr Asad Majeed Khan in a conversation on Pakistan-US relations.

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Washington DC, The American Association of Foreign Services Worldwide (AASFW) along with Diplomatic and Counselor officers retired (DACOR) hosted Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan for a discussion on “US-Pakistan Relations”. John Bradshaw, Executive Director of DACOR and the DACOR Bacon House Foundation, moderated the event. In his welcoming remarks he highlighted that today’s discussion is highly important as this year is 75th Anniversary of establishment of diplomatic ties between Pakistan and the US.

In his remarks, Ambassador Khan reflected that our engagement with the US has often been narrowly framed, dictated either by short-term security interests or the imperative to deal with a common challenge. We want to break out of this pattern. Now that the U.S. military mission is over, we want to take our relationship beyond counterterrorism and Afghanistan, which of course would remain priorities. For Pakistan, the United States remains an important partner. The United States is still our largest export market and major source of foreign remittances. There is a cultural affinity between the United States and Pakistan, which is one of the largest English-speaking countries in the world. Talented young Pakistanis continue to gravitate towards American college campuses and Silicon Valley incubators. We have a large and politically engaged Pakistani American community that is a bridge between our two countries.

In short, he added that we have all the ingredients in place to build a more substantive and a broad-based relationship that is anchored in trade, investment, and people-to-people linkages. As Pakistan shifts its focus towards geoeconomics, we want to re-leverage our connectivity infrastructure to enhance regional trade and economic integration. We see the United States as an important partner in this regard. Sitting at the crossroads of South and Centra Asia, Pakistan is a market of over 220 million people, with a growing middle class. Pakistan’s young, but exciting, startup tech culture showcases our promising untapped investment potential.
With the government’s climate-friendly energy policies that are now tremendous—they offer tremendous opportunities for U.S. companies that specialize in renewable and clean energy. An economically strong Pakistan can be an anchor for stability in a region that has suffered through forty years of war in Afghanistan. Pakistan can work with the United States through the Development Financial Corporation to generate economic activity along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. This could, in turn, help Afghan people rebuild their war-ravaged country.

On India-Pakistan relations, the Ambassador stressed that in line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision and focus on a citizen centric prosperous Country, Pakistan desired peaceful relations with all countries, including India. However, the fascist policies of the BJP Government and rising extremism in India threatened regional peace and stability. Pakistan wants a peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute but after Indian illegal actions of 5 august 2019 in IIOJK, the onus remains on India to create a conducive environment for dialogue.
Highlighting the continuing Indian atrocities and human rights violations in IIOJK, he urged the need for the international community to play its role in upholding the human rights charter in IIOJK and stressed the need for resolution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in line with the UNSC resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiris.

At the end, a series of Questions from the audience were answered by the Ambassador.

We want peace and friendship in our neigbourhood; Asim Iftikhar

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Transcript of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on Friday,
21 January, 2022

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

Let me begin by strongly condemning the heinous terrorist attack on civilian areas carried out by the Houthis in Abu Dhabi on 17 January 2022 that claimed several lives, including one Pakistani National. The mortal remains of Shaheed Moomor Khan were repatriated to Pakistan yesterday with dignity and were received at Bacha Khan International Airport by senior OPF officials. We offer our condolences to the families of the victims and wish speedy recovery to the injured.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had a telephone conversation with His Highness Mohamed Bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi also received a telephone call from his Emirati counterpart. Both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister strongly condemned the terrorist attack and expressed solidarity with the brotherly people and government of the United Arab Emirates in the face of this wanton act of terrorism.

They called for the immediate cessation of these attacks and underlined that such attacks not only violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the UAE but also pose a grave threat to regional peace and security.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let us undertake a quick roundup of diplomatic activities during the week.

Pakistan assumed chairmanship of the Group of 77 and China (G-77) for the year 2022. Foreign Minister Qureshi presided over the proceedings of the opening segment of the handover ceremony held in a virtual format on 14 January which was also attended by the outgoing Chair (Foreign Minister of the Republic of Guinea), UN Secretary-General, and President of the UN General Assembly.

Prime Minister Imran Khan held a telephonic conversation with President Vladimir Putin on 16 January. Prime Minister Imran Khan appreciated the Russian leader’s statements regarding respect for Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). Enhancement of bilateral cooperation in different areas including economy, trade and energy, high-level exchanges, besides regional and international issues also came up for discussion in this important interaction.

The newly-elected Foreign Minister of Canada Ms. Melanie Joly called Foreign Minister Qureshi on 13 January 2022. Congratulating his counterpart, the Foreign Minister looked forward to further strengthening of bilateral ties especially in the economic domain. Developments in the region also came under discussion.

Foreign Minister Qureshi also held a telephonic conversation with the Foreign Minister of Indonesia, H.E. Ms. Retno Marsudi, on 19 January. Expressing satisfaction at the deep-rooted and fraternal relations between Pakistan and Indonesia, the Foreign Minister underscored Pakistan’s strong desire to further intensify these multi-dimensional ties across the entire spectrum.

Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi received the Chief of Staff of Land Forces, Lt. Gen. Asinda Fall of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on 14 January. The Foreign Minister highlighted Pakistan’s ‘Engage Africa’ policy aimed at enhancing diplomatic footprint and intensifying exchanges and trade with Africa, in line with our focus on ‘geo-economics’.

The Foreign Minister also had telephone conversation with Her Excellency Ms. Suzi Carla Barbosa, the Foreign Minister of Guinea-Bissau on 18 January. Both sides agreed to further strengthening of bilateral and regional cooperation.

Over the past weeks, I am pleased to note that friends in the media have been following the developments related to CPEC. I would like to share a roundup of major achievements in CPEC, which has continued to move forward as a flagship of the Belt and Road despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting from the first visit of the Prime Minister to China in November 2018, CPEC has focused increasingly on socio-economic development projects geared towards directly improving the well-being of our people. Twenty-seven projects have been conceived and are under various stages of implementation and preparation. We have also expanded CPEC’s ambit by including agriculture, science and technology and IT cooperation.

Meanwhile, work on major infrastructure projects has continued apace and a number of new megaprojects have been endorsed by the JCC of CPEC. These include the Azad Pattan and Kohala hydropower projects, which will help address Pakistan’s food security while also ensuring access to green and cost-competitive energy for our industrial growth.

These are just a few of the headline developments in CPEC. We look forward to sharing more updates in due course.

We appreciate your interest in presenting the true picture of CPEC’s progress for the benefit of our people, and to relegate some misguided efforts to deliberately spread disinformation about this signature achievement of Pakistan China cooperation.

We have also been receiving queries from the media on the status of Indian wheat assistance for Afghanistan, the transportation of which, as you would recall Pakistan has allowed on humanitarian grounds on exceptional basis. We have conveyed to the Indian side, necessary details of arrangements put in place by Pakistan, and for about 3 weeks now, are awaiting further response from India about the date of dispatch and other information regarding the first consignment.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, the Kashmiris in IIOJK and around the world joined by Pakistanis and others are marking the grim anniversary of the “Gaw Kadal” massacre. On 21 January 1990, Indian occupation forces had brutally martyred at least 52 innocent and peaceful protesters in Srinagar for demanding freedom from Indian oppression.

Pakistan stands in solidarity with the victims of this unspeakable crime and reiterates the call for bringing the perpetrators to justice. It is appalling as it is condemnable that even after more than three decades there is no accountability for this cold-blooded killing.

This travesty of justice is basically a stark reminder of the culture of impunity and rule of NO law that is deeply entrenched and continues to fester in IIOJK – in which the oppressed are punished and persecuted while the perpetrators are encouraged and protected.

For past more than seven decades, Kashmiris are the victims of India’s state-sponsored terrorism, including gross and systematic violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, which have further intensified under the BJP-RSS combine’s “Hindu Rashtra” project, under which sinister anti-Kashmiri policies are also being pursued to change the demographic composition of the occupied territory.

Pakistan condemns the increasing harassment, illegal arrests and registration of fake criminal cases against journalists and civil society activists in IIOJK. The attack and ban on Kashmir Press Club manifestly reflects India’s entrenched use of brute force and coercion to forcibly silence all those raising voices against its horrendous crimes and genocidal acts in IIOJK.

It is encouraging that the international community is increasingly realizing the gravity of the situation in IIOJK towards which Pakistan has been drawing attention all these years. You would have followed for example the Russell Tribunal on Kashmir held in Sarajevo last month, and the filing earlier this week of an application by a London-based law firm with the British Police seeking arrest of Indian officials over their alleged role in war crimes in IIOJK. Reportedly, the law firm has submitted report based on over 2,000 testimonies taken between 2020 and 2021, providing extensive evidence to the Metropolitan Police’s War Crimes Unit documenting how Indian military and civil leadership were responsible for the torture, kidnapping and killing of activists, journalists and civilians.

It is self-evident that India can no longer escape international and legal censure for its rampant human rights violations in IIOJK, and we call upon the international community, particularly the United Nations and international human rights and humanitarian organizations to hold India accountable.

Let India also be reminded that its reign of terror and oppression can never weaken the resolve of the Kashmiris for their right to self-determination. Pakistan will continue to extend all possible support to our valiant brothers and sisters in Kashmir for the rightful pursuit of their legitimate struggle.

I thank you and am ready to take questions on these or other foreign policy matters.

Question: Does Pakistan think that India can demilitarize Siachen, the most difficult and costly front, at any time in future? What will be Pakistan’s response to any effort towards normalization of relation with India specifically the trade relations?
Secondly, Pakistan and Muslim Umma wants that there should be peace in Afghanistan, my question is, Was the issue of recognition taken up during the extra ordinary session of the OIC? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: On your first observation, it is abundantly clear that Pakistan has a policy, which is derived from the principle of friendly neighborhood. We want peace and friendship in our neigbourhood – good relations with all including India. But you have seen how the developments have unfolded in our region; you have witnessed the very hostile Indian attitude especially during the last couple of years and since the illegal and unilateral actions of 5th August 2019 in IIOJK, the situation has further deteriorated and in this context we have to see how we can move forward. On multiple occasions, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister have expressed our position on this matter. We are committed to improve relations with India and have a dialogue which is meaningful, constructive, result oriented and sustained. But India has vitiated the environment – the conditions are not there. We have repeatedly said that onus lies on India to take necessary steps for an environment conducive for constructive dialogue.

On your second question about Afghanistan and the issue of recognition, I have said earlier this question is important and it has been discussed and deliberated by many countries, and there are obviously diverse views about it, as there are diverse expectations as well. There is also a priority attached to the immediate concerns such as the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan that requires consistent engagement. We think the best way of doing this is in consultation and coordination with the neighboring countries and others in the international community. We are of the view that a broader approach on this is going to be useful.

Question: NSA’s visit to Afghanistan was postponed. What was the reason for postponement? Any further date of the visit is being finalized? (Saima Shabbir, Arab News)

Answer: This was an important visit that was being prepared, my information and understanding is that it had to be postponed primarily because of the weather conditions. There was advice that travel should not take place under those conditions. Whenever fresh dates are finalized they will be shared.

Question: Mr. Zulfi Bukhari a PTI leader met an Omani Minister, the meeting was subsequently tweeted by Pakistan Embassy in Oman and Pakistani Ambassador was also sitting in the meeting. My question is that in what capacity this meeting was facilitated by Pakistani Embassy or promoted by Pakistani Mission as Zulfi Bukhari is a private person?

Secondly, Karachi counter terrorism department (CTD) had said that significant progress have been made in the investigation of the murder of the Saudi Diplomat Hassan Al Qahtani. They have written a letter through Ministry of Foreign Affairs to neighboring country Iran seeking details of three alleged terrorists namely Ali Mustehsan, Raza Imam and Syed Waqar Ahmed. Can you share more details please? (Anas Mallick, The Correspondent)

Answer: On your second question, there is no information with me at the moment. On the first observation, I don’t have many details but understand Mr. Bukhari met the Omani officials in personal capacity. The purpose was to thank them for the facilitation that the Omani government provided to the Pakistani community especially during his tenure as SAPM. As the matter pertained to the Pakistani community and their welfare, the Ambassador also accompanied.

Question: Sir all the briefings at Foreign Office begin with the killings of Kashmiris and the sacrifices being made by our Kashmiris brothers and sisters. Although Foreign Office acknowledges their efforts but we have seen that the voices of Kashmiris are not being heard world over. Why the world is not recognizing these sacrifices and condemns India?

Secondly, The Prime Minister had to visit China; there are talks of expected sideline meeting with President Putin. There is also possibility that in the recent telephonic conversation between the two leaders they would have spoken on this. Is there any plan of Prime Minister Visit to China and his sideline meeting with President Putin? (Zahid Farooq Malik, Daily Metro Watch)

Answer: About the Prime Minister’s visit to China to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics, I had already intimated in the last briefing. We will share more details about the program and the kind of engagements that will be there including meetings on the sidelines.

On your observation about Kashmir, let me recall also with reference to our briefings, on how the international community is taking note of what is happing inside IIOJK and in fact taking this discussion forward through concrete actions as well. I just gave you two recent examples – The Russell Tribunal and the case that has been filed with the London Police earlier this week. You also know, how despite lack of access, the situation in IIOJK had been reported by mainstream international media, you know the way that the international community represented by the United Nations, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Secretary-General, the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council have pronounced themselves, and prominent international human rights organizations and others have reported and continued to report on the human rights violations and other crimes being perpetrated in Kashmir. The statement from several world leaders, and the very critical debates having taken place in several Parliaments – US, UK, EU and others, you are also aware of. So there is continuing, increasing scrutiny of what is happing in Kashmir and it is gaining pace. Yet I would agree with you that the world needs to do more because the kind of reaction and response that is there is not enough, and that is why we continue to raise our voice and mobilize international opinion and support for the Kashmiri people.

Question: During the extraordinary session of the OIC a special humanitarian fund was established for Afghanistan. How much funds / pledges have been made to this fund/account so far. As per the media reports the State Bank has refused to open an account. How will this fund be workable, if you can comment on this?

Secondly, A Pakistani national lost his life in the fire incident that took place in Spain; reportedly the family of the deceased is facing issues with regards to the repatriation of mortal remains. According to media reports the Spanish authorities are not cooperating with our Consulate and are not responding to their letters. If you can comment on the issues being faced by our Consulate in repatriation of the body. (Aijaz Ahmed, GNN)

Answer: On your first question, about the outcome of the Extra-ordinary Session and the establishment of the Humanitarian Fund, as you would know the Fund has to be established by a certain timeline in February and the Special Envoy and the Secretary-General are engaged in necessary consultations with all concerned in that regard, and are also consulting on the funding. With regards to the issue of refusal of opening of account by State Bank I do not have exact information on that matter and am not aware if that has any bearing or link to the OIC Humanitarian Fund.

Regarding the unfortunate incident in Spain, I am sure you would have followed the detailed explanation of what happened, statements by the Ambassador and the Council General. The Embassy provided full assistance from the outset. There was a period in between where the next of kin of the deceased disengaged from the Embassy and were managing the repatriation of the mortal remains on their own, wherein they missed certain deadlines and the company they engaged was not able to fulfill the actual requirements of the host country, which complicated the matter. As they reverted back to the Embassy, all efforts are being made, and the host government authorities have been approached to facilitate the request. The Mission continues to pursue the matter and remains in close contact with the family members.

Question: The Taliban Government has approached the brotherly countries for their recognition. They have also approached Pakistani Government in this regard.

Secondly, the National Security Policy that has been recently launched speaks of good relations with the neighbouring countries including India. How do you consider this one sided effort by Pakistan while on the other hand India continues with its sinister designs? (Zaheer Ali Khan ,Samaa TV)

Answer: I have already responded to both these questions in detail. You spoke about the National Security Policy. I would like to add that there is a public document, which you may like to review. I think the Policy is very clear and the conceptual basis of this comprehensive policy framework is the symbiotic relationship between economic, human and traditional security aspects. Promotion of economic aspects and trade are key priorities in this policy, also in the context of Pakistan’s refocusing on geo-economics. The approach on relations with India is also very clear.

Question: What are your comments on the harassment on the Muslim Students in the Indian State of Karnatika. (Shakeel Kalyana, Daily Relation News)

Answer: I do not have exact information of the specific incident you are referring to but it seems to be the same pattern in which persecution and discrimination of minorities particularly Muslims is being witnessed in India.

Question: You have strongly condiment Houti’s attack on UAE but this particular attack has further escalated tensions in the region. Any strategy from the platform of the OIC to address this conflict of Yemen, any initiative any move to bring parties to negotiation and bring peace and stability in the region? (Mateen Haider, G News)

Answer: Peace and stability would be the common priority for all especially in the region and the immediate vicinity. There are different stakeholders and the organizations that have been engaged including the UN, Arab League and others. Pakistan supports all efforts aimed at bringing peace and stability in the region.

Question: On the social media there was a video of the Foreign Minister where he was asked by the students for the facilitation to be provided for the resumption of their studies in China. Prime Minister is also visiting China, are there any ongoing negotiations for the facilitating the students? (Shamim Mehmood, Daily Khabrain Islamabad / Channel 5)

Answer: I think there are some misrepresentations perhaps due to lack of information. If you have followed our briefings and responses being shared on the issue of the return of students, you would appreciate that Pakistan and China have been in very close contact on this matter, which has been discussed at various levels, including the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the respective Embassies. The Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training raised the issue with the Chinese Ambassador in September and pursuant to that meeting, the Ministry of Education designated the Higher Education Commission as the lead organization and nominated focal persons from HEC and Ministry of Education to work in coordination with the Chinese Embassy. We have shared student registration data with the Chinese Embassy and with HEC. A list of 492 students has been shared with the Chinese Embassy with the request to treat them as first priority for return to China. The matter is being pursued diligently. Here I should also mention that China’s policy is not country-specific but it applies uniformly to all international students as per the Covid-19 situation in that country. Chinese authorities have been extremely cautious since the outbreak of new variants. It may be noted that students from any South Asian country have not returned to China so far. We understand China is undertaking a comprehensive review of policy on students’ return that is expected to be completed soon. Students from Pakistan will be prioritized whenever a decision is made for phased and gradual return of international students to China. The policy is expected to factor in prevailing pandemic situation where the university is based, stage of course completion, vaccination status and other factors. Let me tell you again the government is pursuing the matter closely with our Chinese friends and we hope to have forward movement on this.

Question: It is being reported in the international and local media including BBC that a London ‘hitman’ is on trial over an alleged plot to kill a Pakistani blogger Ahmad Waqas Goraya in the Netherlands. A BBC report said that prosecutor of the case quoting Goraya said that Goraya received threats allegedly from an intelligence of Pakistan. What is your take on the Goraya’s claims being reported in the media? (Jaleel Akhatar, VOA Urdu)

Answer: We are all reading this in newspapers and I understand there is a case which is before to the court. I don’t have any comment on this.

Question: Has the Pakistani Government been approached by Taliban Authorities regarding their recognition. What is Pakistan’s stance on this? (Malik Saeed, Bol News)

Answer: I have already responded to similar question earlier.

Prime Minister directed the authorities to clear hiccups in the way of completion of various development schemes in big cities.

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Islamabad: “We are laying special focus on the development of big cities as they are the real engines of growth for the national economy”, said Prime Minister Imran Khan while chairing a meeting on Plan for Big Cities.

“Due to rural to urban areas migration, the cities are facing multiple challenges including housing, job opportunities and civic amenities are scarce. It is necessary that work on special development packages for the big cities must be accelerated,” he added.

The Prime Minister directed the authorities concerned to take all possible measures to clear hiccups in the way of completion of various development schemes in big cities on priority basis in order to provide maximum relief to the residents.

The Prime Minister also directed the authorities to work in close coordination and launch a concerted campaign for the uplift and development of big cities like Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Faisalsbad, Rawalpindi and Gujranwala.

The meeting was attended by Information Minister Ch Fawad Hussain, Industries Minister Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, and Planning Minister Asad Umar. Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood, Governor Punjab Ch Muhammad Sarwar and Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar joined the meeting via video link.

Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran, H.E. Mr. Seyed Mohamad Ali Hosseini called on the Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr. Shireen Mazari in her office.

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Islamabad: Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran, H.E. Mr. Seyed Mohamad Ali Hosseini called on the Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr. Shireen Mazari in her office today.

Federal Minister welcomed the ambassador and said that both Iran and Pakistan have strong cultural, historical and religious ties since after the creation of Pakistan 74 years back. She said that we value our relationship with Iran and there is need to revitalize our cooperation to raise globally our collective concerns for the human rights.

While discussing the confronted challenges to the region and particularly to Iran, ambassador said that Iran is facing one sided sanctions even after fulfilling all international commitments to its nuclear program. He expressed that Afghanistan is undergoing a terrible disaster in which both Iran and Pakistan are hosting millions of Afghan refugees for the last 40 years. Iran is endlessly extending its assistance to Afghan people who are facing the worst humanitarian crisis. Currently, Iran is not getting any international assistance to tackle with the issues of refugees, human trafficking and drug trafficking even in the face of serious economic difficulties due to sanctions.

Federal Minister stated that our government under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan has raised voice against hypocrisy and double standards of western countries that are committing human rights violations under the Islamophobic trends. She marked it a great move that Iran is back in OIC and resuming its offices. She said that OIC must be the strongest platform in international political arena where its role needs to be more vigorous and wider for taking up the issues and disputes in Muslim world.

She further stressed on need of collective efforts to bring Afghanistan out from the ongoing crisis as it cannot be handled if Iran or Pakistan perform in silo. She added that the recent meeting of Council of Foreign Ministers of OIC in Islamabad was a great success to sensitize Muslim countries about the severe issues that Afghanistan is facing.

At the end, Ambassador expresses his gratitude to the minister and acknowledged the long standing cordial mutual relations of Pakistan and Iran. Both agreed that there is need of closer cooperation among Muslim countries to handle many challenges especially of economy and human rights in the post Covid world.