India has always played and continues to play the role of a ‘spoiler’ in the ongoing Afghan Peace Process. Zahid Hafeez

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Transcript of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on Friday, 13 August, 2021

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

Assalam-o-Alaikum and welcome to the Weekly Press Briefing of the Foreign Office.

Let me begin with the official visit to Pakistan by the Foreign Minister of Iraq, Dr. Fuad Hussein at the invitation of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

During the visit, the Iraqi Foreign Minister met with the Foreign Minister, the Minister for Defense Production and the Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony.

He also called on the President, the Prime Minister, Chairman Senate, and the Chief of Army Staff.

In his meeting with Foreign Minister Qureshi, the two leaders exchanged views on a wide range of issues, including bilateral relations, key regional and international issues, particularly the Afghan Peace Process, the situation in the Middle East and the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

They also reviewed close cooperation in multilateral organizations, in particular the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The two sides agreed to convene an early meeting of the 9th Session of the Joint Ministerial Conference.

The important issue of visas for Pakistani Zaireen visiting Iraq for religious pilgrimage, especially during Muharram and Arba’een was also discussed.

Pakistan plans to open a new Consulate and establish Pakistan House and a medical center for facilitation of the Zaireen in Karbala.

The two sides also signed a MoU on Bilateral Political Consultations to establish a mechanism to hold political consultations between Pakistan and Iraq on a regular basis.

Pakistan and Iraq have close fraternal ties based on shared views, commonality of interests and strong people to people linkages.

We look forward to further high-level visits, envisaged in the coming months, to further strengthen our brotherly relations with Iraq.

Pakistan remains deeply concerned at the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and lack of progress in the Afghan peace process.

As immediate neighbor of Afghanistan, with over 4 million Afghan refugees hosted for four decades, we have an enduring interest in the peace and stability in Afghanistan.

It is evident that after the people of Afghanistan, it is Pakistan that has suffered the most due to decades of conflict in Afghanistan.

We have suffered over 80,000 casualties and $150 billion of economic losses, since 2001.

Therefore, no other country can be more desirous of peace and stability in Afghanistan than Pakistan.

Pakistan has remained consistent in its support to the Afghan peace process.

Our support has been critical in achieving the key milestones achieved so far, including the US-Taliban deal to bring peace, initiation of intra-Afghan negotiations and the Agreement between Afghan parties on the rules and procedures.

As part of Pakistan’s continuing efforts to support the Afghan Peace Process, Ambassador Muhammad Sadiq, Special Representative for Afghanistan visited Doha to participate in the Regional Conference on Afghanistan and the meeting of Troika Plus.

We attach great importance to the Troika Plus mechanism, involving China, Russia, U.S. and Pakistan.

We hope that this meeting of Troika Plus, taking place at a critical moment, will help facilitate resumption of intra-Afghan negotiations with a view to achieve a political solution for a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.

A delegation of the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), led by Dr. Saeed Al Ghufli, visited Pakistan and Azad State of Jammu and Kashmir (AJK)from 5-9 August 2021.

OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) had mandated the IPHRC to assess the post 5 August 2019 dismal human rights situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

The visit was particularly timely as it coincided with the completion of two years of India’s unilateral and illegal actions of 5th August 2019.

While Pakistan provided unimpeded access to the IPHRC delegation, India continues to deny access to the Commission and other human rights organizations to visit IIOJK despite its false claims of “normalcy” in the territory under its illegal occupation.

During the visit, the IPHRC delegation met with the Pakistani and Kashmiri leadership and the refugees from IIOJK.

The delegation also visited the Line of Control (LOC) and met with the victims of ceasefire violations carried out by the Indian security forces.

The aim of the visit was to investigate and report on the human rights and humanitarian situation in IIOJK, and to make recommendations for the promotion and protection of Kashmiris’ fundamental rights.

Findings and recommendations of IPHRC will be presented at the 48th OIC-Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting scheduled to be held in Islamabad next year.

The international community, particularly the key organizations including the United Nations and OIC must continue playing their role in seeking a just resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of Kashmiri people.

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

Question: I have three questions:

Firstly, do you think that certain powers withdrew from Afghanistan hastily, and now want to blame Pakistan for their own failures?

Secondly, don’t you think it is India’s hypocrisy that on one hand it is engaged with Afghan government, and on the other hand it is also backing anti-Afghan forces?

Thirdly, it has been proven time and again that Afghan soil is being used against Pakistan. What steps will Pakistan take in this regard?

Supplementary Question: Prime Minister has recently interacted with the foreign media in which he clearly outlined Pakistan’s policy on Afghanistan. Earlier, he said, that Pakistan will not provide bases to US forces. Do you think that Pakistan’s position on Afghanistan is not liked by some foreign powers? (Khawaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)

Supplementary Question: For every incident that takes place in India, the Indian Government utilizes it as an opportunity to discredit and defame Pakistan. While, in yesterday’s briefing by the Foreign Minister, India’s involvement in Dasu incident was exposed. What does Pakistan plan, in future, to expose India’s activities inside Pakistan? (Amjad Ali, PTV News)

Answer: As for the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces, Pakistan has always underscored the need for responsible and orderly withdrawal, so that there is no security vacuum in Afghanistan that can be exploited by any spoilers, and well as international terrorist outfits. We have also emphasized that the withdrawal of foreign troops must coincide with the progress in the peace process.

We are closely monitoring the rapidly evolving situation in Afghanistan. We are deeply concerned at the rapidly deteriorating security situation as well as on lack of progress in the Afghan Peace Process.

At this critical juncture, it is critical for the international community to redouble their efforts to revive the stalled peace process to achieve an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement.

As for Pakistan, we will continue to support the Afghan Peace Process with a view to achieve a stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan at peace with itself and with its neighbours.

As for India’s role, we believe that India has always played and continues to play the role of a ‘spoiler’ in the ongoing Afghan Peace Process. They have always supported a military solution over a negotiated political settlement, and used the Afghan soil for sponsoring terrorist activities in Pakistan.

On the issue of use of Afghan soil by anti-Pakistan elements, last year we presented a comprehensive dossier in which we presented irrefutable evidence of India’s active planning, promoting, aiding, abetting, financing and execution of terrorist activities in Pakistan. We have also recently exposed the Indian hand in the terrorist attack in Lahore. More recently, we have presented concrete evidence regarding the involvement of RAW-NDS nexus in the Dasu terrorist incident.

Such activities make India culpable under international law, UN sanctions regime, and international counter-terrorism conventions.

We have been consistently sharing the evidence with the international community, and will continue to use all relevant forums including the United Nations (UN) to not only expose India but to also hold it accountable to perpetrating state-sponsored terrorism against Pakistan.

Question: Can you please share the progress of extended Troika meeting held in Doha of which Pakistan was a part as well? (Nida Mujahid, Geo News)

Answer: A meeting of the Extended Troika including Special Envoys of Pakistan, US, China and Russia was held in Doha on 11 August.

The members of the Extended Troika discussed the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and explored ways of expediting the intra-Afghan peace talks for achieving an inclusive political settlement and bringing an end to the four decades long conflict in Afghanistan.

Delegations of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan led by Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Taliban led by Mullah Bradar also had interaction with the Extended Troika. The Extended Troika countries broadly conveyed following messages to the Afghan sides:

• There was a need for urgent measures to reduce violence leading to a ceasefire.
• There was no military solution to the Afghan conflict.
• The Afghan sides should put forward their peace plans on priority basis so that progress is made towards a political roadmap.
• There is a need for all sides to respect human rights and not indulge in human rights violations.

Pakistan attaches great importance to the role of Extended Troika for bringing lasting peace and stability to Afghanistan. Pakistan will continue to engage in this platform to undertake collective efforts to expedite the peace process.

Question: I have three questions.

Firstly, all the countries have pushed back Afghan Refugees. Does Pakistan plan to send Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan as well?

Would you like to comment on the recent trend ‘#SanctionPakistan’? You would know that Minister for Information and Broadcasting said it will be investigated accordingly. There are numbers of Afghan Refugees living in Pakistan who also participated in this trend?

Pakistan announced hosting of Afghan Peace Conference which was postponed later. Why was it postponed?

How do you see Pakistan’s relation with U.S. and is there any future plan to facilitate America in Afghanistan? (Tariq Ullah Wardak, Daily Times)

Answer: As for the Afghan Peace Conference, it has been postponed. The new dates will be announced at an appropriate time.

As I stated earlier, Pakistan would continue to support the Afghan Peace Process with a view to achieve a stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.

As for your question on refugees, Pakistan continues to host over 4 million Afghan refugees for over four decades. We have repeatedly underscored the need for a time-bound, dignified and well-resourced plan for the return of Afghan refugees to their homeland.

We urge the international community to cooperate with Pakistan in this regard.

We fear that further worsening of the security situation in Afghanistan could have serious implications for Pakistan including the spillover effect on Pakistan and the possibility of further influx of Afghan refugees. We have clearly stated that Pakistan is not in a position to handle any further influx of refugees.

As for the malicious propaganda against Pakistan, it is part of the rather blatant and on-going misinformation campaign against Pakistan to malign the country and its state institutions.

I will answer your question on the U.S. separately.

Question: How do you comment on the video message by the Afghan Ambassador’s daughter and its difference from what Pakistan has stated? Will you share the relevant footages with media? How do you comment on the trend ‘#Sanction Pakistan’? (Allah Noor, Mashriq TV)

Answer: Immediately after the incident regarding Afghan Ambassador was reported, we launched a thorough investigation of the incident.

Later in this regard, an Afghan delegation also visited Pakistan. The visiting delegation was given a comprehensive briefing on each aspect of the complaint. The Pakistan side also facilitated the delegation’s visit to all areas which the complainant had visited on 16 July.

On the basis of the complete investigation, the delegation was informed that the complaint did not corroborate the overall findings on the incident.

We once again reiterate that cooperation from the Afghan side is necessary for the investigation to proceed further.

As for the global disinformation campaign against Pakistan, I have already highlighted the relevant aspects in a question raised earlier.

Question: Kabul administration has offered the Taliban for power sharing to bring down violence. How do you comment?

Secondly, Pakistan’s participation in Troika Plus comes at an important time. Prime Minister also said in a statement recently that Pakistan can facilitate talks between Taliban and Turkey to ensure security of the Kabul airport. How do you comment? (Naveed Siddiqui, Dawn TV)

Answer: Pakistan has always underlined the need for reduction in violence. We have consistently maintained that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, and we do not support a military takeover in Afghanistan.

We still believe that the best way forward is an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement, through a process that is led and owned by the Afghans themselves.

A mechanism between the Afghan government and Taliban is already present; however, unfortunately the intra-Afghan negotiations have been stalled. Pakistan believes that intra-Afghan negotiations should be revived, for which Troika Plus can play an important role.

We attach great importance to the Troika Plus mechanism, involving China, Russia, U.S. and Pakistan.

We hope that this meeting of Troika Plus, taking place at a critical moment, will help facilitate resumption of intra-Afghan negotiations with a view to achieve a political solution for a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.

Question: Pakistan is making efforts to promote peace and security in Afghanistan. It is widely being reported in the Foreign Media that the U.S. will provide drone technology to the Afghan Government to be used against Taliban. If this happens, what will be Pakistan’s position? (Zaheer Ali Khan, Samaa TV)

Answer: I would not like to comment on unverified reports. Our position is very clear that there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict and a negotiated political statement is the best way forward.

Question: I have two questions.

Firstly, India has been playing the role of a ‘spoiler’ in Afghanistan. Do you agree that the international community should speak about it?

Secondly, TTP has been involved in the recent terrorist incidents in Pakistan including in Dasu incident; however, there has been no response from the Pakistan side condemning their activities. Your comments please? (Idrees Abbasi, Star Asian News)

Answer: As for India’s role as a ‘spoiler’ in Afghanistan, we have consistently raised this issue with the international community. Unfortunately, India has been found guilty of using Afghan soil for conducting terrorist activities against other countries, including Pakistan, the evidence of which has been shared with the international community from time to time.

As for your question on TTP and use of Afghan soil against Pakistan, TTP is a proscribed entity in Pakistan. Over last many years, TTP has launched several gruesome terrorist attacks inside Pakistan using Afghan soil with the help of Hostile Intelligence Agencies (HIAs).

Pakistan has repeatedly conveyed our concerns over the use of Afghan soil against Pakistan to the Afghan Government. We hope that the Afghan Government will take strict measures to ensure that their soil should not be used against other countries.

Question: Yesterday, Prime Minister Imran Khan stated that U.S. finds Pakistan useful only to clear the mess in Afghanistan. How do you comment?

Answer: On Pakistan’s relation with the United States, we believe that both countries have a history of close cooperative relations, which have served our shared interests.

We have convergence of views and interests on a number of key issues including the ongoing Afghan Peace Process.

We both believe that there’s no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and we both want to see peace in Afghanistan.

Both Pakistan and the United States support an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement in Afghanistan through a process that is owned and led by Afghan themselves.

Pakistan played a key role in facilitating the US-Taliban agreement for Peace in Afghanistan in February last year.

We consider the Unites States a friend and want broad-based relations to achieve our shared objective of peace and prosperity in the region and beyond.

We have repeatedly stated that neither should Pakistan be looked at through the prism of another country, nor should our relations be viewed narrowly.

We want to build long term, broad-based, comprehensive and mutually beneficial partnerships rather than having transactional relations.

Pakistan will take all such decisions and pursue policies that are in our national interest and contribute to peace and prosperity in the region and beyond.

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