[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]
Assalaam-o-Alaikum and Good afternoon,
Let me begin by sharing with you the current situation in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).
Yesterday marked completion of 400 days since India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019.
In complete disregard of its international legal and moral obligations as a member of the international community, India has continued its brutal oppression, deliberate state terrorism, inhuman military siege, unprecedented communications blockade, unacceptable media blackout and unabated restrictions on all forms of freedom in IIOJK.
The Kashmiri leadership and thousands of Kashmiri youth remain incarcerated on frivolous charges. Many of those detained are kept at undisclosed locations, away from their families.
The Indian occupation forces continue extra judicial killings of innocent Kashmiris in fake encounters and cordon and search operations. In the month of August alone, twenty more Kashmiris, including two young boys and a woman were martyred by the Indian occupation forces.
Voices from around the world continue to condemn the inhuman oppression of Kashmiri people.
Human Rights Watch in its latest statement of 4 September has once again called upon the Indian authorities to prohibit its security forces from using shotguns firing metal pellets in IIOJK.
The statement stressed that the use of metal pellets, firearm and ammunitions are in violation of international law, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearm.
It further underlined that “Indian leaders who claim that their policies are improving the lives of Kashmiris cannot disregard that security forces are maiming, blinding, and killing people.”
On 8 September, Ambassadors of OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir in Geneva, virtually met the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. The Group discussed with the UN High Commissioner, the worsening situation in IIOJK and conveyed serious concerns on the grave human rights situation there. The Group also urged the High Commissioner to continue monitoring and reporting on the human rights situation in IIOJK.
Separately, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood has briefed the OIC and EU Ambassadors on the current situation and gross human rights violations in IIOJK.
In attempts to divert world attention from its egregious human rights violations in IIOJK, India continues to resort to indiscriminate and unprovoked firing along the Line of Control (LoC), targeting innocent civilians. This year alone, India has committed 2199 ceasefire violations to date, resulting in 17 shahadats and serious injuries to 171 civilians including women and children.
As you are aware, in an amusing demonstration of out of place hubris, India has asked the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to remove Jammu and Kashmir dispute from the Council’s agenda. The ill conceived Indian move, ahead of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly later this month, is another desperate but pointless attempt by the BJP regime to find an escape from its global condemnation.
“India-Pakistan Question” is one of the oldest items on the agenda of the UN Security Council. The outstanding question remains on the Security Council’s agenda since India has never implemented the Security Council Resolution concerning Jammu and Kashmir dispute.
By denying the Kashmiris their inherent and inalienable right to self-determination as enshrined in the UN Security Council Resolutions, India is in continued violation of its international obligations. This is not the first time that India has tried to delude itself and the international community about the currency of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute at the UNSC.
It may be recalled that after the 7th round of Foreign Secretary level talks between Pakistan and India, held in Islamabad in January 1994, the Indian Foreign Secretary claimed that the UNSC Resolutions on Jammu & Kashmir had become inapplicable.
Contradicting the Indian claim, the spokesperson of the UN Secretary General reiterated the solemnity, effectiveness, and continuity over time of the said Resolutions. The United Nations remains seized of the matter.
Since 5 August 2019, UNSC has discussed the Jammu & Kashmir dispute three times. These Consultations have reaffirmed the “disputed” nature of Jammu and Kashmir and the Council’s role in the dispute. The convening of these Consultations directly repudiated the Indian untenable position that their actions were an “internal affair”.
The UN Secretary General in his statement of 8 August 2019, made it clear that the position of the United Nations on this region (Jammu & Kashmir) is governed by the Charter of the United Nations and applicable Security Council Resolutions.
Subsequently, during his visit to Pakistan in February 2020, the Secretary General again expressed “deep concern” at heightened tensions over the disputed region of Jammu & Kashmir and called for India to respect “human rights and fundamental freedoms”.
India must accept the fact that “India-Pakistan Question” will remain on the agenda of the UN Security Council, until the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute as per the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.
The only way India can get the Jammu and Kashmir dispute off the UN Security Council agenda is by letting the Kashmiris exercise their inalienable right to self-determination through a free and impartial plebiscite under the UN auspices.
The international community must play its role in making India comply with its obligations under international law, UN Charter and the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.
Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi is currently in Moscow to attend the Meeting of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers (SCO-CFM).
In his address at the CFM, the Foreign Minister shared Pakistan’s perspective on regional cooperation for promoting peace, security, connectivity and socio-economic development in the region.
Pakistan considers SCO an important organization that has immense potential to enhance regional cooperation. Pakistan has been actively participating and contributing to the deliberations of SCO on important regional and international issues.
On the sidelines of the SCO-CFM, Foreign Minister Qureshi is also holding bilateral meetings with his counterparts from other SCO member states.
Yesterday, the Foreign Minister met with the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Tajikistan. Both sides expressed satisfaction at the development of bilateral cooperation and reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen it further.
The two Foreign Ministers agreed that the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) and multiple Joint Working Groups (JWGs) in the areas of trade, investment, transport, industry, agriculture and tourism are useful platforms to achieve the desired goals.
We will be sharing with you the details of the Foreign Minister’s other meetings and engagements.
Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood held a video call with the British Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth, Lord Tariq Ahmad. Both the sides exchanged views on matters relating to bilateral cooperation, regional situation, and multilateral issues.
Regarding the latest incidents at the China-India border, Pakistan has been repeatedly emphasizing that India’s expansionist, and unilateral actions, particularly since 5 August 2019, have been imperiling regional peace and security.
The latest situation at the China-India border areas validates Pakistan’s concerns and demonstrates that India’s belligerence remains a major impediment in resolving the issues at its borders.
We believe that it is imperative that China-India border issues are resolved in line with agreed understandings and bilateral agreements through established mechanisms and peace and tranquility is maintained in the region.
I thank for your attention and will be happy to take any questions on these or other foreign policy related development.
Question: The intra-Afghan dialogue has once again been delayed. Recently, Pakistan hosted Taliban delegation and had detailed talks as well. Would you like to share the reasons of delay of intra-Afghan talks scheduled to be held at Doha? There are also reports that the release of some controversial Taliban prisoners has been delayed by Kabul. Since Pakistan is also involved in these developments, would you like to share some updates in this regard?
Secondly, Pakistan’s image has been severely distorted by an incident that took place at Motorway in Lahore. Would you like to comment and condemn it? (Mateen Haider, GTV)
Answer: Pakistan has consistently maintained that the Afghan Peace Process has reached a critical stage. It is important that the Afghan leaders seize this opportunity to achieve lasting peace in Afghanistan. There are still some residual issues.
We hope that these issues will be resolved soon and Intra-Afghan Negotiations will commence at the earliest to achieve an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement that will lead to durable peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan remains committed to continue supporting the Afghan peace process.
As for your question regarding the incident at the Motorway, certainly any such incident needs to be strongly condemned.
Question: On 21st August 2020, the High Court of Bombay quashed cases registered against 29 foreigners and 6 Indians, who were members of the Tablighi Jamaat, and ruled that their arrests which essentially implicated them for the spread of Covit-19 in India, were ‘unjust and unfair’. High Courts of Madras and Karnataka have also passed rulings. How do you see these developments? (Ms. Namra Sohail, PTV)
Answer: The rulings by Indian courts are in essence a vindication of Pakistan’s stance that a systematic campaign is unfortunately underway in India to demonize Muslims.
We have been repeatedly saying that the Hindutva driven policies of BJP-RSS combine are aimed further marginalizing. Dissemination of false narrative against the members of Tablighi Jamaat through a compliant media reflects a deliberate effort by the Indian Government to scapegoat the Muslim community for a global pandemic, and that too at a time when the number of cases in India were only limited to a few thousands.
Today, when there are unfortunately more than 4.4 million confirmed case of COVID-19, more that 75,000 deaths, more than 95,000 new cases and 1172 deaths during the past 24 hours, it’s a time for introspection for those tried to scapegoat Muslims rather than focusing on containing the pathogen.
The rising wave of state-sanctioned hate crimes and Islamophobia in India has emerged not only as a threat to Indian Muslims but is also a matter of grave concern for the Muslim world at large.
The international community and human rights organizations must take due cognizance and urge India to reverse this course, which is fraught with risks for the safety and security of India’s minorities, particularly Muslims.
Question: It has been reported that the family members of eleven Pakistani Hindus who were died in suspicious condition in Rajasthan held a press conference and stated that India agency RAW was involved in the murder of 11-members Pakistani family in Rajasthan. They further added that RAW had provided shelter to their family in Rajasthan and pressurized them to spy for the RAW. How do you comment? (Zulqarnain, ARY News)
Answer: The charges made by Shrimati Mukhi whose father and other family members died in India under mysterious circumstances are very serious.
During a Press Conference, Ms. Mukhi stated that she has credible information that Indian Agency RAW had the 11 family members poisoned after failing to force them to become spies against Pakistan.
As per Ms. Mukhi, her family had gone to India in 2012 to perform religious rituals but was trapped by the Indian agencies. They were given various favours to make anti-Pakistan statements and now the surviving family members were being threatened for making this information public.
Since those who died in India were Pakistani nationals, it is incumbent upon the government of Pakistan to know the circumstances under which its nationals died in India and ask for transparent investigation into the matter.
We have repeatedly asked the Indian Government to share with us details including circumstances of the deaths, copy of the FIR and Investigation report.
Our High Commission in New Delhi had also asked the India Ministry of External Affairs to provide immediate consular access to the family and to ensure physical presence of Mission’s doctor and staff member during post mortem. None of that has been provided.
We once again call upon the government of India to immediately provide the requisite information and carry out a transparent investigation.
The investigation must be to the satisfaction of the family of those died and the government of Pakistan.
Question: Yesterday, First Vice President of Afghanistan Amrullah Saleh was attacked and Pakistan condemned the attack. Couple of days back, he questioned the legality of Durand Line and stated that Peshawar was the part of Afghanistan. What is your comment on this? (Ishtiaq Ahmed, News One)
Answer: These two are separate developments. As for the Durand Line, our position is very clear. We believe Pakistan-Afghan border is an internationally recognized official border between the two countries in accordance with all relevant international laws and conventions. Such statements only serve to undermine the resolve for peace and cooperation between the two countries and should be avoided. We also expect that such statement will not be made in future.
As for the terrorist attack on First Vice President of Afghanistan Amrullah Saleh, we strongly condemned the attack. It is a matter of satisfaction that the Vice President along with his son remained unharmed. Our sympathies are with the bereaved families and we pray for swift recovery of the injured.
Question: The Indian Government has recently issued over 1.2 Million domiciles to non- resident in IIOJK. What is your comment on it?
Secondly, the Indian Defense Minister met his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of SCO-CFM meeting; however, we have still witnessed marked escalation of tensions between the two countries at China-India border. What are your comments? (Khawaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)
Answer: We have strongly condemned and rejected the Indian actions aimed at illegally changing the demographic structure of the IIOJK. I would like to refer you to our number of press releases and statements issued in this regard.
Regarding your second question, Pakistan has been repeatedly emphasizing that India’s expansionist, and unilateral actions, particularly since 5 August 2019, have been imperiling regional peace and security. The latest incidents at the China-India border areas validate Pakistan’s concerns and demonstrate that India’s belligerence remains a major impediment in resolving the issues at its borders.
It is imperative that China-India border issues are resolved in line with agreed understandings and bilateral agreements through established mechanisms, and peace and tranquility is maintained in the region.
Question: The Prime Minister of Pakistan is going to address the UNGA later this month. Last year, the Prime Minister made a speech in the United Nations General Assembly. Is there any mechanism in the Foreign Office to measure the impact of the last address of the Prime Minister? Are you going to consider that assessment report while making the speech of the Prime Minister? (Mazhar Iqbal, Public News)
Answer: The Prime Minister of Pakistan’s speech made last year at the United Nations General Assembly, inter alia, encompassed the dispute of Jammu & Kashmir. Following the unilateral and illegal actions by India on 5th August, 2019, our leadership has not only amplified the voice of the suffering Kashmiri people, but also raised the conscience of the international community to the atrocities perpetrated by the Indian government.
Today, India’s efforts to present the Jammu & Kashmir dispute as an internal issue have failed completely. The International community has acknowledged it as an international dispute. The United Nations Security Council, has discussed the Jammu and Kashmir dispute three times since 5 August 2019.The world leaders, international human rights and humanitarian organizations, parliamentarians, members of civil society as well as the media have been unanimous in their condemnation of India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 and the continuing human rights violations in IIOJK.
Question: Could you please update us on the implementation of court orders/warrants regarding the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif?
Secondly, there has been varying information regarding the visit of Chinese President to Pakistan. Earlier the Foreign Office stated that the visit is scheduled in June 2020, whereas recently the Prime Minister of Pakistan in an interview said that the Chinese President is expected to visit later this year and the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan said that the visit has been postponed. Would you please give us specific details in this regard? (Anas Mallick, WION TV)
Answer: As for your question regarding former Prime Minister, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not the lead Ministry in this regard. However, whatever communication we receive for serving upon the former prime Minister, we do it through our High Commission in London.
Regarding your second question, Pakistan and China are “All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partners” and enjoy excellent bilateral relations. Both Pakistan and China are diplomatically engaged on this matter. Any further information will be shared with you in due course.
Question: It has been reported that a dead body of a 30 year old lady from Ladakh floated to Gilgit-Baltistan. What will be the procedure to repatriate the dead body? Will it be repatriated via Wagha border? Has there any request received in this regard? (Naveed Akbar, Aaj News)
Answer: We have not received any request as yet. As for the procedure, we generally receive a request from the concerned government through official channels. After the verification process, the dead body is repatriated.
Question: Recently, we saw that blasphemous sketches were published in the French Magazine Charlie Hebdo, an act which was strongly condemned by the Foreign Minister as well as the Spokesperson. Has the French Ambassador been summoned in this regard, or has this been taken up with the French Government to prevent happening of such incidents in the future?
Secondly, a petition was made in the Islamabad High Court regarding irregularities in the recent posting plan of the FO officers. Your comments, please? (Rashida Siyal, Abb Tak, TV)
Supplementary Question: My question is regarding the Foreign Office policies and the petition that was made in the Islamabad High Court by two officers. Can you kindly tell us about the procedure followed by the Foreign Office in deciding foreign posting of the officers? (Saima Shabbir, Arab News)
Answer: Let me first talk about the Charlie Hebdo incident. You may have already seen strong condemnation from the Foreign Minister and the Foreign Office Spokesperson. As far as taking up the matter with the French Government is concerned, I can confirm that the matter has been taken up through diplomatic channels with the French Government.
As for your second question, I do not want to talk much about it as the matter is sub-judice. One thing that I can say is that Foreign Office, as a professional organization, takes a lot of pride in upholding meritocracy. The decisions regarding postings and transfers are based on merit. The objective of the 2015 policy is to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization, so that our Foreign Policy objectives can be achieved. Optimal utilization of available human resources to serve the needs of the Ministry and our Missions abroad is critical.
Question: In light of the 03-09-2020 order of the Islamabad High Court regarding appointment of Counsel in Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case, has the Foreign Office sent any Note Verbale to the Indian Government? If yes, has there been any response from the Indian side? (Adeel Warriach, Duniya News)
Supplementary Question: When Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav was apprehended along the Pak-Iran border on 3rd March, 2016, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who was on an official visit to Pakistan at the time, had said that Tehran would facilitate Islamabad in the matter in every way possible. Iranian Foreign Office had reiterated the same. What about the investigation on the matter form the Iranian side? Has Pakistan received anything from Tehran in this matter? (Faisal Raza Kahn, 92 News)
Answer: I will respond to your second question first. Wherever we required cooperation in the investigation, it was available. It was due to the available information as well as credible and irrefutable evidence that Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav was sentenced.
Yes, we have conveyed the decision of Islamabad High Court to India through diplomatic channels. We have also received a response from the Indian side.
India’s position in the matter is unfortunately still evasive. India has stuck to its earlier stance that the consular access provided earlier was not unimpeded and uninterrupted. We believe that the consular access was unimpeded and uninterrupted; presence of security personnel does not and should not imply that the access was impeded or interrupted.
The first consular access that was originally scheduled for thirty minutes went on to last for around two hours. Indian consular officials were allowed to have free discussion with Commander Jadhav without any interference. Our offer of a third consular access is still on the table.
As for India’s insistence on getting a Foreign Lawyer appointed in the case, only those lawyers can appear in Pakistani Courts who have a license to practice law in Pakistan.
Question: Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat has said that Pakistan could suffer heavy losses if it tries to take advantage of the current India-China border flare-up. Your comments, please? (Naveed Siddque, Dawn News)
Answer: We have seen the statement by the Indian Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat. This is not the first time that he has resorted to such belligerent rhetoric against Pakistan.
Pakistan strongly condemns Indian Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Bipin Rawat’s provocative statement against Pakistan. Such belligerent statements from senior military leadership of India provide insight into how the BJP-RSS mindset- a dangerous mix of extremist ideology, hegemonic ambitions and obsession with Pakistan has permeated Indian state institutions, including their Army.
Unfortunately, the Indian government, in response to any geopolitical, economic or military setback, instead of learning from its mistakes and instituting course correction, simply doubles down on its miscalculation and bellicose rhetoric.
India’s defense capabilities have been embarrassingly exposed to the world not far ago. India’s defense capabilities are very well known to Pakistan and Pakistan’s readiness to respond to any Indian misadventure is also known to the world.
General Rawat would be better served to focus on his job rather than making pointless accusations against peaceful neighbors which have accomplished nothing for India other than conflict and humiliation. Rather than whipping up anti-Pakistan sentiments, the current Indian leadership should focus on peaceful resolution of outstanding disputes, particularly the Jammu and Kashmir dispute per international law and the relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions.
Pakistan and China are ‘All-Weather Strategic Co-operative Partners’ and remain committed to promoting peace, stability and development in the region.
Question: As you already mentioned in your opening statement that India is committing gross human rights violations in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir and that Pakistan has taken this up with International Human Rights Organizations. What has been the response, and what does Pakistan expect from these organizations to deter India from its current barbaric course of action in IIOJ&K? (Khwaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)
Answer: As a member of the International community, India must comply with its international obligations. We also believe that it is the responsibility of the International community to seek compliance from India of its international legal obligations.
The entire world has accepted our stance regarding illegality of Indian actions, including those of 5th August, 2019.
The extra judicial killings in fake encounters, inhuman military siege, media blackout, communications blockade and other gross violations of human rights in IIOJ&K are out there for the whole world to see. India is being condemned internationally for the use of excessive force including pellet guns against peaceful demonstrators. Global media, international human rights and humanitarian organizations, United Nations Security Council are all calling on the Indian Government to change its current unacceptable course in IIOJ&K.
These are indeed challenging times for the Kashmiri people. But with their determination and unstinted resolve, the Kashmiris will succeed in their just struggle for their right to self determination. Let me also reiterate Pakistan will continue to stand by the Kashmiri people till the time they realize their inalienable right to self determination.
Question : India has been consistently maintaining that a foreign lawyer may be appointed in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case, even though Pakistan has repeatedly responded that only Pakistan licensed lawyers could appear before the court. Does India’s insistence imply that it is trying to pressurize Pakistan into amending the law that was promulgated for this purpose? We also saw in the past that Pakistan acted upon India’s demands in certain matters, for example prosecuting individuals in the courts. If India keeps up its pressure on Pakistan, is there a chance that we might agree to their position?
Secondly, has Pakistan summoned anyone from the Indian High Commission to protest the martyrdom of one Pakistani yesterday? (Aijaz Ahmed, GNN)
Answer: Responding to your second question first, we have summoned a senior Indian diplomat today to register our strong protest against the ceasefire violations by Indian forces.
As for your first question, there is absolutely no pressure on Pakistan from India. Pakistan remains committed to the implementation of ICJ’s judgment in the case and will take all measures necessary to implement the judgment.
We continue reminding India that for effective review and reconsideration of Commander Jadhav’s conviction and sentence, they will have to cooperate with the Pakistanis courts. As per the ICJ’s judgment, review and reconsideration in the case can be provided by the Pakistanis courts..
I thank you all.