First our sincere, heartfelt condolences to the family of Ms. Sabika Sheikh, the 17 year old Pakistani student, who tragically lost her life in the Santa Fe shootout. We are sad to also share the tragic news of the untimely death of a young Pakistani student, Mr. Talha Zaidi, studying at the Melbourne Polytechnic Institute Preston, who died in a car accident last week. Our High Commission in Australia is expediting the medical and legal formalities, so that the body can be repatriated to Pakistan at the earliest. May Allah rest his soul in eternal peace and give courage and sabr to his family to bear the loss.

The 7th Extraordinary OIC Summit on Palestine was held in Istanbul, Turkey on 18th May 2018 to discuss the grave situation in the aftermath of the blatant human rights violations by the occupying forces in the state of Palestine. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi led the Pakistan delegation to the Summit. The Prime Minister conveyed deep appreciation to President Erdogan for convening a timely and important summit on the question of Palestine. Pakistan, alongwith the OIC countries strongly condemned the massacre and maiming of innocent Palestinians in April 2018 by Israeli forces. Prime Minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s complete solidarity with the Palestinian people in the face of unbridled tyranny. In this regard 19 May 2018 was announced as Palestine Solidarity Day in Pakistan.

The Prime Minister extended sincere and heartfelt condolences to President Mehmood Abbas and the Palestinian people on the martyrdom of many innocent Palestinian and expressed sympathies and wishes for speedy recovery to those injured during the peaceful protests. We pointed out that as in Palestine; we witness the flouting of UN Security Council resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir in a similar manner, by the Indian occupation forces.

Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir continues to bleed. In just the past week alone, the Indian occupation forces killed four people in Handwara area of Kupwara district. Indian occupation forces opened indiscriminate firing on defenceless Kashmiris when villagers refused to participate in a forced ‘Iftaar party’ of the occupation forces in Shopian district, injuring several innocent civilians including four young girls – 14-year old 8th class student Aqsa Jan, 15-year-old Shobi Jan, 17-year old Shakira Akhtar and 15-year old Shaafi Jan. Forcing people, at gun point, to participate in so-called Iftaars by Indian occupation forces makes is a travesty of human rights.

On the occasion of the martyrdom anniversaries of prominent leaders, namely Molvi Muhammad Farooq and Khawaja Abdul Ghani Lone, as well as the martyrs of Hawal massacre, Indian authorities imposed curfew and detained Hurriyat leaders to prevent them from leading marches towards Eid-gah in Srinagar. Despite draconian measures, the world’s largest military concentration in any disputed territory has failed to suppress the Kashmiri people in their legitimate struggle for the right to self determination. We urge the international community to play its role in calling India to account for its crimes against the innocent people of Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

The Acting Foreign Secretary summoned the Indian High Commissioner and condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary on 18th May 2018, in Pukhlian, Cahprar, Harpal, Charwah and Shakargarh Sectors, resulting in the shahadat of 4 innocent members of the family of Mr. Noor Hussain (including his wife, two (2) daughters and a son) in Village Khanoor, and injuries to 10 others. The Indian forces along the Line of Control and the Working boundary continue to target civilians with heavy weapons. In 2018, the Indian forces have already carried out more than 1050 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, resulting in the shahadat of 28 innocent civilians, while injuring 117 others.

Pakistan is pursuing the matter of release of 54 Pakistani prisoners from Indian jail who remain incarcerated despite completing their sentence. We also await New Delhi’s response to Pakistan’s humanitarian proposal for exchange of prisoners above 60 years and children below the age of 18, shared with the Indian side on 7 March 2018. On its part Pakistan has made positive gestures on the humanitarian track vis-a-vis India, as reflected in the release of civilian prisoners, fishermen, Pakistan’s positive response, and addition of further humanitarian proposals to Indian proposal for exchange of prisoners, our facilitation of visits of pilgrims to religious shrines despite India’s denial of visas for Pakistani zaireen, Pakistan’s good-faith humanitarian gesture of allowing Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav’s family to visit him etc. We expect our friendly gestures to be reciprocated.

Mr. Ashtar Ausaf Ali, the Attorney General of Pakistan led the delegation to the World Bank, for a two days meeting, to discuss the issues related to Kishenganga (KHEP) and Ratle (RHEP) Hydroelectric projects under the Indus Waters Treaty. Detailed discussions were held with the CEO of the Bank, Ms. Kristalina Georgivaand and her legal and technical teams, who had been directed by the President of the World Bank (who was not in the country), to address the concerns of Pakistan.

The Attorney General regretted Indian attempts to make the Indus Waters Treaty dysfunctional and the inauguration of the KHEP by India, in flagrant disregard of the commitments of the Government of India to the World Bank and in utter violation of the Treaty. He emphasized that the waters of the Indus and its tributaries were the lifeline of more than 200 million people of Pakistan. It was not just an issue of water, but a definite human rights issue. The Indian attempts to disempower the IWT, had gravely damaged the environment and climate of Pakistan. The agriculture of the country, which is its backbone, is also being adversely affected. The delegation, that he was leading to the Bank, had been instructed directly by the Prime Minister of Pakistan to effectively highlight the very serious implications of Indian intransigence and its disregard for international law, especially the Indus Waters Treaty, for the people and government of Pakistan.

The Attorney General reminded the Bank of its obligations and emphasized the need to abide by its commitments. The delegation stressed the need to revisit the design and impact of KHEP. He also urged the US government to actively support the Bank in resolving the KHEP and RHEP within the ambit of the Treaty.

Ms. Georgieva assured the Attorney General and the Government of Pakistan that the Bank would make utmost efforts to resolve the KHEP and RHEP, within the parameters of the Indus Waters Treaty. Pakistan is gravely concerned at the inauguration of the Kishenganga Hydroelectric Project (KHEP). Pakistan believes that the inauguration of the project without the resolution of the dispute is a violation of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT). Despite several rounds of bilateral negotiations as well as mediation under the auspices of the World Bank, India continued with the construction of the project. This intransigence by India has made the Treaty dysfunctional. Pakistan urged the Bank to raise this violation of the IWT with India and bring an end to the impasse. Pakistan reiterated that as the custodian of the Treaty, the World Bank should urge India to address Pakistan’s reservations on Kishenganga Hydroelectric Project (KHEP).

Pakistan is hosting the Shanghai Cooperation Organization-Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (SCO-RATS) Legal Experts meeting from 23-25 May 2018 in Islamabad, which concludes today. This is the first ever SCO meeting being held in Pakistan since becoming member of SCO in June 2017. The Government of Pakistan is pleased to welcome delegations from SCO member states to Islamabad. Legal Experts from the eight member states, namely China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, India, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan, as well as representatives of the SCO-RATS Executive Committee are participating in the meeting. They are discussing ways and means to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation between SCO member states. Pakistan supports SCO’s efforts for regional cooperation in fighting terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime and is ready to share our experience in tackling the menace of terrorism through the SCO-RATS. The FS will lead the Pakistan delegation in the SCO Contact Group meeting on Afghanistan, the trilateral Strategic Dialogue and the Trilateral Practical Cooperation Delegation in Beijing next week.

On 18 May 2018 Pakistan and Serbia marked the 70th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between both countries. The two sides established diplomatic relations in 1948, when Pakistan was still in its nascent years.

On a happier note, we congratulate Dr Abdul Hameed, Pakistani scientist of Dr Panjwani Centre for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD), Karachi University, on receiving the excellence award for presenting outstanding science research at the 91st annual meeting of the Japan Endocrine Society, Japan. His achievements demonstrate our vibrant culture.

A team of Pakistani students who won the 2nd prize in the Network Group and 3rd prize in Enterprise Cloud Communication, in the Huawei ICT Competition 2018 Global Final held in Shenzhen, China have also made us immensely proud.

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