Opening Remarks by Spokesperson at the Press Briefing on Thursday,02 August 2018.

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We had the successful holding of general elections on 25 July 2018. Pakistan is witnessing a continuous journey towards consolidation of democracy, having completed two democratically elected tenures and transitioning the next. As a part of the traditional practice of welcoming International Election Observers, the general elections were observed by International Election observers from the Commonwealth and the European Union, who also expressed satisfaction at their conduct.

Now a brief round-up of the events on the foreign policy front:

The human rights situation in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir reflects the unabated use of force, oppression, suppression and mass killings by Indian occupying forces of innocent and defenceless Kashmiris. During last month, Indian troops in unabated acts of state terrorism, martyred twenty one (21) Kashmiris including 4 young boys and a woman during the last month of July. During the month, 310 Kashmiris were also critically injured, when Indian police and paramilitary personnel used brute force and fired pellet guns and teargas shells against peaceful demonstrators. The troops also damaged 46 houses during this period.

India’s attempts to hide and whitewash its atrocities in IoK continue. Bureau Chief of Washington Post for India, Annie Gowan has said that she was not granted a special permit to report in Indian occupied Kashmir and voiced her frustration and disappointment regarding this issue on her twitter account. Indian attempt to hide the Human Rights violations carried out by the Indian occupying forces in Jammu & Kashmir by banning the entry of foreign journalists is condemnable and will render no success. This action belies the illusion being created by India and reflects its autocratic and fascist mindset. If India has nothing to hide, it should allow the foreign journalists and Commission of Inquiry as recommended by OHCHR.

We express our deep worry and concern over the unhygienic conditions provided in Central Jail of Srinagar and District Jail in Rajouri, where a number of so-called political prisoners have been packed beyond capacity, besides denying the basic medical facilities and delaying the free and fair trials of the prisoners. This violates the international Conventions on Rights of Prisoners. We urge the international community to take notice of all these injustices. Also, the health of illegally detained Kashmiri leaders including Shabir Ahmad Shah, MasaratAlam Bhatt, Syeda Aasiya Andrabi, Fehmeeda Sofi, Nahida Nasreen, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Mohammad Aiyaz Akbar, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Peer Saifullah, Mehrajudin Kalwal, Farooq Ahmad Dar, Ghulam Muhammad Khan Sopori and hundreds of Hurriyet leaders in different jails and interrogations centres is deteriorating fast.

In a daring heliborne operation on 31 July 2018, Pakistan Army rescued Russian climber Alexander Gukov, who was stranded at Latok-I peak in Gilgit-Baltistan since July 24, 2018. This was the 8th rescue attempt by Pakistan Army helicopters to recover the Russian climber. Seven earlier attempts, since July 26 were hampered by inclement weather and poor visibility. Gukov and his climbing partner, Sergey Glazunov, had been on an expedition to climb the Latok-I peak in Gilgit-Baltistan. Glazunov lost his life while rappelling from the mountain on July 25. This courageous rescue is a testament to the dedication, expertise, training and competence of the Pakistan Army Aviation pilots who braved extremely treacherous conditions to recover the climber.

The Russian government has conveyed deep gratitude to Pakistan for the rescue and lauded the professionalism of Pakistan Army for successfully carrying out this courageous operation.

Pakistan strongly condemned the terrorist attack outside Hamid Karzai International airport in Kabul on 22nd July 2018 resulting in the loss of several innocent lives and injuring many others. We express our deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives and pray to Almighty Allah for early recovery of the injured.

Afghanistan and Pakistan held inaugural meetings of the five Working Groups (WGs) under the Afghanistan and Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) in Kabul on July 22, 2018. The Afghan delegation was led by the Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai, and the Pakistani side by the Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua. In the inaugural joint meeting of the WGs, the Afghan and Pakistani side assessed prospects for the APAPPS forum that covers all areas of mutual interest, including counter terrorism & security, peace and reconciliation, bilateral trade and transit, connectivity, Afghan refugees’ repatriation and promoting people to people contacts.

The Government and the people of Pakistan offer their heartfelt condolences to the Government and people of Greece on the deadly wildfire that hit the northeast of Athens.We also express our deep sympathies to the bereaved families and their loved ones in this hour of grief. Due to the tragic incident, over 80 people lost their lives and thousands are missing. The fire has caused huge damage to the property also. The people of Pakistan stand with the people of Greece and assure them of their support in the efforts aimed at responding to this disaster.

We congratulate the all-girls Pakistani team of National University of Science and Technology (NUST) on winning the ‘Spirit of Formula Student Award 2018’ held in UK. The team was given a standing ovation in the award ceremony as they were the first-ever totally female team in the competition’s history. A proud moment indeed for the whole Pakistani nation. It emphatically reflects on the quality of education and opportunities women are provided within Pakistan. It also underscores the country’s drive towards women education and empowerment.

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