Opening Remarks by Spokesperson at the Press Briefing on Thursday,19 July 2018

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Let me begin by giving a brief round of activities on the foreign policy front:

Terrorist attacks in Balochistan and KPK last week have left the entire nation in deep mourning. We offer sincerest condolences to the bereaved familiesand pray for the speedy recovery of those injured. Let us offer Fateha for the departed souls. We are thankful to brotherly and friendly countries for condemning these attacks and offering condolences to the Pakistani nation.The Pakistan nation stands resolute in the face of such criminal acts and it committed to ensure the holding of free fair elections for smooth political transition.

It appears, as if, the long shadows of pain and suffering have engulfed Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir unleashed by those in power in India. Last week, Indian occupation forces killed three innocent civilians including Khalid Gafar Malik (20 year old), teenagers Andleeb Jan, Irshad Ahmad Lone and Shir Ahmad Khanday in Kulgam, Pulwama and Terhgam districts. Over a thousand Kashmiri youth came out on the streets to protest the brutal killing of Khalid Malik; several protest demonstrations were held in Government degree college, Kupwara. Indian occupation authorities have asked Kashmir cable operators to immediately shut private satellite channels in the Valley, in a bid to stifle electronic media coverage of Indian atrocities. The Kashmiri struggle for self-determination cannot be turned off by these nefarious tactics of India and its infamous occupation forces.

We also strongly condemn the summoning of Kashmiri journalist Aaqib Javaid Hakim to New Delhi by NIA for questioning. Hakim is not the only Kashmiri journalist to be intimidated by NIA. Another freelance photojournalist Kamran Yusaf has been detained without charge by NIA, since September 2017. The global media organizations, namely International Federation of Journalists and Committee to Protect Journalists denounced the harassment of Aaqib Hakim. We have yet to recover from the tragic assassination of veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari. Such acts against journalists are not a good omen.

We also condemn the 30-day judicial remand of Ms. Aasiya Andrabi and her two associates at the notorious Tihar jail in a fake case framed against them by NIA. The conscience of the international community needs to be shaken condemn India’s brutal human rights violations in the strongest terms and urge India to immediately halt the bloodshed and allow an early plebiscite in the valley.

We all know that OHCHR Report on Kashmir has greatly upset the Indian efforts to project that all is well in Indian occupied Kashmir as it is the first report of its kind that acknowledges and documents India’s widest human rights violations in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Now, the UN Secretary General has also endorsed the report, which is another blow to India’s farcical constructs about IOK.

Moreover, Indian attempts to call this Report a motivated and ill-intended piece of work has been vociferously denied by the UN. The UN calls India’s allegations, without proper examining of the report, deeply disappointing. India has failed to address the very serious concerns raised by OHCHR report on grave human rights violations in IoK. OHCHR has also categorically denied the alleged contact between Human Rights Commissioner and one, Mr. Zafar Bangash. OHCHR is disturbed by the sustained Indian attempts to distract and divert the focus from human rights atrocities in IoK. Pakistan welcomes the visit by the Commission of Inquiry, as recommended in the report, to both AJK and IOK.

Separately, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Abdullah Hussain Haroon, received Major General Mohammad Bagheri, Chief of General Staff of Armed Forces of Iran who visited Islamabad from 15-17 July 2018.

The Foreign Minister has donated the entire salary of his tenure as Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Fund-2018 for the construction of ”Diamer Basha and Mohmand Dam.”

On the initiative of the Russian Federation, a consultative meeting on the International Activities of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was held on 12 July 2018 in Moscow at the level of Deputy Foreign Ministers. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Igor Morgulov’ Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation. Pakistan’s delegation was led by Mr. Zahoor Ahmed, National Coordinator for SCO. The meeting reviewed SCO’s cooperation with UN bodies and regional organizations as well as observer states and dialogue partners. Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister also addressed the meeting. The meeting emphasized the need for closer cooperation among the Member States on international and regional issues of common interest.

It is with deep sorrow that I announce the sudden death of Mr. Hassan Abid, a resident of Sargodha and a Fulbright scholar at University of Texas, on 17 July. The cause of death remains unclear, so far. The Consulate has made all possible efforts for the early repatriation of his mortal remains.

On a happier note, we are proud of Pakistan Army Cadet Sheroz Shahid, who has secured the Overseas International Medal at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, UK, for excellent performance in training, education and physical fitness displayed during the training period.

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