We have learnt with great sadness of the passing away of Ambassador Jamshaid Marker, one of our senior diplomats who remains a legend in MOFA. Ambassador Marker was renowned for his soft but effective diplomacy and continues to serve as a hallmark even now. He served Pakistan with distinction in numerous countries and is listed in the Guinness World Record as having been ambassador to more countries than any other person. Our condolences go to his wife and daughter in this difficult time.

An era in Urdu literature also came to an end with the sad demise of the celebrated humourist and satirist of our times Mushtaq Ahmad Yousufi – our heartfelt condolences go out to his family as well.

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

The tragic and brutal killing of Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari Editor-in-Chief of the Rising Kashmir by unknown gunmen outside his office in Srinagar on 14 June 2018 gave a serious blow to international human rights and freedom of expression. His assassination, due to his unremitting efforts for the Kashmiri cause will be remembered forever and is a clear manifestation of Indian state terrorism. Shujaat Bukhari’s brutal murder by Indian forces is reflection of the intolerance of Indian state apparatus who wants to stifle freedom of speech and expression. The Indian government remains fearful of international exposition of the brutalization of occupied Jammu & Kashmir. India can run, but can it hide? This remains to be seen.

Shujaat Bukhari’s targeted killing, within hours of his tweet on the OHCHR’s report on Jammu & Kashmir, raises serious questions about the motivation behind his murder. Indian attempts to politicize his death and to deflect attention, not only from the Indian atrocities in IoK, but also the very real threat faced by independent journalists in India, when they differ from the government’s stance, are condemnable. Shujaat Bukhari was renowned for carrying out his professional responsibilities with courage and conviction. He was a vocal voice, who consistently spoke out against the human rights abuses in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir and strongly advocated the need for the peaceful resolution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute.

Shujaat Bukhari has joined the ranks of thousands of Kashmiri martyrs who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of peace and justice for the people of Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Pakistan reiterates it call on the Government of India to conduct an independent, transparent and credible investigation into his murder and to bring the perpetrators to justice. As we pray for Shujaat Bukhari’s soul to rest in eternal peace, our profound thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time. May the Almighty Allah grant them the strength and fortitude to bear this irreparable loss. Ameen!

I have had the personal good fortune of meeting Mr. Bukhari in 2016. He was a very passionate soul and extremely committed to the Kashmir cause. I was very touched by his love for the Kashmiris and affected by his writings on the dispute. I, even then, feared for his life, as the new India is not known for its tolerance. My worst fears have come true. Let me assure you, Mr. Bukhari’s cause will live on, Jammu and Kashmir and the Kashmiri people are larger than all of us.

Pakistan welcomes the OHCHR Report’s recommendation for an independent, international Commission of Inquiry to assess the situation in IoK which is consistent with several calls by Pakistan and the OIC IPHRC to the same effect, since 2016.

The Report, which is sharply critical of the human rights atrocities being committed with impunity by Indian occupation forces in IoK, especially the use of pellet guns, draconian laws including the AFSPA and the SPA, use of rape to subjugate dissent, communication blockade, including the internet and violation of right to life, health, education and peaceful protests, confirms the humanitarian emergency in IoK. It also highlights the absence of recourse to justice by the victims. Indian knee jerk rejection of the report indicates its complete insensitivity to international law and its deplorable intransigence, which has delayed the resolution of the J&K dispute since the last 7 decades and holds the regional peace and development hostage, even now.

Despite hollow Indian assertions, Jammu and Kashmir remains an internationally recognized disputed area, pending on the agenda of the UNSecurity Council. The dissociation of India from reality is alarming. Indian attempts to exploit and cash in on the international environment by labeling the legitimate Kashmiris struggle terrorism makes a mockery of the victims of actual terrorism and is reprehensible. If it really has nothing to hide, India can address its claims of the report being based on unverified information by allowing the COI and OIC IPHRC access to IOK.

You would remember that Pakistan’s position remains consistent. We had nothing to hide in the case of Commander Kulbushan Jadhav and invited the Indian media to visit Pakistan and participate in a press conference in Ministry of Foreign Affairs.India backed out then also. Now again, we are ready for a Commission of Enquiry to visit both AJK and IOK. India has again backed out. The isolation of India in the international community is complete. The skeletons in Indian closet are growing in numbers and size. Right wing governments end up paying a high price.
Imposition of governor rule and the ongoing bloodshed in IoK alongwith statements emanating from India about the a ‘crackdown’ on Kashmiris in IoK, indicate an alarming Indian imperviousness to international opinion, as it continues with its gross violations of human rights in IoK. Pakistan is closely monitoring the developments in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. Such steps are likely to result in enhanced Indian brutalities and a virtual free hand to Indian security forces against innocent Kashmiris. Past experience has also shown that the so-called Governor’s rule is one of the ploys adopted by New Delhi from time to time to further suppress the will of the Kashmiri people. The level of repression in IoK has already significantly gone up in the last 2-3 days, while the Indian security officials are threatening even more stringent actions. The international community must urge India to put an immediate halt to the bloodshed in IoK and ensure an expedited establishment of the Commission of Enquiry, to ensure that the Human Rights Charter is not reduced to meaningless words.

On 13 June 2018, the Indian Acting Deputy High Commissioner was summoned to the Foreign Office over the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control on 12th June 2018 in Chirikot Sector, resulting in the shahadat of one innocent civilian (Mr. M Shakeel s/o AlamDin) in Trothi village. The Indian forces along the Line of Control and the Working boundary have continuously been targeting civilian populated areas. In 2018, the Indian forces have carried out more than 1100 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, resulting in the shahadat of 29 innocent civilians, while injuring 117 others.

We condemn Indian continued and unabated atrocities at the hands of Indian occupation forces, which continued with impunity during the holy occasion of Eid. During the past two weeks, Indian occupation forces have martyred sixteen innocent Kashmiris including Qaiser Amin Bhat (22-year-old),Wikas Ahmad Rathor (15-year-old),Nisar Ahmad Bhat, 27-year-old Aiaz Ahmad Bhat, Sheeraz Ahmad Naikoo , Danish Khaliq Dar and Adil AkramLonein Srinagar, Pulwama, Tral, Kulgam, Bandipore and Kupwara areas. India, again, did not allow the APHC Chairman, Syed Ali Gilani to offer Eidul Fitr and Friday prayers, which is deplorable.

Separately, at the invitation of President of the Republic of Tajikistan, Mr. Emomali Rahmon, President Mamnoon Hussain is visiting Tajikistan from 18-21 June 2018. He is participating in the High-Level International Conference on International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028, held on 20 June 2018 in Dushanbe. This is the President’s first visit to Tajikistan. The two leaders signed a Joint Declaration titled “Strengthening the Road to Strategic Partnership for Regional Integration” and witnessed the signing of two bilateral agreements. It was agreed to further consolidate the bilateral relations in all areas of mutual importance. The sides expressed satisfaction at their ongoing collaboration at the UN, ECO, SCO and OIC.

President of Pakistan also visited China at the invitation of President Xi Jinping to participate in the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Council of Heads of State Meeting 9-10 June in Qingdao, China. The leaders exchanged views on contemporary regional and global issues. They agreed to further enhance cooperation and mutual trust to realize the maximum potential of the organization. The Heads of State reiterated their commitment to the Charter of SCO and to the ”Shanghai Spirit”. The President reiterated Pakistan’s offer to connect CPEC to the six main road corridors of SCO. President Mamnoon Hussain also underscored Pakistan’s commitment to peace and stability in Afghanistan through an Afghan led, Afghan owned process of peace and reconciliation. He welcomed President Ghani’s initiatives towards this end. The President held bilateral meetings with President Xi Jinping of China, President Putin of Russia, President Rahmon of Tajikistan, President Rouhani of Iran and President Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan. He also interacted with other SCO leaders at the sidelines of the Summit.

Separately, during the festivities of Eid, the Consulate General of Pakistan, Dubai has helped 350 Pakistani prisoners by providing them flight tickets, and financial and legal assistance. About 2000 prisoners, including 442 Pakistanis were released by the UAE government and granted royal pardon on the occasion of Eid ul Fitr. The Consulate also facilitated Pakistan Association Dubai in contributing air tickets to the 75 pardoned prisoners. We express our gratitude to the UAE government for pardoning 442 Pakistani prisoners for celebrating Eid ul Fitr with their loved ones in Pakistan. We also appreciate the efforts of the community for playing their due role in this noble cause.

On the World Day against Child Labour on 12 June 2018, the Foreign Minister in a message said that the World Day against Child Labour is significant in several respects at national and global levels: it is an important occasion to renew our shared commitment to promote and protect the rights of every child; to demonstrate our collective resolve to do everything necessary to eliminate child labour. Pakistan is a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and ILO core Conventions relating to Child Labour. We believe that children have their place in schools, not at workplaces.

Pakistan got elected to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for a three-year term starting 1st January 2019, during elections held on June 13 2018 at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Pakistan was one of the four countries elected to this important body from the Asia Pacific region. Pakistan secured 175 out of a total of 186 votes cast. Pakistan’s election is an endorsement and reaffirmation of Pakistan’s constructive leadership in these important areas and its role as an ardent advocate of dialogue and cooperation.