[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).
The inhuman military siege, extra-judicial killings, communications blockade, media blackout, and restrictions on all forms of fundamental freedoms of Kashmiri people continue unabated for 410 days.
Over 8 million people in the IIOJK remain cut-off from rest of the world, with the entire valley turned into a prison.
In unabated extra-judicial killings, Indian occupation forces have martyred 5 more innocent Kashmiris during the past three days.
Those martyred in fake encounters and “cordon and search” operations include a young woman and a 23-year old shopkeeper from Sopore region, who was killed by torture in police custody.
In continuing crackdown on media, two photojournalists were tortured by Indian occupation forces in Pulwama.
These journalists were covering the illegal “cordon and search” operations launched by the Indian occupation troops.
The only crime of these journalists was their reporting of extra-judicial killings of innocent Kashmiris by the Indian occupation forces.
More than three hundred innocent Kashmiris, including women and children, have been martyred by the Indian occupation forces during the last one year.
Pakistan condemns these gross and systematic human rights violations, which have been extensively documented by the UN human rights organs and international human rights organizations.
Pakistan welcomes the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet`s, reiteration of serious concerns on unabated state perpetrated violence in IIOJK, including indiscriminate use of pellet guns on civilians.
The High Commissioner’s remarks at the 45TH Session of Human Rights Council on the global Human Rights situation, reinforces the serious concerns that have been repeatedly expressed by Pakistan, international media and the global human rights organizations.
Pakistan strongly condemns continued Indian attempts to illegally change the demographic structure of IIOJK.
Reportedly Indian authorities have distributed over 1.68 million domiciles to non-Kashmiris.
The Indian actions are in clear violation of the UN Security Council Resolutions and international law, including the 4th Geneva Convention.
Pakistan continues to call upon the Indian government to immediately restore internet, release all prisoners, especially civil society members, journalists and the abducted young children, remove Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Public Safety Act and other draconian laws, and allow independent media and international human rights observers to visit the region to independently observe the situation of the Kashmiri people.
In attempts to divert world attention India continues to escalate tensions along the Line of Control.
The recent ceasefire violations by India on 11th, 13th and 17th of September, have resulted in one shahadat and serious injuries to seven.
This year, India has committed 2280 ceasefire violations to date, resulting in 18 shahadats and serious injuries to 183 innocent civilians.
Pakistan rejects baseless assertions made by the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs in Rajya Sabha yesterday.
With its gross and systematic human rights violations and state-terrorism in IIOJK, India cannot mislead the world community by leveling unfounded allegations against others.
It is India that has vitiated the atmosphere with its illegal and unilateral measures of 5 August 2019 in IIOJK and with continuous belligerent rhetoric and aggressive actions.
The onus is on India to create an enabling environment by rescinding its illegal and unilateral actions, ending its state-terrorism against the Kashmiri people, and agreeing to resolve the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in accordance with international legitimacy.
Pakistan has once again registered its serious concerns over the “Jodhpur Incident” in which eleven Pakistani Hindus, including children, were found dead under mysterious circumstances in Jodhpur on 9 August 2020.
The Indian Cd’A was summoned to reiterate Pakistan’s demands for a comprehensive investigation into the matter, provision of access to the surviving member of the bereaved family, sharing of copies of the FIR and the initial investigation report without further delay.
It was emphasized to the Indian side that since the victims of “Jodhpur Incident” were Pakistan nationals, it was incumbent upon the Government of Pakistan to be fully aware of the circumstances under which its nationals died in India.
The General Debate of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly will commence on 22 September 2020.
Due to restrictions imposed by the local government in New York, there will be no in-person high-level participation from outside.
Prime Minister Imran Khan will address the General Assembly on Friday, 25th September.
The Foreign Minister will participate virtually in the High Level Meeting of the General Assembly to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations.
He will also participate in other high level engagements.
This week, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi held a telephone conversation with Saudi Minister of State Adel al Jubeir.
Underscoring close Pakistan-Saudi fraternal ties, the Foreign Minister reaffirmed commitment to further enhance this strategic relationship.
The two Ministers reviewed bilateral cooperation and agreed to intensify bilateral exchanges.
At the opening ceremony of intra-Afghan Negotiations in Qatar, Foreign Minister Qureshi, stated that the world had begun acknowledging Pakistan’s position that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.
The Foreign Minister added that Pakistan had fully facilitated the process that culminated in the U.S.-Taliban Peace Agreement in Doha in February 2020 and had reached the critical juncture.
It was now for the Afghan leaders to seize this historic opportunity, work together constructively, and secure an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement, leading to durable peace in Afghanistan.
Afghan Acting Foreign Minister, Haneef Atmar also endorsed the views of the Foreign Minister and appreciated Pakistan’s support for lasting peace in Afghanistan.
We hope that all sides will honour their respective commitments, persevere in the face of all challenges and setbacks, and remain resolutely committed to achieving a positive outcome.
Pakistan will always support a peaceful, stable, united, democratic, prosperous and sovereign Afghanistan, at peace with itself and with its neighbours.
In his recent visit to Pakistan, US Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, greatly appreciated Pakistan’s role in the ongoing peace process.
He acknowledged that the peace process could not have succeeded without Pakistan’s sincere and unconditional support.
Separately, Foreign Minister Qureshi participated in the 27th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) held in virtual mode.
In his remarks, the Foreign Minister called for a concerted international effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and to develop a vaccine that is accessible to all as a global public good.
The Foreign Minister also apprised the Forum about the progress made by Pakistan in the field of counter-terrorism.
Furthermore, he urged the ASEAN Regional Forum members to raise voice against the rise of “Islamophobia” and extremist tendencies in the region and around the globe.
The Foreign Minister condemned moves by states to alter the demographics of disputed territories under their illegal occupation and stressed the importance of peaceful resolution of disputes according to the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.
On the Joint Statement of U.S – India Counter-Terrorism Joint Working Group and Designations Dialogue, Pakistan strongly rejects the unwarranted reference to Pakistan.
Our serious concerns and rejection of the unacceptable reference to Pakistan in the Joint Statement have been conveyed to the U.S. side.
We believe that it is important that partner countries take an objective view of the issues of peace and security in South Asia and refrain from endorsing positions that are one-sided and divorced from ground realities.
The international community is well aware that Pakistan is a country most affected by cross-border terrorism, sponsored and supported by India.
The international community also recognizes Pakistan’s efforts, sacrifices and successes in the fight against terrorism.
Pakistan strongly condemns the recent missile and drone strikes by Houthis against the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Such attacks are in violation of the Kingdom’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Pakistan fully supports the Kingdom’s right to defend itself against any aggression.
Pakistan has consistently urged all parties to the conflict in Yemen to engage in a meaningful and peaceful dialogue to end the hostilities, in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 2216.
In this regard, we appreciate the positive step taken by the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen, when it unilaterally declared ceasefire earlier this year.
It is, however, regrettable that this step was not reciprocated positively.
The 5th session of Pakistan-Germany Strategic Dialogue was held virtually on 10 September 2020.
Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood and State Secretary Miguel Berger of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany led their respective sides.
The two sides took stock of the whole range of bilateral relations, including political, economic, trade, investment, education and cultural ties.
The Foreign Secretary emphasized that the regional security situation had become perilous following India’s illegal and unilateral actions in IIOJK on 5 August 2019.
The two sides also exchanged views on regional issues and cooperation at the international fora, including the UN and the European Union, and agreed to continue close contact and mutual support on all issues of common interest.
I thank you and am ready to take any questions on these or other foreign policy related developments.
Question: There have been reports in the media that India is behind sectarian violence in Pakistan. In this regard, our intelligence agencies have also found some credible reports. How do you see it?
After UAE, Bahrain has also established diplomatic relations with Israel. Two Muslim countries had already established diplomatic ties with Israel. What are your comments on this? And what is the future of Palestine issue? (Khwaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)
Supplementary Question: Bahrain has joined the United Arab Emirates in agreeing to normalize relations with Israel. How does Pakistan see this development? (Saima Shabbir, Arab News)
Answer: India has been making consistent efforts to destabilize Pakistan. There is incriminating evidence regarding Indian involvement in terrorist activities in Pakistan. The arrests of Indian intelligence operatives during the counter intelligence operations in Pakistan are further evidence of this fact.
Pakistan has been consistently sensitizing the international community regarding Indian leadership’s threatening statements to use terrorism as a tool against Pakistan.
The entire nation of Pakistan stands united and ready to thwart nefarious Indian designs.
As for the Palestine issue, our position remains unchanged. In this regard, I would like to refer you to my earlier comments made during the weekly press briefing held on 20 August 2020.
As stated earlier, Peace and stability in the Middle East region remains Pakistan’s key priority. There is no change in Pakistan’s principled position on Palestine.
We have an abiding commitment to the full realization of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to self-determination.
For a just, comprehensive and lasting peace, Pakistan has consistently supported a two-state solution in accordance with the relevant United Nations and OIC resolutions as well as international law, with pre 1967 borders and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as the capital of Palestine.
As for the recent developments, Pakistan’s approach will be guided by our evaluation of how Palestinians’ rights and aspirations are upheld and how regional peace, security and stability are preserved.
Question: It has been reported that the Government of Pakistan has decided to elevate Gilgit Baltistan to the status of a full-fledged province. In this regard, the Parliament will be making legislation. What will be its implications on the UNSC resolutions? (Adeel Bashir, Roze News)
Secondly, it has been reported that India has announced infrastructure program, including construction of roads, bridges as well as high altitude helipad for civilian and military aircrafts in Himachal Pradesh. How do you comment?
Supplementary Question: The government of Pakistan has decided to give the status of province to Gilgit Baltistan in the wake of India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5th August 2019. If it is so, why Pakistan is not considering giving the status of province to AJK as well? (Zahid Farooq, Daily Metro Watch)
Supplementary Question: It seems that we are responding to Indian illegal actions taken on 5th August 2019 by making Gilgit Baltistan as a province. If it is so, don’t you think that it will weaken Pakistan’s position on Jammu & Kashmir dispute? (Aijaz Ahmed, GNN)
Answer: The Gilgit Baltistan reforms are an ongoing process that include political, administrative and economic reforms. It has been a long-standing demand of the people of Gilgit Baltistan. These reforms will continue in line with the needs of the people of Gilgit Baltistan.
As for Indian military build up, Pakistan believes that the Indian actions, driven by BJP’s extremist ideology “Hindutva” and expansionist designs “Akhand Bharat” pose serious threat to regional peace and stability. India has problems and border disputes with most of its neighbours. India must change its aggressive course, which has put the peace and security in South Asia at risk.
Question: Reportedly, Russia requested Pakistan to remove its political map from background at the online meeting of national security advisers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Would you please comment? (Amjad, PTV News)
Answer: Let me clarify that Russia, which was hosting the meeting, did not request Pakistan for removal of political map at the meeting of NSAs of SCO member states.
It was India which objected to the map but its objection was overruled. In fact, India tried to vitiate the atmosphere by objecting to Pakistan’s official map. However, its attempts to use an important multilateral forum for petty bilateral politics failed.
Let me reiterate that the map reaffirms Pakistan’s commitment to the UN Security Council Resolutions and the supremacy of the UN Charter.
Pakistan is committed to SCO as a platform for regional cooperation. We are actively playing a positive and constructive role and following the SCO charter to not let our bilateral relations with any country impact our engagement with SCO.
Question: You talked about Ceasefire Violations; the ones who facilitated the ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan in 2003 acted as its guarantors. Foreign Office frequently summons Indian Diplomats to register its protest. Has there been any effort to raise the issue of these violations at any other platform? Will the Prime Minister highlight the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in his 25th September UNGA Speech? Will the International community be urged to play its role? (Umar Hayat Khan, Bol News)
Answer: To register our strong protest over continuing Ceasefire Violations (CFVs) by India, Pakistan uses all available fora. We summon Indian Diplomats to register our protests bilaterally. We also report all CFVs to the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), which is an important forum established under the UN mandate.
We also continue sensitizing the international community about deliberate CFVs by India in an effort to divert attention from the worsening situation in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
This year alone, India has committed 2280 ceasefire violations at the Line of Control.
Secondly, you referred to Prime Minister’s speech in UNGA, Jammu and Kashmir dispute will certainly be an important component of the Prime Minister’s UNGA address. Let me reiterate that Jammu and Kashmir dispute continues to remain a Foreign Policy priority for Pakistan.
Question: Yesterday, a warrant was sent by the Islamabad High Court to the Foreign Secretary with regards to the implementation of its decision about former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. How do you comment?
Secondly, yesterday in his weekly press briefing, Indian MEA’s Spokesperson stated that a “Queens Counsel” could be appointed for Indian representation in Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case. Can you please update on this? (Anas Mallick, WION TV)
Answer: Let me begin by answering your second question first. India has been consistently making the unrealistic demand of allowing a lawyer from outside Pakistan to represent Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav. We have informed India that only those lawyers are allowed to appear in Pakistani courts who have a license to practice law in Pakistan. This is in line with international legal practice. There can be no change in this position.
Regarding your question about the Court orders, Ministry promptly complies with Court orders as and when received.
In this particular case, the orders of the Court were received yesterday, which were dispatched immediately to Pakistan High Commission in London for compliance. The High Commission in London will send a report in this regard which will be submitted to the honorable Court. At this stage, I cannot comment any further.
Question: Pakistan has been playing an important role in the Afghan Peace Process. Is Pakistan is going to play an important role in Intra-Afghan negotiations as well? (Abbas Jaffar, District News)
Answer: Pakistan has fully facilitated the Afghan Peace Process that culminated in the U.S.-Taliban Peace Agreement in Doha on 29 February 2020 and has reached this critical juncture. It is now for the Afghan leaders to seize this historic opportunity, work together constructively, and secure an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement, leading to durable peace in Afghanistan.
Pakistan will always be in full support and solidarity with Afghan brethren as they continue their momentous journey on the path of peace, security and development.
Pakistan will always support a peaceful, stable, united, democratic, prosperous and sovereign Afghanistan, at peace with itself and with its neighbours.
Question: The required legislation for FATF compliance has been done by Pakistan. Now are you hopeful that Pakistan could move out of the grey list? What are your expectations? (Hasan Riaz, JNN)
Answer: A face-to-face meeting of the Asia Pacific Joint Group was held virtually on 15-16 September 2020. Pakistan effectively presented its progress on FATF Action Plan to the Joint Group.
Question: Would you please update us on the Intra Afghan dialogue that was held in Doha? Are any details being kept secret? Would you like to tell us whether the dialogue ended on a positive note? If yes, then would you like to share details that where this peace process will now move in the days to come? (Mateen Haider, G News)
Answer: As you mentioned yourself that the negotiations were confidential; let’s wait for the two sides to share further details.
I would, however, like to reiterate that Pakistan remains hopeful that all sides will honour their respective commitments, persevere in the face of all challenges and setbacks, and remain unflinchingly committed to achieving a positive outcome.
Question: Iran being an important country in the region wants to become a permanent member of the SCO. Russia also supports Iran. So what is Pakistan’s stance in this regard? (Afzal Reza, IRNA)
Answer: I will revert to you on this question.
Question: Some Pakistani journalists in France have complained against the behavior of Pakistani official Mr. Amjad Aziz Qazi. They have specially sent a message for you to take action in this regard. (Naveed Siddiqui, Dawn)
Answer: Misbehavior with anyone is totally unacceptable, be it with journalist or general public under any circumstances. The Government’s focus on efficient Public Service Delivery is the guiding principle for this Ministry and all our Missions abroad. All our efforts are geared towards optimal Public Service Delivery with zero tolerance for any kind of misbehavior with any one from within the Pakistani community.
As for this specific issue, let me check with our Mission. I would also request you to share any particular incident or other information that can be helpful in ascertaining the facts.
Question: The Indian Air Force inducted into service five French made Rafale fighter jets amid heightened tensions with China along their disputed frontier. How do you see this development? (Zulqarnain, ARY News)
Answer: India’s military buildup is certainly a serious concern. Even prior to tensions with China, India has been expanding and modernizing its nuclear arsenal both in terms of type and number of delivery systems. As I had ment