[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]
Bismillah Ir Rehman Nir Rahim,
Today is 305th day of the continued oppression; deliberate acts of terrorizing, inhuman lockdown and military siege faced by the innocent people in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. In recent acts of state terrorism, Indian occupation troops martyred 21 Kashmiris, including the extra-judicial killing of thirteen Kashmiris in a single day. During the month of May, at least 200 people were injured due to the use of brute force by the Indian occupation forces.
Pakistan is deeply concerned over unabated extra-judicial killings of Kashmiri youth in fake encounters and so-called “anti-infiltration” operations. While the international community is pre-occupied with fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, India is busy intensifying its brutalization of the Kashmiri people. The RSS-BJP combine stands exposed before the world for its illegal and inhuman actions and its crimes against humanity in IOJK.
Today, on the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression, we draw the world’s attention to the children of Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir who have been living in the midst of a brutal and repressive Indian regime for more than seven decades. The children of Occupied Kashmir have been the direct target of Indian violence and aggression as a means to control, silence and punish any dissent from their families and the local communities. Abduction and molestation of young boys and girls during mid-night raids and Cordon and Search Operations (CSOs) is the preferred punitive tool of the Indian occupation forces.
Aggression against children reached an unprecedented height especially after the abrogation of the disputed territory’s special status on 5th August 2019. According to reports of independent voices within India around 13000 boys were abducted after 5th August 2019, some as young as 14 years old. These children were kept far away from their families in jails of Agra, Delhi and in Tihar.
In addition to abductions of minor children, pellet guns have been fired against children as young as the 20 months old Hiba, the youngest pellet victim in the world, rendering these children partially or completely blind. The psychological trauma resulting from such brutalities committed against these vulnerable children will have long lasting effects on their lives and will compromise the full development of their personalities.
The world must wake up to the reality of India’s brutalization of innocent children in IOJK. These are not allegations but well-documented incidents reported by legitimate and internationally recognized human rights and civil society organizations.
The International Community must come forward to protect the vulnerable children of IoJ&K and press upon India to ensure their protection and safeguard their fundamental rights, inter alia, of life, health and education, while hold accountable those individuals and Indian state actors who have abetted and partook of this aggression against children in IOJ&K.
In recent days, the Vice President of the European Parliament, along with 14 Members of European Parliament, has addressed a joint letter to the President of the European Commission, Ms. Ursula Von Der Leyen and High Representative/Vice President of the European Commission, Mr. Josep Borrell, on the grim human rights situation in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. It is significant to note that these 14 members represent different political groups within the EU Parliament. In their letter, the MEPs have raised important points including:
− Kashmir has become one of the “world’s most militarized zones” and a “tremendously dangerous conflict flash point.”
− Freedom and fundamental rights of the people of Jammu & Kashmir have been suppressed for the past seven decades. This has also been highlighted in UN OHCHR reports of 2018 and 2019.
− India has imposed a de facto 09-month military lockdown, imposed a stifling curfew, shut down telecommunications and internet, and arrested political leaders.
− The EU MEPs have called for a stop to exploiting and fomenting ethnic and religious tensions and give Kashmiri people hope and a chance at self-determination.
− Highlighted increasing Hindu nationalist grip on society and politics in India.
− Called on President and HR/VP of the European Commission to call upon India to fulfill its international legal obligations.
In another development, the Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), Ms. Maria Arena MEP, in her letter to Home Minister of India, Mr. Amit Shah, has conveyed concerns over: (i) arrests and harassment of human rights defenders in India; (ii) use of terrorism charges to silence dissent; (iii) weakening of judicial oversight in the country; and (iv) condition of prisoners amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The letter calls on the government of India to ensure a safe and conducive environment for civil society and to consider enacting a law on the protection and promotion of human rights defenders.
These recent actions by the European Parliament show growing concerns with the policies of the RSS-inspired BJP government particularly with regards to deteriorating human rights situation in IOJ&K and the need for the international community to take urgent steps to address it.
Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi has addressed another comprehensive communication to the UN Security Council President and the UN Secretary General, apprising them of the latest situation in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K).In his letter, the Foreign Minister has drawn attention towards the newly-notified “Jammu & Kashmir Reorganization Order 2020” and “Jammu & Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate Rules 2020” aimed at changing the demographic structure of IOJ&K. It was underscored that these actions are illegal and in violation of the UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions and international law, in particular the 4th Geneva Convention.
As part of continued diplomatic outreach, Prime Minister Imran Khan held a telephone conversation with his Italian counterpart. The Covid-19 pandemic and a broad range of other subjects were also discussed. The Prime Minister also shared deep concerns over continuing double lockdown as well as the intensification of military crackdown by the Indian Occupation forces in the IOJ&K.
Similarly, Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi also held telephone conversation with the Dutch Foreign Minister, Mr. Staphanus Abraham Blok and had a video conference with Minister of International Development of Canada Karina Gould, yesterday. Matters of mutual interest, including the Covid-19 Pandemic, and other issues came under discussion.
Pakistan is closely monitoring the situation along the China-India border areas. We hope that the issue will be resolved in line with agreed understandings and established mechanisms to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas. We hope that under the impulse of BJP’s rightist ideology, peace and security in the region will not be further imperiled.
Pakistan completely rejects baseless Indian contentions regarding Buddhist cultural heritage in Gilgit Baltistan. The Indian allegations are contrary to historical facts, international law and the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions.
The Indian government’s contentions concerning the Buddhist cultural heritage in Gilgit-Baltistan are preposterous. These are part of Indian leadership’s unrelenting anti-Pakistan propaganda. With its tarnished human rights record in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K) and abdication of responsibility to protect its minorities from Hindu extremists, the RSS-BJP government has no credentials whatsoever even to feign concern for minorities, either at home or elsewhere.
India’s state terrorism and extra judicial killings in fake encounters in IOJ&K, vandalization and destruction of minorities’ places of worship including the historic Babri Mosque, lynchings by cow vigilantes under government’s watch, Gujarat massacre of 2002 and targeted killings of Muslims in Delhi in February 2020, and rendering millions of people stateless with discriminatory steps such as NRC are well documented by international human rights and humanitarian organizations. Rather than pretending concern for minorities beyond its borders, it is time for Indian leadership to do serious introspection and take requisite steps to safeguard and protect the lives, rights and places of workshop of minorities in India.
India must realize that its baseless contentions about Gilgit-Baltistan cannot divert international attention away from the Jammu &Kashmir dispute and the need for its immediate resolution in accordance with the relevant UNSC Resolutions and aspirations of Kashmiri people.
Till the implementation of UNSC Resolutions through a free and impartial plebiscite under the UN auspices, no illegal and unilateral action or repetition of false claims by India can alter the disputed status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan also rejects India’s malicious allegation regarding the Eleventh Report of the United Nations Analytical and Sanctions Monitoring Team (MT), which are aimed at misleading the international community. The spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has misrepresented the Eleventh Report of MT concerning the Taliban and other associated individuals and entities constituting the threat to peace, stability and security of Afghanistan, to slander Pakistan.
There is no reference to “safe havens” in Pakistan in the Monitoring Team (MT) report. The Report is based on briefings provided in Afghanistan to the MT by certain quarters who have long expressed skepticism about the Afghan peace process. This skepticism is not shared by the larger international community, especially the UN Security Council and the UN Secretary General.
The MEA’s distortion and falsification of the contents of the MT report and its concocted allegations reveal that India’s agenda is to create complications for the Afghan peace process. Pakistan has warned the world about the role of spoilers within and outside Afghanistan.
Pakistan has been highlighting India’s sponsorship of terrorist organizations in Afghanistan against Pakistan. The MT report endorses Pakistan’s stance that Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is operating from Afghanistan and with Indian support threatens Pakistan and other countries in the region. Pakistan has proposed the listing of several Indian terrorism facilitators on the UN Security Council’s terrorism list along with evidence of their involvement in terrorism. We hope the Security Council will designate them soon.
The MT has also assessed that foreign terrorist fighters from India are traveling to Afghanistan to join the ISIL-Khorasan (ISIL-K). Security Council resolutions require India to prevent the travel of terrorists to Afghanistan to join ISIL-K. The Report also notes that an Indian national, the leader of AI Qaeda in the Indian Sub¬ Continent, was killed by international forces last year in Afghanistan. Earlier reports of MT also highlight the growing strength of ISIL in India and its role in Easter Sunday attack in 2019.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our Missions continue to facilitate and assist our compatriots across the world in order to bring them back to Pakistan safely and in a dignified manner. Our Embassies and Consulates are working round the clock in facilitating repatriation of our citizens back home, in accordance with a comprehensive repatriation plan devised in consultation with all stakeholders.
In the past few days, 2,558 Pakistani citizens were repatriated from Dubai, 653 from Saudi Arabia, 179 from Somalia, 51 from Egypt and Tunisia, 118 from Mauritania and Sierra Leone were brought back. As of 3 June 2020, 51,593 Pakistani nationals have returned home through special flights and through land routes have been repatriated from different parts of the world.We thank all our partners and governments for their cooperation in the repatriation of our nationals.
We announce with profound sorrow and grief, the passing away of our two distinguished diplomats, Ambassador Murad Ali and Ambassador Iqbal Akhund recently. Earlier today, a condolence meeting was held at the Foreign office. All members of the Pakistan Foreign Service extend their heart felt condolences to their bereaved families and pray for Allah’s mercy on the departed souls. Ameen
Question: For the first time since the US-Taliban peace deal in Doha on February 29th this year, Afghan government released more than 900 Taliban prisoners have been released in a single day from other prisons in the country, including Bagram and Pul-e-Charkhi, of which about 600 were released from Bagram prison alone. Is this an attempt at intra-Afghan dialogue? (Asghar Ali Mubarak Chief reporter The Daily Mail International /PPA Islamabad)
Supplementary Question: Afghan Government says over 2000 Taliban prisoners have been released so far, does Pakistan think it is sufficient number to start the intra Afghan negotiations? (Tahir Khan, NNI news agency)
Answer: Pakistan has been following the developments on the implementation of U.S.-Taliban Peace Agreement closely. We hope that the agreement will be implemented in its entirety at the earliest to pave the way for Intra-Afghan negotiations.
Question: It seems the Taliban have quietly continued the Eid ceasefire but no official confirmation by the Taliban and the Afghan Government does Pakistan favor extension of the ceasefire? (Tahir Khan, NNI news agency)
Answer: Pakistan believes that the ceasefire observed during the Eid holidays reflects a desire to work together for the sake of peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. We hope that this will lead to further implementation of the U.S.-Taliban Peace Agreement leading to Intra-Afghan negotiations.
Question: A UN report claims Taliban still maintain ties with Al Qaeda that Taliban dismissed as a move to harm the Taliban-US agreement. Do you think release of such reports can harm the peace process at this critical time when efforts are underway for intra Afghan dialogue? (Tahir Khan, NNI news agency)
Answer: The Eleventh Report of the United Nations Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team (MT) is based on briefings provided in Afghanistan to the MT by certain quarters who have long expressed skepticism about the Afghan peace process. This skepticism is not shared by the larger international community, especially the UN Security Council and the UN Secretary General. Pakistan has already warned the world about the role of spoilers within and outside Afghanistan. While reaffirming our abiding solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan once again, reiterates its commitment to continue to support a peaceful, stable, united, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan, at peace with itself and its neighbours.
Question: As Pakistan races against time to fight COVID-19, it is also confronted with another significant challenge of getting annulled a $6 billion penalty imposed by World Bank’s Arbitration Court for denying a mining lease to an Australian copper company for extracting copper and gold. Tethyan Copper discovered a huge mineral wealth at the RekoDiq. What was Pakistan’s request? When do you expect a final decision and what Pakistan wants from the tribunal? Can you please share details? (Munir Ahmed, Associated Press, Islamabad)
Answer: The matter pertains to the Ministry of Law & Justice and Petroleum & Natural Resources Division.
Question: Central Asian militants who joined ISIS, including those from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and China-based East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), may be trying to enter Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to a Pakistani think tank. How does Pakistan see this situation? (Khawaja Hamza, Media Today)
Answer: Pakistan has made enormous contribution to the global fight against terrorism. Pakistan has also been a major victim of this scourge and has paid a huge price in terms of lost lives and cost to the economy. However, we have managed to turn the situation around due to the concerted efforts and sacrifices of our security forces which have been fully backed by the nation.
Recent developments regarding strict measures against all proscribed organizations, enforcement action against UN-designated entities are all reflective of Pakistan’s new direction and trajectory.
Question: China is set to make national security laws for Hong Kong as a related decision was adopted at the national legislature on Thursday. How do you comment on the measures taken by the authorities of a state to safeguard national security and guarantee the territorial sovereignty and integrity of the state? (Liu Chang, CCTV)
Supplementary Question: China’s recently-concluded NPC has authorized the passage of a new security-related law that would confer more powers on Beijing to maintain peace and order in Hong Kong. The law is being criticized with the calls that it erodes Basic Law of Hong Kong. What are your comments? (Nimra Sohail, PTV News)
Answer: The annual sessions of National People’s Congress (NPC) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), collectively called the ‘Two Sessions’, are important national events in China’s political system.
Pakistan’s position on Hong Kong is consistent and clear. Pakistan adheres to One-China policy. Hong Kong is a part of China and it is important for China to safeguard its sovereignty, territorial integrity, and protect the lives of its citizens.
We reaffirm that matters related to Hong Kong are China’s internal affairs. We believe it is important to uphold international law and adhere to the basic norm of non-interference.
Question: What is an update regarding the return of stranded Pakistanis from various parts of the world? Would you please share the, latest figures of overseas Pakistanis who are still stranded abroad? (Naveed Akbar, AAJ NEWS Islamabad)
Answer: As of yesterday,51,593 stranded Pakistanis have been brought back to Pakistan from over 65 countries, whereas 92,177 Pakistanis are still awaiting repatriation.
Question: How many Pakistanis died abroad because of COVID-19? I understand relatives wanted to bring the bodies of their dear ones back to Pakistan for burial. Any details, please? (Munir Ahmed, Associated Press, Islamabad)
Answer: Till date, 339 Pakistanis abroad have unfortunately passed away due to Covid-19.
Question: Do we have any data as to how many dead bodies of deceased Pakistanis are brought back so far? Both COVID-19 and otherwise? (Aijaz Ahmed, GNN)
Answer: So far,424 dead bodies, both Covid and non-Covid, have been repatriated back to Pakistan.
Question: Could you let us know how many Pakistanis have registered with Pakistani missions/embassies especially in Saudi Arabia and UAE who wish to return to Pakistan on special flight, some of the stranded people in middle eastern countries have claimed that despite registering with the respective Pakistani missions/consulates they are not being facilitated as they claimed that they are facing difficult situation as they have lost their jobs. Please could you also share data how many Pakistanis have died due to COVID-19 in Gulf countries. (Muhamad Jaleel, VOA News)
Answer: 54,536 Pakistanis are currently registered for repatriation in UAE, and 30,572 in Saudi Arabia. Number of Pakistanis who have passed away due to Covid-19 in Gulf countries include 20 in Saudi Arabia, 2 in Qatar, 1 in Kuwait and 32 in U.A.E.
Question: There are reports that many staff members of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad are working as under cover in violation of Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations? What actions Pakistan is planning to take in this regard? (Naveed Akbar AAJ NEWS Islamabad)
Supplementary Question: RSS-BJP government in India, targeting minorities, especially Muslims, for racist and violent acts, has launched a campaign of baseless and false allegations against the staff of Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi and violating international law by arresting Pakistani diplomats, should Pakistan raise this issue on international level? (Asghar Ali Mubarak Chief reporter The Daily Mail International /PPA Islamabad)
Answer: All Missions are expected to adhere to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
Question: During the current military conflict between China and India at Ladakh, according to media reports China has come within several kilometers in Ladakh. What is Pakistan’s official stance on this situation? (Khawaja Hamza, Media Today)
Supplementary Question: What happened to Indian forces at Ladakh by Chinese army is a big question mark on Indian abilities, in a desperate move India can create any problem at LOC and WB, how you evaluate? (Naveed Akbar AAJ NEWS Islamabad)
Answer: Pakistan is closely monitoring the situation along the China-India border areas. We hope that the issue will be resolved in line with agreed understandings and established mechanisms to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas. We hope that under the impulse of BJP’s rightist ideology, peace and security in the region will not be further imperiled.
Question: In the wake of continued ceasefire violations at LOC and now expulsion of two Pakistan High Commission officials from India, some observers fear that India and Pakistan are edging closer to war. What is your comment on this? (Sohail Nasir, Nawa-i-Waqt, Islamabad)
Supplementary Question: Is there a real war threat in the region? (Shafqat Ali – The Nation)
Answer: Pakistan has no desire to escalate the situation, we have reacted with restraint. However, violations of diplomatic norms and India’s continued belligerent attitude is a threat to regional peace and security.India continues its deplorable and jingoistic behavior through unprovoked firing along the LOC and the WB. Pakistan remains ready to defend itself against any misadventure or aggressive action.
The two officials of the Pakistan High Commission in India were abducted by the Indian authorities on false and unsubstantiated charges. Pakistan has strongly rejected the baseless Indian allegations and condemned Indian tactics which are in clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations as well as norms of diplomatic conduct.
Question: India has once again alleged that its Army had captured a Pakistani spying pigeon and declared it as a big success. Meanwhile, India has also blamed Pakistan for Locust Swarm attack in India. What are your comments on these developments, please? (Khawaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)
Answer: These delusional Indian allegations are desperate attempts to divert attention of their domestic audience from their own failures and India’s state terrorism in IOJ&K. Such ridiculous allegations only further erode India’s credibility.
Question: Bangladesh’s Beximco Pharmaceuticals says it sent antiviral medicine to Pakistan on a special cargo flight for critically ill Covid-19 patients. The medicine was sent at the request of the Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka. Can you please confirm it? (Munir Ahmed, Associated Press, Islamabad).
Answer: Our High Commission did not request for these medicines. They were procured by a private entity.
Question: Has Pakistan responded to India’s proposal of coordinated response to deal with the threat of locust yet? Indian MEA Spokesperson disclosed a couple of days ago that India had approached Pakistan and suggested to undertake a coordinated operation and to revive regular annual communication channel between locust control officials of both countries but Pakistan has not responded yet. (Shumaila Jaffrey BBC)
Answer: At Pakistan’s request, under the aegis of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a decision was made at the ministerial level meeting of Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Iran, to revive communication between the regional countries through FAO’s Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in South-West Asia (SWAC), on 11 March 2020.
In response, each country, through SWAC, agreed to constitute a Technical and Operational Coordination (ToC) Team to exchange information; enhance coordination at the border areas; and increase synchronization to combat Desert Locust outbreak in t he region.
Pakistan has been participating in SWAC meetings on weekly basis which are fruitful in exchanging information in the bordering areas of Pakistan and India. We believe that the respective Technical Teams have been coordinating appropriately through FAO.
On its part, the Government of Pakistan remains committed to cooperating with all SWAC member states, including India, in combating Desert Locust outbreak.