[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 the 277th day of the continued oppression, inhuman lockdown and military siege faced by the innocent people in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
It is a matter of grave concern that the situation in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K) continues to deteriorate due to the brutal military crackdown by Indian occupied forces.
Pakistan strongly condemns the ongoing state-terrorism and extra judicial killings of innocent Kashmiris in so-called “cordon-and-search” operations in IOJ&K.
Despite the surge in COVID-19 cases in IOJ&K, Indian occupation forces continue their relentless campaign of oppression and brutalization of the Kashmiri people. Innocent Kashmiris are being martyred in fake encounters and phoney cordon-and-search operations. In an inhuman practice, even the mortal remains of those martyred are not being handed over to the families. Thousands of Kashmiri men, women and children are taking to the streets to protest against Indian brutalities and to let the world community know that they reject illegal Indian occupation.
Since yesterday, the Indian occupation forces have again completely shut down the Internet in the IOJ&K after the life of another local Kashmiri resistance fighter was taken in a so-called “encounter.” There are reports of Indian security forces firing pellet guns and live bullets on peaceful protesters, killing at least one innocent Kashmiri and wounding scores of others. These Indian actions are highly condemnable.
India must realize that it cannot break the will of the Kashmir people and suppress their indigenous resistance movement through the use of force. The intensified resistance in IOJ&K is a direct consequence of Indian campaign of oppression and brutalization of Kashmiris.
We also categorically reject, once again, the baseless Indian allegations of “Infiltration”, which are designed to divert attention from India’s grave human rights violations in IOJ&K and to create a pretext for “false flag” operation. While sensitizing the international community about such a possibility, we have consistently urged India to refrain from any ill-considered and irresponsible move which could have serious implications for peace and security in the region.
We once again call upon the international community to take notice of the situation and hold India accountable for its illegal actions, which are imperiling peace and stability in South Asia. We also urge the world community to work for ensuring the peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the United Nations Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
President of Pakistan, Dr. Arif Alvi, represented Pakistan at the Special Online Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement convened by the Chair, Azerbaijan on the theme of “United against COVID-19”.
Addressing the Summit, President gave Pakistan’s perspective on measures taken at national level to mitigate and respond to COVID-19 and socio-economic challenges arising from the pandemic. Pakistan’s national response includes targeted approach of containment, strengthening health system and financial support to the vulnerable individuals and small businesses. Stressing that the crisis should be converted into opportunity, President Alvi underscored the importance of a holistic response to COVID-19 with broader development dimensions taken along with addressing the health system challenges.
During the past week, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi held telephone conversations with his counterparts from Oman, Bahrain, Iran, Switzerland, Finland and New Zealand. In these discussions, the Foreign Minister stressed upon the need for joint bilateral efforts to mitigate the economic impact of Covid-19 pandemic, especially for the developing countries. In this context, he also highlighted the significance of Prime Minister’s Global Initiative for Debt Relief, and the resonance it had gained with international donors and financial institutions.
In the wake of Covid-19 outbreak, and as part of the national effort, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our Missions abroad continue to provide our overseas communities with relief and assistance wherever required. Repatriation of our nationals back home also continues as per the comprehensive and phased plan developed in coordination with all stakeholders. Our Embassies and Consulates are working round the clock and 7 days a week in this relief and repatriation effort.
As part of the fourth phase of repatriation plan between 1-5 May 2020, through six special PIA flights, 1,122 Pakistani nationals were brought back from Dubai, 252 from Qatar, 111 from Bahrain, 252 from Sudan, including 214 Tablighis, 221 from Kenya, 273 from the United Kingdom, 40 from Sri Lanka, 132 from Republic of Korea and 56 from five European countries (Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Hungary and Switzerland). In addition to this, in the last few days, 193 of our nationals have been repatriated from India through Wahga-Attari Crossing Point.
From 21st March to 6th May, 19,329 Pakistani nationals have been brought back from different countries around the globe. This also includes 762 members of the Tablighi Jamaat who were stranded in different countries as well as 868 prisoners. The number of Pakistani nationals still awaiting repatriation in different countries is 108,592.
Question: Does Pakistan endorse OIC call for a ceasefire in Afghanistan? I’m asking as the Foreign Office recent statement on Afghanistan did not mention ceasefire when the UN and OIC called for a ceasefire. (Tahir Khan, NNI news agency)
Answer: We have already issued a Press Release on this.
Question: The Taliban and the Afghan government are releasing prisoners but the process is moving at a very slow pace. How does Pakistan see the process? (Tahir Khan, NNI news agency)
Supplementary Question: Is Pakistan going to play a role of mediator for peace talks between Afghan Taliban groups in Islamabad? Because US officials believe that peace efforts are not possible soon. US Officials had cautiously hoped that a peace deal signed in February2020 by the United States and the Taliban would lead to intra-Afghan negotiations that could serve as a new foundation of peace for a country plagued by more than 18 consecutive years of war. As President Ashraf Ghani and the country’s chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, have continued their political battle for power in Afghanistan. Your comments please (Asghar Ali Mubarak chief Reporter Pakistan –International Press Agency/The Daily Mail Islamabad)
Supplementary Question: What are your comments on the current situation in Afghanistan after the release of Afghan Prisoners? Can we expect Afghan Situation will normalized Soon? Your comments, please? (Khawaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)
Answer: The US-Taliban Peace Agreement has immense value in terms of its symbolism and substance for Afghanistan, the region and beyond. We hope it helps bring sustainable peace and stability to Afghanistan, which can be secured through successful Intra-Afghan negotiations. We hope that the Afghan parties would seize this historic opportunity and workout a comprehensive and inclusive political settlement for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.
Question: Pakistani leaders always say the country has played the role of a facilitator in the Afghan Peace Process, could you please explain what Pakistan has done? (Tahir Khan, NNI news agency)
Answer: Pakistan has facilitated Afghan Peace Process throughout U.S-Taliban negotiations. We have always maintained that there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict. We have encouraged all parties to conflict to resolve issues through negotiations and facilitated the prisoners release as a confidence building measure. All this was undertaken as a shared responsibility to facilitate establishment of peace in Afghanistan.
Question: Majority in Afghanistan believe Pakistan has influence on the Taliban and the war could be ended if the country exerts pressure on the Afghan insurgents. Can Pakistan apply pressure on the Taliban? (Tahir Khan, NNI news agency)
Answer: Pakistan has always encouraged all sides to resolve all issues through negotiations as there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict. We have played the role of an honest facilitator for the U.S.-Taliban Peace Agreement. It is now a historic opportunity for the Afghan leadership to seize and resolve their mutual issues through an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process. We hope that the U.S.-Taliban deal is implemented in full which will lead to peace in Afghanistan.
Question: How much assistance, monetary& logistical, Pakistan has received from China since the outbreak of COVID-19? How do you see China’s support to Pakistan to cope with corona virus? (Raheela Nazir, Xinhua News Agency)
Supplementary Question: How the international community is helping Pakistan to get out of the economic crisis due to Covid-19, and what kind of support we are getting from the Chinese government? (Asghar Ali Mubarak chief Reporter Pakistan –International Press Agency/The Daily Mail Islamabad)
Answer: Since the outbreak of Covid-19 in Pakistan, China has extended tremendous support to Pakistan to fight the pandemic. Chinese government has so far provided us USD 4 million in cash donations, in addition to 390 ventilators, 330,000 testing kits, 830,000 N95 masks, 5.8 million surgical masks, 42,000 protective suits, and millions of other PPEs.
Pakistan also received critical medical supplies including a vast quantity of disposable surgical masks, KN-95 masks, testing kits, protective clothing and portable ventilators from People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and Three Gorges Corporation. PLA has also sent a medical team to Pakistan to assist us to control Covid-19. It may be recalled that a team of Chinese medical experts also visited Pakistan on the instructions of President Xi Jinping to assist us to contain the pandemic. The team stayed in Pakistan from 28 March till 17 April and visited various provinces of Pakistan to strengthen their capacity to fight Covid-19. Chinese doctor’s experience has greatly helped Pakistan understand Covid-19 and find better and practical ways to deal with it.
Jack Ma Foundation has provided two batches of medical supplies over 500,000 face masks including N95 masks and a number of ventilators. Moreover provincial governments, chambers, and private corporations in China have donated a lot of vital medical equipment to our provinces and institutions. We are grateful for the Chinese assistance that has helped us effectively deal with COVID-19.
Question: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in his recent telephone conversation with his acting Afghan counterpart Hanif Atmar said that his country is willing to hold China-Afghanistan-Pakistan foreign ministers’ dialogue to push forward cooperation among the three countries. Did China communicate with Pakistan diplomatically in this regard? Any plans of proposed conference? (Tahir Murtaza, Huashang Media)
Answer: We have noted relevant news. This trilateral mechanism is an important platform and Pakistan has always participated in its meetings and supported its outcomes. We are in touch with Chinese as well Afghan sides on holding of next meeting. Any developments in this regard will be shared accordingly.
Question: Any developments regarding the exchange of Criminals Agreement between China and Pakistan? (Tahir Murtaza, Huashang Media)
Answer: Pakistan and China signed Treaty on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons in 2018. Pakistan ratified this treaty in 2019. We are in close coordination with China in this regard.
Question: How much Covid-19 has slowed down or affected the CPEC projects? Chinese President reportedly due in Pakistan on a state visit next month, any dates finalized yet? (Tahir Murtaza, Huashang Media)
Answer: Corona virus has now become a pandemic and international community is taking swift and aggressive measures to contain its spread. CPEC comprises long-term projects whose completion, in many a cases, is spread over many years. We are quite confident that we will be able to complete CPEC projects in time and, going forward, the short-term impact of corona virus will be counterbalanced by effective and swift mobilization of resources for timely completion of CPEC.
As for the High-level visit, Pakistan and China remain in close contact with each other and any information in this regard will be shared in due course.
Question: How many overseas Pakistanis have died with Covid-19 in world over and what are details, can you tell us how many corona virus infected people have been brought back to Pakistan? (Asghar Ali Mubarak Chief Reporter Pakistan –International Press Agency/The Daily Mail Islamabad)
Answer: So far based on available information, the number of deaths of Pakistani nationals caused by COVID-19 is estimated to be 180.
Question: The latest figures on return of stranded Pakistanis from other countries? (Naveed Akbar, Aaj News)
Answer: From 21st March to 6th May, 19,329 Pakistani nationals have been brought back from different countries around the globe. This also includes 762 members of the Tablighi Jamaat who were stranded in different countries as well as 868 prisoners.
Question: Indian Occupational Forces are blowing up the houses with RDX in Pulwama IOJ&K and the people are being displaced during this Covid-19 Pandemic. Despite these sacrifices, the morale of the Kashmiri People is high. What are your comments? (Khawaja Hamza Iqbal, Media Today)
Answer: Pakistan condemns the deplorable targeting of innocent civilians and continued aggression by the Indian Occupation Forces in IOJ&K. Such acts of terrorism by Indian Occupation Forces further deteriorate the existing Human Rights situation in IOJ&K where the people’s sufferings have greatly increased due to Covid-19 and continued restrictions since 5th August.
Pakistan would urge India to adhere to international norms, respect fundamental rights of the Kashmiris and allow independent observers to investigate such cases of aggression. Pakistan would further reiterate that India should make necessary arrangements for an early settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute through faithful implementation of the relevant UNSC Resolutions that recognize the Kashmiri people’s inalienable right of self-determination through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite under the UN auspices.
Question: India continues to target civilians by violating Line of Control and genocide of Kashmiris is being carried out during lockdown in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. On the other hand false propaganda about Gilgit-Baltistan is on the rise to divert attention of international community. Is Pakistan going to raise this issue in the Security Council? Your comments please (Asghar Ali Mubarak Chief Reporter Pakistan –International Press Agency/The Daily Mail Islamabad)
Answer: Pakistan has been assiduously highlighting at all international fora the gross and systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Kashmiri people. We have also consistently protested against the increase in ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control (LoC) which are clearly meant to divert the world attention from the real issue of gross and systematic human rights violations taking place in IOJ&K.
At the same time, Pakistan has rejected India’s baseless and fallacious contention regarding the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s verdict in a matter pertaining to Gilgit Baltistan and has clearly communicated that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is a “disputed” territory and is recognized as such by the international community.
The world has grown increasingly concerned about the situation in the region due to the blatant human rights violations by India, and the threat to the regional peace caused by these egregious Indian acts. This has resulted in the matter of Jammu and Kashmir been taken up by the Security Council three times since 5th August, which is unprecedented. Pakistan at its part will continue to raise the issue at all appropriate and relevant forums for swift resolution of the Kashmir dispute.
Question: India is continuing efforts to find a pretext for a false flag operation targeting Pakistan. There have also been baseless allegations by India regarding “infiltration” across LoC. How would you like to comment on the situation? (Khawaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)
Supplementary Question: How Pakistan comments on Indigenous struggle by people of IOJ&K? (Naveed Akbar, Aaj News)
Answer: We categorically reject, once again, the baseless Indian allegations of “Infiltration”, which are designed to divert attention from India’s grave human rights violations in IOJ&K and to create a pretext for “false flag” operation. While sensitizing the international community about such a possibility, we have consistently urged India to refrain from any ill-considered and irresponsible move which could have serious implications for peace and security in the region.
Question: How many times Indian High commission officials have been summoned in last two weeks? (Naveed Akbar, Aaj News)
Answer: The Indian Occupation Forces along the LoC and the Working Boundary have continuously been targeting civilian populated areas with artillery fire, heavy-caliber mortars and automatic weapons. In 2020, India has so far committed 957 ceasefire violations. Whenever such violation occurs, Pakistan registers its strong protest with Indian side.