[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]
Bismillah Ir Rehman Nir Rahim,
Welcome to the Foreign Office,
Today is the 346th day of the continued brutalization of innocent people in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. In recent days, Indian occupation forces during their continued so-called cordon and search operations martyred eight (8) Kashmiris, including Idrees Ahmad Bhat, Ajaz Ahmad, Muahmmad Usman, Saifullah Mir, Zahid Ahmad, and Waleed Ahmad in Kupwara, Baramulla and Islamabad districts of IOJ&K.
Pakistan reiterates its call for enhanced international monitoring and continued UN reporting on the human rights crisis in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir to save lives, dignity and freedoms of the Kashmiri people under illegal occupation for over seven decades.
The UN human rights machinery in recent months has highlighted India’s non-compliance with its international human rights obligations. Through several official communications, nearly a dozen UN Special Rapporteurs have raised serious concerns over India’s consistent pattern of arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture, corporal punishment, extra-judicial killings, and physical and digital lockdown in occupied Jammu & Kashmir.
On the occasion of the 89th Youm-e-Shuhada-e-Kashmir (Kashmir Martyrs’ Day), the Government and people of Pakistan joined Kashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control (LOC) and across the globe to pay homage to the 22 innocent, unarmed Kashmiris who stood up for truth and justice against the tyranny of the Dogra force in 1931. Across the world, conferences, webinars and peace walks were organized to draw the attention of the world conscience towards the long struggle for fundamental rights of the people of IOJK and to highlight the oppression and brute forces with which Indian security forces are trying to quash this freedom movement.
During the past week, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi held telephone conversations with Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councillor and Secretary General of the Economic Cooperation Organization. In these interactions, the Foreign Minister shared our deep concern over the situation in IOJK and underlined the importance of urgent steps by the international community to help address the grave situation. Other matters of mutual interest were also discussed including Covid-19 pandemic, Regional Security in South Asia, suspension of PIA flights into EU and Prime Minister’s call for Global Debt Relief Initiative for developing countries.
On July 7, 2020, the 3rd round of China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Vice Foreign Ministers’ Strategic Dialogue was held via video link. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui, Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Mirwais Nab and Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood co-chaired the dialogue.
All three sides held in-depth discussions and reached consensus on cooperation against COVID-19, the Afghan peace and reconciliation process, and trilateral cooperation and reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening communication and coordination and enhancing mutual trust and cooperation under the trilateral cooperation mechanism,
The Foreign Secretary also held a video conference with Spanish State Secretary for Foreign Affairs on 07 July 2020. They exchanged views on a broad range of subjects including response to COVID-19 Pandemic, bilateral relations and close cooperation in multi-lateral fora as well as the regional situation. The two sides also reviewed the situation in Afghanistan and progress in Afghan peace process.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our Missions abroad continue to facilitate and assist our fellow compatriots all across the world. As of 14-07-2020, 221,279 Pakistani citizens have been repatriated from different parts of the world.
Question: Recently, Iran has removed India from Chahbar rail project after the Chinese investment. Pakistan has always raised that some elements in Iran are trying to sabotage peace in the country. How do you comment on this?
Secondly, Uzair Baloch JIT has clearly indicated his linkage with Iranian Intelligence Agencies and his involvement in subversive activities in Pakistan. What is your comment on this? (Ms. Saima Shabbir, Arab News)
Answer: We have seen press reports on this. As a matter of principle we do not comment on relations between third countries.
On China and Iran partnership we recommend you to refer to the official statements made by China & Iran on the subject.
As for your second question, it pertains to the Ministry of Interior. You may wish to direct your query there.
Question: There is an ongoing conflict in Libya between the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and General Khalifa Haftar, who commands the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA). What is Pakistan’s official position on this? (Mr. Anwar Abbas, Bol News)
Answer We have noted the developments in recent month in Libya. As far as your specific question is concerned, I will revert with details.
Question: The US State Department in its statement said that they have accepted Pakistan’s accession to 1988 Hague Convention on the civil aspects of International Child abduction. When will Pakistan rectify this Convention and how many requests are pending with Pakistan? Could you also give us details about how many countries has Pakistan made such arrangements?
Secondly, there are reports that the Government of India has asked for unrestricted consular access to Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav. It has also asked that the language of the court, in which the appeal will be filed, should be English. What are your comments? (Mr. Jaleel Akhtar, VOA, Urdu)
Supplementary Question: Is consular access to Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav being granted right now? Can you please share the actual details in this regard? (Aijaz Ahmed, GNN)
Answer: We have acknowledged and welcomed the US decision to accept Pakistan’s accession to 1988 Hague Convention on civil aspects of International Child abduction. It will come into effect on 1st October, 2020. The process has been long drawn and initiated on Pakistan’s request. It is also a reflection of growing Pakistan-US cooperation and will further strengthen our bilateral relationship. The Convention will provide a legal framework for child custody and facilitate divided families. Regarding specific data, I will have to come back to you.
As for your question on Commander Kulbushan Jadhav, let me remind here, that Indian Intelligence Agency RAW’s agent Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested from Balochistan on 3 March 2016 in a counter intelligence operation.
During the investigation, Commander Jadhav confessed to his involvement in terrorist activities inside Pakistan. He also made important revelations about the role of RAW in sponsoring state terrorism in Pakistan.
India had gone to the International Court of Justice with regard to the issue of grant of Consular access to Commander Jadhav under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) 1963. In compliance with the Judgment of the ICJ, Pakistan provided consular access to India on 2 September 2019. Pakistan is taking all the steps necessary for implementation of the said Judgment.
The International Court of Justice Review and Reconsideration Ordinance 2020 was also issued in the same regard on 20 May 2020. There is a 60 day time limit to file the review petition, starting from the date of issuance of the Ordinance.
It is hoped that rather than using its usual delaying tactics and negative propaganda India will cooperate with the courts in Pakistan to give effect to the ICJ Judgment.
Any further development in this regard will be shared with the media in due course of time.
Question: Members of American Congress have expressed their deep concern on human rights violation of in IOJ&K and curtailment of religious freedom in India.
Secondly, India has also conflicts and disputes with all its neighboring countries. Do you think India is isolated in the region, especially in context of Iran-China strategic agreement? (Khwaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)
Answer: Pakistan has continuously been highlighting the human rights violations in IOJ&K and mistreatment of minorities, especially Muslims in India at all international forums and at the highest leadership level. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Missions across the world have raised the plight of Kashmiris. Therefore, as a result, increasingly we see parliaments in different countries, International Human Rights Organizations, the United Nation Security Council, the media and the civil society in all corners of the world have expressed their deep concern against the policies of BJP-RSS led Modi Government.
India’s aggressive behavior with its neighboring countries substantiates our position that Modi’s Government and its policies are a threat to regional peace and prosperity.
Question: Has the Government of India formally approached Pakistan for second consular access to Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav? Would you please share the details in this regard? (Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)
Answer: As I have already mentioned that further developments in this regard will be shared with the media in due course.
Question: Recently, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China voted to pass the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. What is the Pakistani government’s comment on that? (Ali Jaswal, Xinhua News Agency)
Answer: Pakistan’s position on Hong Kong is principled, 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: Pakistan has played critical role to facilitate Intra-Afghan dialogue and peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. A couple of weeks ago Chief of Army Staff and Special Envoy Ambassador Sadiq visited Kabul as well. Is there any update regarding Afghan Peace and reconciliation process? (Mateen Haider, G News)
Answer: I have spoken about this on multiple occasions from this platform. Pakistan has been supporting Afghan peace process with a view to achieve lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. The visit of Army Chief and Special Envoy to Afghanistan was part of this ongoing facilitator role that Pakistan has been engaged in. Pakistan believes that the peace process has reached a critical stage following the signing of the U.S.-Taliban Peace Agreement. It is extremely important that the U.S-Taliban Peace Agreement is implemented in its entirety leading to Intra-Afghan Negotiations. Pakistan would continue to play its role to support and facilitate the Afghan Peace Process.
Question: There are reports that National Assembly Committee was apprised yesterday that President Trump is interested in buying Roosevelt Hotel of PIA in New York. Would you please comment on this?
Secondly, there are reports that NAB has approached Ministry of Foreign Affairs for intimating notice to former Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif in London via Pakistan High Commission. Any such instructions been conveyed to Pakistani High Commission to London?
Thirdly, on 15th of this month the Ambassador of Afghanistan to Pakistan tweeted and criticized the construction work near the Durand Line. How do you see such criticism on the construction on our territory from the foreign Ambassador? (Anas Malick, Wion TV)
Answer: Regarding your question on Roosevelt Hotel, Civil Aviation Division and PIA are best placed to respond to this.
As for your second question, we were approached to facilitate in conveying the letter and instructions therein to our High Commission in London as per law. Thirdly, I have not seen the tweet that you are referring to but the Durand Line question is settled, therefore, any articulation contrary to this does not hold any ground.
Question: What is the strategy for the pilgrims who intend to visit Iran in the months of Muharram and Safar in the wake of Covid-19? Pakistan Embassy in Iran is in touch with the Iranian authorities as well. What is the latest in this regard?
Secondly, Iran and China have finalized a draft agreement for Strategic Partnership in various areas. What is Pakistan’s position on this since Iran believes that CPEC is a game changer and also express its readiness to join? (Afzal Reza, IRNA)
Answer: As for the facilitation of pilgrims, Ministry of Religious Affairs will draw up a strategy for pilgrims as per its mandate and keeping Covid-19 SOPs in mind.
Secondly, we have seen press reports on this. As a matter of principle we do not comment on relations between third countries. We would recommend you to consult the official statements made by China & Iran on the subject.
Question: A Press Release was issued by the Foreign Office recently in which it was announced that Afghanistan has been allowed to export goods to India via Pakistan. Although the Press Release was self-explanatory that Pakistan was only allowing Afghanistan to export goods, however there are reports circulating on social media that Indian goods may also be sent to Afghanistan via Wahga. Can you kindly clarify about the nature of access that has been given by Pakistan and whether there will be an update with regards to Pakistan- India trade which has been suspended since 5th August 2019? (Naveed Akbar, AAJ News)
Answer: As you are aware that we have an Agreement with Afghanistan since 2010 under which we have certain obligations with regard to Afghan Transit Trade. The Press Release that was issued in this matter comprehensively detailed the access being given by Pakistan. I want to clarify that it is a one way transit, in which Afghan trucks will pass through Pakistani territory up to the Wahga border terminal; however there will be no traffic from the other side heading towards Afghanistan. Afghan Government had requested us to open the border for transit trade. As you are also aware that all the border crossings had been closed due to covid-19 pandemic situation since 26 February, however, honoring the request of the Afghan Govt. these measures have been taken.
Question: Ma’am, as you are aware that on 5th August 2019, India practically annexed Jammu and Kashmir by changing its constitutional status. It has been around one year since this illegal occupation was carried out by India. Although we said that we approached all relevant international forums to raise the issue of this illegal occupation of IOJK but India was not deterred in its actions. India has now begun issuing domicile certificates to non-Kashmiris in IOJK, in a similar manner as Israel has been doing illegal settlements in Palestinian territories for the past many decades. What has been done by Pakistan in this regard?
Secondly, although you have clarified that the Wahga border crossing has been opened only after Afghan Government formally requested Pakistan to do so; but has Pakistan made any efforts to ensure to its satisfaction that the same Afghan trucks coming back after delivering goods do not carry any Indian goods? What are you comments? (Iqbal Mustafa, Times Today)
Answer: I’ll start with the second part. As I have already said, all measures have been taken as per the APTTA to ensure one –way transit of Afghan goods in order to facilitate the Afghan people.
Secondly, you talked about the illegal unilateral action taken by India on 5th August 2019 to annex an internationally recognized disputed territory. Pakistan has, in this one year, taken it up at every forum. IOJK has been twice discussed at the UNSC after a span of 55 years. To say that nothing has been done by Government of Pakistan is not accurate. Today, we hear criticism of India by International Human Rights organizations, international media and various parliaments of the world. Reports by UN-OHCHR have documented human rights abuses and violations by India comprehensively. All of this has been made possible due to the efforts made by the Government, our Kashmiri brothers and sisters and Pakistan Missions across the world who have collectively taken up this cause since decades. There is much more that is currently being done in this regard and Inshallah Government of Pakistan will further strengthen its efforts in the months ahead.
Question: Firstly, can you kindly confirm when will the ordinance that was enacted for Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case lapse, and what will be the situation after that?
Secondly, what are the updates about the UNGA session? Will it be a virtual session, will it take place at all? Your comments, please? (Zahid Farooq Malik, Daily Metro Watch)
Answer: As far as the Ordinance is concerned, the Ministry of Law and Justice is the appropriate Ministry to address this question.
With regard to the UN General Assembly session this year, we do not have a confirmation as to what the format would be. As you are well aware that international travel has been affected badly due to Covid-19; international conferences have either been postponed or are being conducted virtually. There is no clarity on the format of the next UNGA session yet. Once we have an update, we will share with you.
Question: Madam, just yesterday Turkish Ambassador cautioned that Fethullah Gulen’s organization, which was declared a terrorist organization by an order of the Supreme Court of Pakistan on 13th August 2018 and was banned to operate in Pakistan, and also there were measures that were taken against it by the government, still has roots in Pakistan and it is going to be lethal for the Pakistani society. Is there anything in this regard particularly regarding FETO, and has Pakistan Government taken measures on curbing its different organizations at the social level and minimizing its influence in Pakistan? (Faisal Raza Khan, 92 News)
Answer: I would like to draw your attention to the message sent by the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Turkish Democracy and Unity Day celebrated on 15th July to mark the events of 15th July 2016 in Turkey. I would also like to refer you to the tweet by Foreign Minister yesterday whereby he reaffirmed that Pakistan stands shoulder to shoulder with its Turkish brethren, as has been our tradition for over a hundred years, and support them in their fight against terrorism. The measures, as you have rightly pointed out, have been taken by the Government against the terrorist organization, and as I have said earlier, Pakistan continues to support Turkey in its effort to rid itself of terrorist elements within Turkey.
Question: Ma’am Kartarpur Corridor was recently opened. After its opening, what has been the response so far? It was predicted that many pilgrims from all across the world would visit the facility, as many had expressed a desire to do so but the numbers so far have been low, and the Indian government is also not facilitating pilgrims who want to visit. Can you share any updates in this context? (Naveed Siddiqui, Dawn)
Answer: As you said, Kartarpur Corridor has been opened by Pakistan so that the Sikh Yatrees who want to visit and fulfill their religious obligations from within or outside Pakistan can do so. As you are aware that international travelling has been restricted due to the pandemic situation, therefore the number of international visitors to Kartarpur has been limited so far. Visitors from India have also been restricted, at least till the end of this month, as per my information. Wahga border is also closed except for transfer of stranded nationals from both sides. Whenever the situation gets better and international travel resumes to its previous levels, we will share the details about the number of visitors to Kartarpur.
Question: Pakistan opened the Kartarpur corridor last month. We know that India restricted its citizens to enter Kartarpur corridor and they have banned Muslim gatherings in IOJ&K but at the same time they have allowed Amarnath Yatra to take place this month, in which pilgrims from all across India will be allowed to visit IOJ&K. What do you have to say about this? (Essa Naqvi, Indus News)
Answer: Yes I agree that the Indian reaction to Pakistan’s gesture made in good faith to allow Sikh Yatrees to visit Kartarpur Darbar was less than ideal. The fact that it has banned congregations for Muslims, whether for Eid or Friday prayers, under the pretext of Covid-19 pandemic and is now permitting Amarnath Yatra, is a clear manifestation of Indian Government’s hypocrisy and reveals the hollowness of its secular credentials.
Question: There were reports recently, that India has been issuing licenses to non-Kashmiris in IOJ&K and has also been allotting land to them. Can you share the number of people who have been allotted land or granted domicile in IOJ&K or Ladakh? (Aijaz Ahmed, GNN)
Answer: This is a matter of grave concern for us. These actions are aimed at destroying the Kashmiri identity and history. Pakistan had all along cautioned the international community that the real intention behind changing IOJ&K’s status was to alter its demographic structure; the actions of 5th August were in reality a precursor to the current actions being taken by the Indian Government through the enactment of Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate (procedure) rules, 2020. Through this law, the indigenous population is being denied its rights and people from outside IOJ&K are being settled there as a deliberate policy. It is not only a source of grave concern to us but should be equally of concern to the world community as it violates the Fourth Geneva Convention. Pakistan has consistently highlighted to the International community that India must be urged to desist from its current course of actions.
Question: PIA’s flights in EU and USA were suspended recently. What are the steps taken by the Foreign Office at the official level? There was also a statement by Civil Aviation Authority regarding this matter. What are your comments? (Khwaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)
Answer: As you are aware, the Foreign Minister had taken this up in his conversation last week with the EU High Representative. Our Mission in Germany is also in touch with the EASA officials regarding this matter. CAA and Aviation Division would be able to share more details with you on your specific query. The Foreign Office, on its part, will continue to take this up with relevant interlocutors abroad, wherever necessary.
Question: The Indian media has been reporting that some parts of Gilgit-Baltistan have been handed over to China. And China is making a strategy there against India in the wake of current standoff in Ladakh. What are your comments? (Adeel Bashir, Roze News)
Answer: I do not want to comment on fabricated and baseless reports of the Indian media. The Indian media is a part of a deliberate orchestrated agenda to spread negative propaganda against Pakistan. I would not give any credence to these reports.
Question: The Administration in IOJ&K has issued a notification that bars sharing information regarding Covid-19 and those who are being martyred by the Indian occupation forces are also suffering from the virus. Will Pakistan raise this issue at relevant global forums? Secondly, according to DC Jammu over 36,000 new domiciles certificates have been granted in his district, which is matter of great concern. How do you comment on this? (Zahid Farooq Malik, Daily Metro Watch)
Answer: We have been continuously highlighting that the inhuman and continued lockdown even in the time of pandemic in IOJ&K by the Indian occupation forces has deprived the people of Jammu and Kashmir of their basic rights and access to medical help.
I have already responded to the issue of Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate (procedure) rules in one of the earlier questions.