[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,
It has been 353 days since the illegal and unilateral actions taken by India to annex an internationally recognized disputed territory. Brutalization and subjugation of innocent people in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir continues unabated. Fake encounters and phony cordon and search operations continue unabated. Martyrdom of Kashmiri youth such as Rauf Ahmed, Rayees Ahmed and Waleed Ahmad in Kulgam and Shopian districts in recent days continues unabated.
Ceasefire violations on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, targeting civilian populated areas with artillery fire, heavy-caliber mortars and automatic weapons, also continues unabated. This year alone, India has committed 1732 ceasefire violations resulting in 14 shahadats and serious injuries to 134 innocent civilians.
Pakistan has always urged that independent human rights observers, and international media be permitted to get a first hand view of the situation in the IOJK and along the LoC. Pakistan has consistently called upon India to allow UNMOGIP access into IOJK in order to fully discharge its mandate given by the UN Security Council.
For its part, Pakistan has always provided unfettered access not only to UNMOGIP but to international media and independent observers.
Yesterday once again representatives from diverse international media outlets visited the LoC in the Chirikot Sector and witnessed for themselves the destruction and injuries caused to civilian population along the LoC. They also witnessed the multilayered surveillance and defense system along the LoC erected by India which completely negates the hollow allegations by senior most military and civilian officials of India and the constant propaganda by the Indian media against Pakistan on cross border infiltration and the so called launch pads.
Prime Minister Imran Khan held a telephonic conversation with Sheikh Hasina Wajid, Prime Minister of Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh, yesterday. The Prime Minister offered condolences on behalf of the government and people of Pakistan on the unfortunate loss of human lives in the recent flooding in Bangladesh and prayed for early recovery of the people affected by this natural calamity.
The Prime Minister underscored the importance Pakistan attaches to closer ties with the fraternal people of Bangladesh. He further highlighted the significance of regular bilateral contacts and people to people exchanges.
Prime Minister Imran Khan also reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to SAARC, and underlined the importance of both countries working together for enhanced regional cooperation for sustainable peace and prosperity. Prime Minister Imran Khan also reiterated his cordial invitation to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to visit Pakistan.
On 17th July, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi represented Pakistan at the High Level segment of the Economic and Social Council. In his address, the Foreign Minister expressed deep concern over the oppression and atrocities being perpetrated against the people of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K). He further highlighted three simultaneous challenges that were being faced by the world currently i.e. “fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, achieving the 2030 Agenda and preventing climate catastrophe.” To meet these challenges, the Foreign Minister stressed upon the need to restore the central role of ECOSOC to promote “better standards of life in larger freedoms.” He pledged that Pakistan would take a leading role to promote these objectives during its forthcoming Presidency of the Economic and Social Council.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi held a telephonic conversation with the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), His Highness Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The Foreign Ministers discussed matters of mutual interest, particularly the efforts being undertaken by both the countries to control the Covid-19 pandemic, and development of a vaccine in collaboration with global partners. Foreign Minister Qureshi also congratulated the leadership and the people of the UAE on successful launch of the first Arab interplanetary Mission.
On 17th July, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Institute of Health (NIH) jointly launched two sets of documents, namely (i) Code of Conduct for Life Scientists 2020 and (ii) National Guidelines for Collection, Storage and Export of Human Biological Materials 2020”. The purpose of the two documents is to specify guidelines for responsible conduct of stakeholders linked to life sciences in Pakistan. The two documents further strengthen Pakistan’s implementation of its national legislative requirements and international obligations and are consistent with the latest global standards and best practices.
Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood held a second Round of Bilateral Political Consultations with Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Lou Zhaohui via video-link. During the Consultations a wide range of issues were discussed including Pakistan-China bilateral ties, regional security situation, deepening co-operation in wake of Covid-19, CPEC, and further solidifying bilateral economic co-operation.
Question: What is the status of third consular access to Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav? A lot of criticism is coming from opposition that is why Pakistan has a soft corner for him? And today an Ordinance has been tabled in the National Assembly. How do you comment on it? (Rashida Siyal, Abb Tak TV)
Supplementary Question: Commander Kulbhushan was arrested in Pakistan and confessed his crimes. He was sentenced in Pakistan. What is Pakistan’s position on it in the wake of current discussions regarding his case? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)
Supplementary Question: The Government of Pakistan has filed an appeal at Islamabad High Court to appoint a legal counsel for Commander Kulbhushan. What does it mean? Secondly, we are running pillar to post to get first hand information on time regarding this case. Please comment? (Aijaz Ahmed, GNN)
Supplementary Question: I am sure that the inputs of the Foreign Office have been sought for the Ordinance which has been tabled in the National Assembly. What are the reasons that the Ordinance is being tabled a second time? (Zulqarnain, ARY News)
Supplementary Question: Has India responded to Pakistan’s offer of giving a third consular access? (Amjad Ali, PTV)
Supplementary Question: Would you please share the reasons that why Pakistan has offered the third time consular access to Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, especially when India has been raising unreasonable reservations and criticizing Pakistan in the past? (Naveed Siddiqui, Dunya TV)
Supplementary Question: Are we bound to file a report to the International Court of Justice regarding the review and reconsideration petition? If Commander Jadhav is not willing to avail this facilitation why are we hell-bent to granting this option? (Khalid Azeem, Samaa TV)
Answer: Pakistan remains committed to the implementation of the International Court of Justice’s Judgment of 17 July 2019. Necessary steps have been taken in this regard, including provision of unimpeded and uninterrupted consular access to India. India has, however, been using various pretexts to hinder the process for review and reconsideration. The first consular access was provided on 2 September 2019. The second consular access to Commander Jadhav was provided on 16 July 2020. Pakistan has offered a third consular access as well. We hope that rather than using its usual dilatory and obfuscatory tactics, India will cooperate with Pakistan’s courts to give effect to the Judgment of the ICJ.
The ICJ asked Pakistan to review and reconsider the conviction and sentence of Commander Jadhav. In recognition of its international obligation, Pakistan promulgated the Ordinance 2020, under which Jadhav and India were invited to file review proceedings before the Islamabad High Court. Neither has done so till date. Accordingly, to comply with the directive of the ICJ, the Federation has filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court for appointment of a lawyer for Commander Jadhav, so that review proceedings can be initiated.
As for the third consular access to Commander Jadhav, there has been no response from the Indian side so far.
Question: In a statement today the Foreign Minister has confirmed that the President-elect of the UNGA is visiting Pakistan next week. Would you please specify the purpose of his visit and share the details? Is he also planning to visit Line of Control? (Mateen Haider, GTV)
Answer: I would like to draw your attention to the comments made by the Foreign Minister this morning on some electronic channels. The visit of President-elect of the UNGA to Pakistan is expected soon and details of the visit will be shared with you once we have firmed up the program.
Question: I shared a list of students from Gilgit-Baltistan stranded in China who wanted to return to Pakistan via Khunjerab Pass. Is there any development in this regard?
Despite Kulbhushan Jadhav’s confession of his crimes, he is being given all legal avenues so that due course of law is implemented. Will such concessions be considered for political prisoners in Gilgit-Baltistan so that legal requirements are fulfilled in their cases as well? (Fida Hussain, Radio News Network)
Answer: Regarding the students of Gilgit-Baltistan in China, I have shared the details with the concerned authorities to find out the best possible way to facilitate their return to Pakistan.
On Commander Jadhav, I have already given a detailed response. Moreover, the judicial process in Pakistan is available for all those who want to seek justice. So I am sure that option is available to the persons that you have alluded to.
Question: How many Pakistani prisoners are in jail in different countries across the world and how many have been released in recent years? In 2018, Pakistan and China signed an MoU on transfer of offenders. How many have been transferred under this MoU?
Secondly, Pakistan has always supported the two-state solution in Israel Palestine conflict. Due to external pressure from the European countries, Prime Minister Netanyahu had failed to present the annexation plan in Knesset. So what are the options left with Pakistan? (Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)
Answer: Regarding the specific details of Pakistani prisoners across the world and especially in China I will get the details and revert.
Regarding your second question, Pakistan’s position on Palestine issue is principled and unchanging. I have articulated that on several occasions from this platform.
Question: Recently Army Chief and special representative Ambassador Sadiq visited Afghanistan and invited Dr. Abdullah Abdullah for an official visit. Has there been any progress in this matter?
Secondly, there were also some developments regarding dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan especially in the context of APPAPS, after Army Chief’s visit. Any comment on that. ?
Thirdly, Pakistan has offered Kulbushan Jadhav’s father to visit him in Pakistan. Any progress on this? (Naveed Akbar, Aaj News)
Answer: Regarding the visit of his Excellency Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, I have shared earlier that definitely the invitation had been extended to him. We hope this visit can take place soon at a mutually convenient time. Once it is confirmed, we will share the information with you.
APPAPS takes forward our bilateral relationship with Afghanistan and is very much a part of discussion between the two sides. We hope that this framework agreement will move forward and the next meeting of it will be scheduled soon. Regarding the next meeting, I don’t have a date right now.
Regarding the invitation to the father of Commander Jadhav, I don’t have any specific response to give to you. The invitation was extended by Pakistan in good faith, however, there is nothing further to add to it.
Question: We see beginning of a new cold war between the two biggest economies of the world, as they have increasingly begun taking aggressive actions against each other. This was evident in US imposing sanctions over China, and China taking counter measures. Now US has asked China to close down its consulate in Houston. This rivalry is bound to have ramifications for the whole world. As a friend to both China and US, what is Pakistan’s position on this evolving situation? (Issa Naqvi Indus News)
Answer: We have seen the recent developments taking place between the two countries in news, as well as the official statements from the two countries. Pakistan has strong and cordial relations with both the countries, however, as a matter of principle, we do not wish to comment on the bilateral relations between those two countries.
Question: Afghanistan has recently accused Pakistan of an alleged firing incident at the border. The Afghan interior Ministry had claimed that 9 people from its side had been killed, and said that Pakistan should put an end to this alleged firing. What is Pakistan’s take on the matter?
Secondly, we recently saw the abduction of senior Journalist Matti Ullah Jan, upon which we saw tweets by the High Commissioner of Canada and Ambassador of Germany. Isn’t this a gross violation and interference in Pakistan’s internal matters? Has Pakistan lodged a protest? What is Pakistan government’s stance on it? (Anas Mallick, Wion News)
Answer: On 14 July 2020, ANDSF resorted to unprovoked artillery fire from inside Afghanistan and targeted civil population in Kaga Village, Bajaur District. As a result, four artillery rounds landed inside civil settlement causing damages to livestock/properties and injuries to a civil lady.
On 15 July 2020 at 1535 hours, ANDSF again fired artillery rounds targeting civil population and Pakistan military posts at Nawapass, Spina Sukha and Bango Sar in Mohmand and Bajaur Districts in which three civilians died. It also resulted in injuries to 7 other civilians and 2 army personnel.
Pakistan deplores the unprovoked artillery fire by ANDSF and considers it detrimental to existing coordination and cooperation mechanism between the two countries. Pakistan is not using artillery across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border as a matter of policy. However, use of artillery/mortar fire by ANDSF is regarded as counter-productive towards the efforts to maintain peace and tranquility along the border.
Pakistan has requested Afghanistan to abide by the terms and conditions of existing coordination and cooperation mechanism in true letter and spirit.
Answer: Regarding your second question, I would like to draw your attention to the statements made by the Minister of Information on this issue. Regarding the tweets by the two envoys in Pakistan, I’ll have to check the details and revert to you.
Question: Can you give us an update about the situation of stranded Pakistanis in the Middle East? How many Pakistanis have you brought back, and how many are still there, especially in Saudi Arabia? (Zarghoon Shah, Geo TV)
Answer: With regards to the specific numbers in Saudi Arabia, I’ll have to check details and revert to you. But I want to highlight that we have repatriated over 250,000 Pakistani nationals from different parts of the world. There are some Pakistanis still waiting to be repatriated in Middle East and elsewhere, and they need to be brought back home. I will revert to you about specific numbers remaining in Saudi Arabia.
Question: Is there any development in Pakistan about offering mediation between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, especially in the context of Libya, as both the countries have been fighting each other in Libya. Your comments on it?
Secondly, there was a royal pardon for Pakistanis prisoners in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Authorities had decided to release all Pakistani prisoners, however despite the royal pardon, half of the cases still had to face legal procedures. What is your take on it? (Anwar Abbas, Bol News)
Answer: On your second question, I want to draw your attention towards my earlier statements referring to the royal pardon, as a result of which several hundred Pakistani prisoners returned home. How many are remaining is a question that I will have to revert to you with a response.
Regarding your first question about the ongoing conflict in Libya, as you are all aware that Pakistan enjoys historic brotherly relations with Libya and we reaffirm our commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Libya. Pakistan supports a peaceful resolution of the issues through UN brokered process in this context.
Question: The briefing that was held here informed the media that 20th July was the last date for filing an appeal by Kulbushan Jadhav. Yesterday the media was told that an application was moved to appoint a legal counsel for him. Does this constitute a violation of the ordinance? (Fida Hussain, Radio News Network)
Answer: The legal aspects of this case can be better explained by the Ministry of Law and Justice. On the aspect related to foreign policy, I have already responded in detail earlier.
Question: India is not cooperating with Pakistan in the ICJ judgment. Does Pakistan have this option to communicate to India about its own compliance with the judgment and inquire about India’s continued avoidance of the matter? Can you please clarify? (Zulqurnain, ARY News)
Answer: Any developments regarding Pakistan’s future strategy in this matter will be shared in due course of time.
Question: Is Pakistan bound under the ICJ verdict to keep the court updated about the developments in the case? Are we sending any documents in this regard, for example, the recent consular access that was given to Kulbushan Jadhav? (Mateen Haider, GTV)
Answer: Pakistan is a responsible member of the International community and we are very aware of our international obligations. So any obligation with regard to reporting to the ICJ will be fulfilled, as and when required.