Press Briefing by Aisha Farooqui Spokesperson on Thursday, 30 July, 2020

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Islamabad: Today is the 360th day of the continued subjugation and brutalization of innocent people in the Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJK). Indian occupation forces during their continued so-called cordon and search operations martyred Aijaz Ahmad Bhat and Ishfaq Rashid Khan in Srinagar area.

Ceasefire violations on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, targeting civilian populated areas with artillery fire, heavy-caliber mortars and automatic weapons continue unabated. This year alone, India has committed 1823 ceasefire violations to date, resulting in 14 shahadats and serious injuries to 138 innocent civilians.

Pakistan strongly condemns restrictions imposed by Indian authorities on Eid-ul-Azha prayers in Indian Illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IoJ&K). Imposition of restrictions on prayers on one of the most important days of the Islamic calendar represents complete disrespect by the Indian government for the sentiments of the Muslims of IIoJ&K. It is also a flagrant violation of their fundamental freedom of religion.

Indian authorities are using Covid-19 related restrictions as a pretext to curb religious freedom of the Muslims of IIoJK. While the BJP government has been allowing religious activities in various other contexts and instances, disallowing Kashmiri Muslims to offer Eid-ul-Azha prayers is a blatant discrimination.

Pakistan urges the international community, the United Nations, and human rights and humanitarian organisations to take notice of glaring denial of the religious rights and freedoms of the Kashmiri people in violation of international laws and conventions.

We have seen reports of recent acquisition of Rafale jets by Indian Airforce. According to some former senior Indian officials and several international publications these Rafale jets are dual-capable systems that can also be modified as nuclear weapon delivery platforms.

It is well known that India continues to expand and modernize its nuclear arsenal both in terms of type and number of delivery systems. In addition to this, India has nuclearized the Indian Ocean and continues to increase the readiness of its arsenal through measures such as canisterization of missile systems.

It is disturbing to note that India continues to amass military capabilities beyond its genuine security requirement. According to credible and reputable international research institutes, India is now the second largest arms importer in the world.

Pakistan has been consistently highlighting the risks of massive Indian arms buildup as well as their offensive security doctrine and force postures, which are adversely affecting strategic stability in South Asia. This arms buildup is being aided and abetted through a policy of exemptions, waivers and supply of advanced equipment, technology and weapons for narrow commercial interests.

Such arms transfers also violate the objectives of various export control regimes on preventing destabilizing accumulations of arms in various regions including where there exist outstanding conflicts and disputes. Transfer of advanced systems, where there is an open intention of conversion into nuclear delivery platforms, calls into question the commitment of international suppliers to non-proliferation commitments.

The world community must dissuade India from its disproportionate arms buildup which could also lead to an arms race in South Asia. The world is already a witness to the bellicose and irresponsible rhetoric by the BJP Government in pursuit of a revisionist agenda in the neighbourhood.

On Pakistan’s part, we remain open to consideration of measures for crisis management, risk reduction, and strategic restraint. While remaining opposed to any arms race in South Asia, Pakistan cannot remain oblivious to these developments and remains confident of its ability to thwart any ill-considered act of aggression.

China-Afghanistan-Pakistan-Nepal Quadrilateral Foreign Ministers’ Video Conference on Joint Response to COVID-19 was recently hosted by China, the State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China H.E.Wang Yi chaired the Video Conference.

In his video-message at the Conference, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi lauded the initiative for the Quadrilateral platform for joint response to the pandemic and stressed that the global community needed unity, solidarity and multilateral cooperation to fight COVID-19 that knew no boundaries, no religion and no ethnicity.

Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, in his statement at the Quadrilateral conference also underlined that COVID-19 had inflicted a punitive human and economic cost globally and had disrupted the social and political architecture of the world. Pakistan was ready to both enhance cooperation in combating COVID-19 and in post-pandemic economic recovery with the participating countries.

Question: A recent UN report indicated that militants operating in Pakistan were using the Afghan soil against Pakistan. How does Pakistan see this situation?

Secondly, can you also comment on the recent report published by Minority Commission constituted by the Indian Government for investigating the Delhi riots? (Khwaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: As for your first question, we have seen the report by UN Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team concerning ISIL, Al-Qaida and other associated entities. This report in fact corroborates Pakistan’s longstanding position on the continued threats posed by various terrorist groups from across our border to our peace and stability. The findings of the report are a testament to the fact that the Pakistan’s actions against these terrorist groups have been successful. We call other countries in the region and our partners in war against terrorism to join their efforts in curbing these terrorist organizations from the region for our collective security.

As for your second question, you are well aware of the pogrom that was carried out against Muslims in Delhi earlier this year. The publication of this report is a manifestation of increased voices being raised from within India against the treatment being meted out against Muslims and other minorities. The pogrom was carried out under state complicity. Many International Organizations have also condemned the violence against Muslims. Pakistan has already put forward its stance on this matter many times in the past that the bigotry and discrimination against Muslims in BJP’s India is condemnable.

Question: US Special representative Zalmy Khalilzad recently embarked on a five countries visit in which he was also supposed to visit Pakistan. The US State Department issued a statement which said that the purpose of his proposed visit to Pakistan is to seek Pakistan’s support for the Intra Afghan dialogue. In the meanwhile a ceasefire has been announced in Afghanistan during the Eid Festival and the Taliban Spokesman Sohail Shaheen has stated that the Taliban would release 1000 prisoners during this time. The Taliban also said that they expected Afghanistan to release the rest of their prisoners as well. Can you comment on Zalmy Khalilzad’s visit and the ceasefire announcement in Afghanistan? (Jaleel Abbas, VOA, Urdu)

Answer As for the Special Representative’s visit, we don’t have a confirmed date as yet. We will share the date once it is firmed up.

Regarding your second point on the recent developments in Afghanistan, Pakistan welcomes the announcement of ceasefire on Eid ul Azha. We see this as a positive development. Regarding the matter pertaining to the Peace Process, we have already said on a number of occasions that the commitments made by both sides must be fulfilled to take the Peace Process forward. Release of prisoners is one such commitment and we hope to see a forward movement in this aspect, so that the next step which is the Intra-Afghan Dialogue can take place.

Question: UN has published a report which said that thousands of militants based in Afghanistan were involved in conducting terrorist attacks inside Pakistan. Has Pakistan taken up this issue with the Afghan Government because recently we have seen cross border attacks from the Afghan side? (Shabir Wahgra, PTV World)

Answer: I have already responded to this question earlier, I would like you to refer you to that please.

Question: There have been reports that US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad recently went to Doha and was accompanied by Pakistan’s Special Envoy to Afghanistan Ambassador Sadiq. Can you kindly inform about any development in this context?

Secondly, there is legislation going on regarding Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case. The Government of Pakistan and the Ministry of Law & Justice had filed an application in Supreme Court to appeal on Kulbhushan’s behalf. As the Foreign Office is the primary organization dealing with this matter, can you kindly inform if the appeal will be filed by the Government of Pakistan or Kulbhusan Jadhav will do so in person? (Aijaz Ahmed, GNN)

Supplementary Question: What are the latest developments on the third consular access that was offered by Pakistan to Kulbhushan Jadhav? Pakistan has also offered to let Kulbhusahn Jadhav’s father to meet him. Is there any development on this so far? (Naveed Siddiqui, Dawn News)

Supplementary Question: It is being said that the ordinance relating to Kulbhushan Jadhav’s matter was presented in the Assembly following external pressure on the Government of Pakistan. How would you comment on this? (Khwaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: I had already shared a detailed statement with you on this issue in the previous briefing. The answer to both of your questions is no. We don’t have any further development in this matter.

Just to remind you, the ICJ had asked Pakistan to review and reconsider the conviction and sentence of Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav. To fulfill our international obligations, Pakistan had promulgated the ordinance 2020, under which Commander Jadhav and India were invited to file a review of the proceeding before the Islamabad High Court. That has not been done so far. So in order to comply with the order of ICJ, the Federation has filed a petition in Islamabad High Court to appoint a lawyer for Commander Jadhav so that the review proceeding can be initiated.

Question: India has received the first batch of Rafale Jets. Is Pakistan looking forward to any similar defense agreement with France or any other European country? (Hassan Riaz, JNN)

Answer: Our bilateral relations with countries in Europe are long standing and multi dimensional. Defense cooperation is part of the overall matrix of our bilateral relations with these countries. So under that ambit, we do have conversations on this subject but what you are referring to is not directly related.

Question: It has been 360 days since the illegal lockdown in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Despite Pakistan’s effort to highlight the matter internationally, the situation seems to be getting worse. The geographical and demographic structure of Jammu and Kashmir is being permanently altered. Does Government of Pakistan plan to rally the support of other countries to further the Kashmir cause, especially after Eid because there have been reports indicating as such? (Asghar Ali Mubark, Pakistan Press Agency)

Answer: During the past year, the Government of Pakistan, the Foreign Office and all our Missions have continuously led a diplomatic campaign to highlight the plight of Kashmiris all across the world. Our Missions will be reaching out to Parliamentarians and Government Organizations to raise the situation of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir through seminars, conferences and other events. A comprehensive outreach plan is envisaged on this occasion.

Question: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going to inaugurate a temple on Babri Masjid site on 5th August. What is Pakistan’s take on this? (Amjad Ali, PTV News)

Answer: We have seen the reports about inauguration on 5th August. This step will further give rise to extremism and fascism spurred by the BJP – RSS nexus in pursuit of its Hindutva ideology, which is not only a growing threat to the safety and well-being of minorities in India but to the peace and security in the region and beyond.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has also been highlighting the fact that India, under Modi, has been moving systematically with its Hindu supremacist agenda. Desecration of religious places of minorities, Illegal actions and continuing military siege in IOJ&K; stripping two million Indian Muslims in Assam of citizenship; passage of Citizenship Amendment Law; Mob lynchings, targeted killing of Muslims in New Delhi, the Babri Masjid/Ayodhya Verdict and construction of Mandir at the site, are steps taken to alienate Muslims in India. We take a very strong view of this and condemn this.

Question: United Nations has commended Pakistan’s efforts to contain Corona Virus Pandemic, but also refuted Pakistan’s claims to have defeated the virus. How do you comment on this? (Naveed Siddiqui, Dawn News)

Answer: Covid -19 is a pandemic and all the countries of the world have been fighting against it according to their capabilities and their resources. Pakistan has been cooperating with all other international partners in fighting this challenge. We have met success in bringing the numbers down. Details as to how far our goals have been achieved can be best answered by the Ministry of National Health Services.

Question: Recently, the NTI report was published regarding nuclear security of different countries, in which Pakistan’s position was indicated to be better than that of India. India has also bought Rafael jets recently after which there has been hype in the Indian media with respect to its defense capabilities against China and Pakistan. How would you comment on this situation? (Khwaja Nayyer Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: I had already given a detailed statement about India’s purchase of Rafael Jets in my opening remarks. I would like you to refer to that.

Question: After the abrogation of Article 370 last year, the situation in the region grew tense. There are tensions between India and China as well. USA had offered to mediate between Pakistan and India regarding Kashmir. Has there been any further development on this? (Zaheer Ahmed, SAMAA TV)

Answer: The offer was indeed made, but we have yet to see a meaningful translation of that offer into practical steps.

Question: Legislation regarding FATF compliance is being done at the moment. Can you give us details as to what are the deadlines, and what legislative proposals are being considered? (Aijaz Ahmed, GNN)

Answer: Economic Affairs Division can provide a detailed answer to this question.

Question: As the holy month of Muharram approaches, there are Zaireen from Pakistan and other countries who would be visiting Iraq and Iran. Foreign Office was asked to take some steps in this regard to facilitate the Zaireen. Has a Consular General been appointed in Mashhad for this purpose? (Asghar Ali Mubarak, Pakistan Press Agency)

Answer: The Ministry of Religious Affairs devises the policies and procedures regarding different important Islamic occasions. We will follow whatever policies are devised by them in this regard, and accordingly will instruct our missions in Tehran and Baghdad.

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