Unless a just settlement of the Palestine issue, satisfactory to the Palestinian people, was found, Pakistan could not recognize Israel. Zahid Hafeez

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Transcript of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on Thursday, 24 December, 2020

[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]

Assalaam-o-Alaikum and Welcome to Weekly Press Briefing at the Foreign Office,

Let me begin with Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s official visit to the UAE.

During his two-day visit from 16-18 December 2020, the Foreign Minister held wide ranging discussions with the UAE leadership.

The visit provided another opportunity for Pakistan and the UAE to reaffirm their commitment towards strengthening bilateral ties, particularly in the areas of trade and investment.

The visit also afforded both sides an opportunity to share views on regional and global issues.

In his meetings with the Emirati leadership, Foreign Minister Qureshi also discussed issues related to the welfare of Pakistani Diaspora in the UAE.

In his statement following the visit, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, reaffirmed the UAE’s appreciation of the 1.5 million strong Pakistani community and their active contribution to the growth and prosperity of the country.

The Foreign Minister’s visit was a reflection of the close and cordial relations, which Pakistan and the UAE have enjoyed for decades.

The Second Round of Pakistan-Azerbaijan Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC) was held in a virtual mode.

The Pakistan side was led by Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood while Deputy Foreign Minister Ramiz Hasanov headed the Azerbaijan delegation.

The two sides reviewed the full spectrum of bilateral relations, including cooperation in the political, trade and economy, energy, defence, education and cultural arenas.

Reiterating Pakistan’s principled support on the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh, the Foreign Secretary extended felicitations on the historic success in liberation of Azerbaijan’s occupied territories.

The Foreign Secretary recognized Azerbaijan’s valuable support on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute at various international fora, including at the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir.

The UN General Assembly has approved a Pakistan-sponsored resolution, titled “Universal Realisation of the Right of Peoples to Self-determination”.

The resolution reaffirms global commitment to self-determination to be the fundamental right of all peoples, including those under colonial, foreign and alien domination.

The resolution called on those states responsible to cease immediately their military intervention in and occupation of foreign countries and territories.

The adoption of this Resolution reaffirms Pakistan’s legal, political and moral case in support of all peoples, including the Kashmiris, in their rightful struggle for self-determination against foreign occupation by all means available to them.

The global exposés of India’s anti-Pakistan propaganda and disinformation campaign continue, to the embarrassment of the BJP government.

The imposition of a fine on Republic Bharat TV by the British media regulator Ofcom, on account of anti-Pakistan hate show by Arnab Goswami, is yet another manifestation of the BJP government’s well-known smear campaign against Pakistan through state-controlled media.

Ofcom found the statements in the show to be “expressions of hatred” and “intolerance” towards Pakistani people based on their nationality alone.

Through its state-sponsored media, Indian RSS-BJP regime has constantly tried to masquerade as the victim, rather than the perpetrator of terrorism.

The recent dossier shared by Pakistan provided irrefutable evidence of India’s active role in planning, promoting, aiding, abetting, financing and execution of terrorist activities in Pakistan.

The action taken by Ofcom, along with the report by EU DisinfoLab, corroborates our long-held position about India’s incurable obsession with Pakistan.

The Government of India is urged to eschew the use of false propaganda as an instrument of state policy.

By now India must have realized that such ploys of spreading misinformation are doomed to fail.

By spreading such falsehoods, India can neither cast a shadow on the international stature of Pakistan nor can divert the attention of the international community from India’s horrendous human rights record.

We urge the international community to take a serious look into the malicious Indian propaganda that not only aims to defame Pakistan, but also politicizes international forums and imperils peace and security.

Coming to the situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), the people of IIOJK are continuously subjected to a brutal military siege and inhuman restrictions for 507 days, since India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5th August 2019.

In a brazen manifestation of state terrorism, the Indian occupation troops martyred an innocent Kashmiri, Zaheer Abbass lone, father of two kids, in so-called cordon and search operation in Islamabad town in IIOJK.

Pakistan strongly condemns unabated Indian state-terrorism and extra-judicial killings of innocent Kashmiris.

The indigenous resistance movement of the Kashmiris for their inalienable right to self-determination, as enshrined in the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, will only become stronger in the face of Indian state-terrorism.

Pakistan calls upon the international community, including the United Nations, human rights organizations and the global media, to take immediate cognizance of the aggravating situation in IIOJK.

I wish to reiterate that in attempts to divert world attention from its internal failings and grave human rights violations in IIOJK, India continues to escalate tensions along the Line of Control.

This year alone, India has committed 3012 ceasefire violations to date, resulting in 28 shahadats and serious injuries to 253 innocent civilians.

The deliberate targeting of civilian populated areas and continued escalation of tension along the LoC is a patent Indian ploy to create a reckless pretext for conducting a military misadventure against Pakistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has once again made it absolutely clear that if India were to be reckless enough to undertake any misadventure against Pakistan, it would confront a strong Pakistani national resolve and be given a befitting response at all levels of the threat.

Pakistan urges the international community to advise India against any irresponsible act and to desist from any action that would jeopardize regional peace and stability.

In the end, I also wish to recall that despite our repeated calls, the Government of India has failed to provide a satisfactory response with regard to the death of 11 Pakistani Hindus under mysterious circumstance in Jodhpur, India on 9 August 2020.

The information shared by India in the case so far is scant, patchy ad unsatisfactory.

In its recent communication, the Government of India has again avoided answering the key questions in the case.

India has not explained as to why the bodies of the deceased were hastily cremated without informing the High Commission for Pakistan in New Delhi (PHC) and why a postmortem in the presence of Pakistan High Commission’s doctor was not permitted despite repeated requests by the High Commission.

Since the deceased were Pakistani nationals, it is incumbent upon the Government of Pakistan to be fully aware of the circumstances under which its nationals died in India. The Government of India is obligated to fully cooperate with Pakistan.

In the interest of justice, the Government of India is once again reminded of its obligations and urged to: carry out a comprehensive investigation into the tragic incident and inform us of the progress.

The Government of India, without further delay, must also provide copy of autopsy report; photos of dead bodies; photos of the crime scene, especially prior to removing the dead bodies; any witnesses or statements by neighbors; and copies of the FIR and the initial investigation report.

I thank you for your attention and am happy to take questions on these or other foreign policy related developments.

Question: Would you please give a policy statement reviewing Pakistan’s foreign policy achievements in 2020. Secondly, recently Pakistan shared credible information that India was planning to conduct a military misadventure against Pakistan. What is the update in this regard? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: As for review of foreign policy achievements in 2020, I have planned to give you a comprehensive overview of major developments in the domain of foreign policy in my next press briefing.

Regarding the false flag operation, after receiving credible information that India is planning to undertake military misadventure against Pakistan, we immediately shared our concerns with the international community and also conveyed a strong message to India regarding the repercussions of such a misadventure.

Question: Regarding the death of 11 Pakistani Hindus, the family members of the deceased have come to Pakistan. What is their demand in the matter?

Secondly, how do you see the recent sham local elections held in IIOJK? Despite the legal and unilateral actions and continuous human rights violations in the valley, the BJP has lost the elections. How do you comments on this? (Zahid Farooq Malik, Daily Metro Watch)

Answer: The daughter of deceased head of family Shrimati Mukhi filed an FIR on the incident nominating RSS and BJP for involvement in the murder of her family members. The Hindu community from across Pakistan registered a strong protest against the highly condemnable incident and the continuing failure of the Indian government to carry out a transparent and credible investigation to bring the perpetrators of the heinous crimes to justice.

As I mentioned in my opening remarks that since the deceased were Pakistani nationals, it is incumbent upon the Government of Pakistan to be fully aware of the circumstances under which its nationals died in India. The Government of India is obligated to fully cooperate with Pakistan.

In the interest of justice, the Government of India is once again reminded of its obligations and urged to carry out a comprehensive investigation into the tragic incident and inform us of the progress.

As for elections in IIOJK, we believe this is a farcical exercise. Today, the people of IIOJK are continuously subjected to a brutal military siege and inhuman restrictions for 507 days, since India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5th August 2019.

Instead of resorting to farcical tactics, India must rescind its illegal actions, stop forthwith grave human rights violations in IIOJK, lift illegal and inhuman military siege, refrain from violating international law, and fully comply with UN Security Council resolutions for the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and let the Kashmiri people exercise their right to self-determination through a free and impartial plebiscite under UN auspices as enshrined in the relevant UNSC resolutions.

Question: The escalation at LoC is continuously increasing. The Indian troops are targeting schools and houses in AJK, including the attack on UNMOGIP Observers` vehicle. Since Pakistan has demanded that United Nations should take notice of the incident. What is the update in the matter? Do you think that the UN will take any measures that will de-escalate the tension at the LoC? (Raziq Bhatti, Kashmir Express)

Answer: India continues to escalate tensions along the Line of Control to divert world attention from its internal failings and grave human rights violations in IIOJK. We have repeatedly said that India will not succeed in diverting the attention of the international community with such tactics. These illegal acts are in violations of ceasefire understanding and also against all established norms and professional military conduct.

These egregious violations of international law reflect consistent Indian attempts to escalate the situation along the LoC, imperiling regional peace and security.

By raising tension along the LoC and Working Boundary, India cannot divert attention from grave human rights situation in the IIOJK. Pakistan urges the international community to advise India against such irresponsible acts that would jeopardize regional peace and stability.

Question: The EU Disinfolab discovered network of Indian network of fake news and anti-Pakistan propaganda working in 119 countries. Why did Pakistan fail to discover this network since Pakistan was the prime target of Indian smear campaign?

Question: The dead body of Karima Baloch, a Pakistani human rights activist has been found in Toronto, where she had been living for five years in exile. It has been reported that RAW is behind the murder of Karima Baloch. Would you please comment on it? (Abbas Jaffer, Daily District News)

Answer: Regarding the recent exposés by EU Disinfolab, Pakistan has been consistently sensitizing the international community to India’s such nefarious designs and ill intentions to undermine democracies in the region through structures of fake news organizations and think tanks.

Pakistan has already put forth irrefutable evidence, extensively documenting India’s active planning, promoting, aiding, abetting, financing and execution of terrorist activities in Pakistan.

For far too long, India has masqueraded itself as a ‘victim’ of terrorism. It is time that the world saw the reality of India as a state-sponsor of terrorism and a purveyor of anti-Pakistan propaganda globally. By spreading such falsehoods, India can neither cast a shadow on the international stature of Pakistan nor can divert the attention of the international community from India’s horrendous human rights record.

Publication of the recent report by EU DisinfoLab only substantiates Pakistan’s position in front of the International community and further corroborates its long-held position about India’s incurable obsession with Pakistan.

As for death of Ms. Karima Baloch, she was found dead in Toronto, Canada on Monday 21st December 2020.

Immediately upon learning about the issue, the Consulate General of Pakistan in Toronto requested the Toronto Police to share information and details of the cause of her death.

According to Toronto Police, the circumstance have been investigated and officers have determined this to be a non-criminal death and no foul play is suspected. The family has been updated.

Question: The UN has confirmed that a certain object has hit UN vehicle carrying UNMOGIP observers in AJK. It seems that UN Spokesperson is giving statement under some pressure because he did not specify where the attack came from. How long it will take to complete this investigation?

Secondly, after the visit to UAE, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi stated that he had conveyed to UAE that Pakistan could not recognize Israel. There are reports that Arab countries are pressurizing Pakistan to recognize Israel. Does the statement of Foreign Minister not indicate that pressure? (Aijaz Ahmed, GNN)

Supplementary Question: The reports suggest that Pakistan is going to recognize Israel. It is also being reported that UAE is putting pressure on Pakistan to recognize Israel to give a good gesture to UAE. Is it correct? (Adeel Bashir, Roze News)

Supplementary Question: Why Pakistan and UAE are exchanging views on Israel? (Kosar Lodhi, Prime News)

Supplementary Question: You have clarified from this platform that there is no pressure on Pakistan regarding recognition of Israel. What was the objective of the Foreign Minister’s statement, saying that he had conveyed to UAE that Pakistan would not recognize Israel? (Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)

Supplementary Question: There are continuous statements from our Arab friends, which indicate that there is pressure on Pakistan to recognize Israel. On the other hand Pakistan has reportedly returned $1 billion to Saudi Arabia as well. Also the UAE visa issue has not been resolved as yet. Does it indicate that our relations with Arab countries are facing downward trajectory? Is there any possibility of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Saudi Arabia? (Jaleel Ahmed, VOA)

Supplementary Question: Israel is also claiming that fifth Muslim country is going to recognize it during the Presidency of Donald Trump. Would you please comment on these developments? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: There is no change in Pakistan`s principled position on the issue of Palestine. The Prime Minister and Foreign Minister have also reiterated our clear and consistent position on this.

We have repeatedly said that unless a just settlement of the Palestine issue, satisfactory to the Palestinian people, was found, Pakistan could not recognize Israel.

For just, comprehensive and lasting peace, Pakistan will continue to support a two-state solution in accordance with the relevant United Nations and OIC resolutions as well as international law, with pre-1967 borders and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as the capital of Palestine.

As for visas for Pakistani nationals by the UAE, in his meetings with the UAE leadership during his recent visit, Foreign Minister Qureshi raised the issue of visa restrictions with the Government of the UAE. He was assured that the visa restrictions were temporary in nature.

Following the visit, the Foreign Minister of the UAE also stated that the restrictions on visa are temporary. I would refer you to the statement made Statement made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the UAE H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

As for visit of Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy unique relations, deep rooted in historic, religious, cultural and social ties. The two countries have strong economic, political, security and military cooperation at all levels. Relations between the two brotherly countries have continued to grow over time.

Frequent high-level visits and close leadership level contacts have been the longstanding tradition of the brotherly relations between the two countries.

Question: It has been reported that Russian Ambassador to India has assured India not to worry about Russia’s relationship with Pakistan. How do you comment on Indian uneasiness and anxiety on that? (Essa Naqvi, Indus News)

Answer: Relations with Russia remain an important priority of Pakistan’s foreign policy. These relations are today marked by cordiality and trust.

The two countries have made important progress in the development of strong bilateral relations and these today cover various important fields including economy and trade.

The two countries have developed several institutionalized dialogue processes ranging from strategic stability and defence to energy and economic cooperation.

Pakistan-Russia relations not only serve the vital national interests of the two countries but they also contribute to regional and global security.

These relations stand on their own merit. They are not contingent on policies and focus of a third country.

Question: As a follow up of our dossier and EU Disinfolab report where does Pakistan stand now? Is Pakistan considering taking some legal actions on the massive violations of international law by India? (Mateen Haider, G News)

Answer: Pakistan has adopted a multi-pronged strategy to expose Indian nefarious design to malign Pakistan. The strategy includes actions in legal, political, multilateral and media domains. We are working on all these areas.

We have taken it up both in Islamabad and at the concerned capitals through our Missions. We have also sensitized the international community that India is masquerading as the victim of terrorism rather than a sponsor. You must have noticed that the global media and international voices are taking this aspect into consideration.

We have urged the UN Human Rights machinery, particularly the Human Rights Council (HRC), to take a serious look as to how a prestigious platform such as the HRC could be misused in such a manner against a member state.

Question: What is the update on extradition treaty between Pakistan and UK and the readmission treaty that is going to end by 31st December, 2020.(Anwar Abbas, Bol News)

Answer: Pakistan signed the readmission agreement with European Union in 2009, which also covers the UK till 31st December, 2020. Repatriation flights are accepted from the EU and UK after completion of the internal process. These processes could at times take longer than expected, especially given Covid-19 circumstances. Pakistan is however fully committed to fulfill its obligations under international agreements including Pakistan-EU readmission agreement.

Question: It has been reported that during the 10th edition of the Economic Cooperation Organization’s (ECO) Transport and Communications Ministers Meeting, held in Istanbul, it has been decided that the Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad freight train would be relaunched next year. Would you please share details in this regard? (Essa Naqvi, Dawn)

Answer: The 11th High Level Working Group Meeting of relevant authorities of ECO Member States on Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul Container Train was held in virtual mode. During the meeting it was decided that the ITI container train would resume regular freight operations in January 2021. Pakistan Railways Freight Transportation Company (PRFTC) has been nominated as the focal company for coordination in the issues related to the ITI train.

Question: During the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to Pakistan, it was declared that Pakistani prisoners in Saudi Arabia will be released. It is being reported that additional Pakistanis have been imprisoned in the Kingdom. What is the current status of release of Pakistanis prisoners in Saudi Arabia? (Naveed Siddiqui, Dawn)

Answer: let me get the details and revert to you.

Question: Regarding the Indian military exercises in Malabar that took place last month, how do you see the military buildup in the Indian Ocean? India is having new agreements on the defence side to accumulate more ammunition and latest modernized weapon system. What are your views on the same?

Secondly, regarding EU DisinfoLab, more than 100 countries were used by Indian agencies in malicious propaganda against Pakistan. Has the Foreign Office instructed its Missions to take this issue up with important capitals of the world? (Faisal Raza Khan, 92 News)

Answer: Regarding India’s military buildup, it is very inimical to the regional peace and security given the irresponsible Indian leadership. India is acquiring military capabilities, weapons and technology beyond its legitimate security needs, and we strongly condemn this. At the same time we reiterate that Pakistan’s Government and Armed Forces are fully prepared to deal with any misadventure from any of our neighboring countries.

Regarding EU Disinfo Lab’s findings, we have taken it up both in Islamabad and at the concerned capitals through our Missions. We have sensitized the international community that India is masquerading as the victim of terrorism rather than a sponsor. You must have noticed that the global media and international voices are taking this aspect into consideration.

Question: You stated those visas restrictions are imposed by UAE are Covid-19 related. What’s the nature of these restrictions?

Secondly, It has been reported that Pakistani Prime Minister will be visiting Saudi Arabia. Is it correct? (Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)

Answer: I have already responded to both these questions.

Question: What are your views on response by the United Nations on targeting of UN Vehicle by India? (Zaheer, Sama TV)

Answer: The matter is being investigated and we are waiting for the response.

Question: We have seen that there were no significant SAARC meetings in 2020. Do you see any future of SAARC? (Naveed Akabar, Aaj TV)

Supplementary Question: India seems to be more inclined towards BBIN. Do you think India is deliberately creating a platform to undermine SAARC? (Essa Naqvi, Indus News)

Answer: Pakistan, being a founding member, considers SAARC an important organization for regional cooperation. Pakistan remains committed to the SAARC process and will continue working with the Member states to strengthen regional cooperation.

It is the collective responsibilities of all members states to ensure that artificial obstructions being created by one country are removed, so that SAARC can progress and live up to the expectation of the people of the region.

Question: Recently there has been a spike in violations in Afghanistan. A lot of prominent Afghans have been the targets of these killings. Prime Minister Imran Khan also stressed the need to reduce the violence and expressed the commitment to play a part in Afghan peace process. What are your views on the increasing violence level in Afghanistan? (Jaleel Ahmed, VOA)

Answer: Pakistan has consistently maintained that there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict. Pakistan has always facilitated the Afghan Peace Process, which has now reached this critical juncture. All parties must honour their respective commitments and work for reduction in violence leading to ceasefire. The Afghan leaders must seize this historic opportunity to achieve durable and sustainable peace in Afghanistan.

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