Transcript of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on Thursday, 04 February, 2021
[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]
Assalaam-o-Alaikum and Welcome to the Weekly Press Briefing of the Foreign Office.
I wish to begin with Kashmir Solidarity Day to be observed tomorrow.
Every year, fifth February, is observed to express solidarity with Kashmiri people in their just struggle for the right to self-determination.
The occasion is also used to condemn India for its egregious human rights violations in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ).
On the occasion, one-minute silence will be observed throughout the county and special prayers will be offered for the Kashmiri Shuhda, who have laid down their lives, struggling against the illegal and inhuman Indian occupation.
Solidarity walks will be held in Islamabad, all provincial capitals and Azad Jammu and Kashmir to express unity with the Kashmiri brothers and sisters.
Pakistan Missions around the world will also organize seminars and engage with the media, think tanks, parliamentarians and policy influentials to highlight the egregious human rights violations in IIOJK.
Coming to the situation in IIOJK, during the last week, in brazen manifestation of state terrorism, the Indian occupation forces martyred 3 more Kashmiris, in “fake encounters” and staged “cordon-and-search” operations in Tral and Pulwama.
During the same period, over half a dozen Kashmiri youth were arbitrarily arrested in south Kashmir districts.
The unabated cold-blooded murders and brutalization of innocent Kashmiris are a clear manifestation of state terrorism to which unarmed Kashmiris have been subjected to for over seven decades.
The prominent Kashmiri leadership continues to remain incarcerated in Indian prisons under inhuman conditions on false and fabricated charges.
Meanwhile, the BJP-RSS regime continues its despicable efforts to change the demographic structure of IIOJK in clear violation of the UNSC resolutions and international law, including the 4th Geneva Convention.
According to the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs, 3,380,234 fake Domicile Certificates have already been issued till 25 January 2021.
The international community must take immediate cognizance of this dire situation and take practical steps to stop India from such illegal and inhuman actions.
The world community must also work for expeditious resolution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in line with the UNSC resolutions and the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.
Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi received a batch of 500,000 doses of Chinese Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine this week.
The Foreign Minister thanked the leadership and the people of China for sending the gift of COVID vaccine to Pakistan to help fight the pandemic.
The vaccine is being used to inoculate the front-line health workers as part of government’s efforts to save precious lives.
Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi and U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken had a telephone conversation.
The Foreign Minister congratulated Secretary Blinken on assuming his office.
He underscored Pakistan’s commitment to forge a comprehensive partnership with the United States based on convergence of interests on a whole range of issues.
Highlighting the transformation in Pakistan, the Foreign Minister stressed that the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan had a new vision that placed premium on forging economic partnership, building a peaceful neighborhood, and enhancing regional connectivity.
Foreign Minister Qureshi told Secretary Blinken that peace in Afghanistan through a negotiated political settlement was one of the fundamental convergences between Pakistan and the United States.
Secretary Blinken recalled U.S.–Pakistan cooperation over the years and noted that the two countries had a range of areas to engage on.
He acknowledged the sacrifices of the people of Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.
In the context of recent developments in the Daniel Pearl case, the Foreign Minister underscored that it was important and in the mutual interest that justice is served through legal means.
The Foreign Minister highlighted the steps being taken in this regard.
Foreign Minister Qureshi and Secretary Blinken agreed to remain engaged and work together on advancing the two countries’ bilateral agenda and promoting common interests in the region and beyond.
Kuwait’s Assistant Foreign Minister of Asian Affairs Ambassador Ali Suleiman Al-Saeed paid a four-day official visit to Pakistan.
The Assistant Foreign Minister held the third round of Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC).
The Consultations centered on reviewing the entire spectrum of bilateral relations; collaboration on issues of mutual interest at regional and international forums; and possibilities for enhanced cooperation in other fields.
Pakistan and Kuwait have a long-standing fraternal relationship, marked by warmth between the leadership and abiding ties between the two peoples.
Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood and Principal Secretary of Kenyan Foreign Ministry Ambassador Kamau Macharia held the 3rd Round of Bilateral Political Consultations (BPC) virtually.
The consultations covered entire spectrum of bilateral relations; mutual cooperation in the multilateral fora; and issues of peace & security in the respective regions.
Highlighting the Prime Minister’s vision to forge multifaceted cooperation with the African Continent, as part of the “Engage Africa” initiative, the Foreign Secretary underscored the importance of strengthening cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, air connectivity and ports linkages, security and defence, and education and training.
The first round of bilateral dialogue on Climate Change and Science was held between Pakistan and the Republic of Korea (RoK) in a virtual format.
The two sides exchanged views on issues of mutual interest and explored avenues for enhancing bilateral cooperation and engagement in the fields of climate change and science diplomacy.
The discussions covered implementation of the Paris Agreement; the forthcoming Conference of Parties (COP-26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); and avenues for possible collaboration in Science, Technology and Innovation.
The 12th Session of the Joint Economic Commission (JEC) between Pakistan and Sri Lanka was held in virtual mode on 03 February 2021.
The two sides discussed broad range of issues related to economic, trade and investment cooperation.
Opportunities for cooperation in the IT Sector were particularly discussed.
Let me also share with you that a petition has been filed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, regarding the Jodhpur incident, where 11 Pakistani Hindus, including five children and four women died in India under mysterious circumstance last year.
The family of the deceased and the Patron-in-Chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council have: (a) pleaded that the ashes of the deceased have not been provided to the victims’ family for performing the religious rites; (b) shared their concerns, hinting at the involvement of Indian Agency ‘Research and Analysis Wing’ in the incident; and (c) requested to ensure independence and transparency of the entire investigation process.
India continues to remain evasive on the horrific incident.
It 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.
India has also not shared: the pictures of the crime scene, especially before the removal of the dead bodied; the statements of the witnesses, particularly the neighbours; forensic report; and the detailed investigation report.
Since the deceased were Pakistani nationals, the Government of India is obligated to fully cooperate with Pakistan; carry out a comprehensive and transparent investigation and share its findings with Pakistan.
I thank you for your attention and am happy to take questions on these or other foreign policy related developments.
Question: It has been reported in the media that the farmers’ movement is being supported by Pakistan. What is Pakistan’s stance on this?
Secondly, what is Pakistan’s position on the latest situation in Myanmar because there is similarity of context with Pakistan? (Adeel Bashir, Roze News)
Supplementary Question: The Indian Opposition leaders have said that India’s reputation has taken a massive hit because of the way the RSS-BJP government is treating farmers and journalists. International pop star Rihanna and climate activist Greta Thunberg have also supported the farmers’ protest. How do you see the recent protests in India? (Amjad Ali, PTV)
Answer: Regarding the farmers’ protest in India, we have been repeatedly saying that under the RSS-BJP combine India is no more a democracy but an extremist Hindutva regime. Today, the international community is coming around to this view.
The international community, including human rights organizations, parliamentarians, celebrities and sane voices within India are calling RSS-BJP regime out on what is happening with the minorities, journalists, human rights activists, international human rights organizations inside the country and in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).
The smokescreen India had created to present itself as the so-called ‘largest democracy’ has disappeared and India stands fully exposed.
The current situation in India is a sad reminder of the fact that under the BJP-RSS regime, extremist Hindutva ideology takes precedence over all principles of justice, human rights and democratic norms.
The treatment of minorities, increasing intolerance, and rapidly shrinking space for any dissent in India is a matter of serious concern not only for the Indian minorities and the neighboring countries but also for the international community.
India should seriously consider course correction by giving up its extremist agenda and taking steps to protect its minorities.
Regarding Myanmar, we have already issued a Press Release in this regard on 1st February 2021. Let me repeat we said, “we are closely following the developments in Myanmar. We hope that all parties involved will exercise restraint, uphold the rule of law, engage constructively, and work towards a peaceful outcome”.
Question: There are reports of India’s direct and active involvement in creating instability in Gilgit Baltistan. How do you comment in this regard?
Secondly, the new administration of the United States has hinted a review of the peace deal between the Taliban and Trump Administration. How do you see this? (Khawaja Nayyer, Media Today)
Supplementary Question: There are number of people in Gilgit Baltistan who are openly talking about Indian intelligence agency RAW’s involvement in Gilgit Baltistan. One young boy also confessed that he was persuaded by the Indian intelligence agencies to work against Pakistan. How would you like to comment on this? (Mateen Haider, G News)
Answer: We never had any doubt about India’s state sponsorship of terrorism in Pakistan and we also never had any doubt about India’s willful propaganda and disinformation campaign against Pakistan. Now the world has also come around to the same view.
As you are aware that Pakistan has shared the Dossier containing irrefutable evidence, extensively documenting India’s active planning, promoting, aiding, abetting, financing and execution of terrorist activities against Pakistan.
The report by EU DisinfoLab and Arnab Goswami’s whatsApp leaked chats further corroborated our long-held position about India’s incurable obsession with Pakistan and its unrelenting smear campaign against Pakistan.
Pakistan will continue to counter India’s state-terrorism and expose its false narratives and propaganda against Pakistan.
Regarding Afghanistan, Pakistan has consistently maintained that there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict. An Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process for an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement is the only way forward for achieving lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Towards this end, Pakistan has been constructively engaged with all Afghan sides as well as the international stakeholders for facilitating the Afghan peace process. The international community has duly recognized Pakistan’s efforts in this regard.
Pakistan appreciates the progress made in the peace process during last one year, particularly the developments, including signing of the U.S.-Taliban Agreement, start of the Intra-Afghan Negotiations and agreement on the rules and procedures.
We believe that the Intra-Afghan Negotiations have now advanced into an important phase where all the negotiating sides are required to show continued commitment and responsibility for moving forward towards reaching a comprehensive political settlement. It is important for Afghan to seize this historic opportunity.
Pakistan has also continued to reiterate its calls on all sides for taking measures for reduction in violence leading to ceasefire, which is linked to progress in the Intra-Afghan Negotiations.
Pakistan reiterates its abiding commitment to a peaceful, stable, sovereign, united and democratic Afghanistan
Question: At the graduation ceremony yesterday, the Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan said that Pakistan is firmly committed to mutual respect and peaceful coexistence. He also stated that Pakistan and India must resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in a dignified and peaceful manner. Does it mean that Pakistan has offered India talks or dialogue to issue the dispute of Jammu & Kashmir? If it is so, has the Foreign Office further followed it up? (Eisa Naqvi, Indus TV)
Answer: Pakistan has always believed in peaceful settlement of all issues, including the core issue of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. It is India that has vitiated the environment with its illegal, inhuman and unilateral actions of 5th August 2019. The onus is on India to create enabling environment for meaningful engagement. India must rescind its illegal and unilateral actions, end its state-terrorism against the Kashmiri people, and agree to resolve the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
The statement by the Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan General Qamar Javed Bajwa when compared to the statements by the Indian military leadership clearly shows the difference of approach and mindset.
The statement by the Chief of Army Staff l is a reflection of Pakistan’s desire for peace and security in the region.
The statement is also a reiteration of the importance of peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Army Chief’s statement is a manifestation of Pakistan’s firm commitment to the ideals of mutual respect and peaceful co-existence.
On the contrary, the Indian military officials have been making careers out of issuing irresponsible and provocative statements against Pakistan.
The belligerent rhetoric of the Indian military leadership is an example of RSS-BJP mindset, which has permeated all state institutions of India.
India’s defense limitations have been embarrassingly exposed to the world, first in Balakot and then in Ladakh.
Needless to say Indian leadership, political and military, must realize that their overcompensating braggadocio only imperils regional peace and security.
Question: leading journalist Hamid Mir has said that Pakistan is planning to make AJK a province of Pakistan. Would you please confirm? (Nauman Ishfaq Mughal, Parliament Times)
Answer: We have been repeatedly saying that there is absolutely no change in Pakistan’s principled position on Jammu & Kashmir dispute. On the other hand, India has been consistently changing its position in this regard. The solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute lies in the realization of the Kashmiris’ inalienable right to self-determination through a free and impartial plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations.
Question: In view of current status of bilateral relations between India and Pakistan generally backdoor diplomacy continues. Is there any such engagement going between the two countries?
Secondly, there are a numbers of Indian origin members of the Cabinet in the new U.S. administration because of which the Indian policy has become aggressive. What is Pakistan’s strategy in this regard? (Shamim Mehmood, Online News Network)
Answer: Pakistan has repeatedly been saying that the onus is on India to create an enabling environment by rescinding its illegal and unilateral actions, ending its state-terrorism against the Kashmiri people, and agreeing to resolve the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the people of Kashmir.
It is India that has vitiated the atmosphere with its illegal and unilateral actions of 5th August 2019 in IIOJK and with continuous belligerent rhetoric.
Pakistan has consistently maintained that there can be no resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute without letting the Kashmiri people exercise their inalienable right to self-determination, as enshrined in the relevant UNSC Resolutions.
Question: What’s the current status of the Afghan Peace Process, especially after the official statement by Afghanistan blamed the Taliban? (Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)
Answer: We believe there is a need to build on the important milestones achieved in the Afghan Peace Process. It is now up to the Afghan leaders to seize this historic opportunity and workout an inclusive, broad based and comprehensive political settlement for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan. Pakistan also hopes to see a reduction in violence in Afghanistan, leading to the ceasefire.
Question: The first high level contact between the Foreign Minister and US Secretary of State was on the issue of Daniel Pearl. Do you think the Daniel Pearl issue has become an irritant in the bilateral relations? What insurances has Pakistan given to US in this regard? (Mateen Haider, G News)
Supplementary Question: How long was the telephone call between Foreign Minister Qureshi and Secretary Bilinken? Also, are we expecting telephone call between Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Biden? (Rashida Siyal, Abb Tak TV)
Answer: During his conversation with U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi underscored that it was important and in the mutual interest that justice is served through legal means. The Foreign Minister also highlighted the steps that have been taken in this regard.
In this regard, a review petition has already been filed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan against the judgment of acquittal in Daniel Pearl case. The Federal Government has also joined the petition filed by the Government of Sindh. The Government of Pakistan remains committed to ensure that justice is served in this case.
Regarding contact at leadership level, Pakistan attaches great importance to its relationship with the United States and exchange of visits and telephone calls is an important hallmark of this relationship. Both sides remain engaged through the diplomatic channels.
Question: I have two questions. First, last night we saw a statement from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards claiming that they have conducted “Intelligence Operation” in Pakistan, leading to the release of two of their elite soldiers who were captured for the past two and a half years. Can you confirm or deny this? If it is confirmed, can this be considered an act of war under United Nation Charter?
Secondly, in an unceremonious statement, the Afghan Foreign Ministry has alleged that Pakistan was shelling in its territory. I quote the statement “the continuation of these offensive actions will lead to an appropriate response from Afghanistan, in which case Pakistan will be responsible for the consequences.” Has any official protest been lodged or has the matter been taken up with the Afghan side on the issuing such an unceremonious statement? (Anas Mallick, The Correspondent)
Answer: We will revert to you on your first question.
Regarding your second question, the two countries have established mechanisms to discuss all issues. The Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) is an important platform where the two sides can discuss all issues. Blame game is in no one’s interest.
Question: Pakistan is a part of United for consensus Group regarding the UNSC reforms, and Pakistan stand is that the non permanent membership of the UNSC should be extended. On the other hand, India is vying for a permanent seat in the UNSC. How do you comment on this? Why is Pakistan not highlighting India’s human rights record in the UNSC? (Muhammad Asad, Frontier Post)
Answer: Pakistan, along with other members of the like-minded Group called “Uniting for Consensus”, supports a comprehensive reform of the Security Council to make it more representative, democratic, and transparent and accountable to the UN general membership.
We are opposed, in principle, to addition of any new individual permanent member in the Security Council, because we believe that permanent membership is anachronistic and runs counter to the very objectives of reform.
Purposes of the United Nations include effective collective measures against breaches of the peace and settlement of international disputes, including the promotion of human rights and respect for fundamental freedoms.
In this context, it is ironic that India is able to sit on a UN body whose resolution on Jammu and Kashmir have been persistently and defiantly flouted by it for over 70 years. It is crystal clear that a country which is in constant violation of the Security Council resolutions on Jammu & Kashmir does not fulfill the qualification requirements of even non- permanent membership of the Security Council.
India continues to oppress the Kashmiris and deny their inalienable right to self-determination that was guaranteed to them under numerous resolutions of the UNSC. We are confident that other responsible member of the Security Council will remain mindful of these facts and not allow India to abuse its position as a non-permanent member of the UNSC.