[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]
We start with a brief round-up of the activities on the foreign policy front.
The Indian occupation forces in their recent acts of state terrorism have martyred seven Kashmiris, including Mir Zeenatul Islam, Muna Ahmad, Fayaz Ahmad and Shaan Showkat Bhatt in Shopian, Bijbehara and Bandipore areas of the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOK).
As you know, the international community, particularly the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), has time and again raised its serious concerns regarding abuses by the Indian security forces. However, escalation in violence, massive human rights violations and reported deployment of additional ten thousand troops in IOK, which is the most militarized zone in the world, is a matter of grave concern.
India should stop misleading the international community and fully respect the right to self-determination of the people of IOK, as protected under international law and accept the ground realities and aspirations of the people of Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir instead of continuing with its policy of obduracy in the territory.
We again strongly express serious concern over the continued illegal detention of senior Hurriyat leaders under draconian laws and demand their immediate release.
Moving forward, as the Director General (SA & SAARC), I summoned the Indian Deputy High Commissioner Mr. Gaurav Ahluwalia on 28 and 30 July, 2019 and today, and condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control (LoC).
On 28 July, during the cease fire violations in Nezapir Sector, an innocent civilian Ms. Rehmat Jan w/o Muhammad Din was martyred, while three civilians namely Muhammad Naeem, s/o Muhammad Fareed, Zainab Bibi, w/o Muhammad Bashir, Begum Jan w/o Muhammad Qasim, sustained serious injuries. Further, in Kailer Sector, an innocent civilian Mr. Munir Hussain s/o Muhammad Din sustained injuries as well.
On 30 July, in Danna, Dhddnial, Jura, Lipa, Shardda and Shahkot sectors an innocent civilian, Mr. Nouman Ahmad was martyred while 9 other civilians, including women and children sustained serious injuries.
On 31 July, in Nauseri Sector one more innocent civilian Bisma D/o Ghulam Murtaza was martyred, while six other civilian including women and children sustained injuries.
The Indian occupation forces along the LoC and Working boundary have continuously been targeting civilian populated areas with heavy mortars and automatic weapons which still continues.
Moving forth, a delegation of European Parliamentarians, including MEP Richard Corbett, leader of the Labour Party in Europe, MEP Irina Von Wiese, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and MP Nazia Rehman, called on the Foreign Minister on 30th July 2019 and discussed the deteriorating human rights situation in IOK. The delegation is on an 8-day visit to Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
During the meeting, the Foreign Minister highlighted that the successive reports by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in June 2018 and July 2019 respectively, the UK Parliament’s All Parties Parliamentary Kashmir Group (APPKG) report, as well as the hearing by European Parliament’s Sub-Committee on Human Rights in Brussels lent credence to Pakistan’s stance on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and helped raise awareness in the international community about the horrendous human rights situation in IOK.
The 5th meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Jammu and Kashmir was held in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday. The Foreign Minister briefed the members of the Committee on the recent visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to the United States. In the briefing, the Foreign Minister underlined that during his visit to the U.S., the Prime Minister exchanged views with President Donald Trump on a wide-range of issues, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. He added that Pakistan welcomed President Trump’s readiness to mediate in the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.
The Foreign Minister, Chairman Kashmir Committee, and the Committee members unanimously agreed to continue to highlight ongoing atrocities in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir at every possible international forum.
Finally, the Government and people of Pakistan are deeply grieved over the sad demise of President Beji Caid Essebsi of Tunisia. President Dr. Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan have conveyed condolences to their respective Tunisian counterparts, expressing solidarity with the government and people of Tunisia. President Essebsi will be remembered for upholding democratic rights and promoting the well-being of the brotherly people of Tunisia.
Question: US Special Envoy to Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad is visiting Islamabad. Would you please confirm his engagements in Islamabad? (Mr. Mazhar Iqbal – Public News)
Answer: We will share the details soon.
Question: Is there any development regarding President Trump’s offer of mediation in resolving the Jammu and Kashmir dispute? Secondly, will the Prime Minister attend the UNGA Session in September and is there any planned meeting of the Prime Minister with President Trump to follow up on his mediation offer? (Mr. Zahid Farooq Malik – Daily Metro Watch)
Answer: We can only inform about the UNGA once final decisions have been taken. As for your second question, President Trump raised the issue of mediation about the Jammu and Kashmir dispute saying that Indian Prime Minister had requested him for it. We have welcomed his offer. We look forward to positive developments and resolution of Jammu and Kashmir dispute as per the UN Security Council Resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
Question: The United States has imposed sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mr. Mohammad Javad Zarif. How do you see this development? Do not you think that the US decision is closing the door for dialogue and diplomacy? (Mr. Sheeraz Asghar- IRNA)
Answer: Pakistan always believes that diplomacy and dialogue should be given a chance and we stand by our position.
Question: President Trump also expressed his desire to mediate and play his role for resolution of Jammu and Kashmir dispute immediately after his election as President of USA. Is the current offer in continuation of his earlier desire? Secondly, did the Prime Minister also raise the continued violations of human rights and deteriorating situation in IOK with President Trump during his recent visit to USA? (Mr. Asghar Ali Mubarak – Daily Mail / PPA News Agency)
Answer: We raise the issue of violation of human rights and deteriorating situation in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir at every forum. There is no doubt that it is a monumental success of our foreign policy that President Trump raised this issue and expressed his desire to mediate and help to resolve this dispute. This is a very positive development. We will certainly follow it up actively.
Question: What is an update on Pakistan’s efforts vis-à-vis bringing Afghan Taliban to the negotiation table with the government of President Ashraf Ghani? (Mr. Zargoon Shah – Geo TV)
Supplementary Question: Special Envoy of US on Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad is visiting Pakistan. There are reports that the peace process is at a stage where an MoU can be finalized soon. What is the US demand from Pakistan? (Mr. Shabbir Wahgra – PTV News)
Supplementary Question: The ongoing talks between the US and the Taliban in Doha are significant as Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad has said that there is a possibility that they may find a way forward at the earliest. Has the details of the agreement been shared with Pakistan and is there any expectation from Pakistan regarding withdrawal of troops and peace in Afghanistan? (Mr. Muhammad Jaleel – VoA)
Supplementary Question: There are reports that Taliban would conditionally agree on the MoU. Will Pakistan persuade Taliban in this regard? (Mr. Anas Mallick – WION)
Supplementary Question: Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad has announced a stop-over in Islamabad and reportedly he is due at the Foreign Office today. Can you please share some details as the Foreign Office has not officially spoken on this? (Mr. Sib Kaifee – Arab News)
Answer: Pakistan has been facilitating the peace process and talks with the Taliban in good faith and as a shared responsibility of the international community to bring peace, security and stability in Afghanistan and the entire region. Prime Minister Imran Khan is personally committed to the Afghan peace process. We will continue stressing for a comprehensive all-inclusive Afghan owned and Afghan led peace process and in this regard we are working with all stakeholders. Matters related to the visit of the Taliban, as announced by the Prime Minister, are being finalized.
Moreover, I would reiterate Pakistan’s position on the peace process, which is to facilitate peace talks in good faith and as a shared responsibility. We have noted the outcome of the two-day intra-Afghan talks held in Doha last month, where the Afghan groups agreed on a broad road map for the future of Afghanistan. We hope that the next round of intra-Afghan talks would be more comprehensive and all-inclusive. Intra-Afghan talks are internal political matter of Afghanistan. Pakistan would continue to support an outcome acceptable to all Afghans in line with the efforts made by the US and international community. As the talks are continuing, we must not prejudge the conclusions.
Lastly, the international community has recognized the importance of peaceful, non-military and Afghan owned and Afghan led solution of the conflict in Afghanistan. Pakistan has played a pivotal role in taking forward the peace process in good faith and our role in this regard has been widely acknowledge. However, sustainable peace and security in Afghanistan is a shared responsibility. The ultimate decision for a sustainable political settlement can only be made by the Afghans themselves. Pakistan will keep on supporting a peaceful, stable, united, democratic and prosperous Afghanistan. Nonetheless Pakistan’s sincere and consistent support is a major boost for the ongoing peace efforts.
Question: The Foreign Minister has said that the next round of Intra-Afghan dialogue will be held in Oslo. Is there any change? (Mr. Muhammad Jaleel – VoA)
Answer: I cannot comment on the specifics of this.
Question President Trump was extended an official invitation by the Prime Minister Imran Khan. What are the updates on his visit to Pakistan and what preparations are you doing regarding this? Secondly, would you please comment on the reports regarding additional deployment of troops by India in IOK and also the human rights atrocities in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir have intensified? What measures are you taking to highlight these brutalities? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal- Media Today)
Answer: Regarding your first question, President Trump has agreed to visit Pakistan in reply to the invitation by PM Khan. The details of the visit would be worked out in due course.
Regarding your second question, we have seen reports of the additional deployment. Recently, Indian media referring to leaked communications from the Indian Home Ministry has extensively reported about deployment of additional 10,000 troops in IOK. These measures are interpreted by Kashmiris to mean that the ground is being prepared to counter the fallout after the possible abolition of Article 35-A and 370 which grant special status to IOK.
Reports are supported by facts on ground in IOK including special flights carrying CRPF landing at Srinagar airport and additional companies reaching the valley by road. So far, no senior Indian government authority has attempted to dispel the reports or calm the situation lending credence to them.
Reportedly, local sources referring to the Indian railways authority’s decision to purchase and store rations for at least a week’s consumption to meet any crisis situation, which may arise from a possible abrogation of Article 35A, which is an indication that the security situation in IOK is likely to deteriorate further.
Pakistan has consistently rejected Indian attempts to further try to integrate IOK through the so-called Articles 370 and 35A and maintains that it is in stark violation of the UNSC resolutions.
Question Yesterday, there were reports in the local media regarding the arrest of an alleged Indian spy. Do you have any details on this? (Mr. Essa Naqvi – Indus TV)
Answer: I have seen the media reports and sought the details.
Question A Pakistani Mudassar Shahzad son of Arshad Mahmood (late), resident of Malakwal, Mandi Bahauddin was murdered in Chania Central Jail in Crete, Greece. Please share some details? (Mr. Faisal Raza Khan – 92 News)
Answer: An incident of an extremely serious nature that involved brutal murder of a young Pakistani citizen in a Greek jail in Crete Island occurred last week. Following are the details:
On July 20, a Pakistani citizen, Mr. Mudassar Arshad s/o Mr. Arshad Mehmood (late), was repeatedly stabbed by an Albanian prisoner Julian Halil, in Chania Central Jail, Crete Island;Although the real name of the victim is Mudassar Arshad, his name in jail record was Khurram Shahzad;He was hospitalized on the same day but succumbed to injuries on July 22;The 25-year-old victim belonged to Malakwal, Mandi Bahauddin and was convicted in drug-related case;This is an extremely worrisome incident because the victim was in jail custody and the prison authorities were duty-bound to keep him safe.
The human remains of Mr. Mudassar Shahzad have been transported back to Pakistan for his last rites and burial in his hometown.
Our Embassy in Athens has requested the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other concerned authorities to set-up a high-level inquiry in this case to bring the culprits to justice. Moreover, it has also been requested that welfare of Pakistani prisoners in all Greek prisons may please be ensured, so that such incidents do not take place in future. Request of the deceased’s family for justice has also been made.
Question Reportedly, there were Pakistani nationals onboard the Iranian oil tanker that was seized by the UK authorities in July. Can you share some details? (Mr. Ali Jaswal – Xinhua News Agency)
Answer: I have no such information. Will confirm and revert.
Question During the visit of the Saudi Crown Prince to Pakistan, a joint Working Commission was agreed upon and other MOUs were also signed. Secondly, he also announced the release of Pakistani prisoners in Saudi jails. What are the updates on these issues?(Mr. Tariq Mehmood – Hum News)
Answer: We are working on this with Saudi authorities.
Question What is the update on the Commander Kulbushan Jhadav case? Has the Indian side submitted a new application in light of the ICJ judgment? (Mr. Majid Jarral – News One TV)
Answer: We have offered the Indian High Commission to avail consular access on this Friday. The reply from the Indian side is awaited.
Question What options does Pakistan have if India tries to scrap Article 35 A of the Indian Constitution? (Mr. Ali Hussain – Business Recorder)
Answer: The dispute of Jammu and Kashmir is the cornerstone of our foreign policy. The United National Security Council resolutions have to be implemented in letter and spirit for the early resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, as per the wishes of Kashmiris people.
Question What is the update on Kartarpur Corridor? (Mr. Zahid Farooq Malik – Daily Metro Watch)
Answer: A meeting between Pakistan and India is expected soon to finalize the modalities and culminate the process.