Weekly Press Briefing by Dr Faisal Spokesperson on 10th October 2019.

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

Bismillah Ir Rehman Nir Rahim,

Assalaam-o-Alaikum,

Let me begin by giving a brief round-up of the events on the foreign policy front.

The Indian Occupation Forces in their recent acts of state terrorism have martyred Ubaid Farooq Lone and Abbas Ahmad Bhat and critically injured Sabzar Ahmad Bhatt in Awantipora area of Pulwama district.

The continued military lockdown and complete communications blackout in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir entered its 66th consecutive day (since the lockdown was imposed on 4th August 2019), which risk lives of the innocent Kashmiris. Over 8 million people in the IOJ&K remain cut-off from the world, with concerns raised about lack of medical supplies and other basic needs. These inhuman and unilateral actions by India are continuing in spite of international condemnation.

Despite Indian efforts to cover up its brutalities in IOJ&K, the plight of the people of Jammu and Kashmir is being recognized across the world. As you have seen, three major U.S. presidential candidates have added their voices in censuring India on the appalling humanitarian situation in IOJ&K – Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. All three are members of the US Senate.

We condemn the unprecedented communication blockade and clampdown in IOJ&K and impress upon the international community to take cognizance of the continuing blatant human rights violations by the Indian Occupation Forces.

At the invitation of Mr. Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, visited China from October 8-9, 2019. During the visit, Prime Minister Imran Khan called on Mr. Xi Jinping, President of China, held a meeting with Premier Li Keqiang and met with Mr. Li Zhanshu, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. Prime Minister also met Chinese entrepreneurs and businessmen and attended the closing ceremony of the Beijing Horticulture Expo 2019 as a chief guest.

The two sides held in-depth exchange of views on deepening bilateral cooperation in the areas of trade, investment, finance,defence and security, education, agriculture, social sector, people-to-people contacts and cultural linkages. They also discussed regional and international issues of mutual interest.

Pakistan-China Joint Statement has been issued yesterday, which is available on the Ministry’s website for further details.

Pakistan side underscored that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a transformational project. A CPEC Authority was established to oversee the expeditious implementation of CPEC projects. Both sides maintained that the second phase of CPEC will promote industrial and socio-economic development in Pakistan. Pakistan side also underlined that the Gwadar Port has been granted various facilities enabling it to become a trade and logistical hub for the region. The two sides expressed determination to speedily execute CPEC so that its growth potential can be fully realized making it a high-quality demonstration project for BRI. They maintained that the ninth session of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) to be held in November in Islamabad would further fast-track implementation of the ongoing projects and explore new avenues of cooperation, including ML-1.

The Pakistan side also briefed the Chinese side on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, including its concerns, position, and current urgent issues. The Chinese side responded that it was paying close attention to the current situation in Jammu & Kashmir and reiterated that the Kashmir issue is a dispute left from history, and should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements. China opposes any unilateral actions that complicate the situation.

Moving forth, as Director General (SA & SAARC), I summoned the Indian Charge d’ Affaires, on 8th October 2019 and condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control (LoC). These violations were perpetrated in the Chirikot Sector, which resulted in multiple shahadats and injuries.

A high-level U.S. Congressional delegation comprising Senators Chris Van Hollen and Maggie Hassan along with US Cd’aAmbassador Paul Jones visited Muzaffarabad on 6th October. The purpose of the visit was to see the ground situation and gauge public sentiment following the illegal Indian actions of 5th August, in IOJ&K.A detailed briefing on the current situation on LoC was given by Maj Gen Amer. The delegation also called on the President Sardar Masood Khan and Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider of AJK. The Leadership of AJK urged the U.S. Senators to play their role in saving the people of IOJ&K from India’s repressive brutal measures and pressing upon India to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir Dispute in accordance with UNSC resolutions. The U.S. Senators said that they shared the human rights concerns and would continue to urge India to lift the curfew and release all prisoners as a first step. They also expressed their resolve to remain engaged for the resolution of the dispute.

Earlier, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, along with US Charge d’ Affaires Ambassador Paul Jones also travelled to Multan on 05 October to meet with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and witnessed the 780th Urs celebrations of the revered Islamic scholar and Sufi Saint Hazrat Bahauddin Zikria. Foreign Minister thanked Senator Van Hollen for his principled stance in raising consistent concerns on the deteriorating situation in IOJ&K. Foreign Minister appreciated Senator’s leadership role in proposing an amendment to the Senate Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill, 2020 that explicitly expresses concern about the “humanitarian crisis in Jammu and Kashmir.”

Lastly, our diplomatic efforts have borne fruit and Pakistani Zaireen are now being issued visas for Iraq.

Question: As it has been observed during the Informal Meeting of SAARC Council of Foreign Ministers on the sidelines of the UNGA Session, India has not raised an objection to the holding of 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad, which is pending since 2016. Can you confirm the dates for holding of the SAARC Summit in Islamabad?

Secondly, there are some reports in the media that Prime Minister of Pakistan will undertake visits to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran in order to play a mediatory role and to resolve outstanding issues between both the countries. Would you please confirm? (Mr. Essa Naqvi–Indus News)

Answer: I would respond to your second question first. The visits of the Prime Minister to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran are on the cards. I will update you as and when things unfold.

Regarding SAARC, as I have already mentioned last week that during the Informal Meeting of SAARC Council of Foreign Ministers on the sidelines of the UNGA Session, India was cornered and it could not object to the Agenda Item, which pertained to the holding of the SAARC Summit. Thereafter, we are working on the dates of the Summit and will update you accordingly.

Question: It has been reported that the Federal Cabinet in its last meeting has rejected the nomination of Major General (R) Saad Khattak as High Commissioner to Sri Lanka? (Mr. Adeel Warriach–Dunya News)

Answer: I cannot comment on what was discussed during the Cabinet meeting. However, as far as,the ambassadorial postings are concerned, it may be noted that these are made following a well established set of procedures and practices.

Question: Apart from former Prime Minister of India Mr. Manmohan Singh, which other dignitaries are being invited on the occasion of inauguration of Kartarpur Saheb Corridor on the 550th Birth Anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak?(Mr. Zahid Farooq Malik – Daily Metro Watch)

Answer: We have extended a formal invitation to former Prime Minister of India Mr. Manmohan Singh to attend the opening ceremony of Kartarpur Corridor on the occasion of the 550th Birth Anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak. Decisions on other invitations are yet to be taken and we will update you in due course.

Let me also reiterate that Kartarpur Saheb project is expected to be completed on time and the opening will take place as committed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Question: Two months have passed since the curfew has been imposed in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. What other steps Pakistan is planning to take in future to highlight the atrocities being perpetuated by the Indian Occupation Forces?

Secondly, how do you see the recent visit of the US Congressional delegation to Pakistan? (Mr. Asghar Ali Mubarak – Daily Mail)

Supplementary Question: A US Congressional delegation visited Azad Jammu and Kashmir but were denied access in IOJ&K. Do you think they can play a role in highlighting the situation on ground in AJK and IOJ&K? (Mr. Laiq-ur-Rehman – ARY News)

Answer: Pakistan will use each and every avenue to highlight the Indian atrocities in the Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir. In this regard, President Trump had already offered mediation. The issue was also raised in the Human Rights Council, OIC and UNSC. In addition, the OIC Contact Group also issued a detailed Joint Communiqué demanding that India should lift the curfew and stop the gross human rights violations in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. This is a consistent and ongoing process. Pakistan will continue to support the cause of Jammu & Kashmir and we continue to stand with the people of Jammu &Kashmir.

Question: The Prime Minister has recently completed visits to the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China. Now the Prime Minister is also planning to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Are these planned visits a continuation of what was discussed with President Trump? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Media Today)

Answer: I have already spoken on the matter and have nothing more to add.

Question: Chinese President is planning to visit India. What can be the outcome of the visit?

Secondly, the US has imposed sanctions on China over the alleged human rights violations against the Chinese Muslims? (Ms. Rashida Sial – AabTakk)

Answer: Regarding your first question, we do not comment on bilateral issues.

Second question pertains to an internal matter of China.

Question: Since the illegal actions of the Indian government in IOJ&K on 05 August 2019, it was stated that Pakistan will take up the matter at the International Court of Justice. Is there any update on that? (Mr. Khalid Azim Chaudhary – Samaa TV)

Answer: The Attorney General of Pakistan and the Ministry of Law & Justice can respond to this legal question.

Question: Can you update us on the date(s) for opening of Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, as there are reports in media stating that the 9th of November would be the final date?

Secondly, Turkey has recently launched offensive strikes to attack the Kurds in Northern Syria. What is Pakistan’s stance on this development? (Mr. Anas Mallick – WION TV)

Answer: I have already responded on Kartarpur Sahib Corridor.Dates have not been finalized as yet.

We appreciate Turkey’s positive role in finding a viable political solution to the conflict in Syria. We also acknowledge Turkey’s humanitarian efforts by graciously hosting over 3.5 million Syrian refugees. We recognize Turkey’s legitimate security concerns in the region. Like Pakistan, Turkey has also been a victim of terrorism.

Pakistan has been and continues to support the territorial integrity of Syria and expresses the hope that a political solution to the Syrian conflict will be reached at the earliest, that takes into account concerns of all regional stakeholders and parties to the conflict.

Question: If the United Nations intervenes in the recent Jammu & Kashmir situation, will Pakistan support such a move? (Mr. Raziq Mehmood Bhatti – Daily Kashmir Express)

Answer: Pakistan will definitely support this.

Question: How do you see the recent procurement of Rafael jets by India? Will this lead to an arms race in the region?

Secondly, Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan hoisted Afghan flag in Afghan Market in Peshawar saying it is the property of Afghanistan? What are your comments on this? (Mr. Zargoon Shah – Geo News)

Answer: Pakistan’s position remains unchanged regarding the regional arms race. Pakistan does not engage in any arms race in the region. Pakistan, especially, under the current government is focusing on human development, education, health, infrastructure and other social sectors. However, if push comes to shove, Pakistan is fully capable of defending itself as manifested on 27th February 2019.

Regarding your second question, the case for legal possession of the Afghan Market in Peshawar was between a private Pakistani claimant and the Afghan National Bank. The Supreme Court has decided in favor of the private claimant. It is a purely legal matter and action has been taken following Court’s Order. As regards any undiplomatic actions, appropriate steps would be taken.

Question: Pakistan’s engineer Mr. Farrukh Hussain is missing from Kabul since 5th October 2019. Can you please share some details on his whereabouts?

Secondly, the Spokesperson of Afghan Foreign Ministry has recently been removed from his post by the Afghan President after welcoming Pakistan’s talks with the Taliban. The Afghan Presidential Office criticized the negotiations and stated that any peace talks held without the leadership of the government were futile.Your comments please? (Mr. Naveed Siddiqui – Dawn News)

Answer: I will check the details regarding Mr. Farrukh Hussain and revert.

Regarding your second question, I have nothing further to add.

Question: As you have highlighted the possibility that Prime Minister may visit Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran. On the other hand, there are also reports that Indian Prime Minister Modi is also expected to undertake a visit to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Will the Saudi government raise the issue of human rights violations in the Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir during the visit of Prime Minister Modi? (Mr. Ali Hussain – Business Recorder)

Answer: I have already spoken on the matter and have nothing more to add.

Question: Different Pakistanis give interviews to the Indian media channels and speak about different issues. It has been observed that the ex-wife of Prime Minister of Pakistan, Ms. Reham Khan criticizes different Pakistani state institutions. This results in a negative image for Pakistan. Your comments please? (Mr. Aun Sherazi – Such News)

Answer: We do not expect any positivity from India.Those who stand with them can do so but we are firmly grounded with our country and nation and will continue to do so.

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