[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]
Bismillah Ir Rehman Nir Rahim,
Let me begin by giving a brief round-up of the events on the foreign policy front;
The Indian Occupation Forces in their continued acts of state terrorism have martyred three more innocent Kashmiris Mr. Nasir, Mr. Javeed Farooq & Aqib Ahmed in Pazalpora in Bijbehara town.
The humanitarian nightmare in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K) is worsening with continued military lockdown and complete communications blackout for 75th consecutive day (since the lockdown was imposed on 4th August 2019), which risks 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.
In a state of panic and in the face of rising international criticism, an isolated India is falsely trying claim normalcy while continuing with gross human right violations and increasing military aggression. 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.
As Director General (SA & SAARC), I summoned the Indian Chargé d’affaires, on 11thand 16thOctober 2019 and condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control (LoC). These violations were perpetrated in the Sharda, Nezapir, Satwal and Bagsar sectors, which resulted in multiple shahadats and injuries. The deliberate targeting of civilian populated areas is indeed deplorable and contrary to human dignity, international human rights and humanitarian laws. The ceasefire violations by India are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation.
On 13th October 2019, Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Tehran as part of his initiative to promote peace and security in the Gulf. The Prime Minister was accompanied by a high-level delegation including Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. During his meetings with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani, Prime Minister Khan highlighted the historic ties and the tradition of close cooperation between the two countries. The Prime Minister expressed his gratitude for Iran’s support on the Jammu & Kashmir Dispute and apprised them of India’s illegal and unilateral actions in the region.
In the regional context, the Prime Minister underlined that the current situation in the Gulf requires avoidance of military conflict and constructive engagement of all parties. The Prime Minister conveyed Pakistan’s readiness to extend full facilitation of efforts for de-escalation of tensions and resolution of differences and disputes through political and diplomatic means.
On 15 October 2019, Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Saudi Arabia and had separate meetings with His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. The Prime Minister was accompanied by a high-level delegation including Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. This visit waspart of the Prime Minister’s initiative for peace and security in the region. During these meetings, the Prime Minister underscored that the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan was deep-rooted and multi-facetedand reiterated the resolve to further deepen bilateral cooperation.
The Prime Minister also apprised the Saudi leadership of the grave human rights and humanitarian situation in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir including continuous lockdown, curfew and other communication restrictions that have severely impacted the lives of over 8 million Kashmiris and seriously imperiled peace and security in the region.
Referring to the evolving situation in the Gulf, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of avoidance of military conflict and constructive engagement of all parties. The Prime Minister conveyed Pakistan’s readiness to facilitate efforts for de-escalation of tensions and resolution of differences and disputes through peaceful means.
The Saudi leadership appreciated serious efforts of Prime Minister Imran Khan towards promoting peace and stability in the region and the impact of this initiative on de-escalation of tensions. The exchange of views in this regard was comprehensive and constructive. Noting the complexity of the issues and recognizing the challenges involved, the two sides agreed to remain engaged and consult closely to take the process forward.
Lastly, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are currently visiting Pakistan on a 5-day tour. The Royal Couple arrived in Pakistan on Monday,14th October. They were received by the Foreign Minister and his spouse. On Tuesday, apart from their interactive public engagements the Royal Couple called on the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan. Yesterday, the Royal Couple travelled to the Northern Areas of Pakistan and are currently in Lahore where they have several public engagements.
The President and Prime Minister have warmly welcomed the Royal Couple’s visit to Pakistan. Prime Minister Imran Khan recalled the love and affection among the people of Pakistan for Princess Diana, because of her compassion as well as commitment to support charitable causes. The Prime Minister also lauded the Royal couple for promoting positive activities in Pakistan and their interaction with young Pakistanis.
This visit of royal couple is a reflection of the fact that Pakistan is a beautiful and safe country for tourism and investment, which are the top priorities of this government.
Question What is the reason behind the postponement of the scheduled visit of President of Turkey to Pakistan?
Secondly, Indian Prime Minister has threatened Pakistan to cut the water flow of three rivers. How do you see this statement?
Thirdly, is there any plan of next meeting of Taliban leaders in Islamabad? (Mr. Sib Kaifee– Arab News)
Supplementary Question What is Pakistan’s take on current crisis in Syria, particularly, the military strikes by Turkey? (Mr. Mateen Haider –G-News)
Supplementary Question What is Pakistan’s stance on the letter written by President Trump to the President of Turkey? (Mr. Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)
Supplementary Question In your last briefing, you supported Turkey’s position on Syria. Meanwhile, the Kurdish forces have formed an alliance with the Syrian government, which has started deploying forces against Turkey. What is Pakistan’s position on Syrian regime? (Mr. Ali Jaswal– Xinhua News Agency)
Supplementary Question President Erdogan was coming to Pakistan later this month but there are reports of the postponement of the visit. Can you please share some details? (Mr. Amjad Ali – PTV News)
Answer: Please refer to statements delivered last week. We have commented on this. Prime Minister Imran Khan called President Erdogan and reaffirmed Pakistan’s support and solidarity with Turkey. Turkey has remained a victim of terrorism for a long time and we need to recognize its legitimate security concerns.
Pakistan supports the territorial integrity of Syria and hopes that a political solution to the Syrian conflict will be reached at the earliest.
As for President Erdogan’s visit to Pakistan, please note that Pakistan and Turkey share deep brotherly ties. We have maintained regular leadership level contact. The expected visit of President Erdogan has been postponed for the time being and would be rescheduled.
Regarding the question on the Indian Prime Minister’s statement, after imposing a crushing curfew and disconnecting the Kashmir Valley for more than 2 months now, such statements coming from the Indian leadership are another glaring example of the fact that the present Government of India is bent upon making India an irresponsible aggressor state that has no regard for Human Rights or international obligations. Such statements should be an eye opener for the world which must realize that the extremist government of Mr. Modi, under the false illusion of grandeur, is a clear threat to South Asia, as well as the world peace. Let me assure you that Pakistan is vigilant about its rights safeguarded in the IWT. If India initiates anything contrary to Pakistan’s rights, we will exercise the appropriate options available in the Treaty.
Regarding the question on Taliban, I cannot comment at this stage.
Question The Indian government has announced 8th November to inaugurate Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, whereas, Pakistan has not finalized the date, as yet. Is there any possibility that both the governments could inaugurate the Corridor on the same date? (Mr. Naveed Akbar –Aaj News)
Supplementary Question There are reports that Pakistan in its draft has retained the clause of US $ 20 as service charges. Has the Indian side responded to this? (Mr. Anas Mallick – WION TV)
Supplementary Question Indian media is reporting that Prime Minister Modi after inaugurating Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on the Indian side is likely to visit Pakistan. Is there any such thing going on? (Mr. Zahid Farooq Malik – Daily Metro Watch)
Answer: Pakistan has almost completed work on its side of Kartarpur Sahib Corridor. As far as other details are concerned, they are likely to be decided soon and we will share the details accordingly.
Question: The Supreme Court of India is expected to deliver verdict on Babri Mosque. What is Pakistan’s take on it?
Secondly, since the situation in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir is worsening day by day, could you please tell us what is the outcome of the telephonic conversations of the Foreign Minister with his counterparts from various countries? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Media Today)
Answer: We have repeatedly shared our position in this regard. India has been cornered and isolated because of its atrocities and gross human rights violations in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. Even, the Indian leaders, members of the civil society, academia etc. are raising their voices against the Hindu nationalist BJP government. Similarly, a number of international leaders and organizations have been condemning the Indian government on its barbaric steps in IoJ&K. The Jammu &Kashmir dispute has become internationalized and the Indian government does not see any solution in this situation.
Modi government has led India into a cul de sac.
Moreover, the Foreign Minister and Foreign Office have been proactively highlighting this issue in all global and regional fora including the UNSC, Human Rights Council, OIC & OIC Contact Group on Jammu &Kashmir.
As far as your question on Babri Mosque, it is a sensitive issue. We would definitely want that the decision should reflect the sentiments of the Muslim minority in India.
Question: During the reception hosted by the British High Commission in the honour of visiting Royal Couple, the Federal Ministers, senior government servants and journalists were not treated well, searched and were denied entry into the reception. Would you please inform us whether the Foreign Office was involved in the entire process or not? (Mr. Aun Sherazi – Such News)
Answer: I was not present at the occasion, but will check the details.
Question: Meeting on FATF is taking place in Paris, presently. Can you please update us on the outcome and what are the expectations of Pakistan regarding removal from the Grey List? (Mr. Laiq-ur-Rehman – ARY News)
Answer: The question pertains to the Ministry of Finance.
Question: In your opening statement, you have mentioned the visits of the Prime Minister to Saudi Arabia and Iran, where the Prime Minister shared his perspective regarding the de-escalation between the two countries. Is there any indication given by Saudi Arabia or Iran to hold further negotiations in order to address their differences? (Mr. Mateen Haider – G-News)
Supplementary Question As per my understanding, yesterday Foreign Minister informed that both Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to hold direct talks or talks through a facilitator. Are such talks taking place in near future in Pakistan? Secondly, unfortunately an accident has happened in Medina Munawara. There are reports that most of the victims are from Pakistan. Could you please confirm and share details? (Mr. Essa Naqvi–Indus News)
Answer: Your understanding is not what the Foreign Minister said in his briefing yesterday. I would urge you to listen to that again. Prime Minister Imran Khan has offered to facilitate the two brotherly countries to help defuse tensions in the region and resolve differences and disputes through political and diplomatic means and it has been welcomed by both countries. The Press Release, in this regard, has already been issued.
Before coming here for the briefing, I have talked to our Consul General in Jeddah The incident has occurred at some distance from Medina Munawara. Our Consul General is trying to ascertain details, which we will share with you soon.
Question: After availing consular access for Commander Kulbushan Jadhav, has the Indian side contacted the government of Pakistan. If yes, what was Pakistan’s response? (Mr. Adeel Warriach–Dunya News)
Answer: The government of Pakistan has already granted consular access to Commander Kulbushan Jadhav. In this regard, other logical and legal steps are being initiated and would be shared with you in due course.
Question: Reportedly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has written a letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly regarding the appointment of Trade Officers from Ministry of Foreign Affairs instead of Ministry of Commerce. Will that make any positive difference? (Mr. Abid Siddiqui – The World Ambassador)
Answer: I do not have any information in this regard.
Question: Around 7000 Pakistani families are facing difficulties in different camps in Afghanistan. Is government of Pakistan doing anything to bring them back? (Ms. Rabia Peer – VoA Dewa Radio)
Answer: I will check the details and get back to you.
Question: There is a growing perception that the momentum which Pakistan was able to generate internationally, in the aftermath of the illegal actions taken by India in IOJ&K, is now dissipating. Can you apprise us of the steps currently being taken by Pakistan to highlight the plight of the Kashmiri people in the international arena?(Mr. Ali Hussain – Business Recorder)
Answer: I strongly disagree with these assertions. I would like to reiterate that the struggle for Jammu and Kashmir is a process and not an event. Our efforts will continue. Due to Pakistan’s relentless efforts on the global stage, India has been forced into a corner and their desperation is visible, in this regard. Our Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, parliament, Kashmir Committee, media, civil society and the Foreign Office have pursued a highly active and aggressive foreign policy to highlight the Jammu and Kashmir Dispute and these efforts will continue at all relevant forums.
Question: India has been pursuing a negative propaganda campaign in order to blame Pakistan. Their fascist regime is being led by RSS. How is Pakistan countering their nefarious designs?(Mr. Zaheer Ali – Samaa TV)
Answer: Our Prime Minister and Foreign Minster have, time and again, highlighted the gross violations of human rights perpetrated by the Indian fascist regime. India has been labeled as “Lynchistan” by international media outlets because of the rampant cow-lynching incidents taking place in the country. Not only are the Muslims being attacked viciously, but other minority communities are facing the same threat as well. We will keep on highlighting these brutalities globally.
Question: Secretary Defence stated in a meeting of the Defence Committee of the National Assembly that Line of Control still exists. Secondly, he stated that Pakistan had preemptory information in July 2019 that India was going to revoke Articles 35 A and 370. If we were aware, then why did we not go on a diplomatic offensive? Your comments please? (Mr. Ijaz Ahmed –GNN)
Answer: As per the Simla Accord, the ‘Ceasefire Line’ was named as the “Line of Control” and it certainly exists. It is acknowledged by both the states.
Regarding your second question, on 31st July 2019, the 5th Meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Jammu and Kashmir was briefed here at the Foreign Office which was followed by a Joint Press briefing by Chairman of the Committee Syed Fakhar Imam and the Foreign Minister. Furthermore, the Foreign Minister wrote a letter to UN Secretary General and President of the UN Security Council apprising them of the atrocious steps taken by the Indian government on 1st August, 2019. The OIC Secretary General was also contacted by Foreign Minister. Therefore, the assertion that Pakistan was not ready is baseless.
Question: Will the people of Gilgit Baltistan (GB) and residents of part of J&K in possession of China be able to participate in case a plebiscite is conducted in Jammu and Kashmir, as per the UNSC Resolutions?
Secondly, is the government of Pakistan planning to take steps to allow Pakistani citizens to own property in GB, following the example set by the Indian government after the revocation of Article 370?(Mr. Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)
Answer: The UNSC Resolutions on the State of Jammu and Kashmir (as it was in 1947) call for a plebiscite in the entire area under the State of Jammu and Kashmir. I cannot add or subtract from those resolutions, which are self-explanatory. India should respect the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and agree to hold a plebiscite in order to ensure the right for self-determination of the Kashmiri people. Pakistan has always agreed, and is ready to hold the Plebiscite but the Indian government has shied away from fulfilling this obligation under the UNSC Resolutions.
Regarding your second question, no material change can be brought about in AJK or GB before the final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir Dispute, as per the UNSC Resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.