[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]
Since our last press briefing, there have been many fruitful diplomatic activities and developments on foreign policy front. I will give an overview of some of these developments/engagements briefly, as details have already been conveyed to you all.
The Indian occupation forces during so-called cordon and search operations martyred forty (40) Kashmiris including Zakir Rashid, Faisal Nazir Mir, Umar Ahmad, Asif Ahmad, Naseer Ahmad Mir, Yawar Ahmad Najar, Junaid Ayoub Wagay, Abid Manzoor Magray, Hilal Ahmad Bhatt, Zahoor Ahmad Sheikh, Amjid Ahmad Mapnoo, Sajad Ahmad, Jasim Rashid Shah, Mehran Ahmed Banday, Firdous Ahmad Bhatt, Sajad Ahmad Dar, Ashiq Ahmad Gania, Imran Ahmad, Shabbir Ahmad Dar, Salman Ahmad Khan, Mohammad Iqbal, Sayar Ahmed Butt, Shakir Ahmed Wagay, Nasir Ahmad Mir, Tasaduq Amin Shah, Irfan Ahmad Degoo, Sajad Maqbool Bhatt, Tauseef Ahmad, Shoukat Ahmad, Azad Ahmad Khanday, Suhail Yousuf Butt, Rafeeq Hassan Mir Shabir Ahmad Malik, Aadil Rehman and Hilal Ahmad Butt in Pulwama, Shopian, Bandipore, Baramulla, Budgam and Srinagar districts of the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
We remain gravely concerned over continued illegal detention, despite deteriorating health, of senior Hurriyat leaders, including Muhammad Yasin Malik, Shabbir Ahmad Shah, Masarat Alam Bhatt, Dr. Hameed Fayaz, Syeda Aasiya Andrabi, Nahida Nasreen, Fahmida Sofi, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Mohammad Aiyaz Akbar, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Peer Saifullah, Mehrajudin Kalwal, Farooq Ahmad Dar, Maulana Sarjan Barkati, Qazi Yasir Ahmad, Syed Shahid Yousuf, Syed Shakeel Ahmad, Zahoor Ahmad Watali, Shahid-ul-Islam, Advocate Zahid Ali, Moulana Mushtaq Veeri , Muhammad Yousuf Mir, and over a thousand other Hurriyat leaders, activists, and students languishing in the notorious Indian Tihar Jail in New Delhi and various other jails in IOK.
We also condemn the undemocratic act of Indian authorities who denied permission for an event of Amnesty International India-chapter to release its report on black law- Public Safety Act titled “Tyranny of a ‘lawless law’: Detention without charge or trial under the J&K Public Safety Act” in Srinagar on June 12, 2019.
We strongly condemn the arrest of an editor of a Srinagar-based newspaper Afaaq, Ghulam Jeelani by the Indian administration in a 27-year-old case, which is yet another attempt to muzzle the freedom of press in IOK.
India should stop misleading the international community and accept the ground realities and aspirations of the people of IOK, instead of continuing with its policy of obduracy in the territory.
You must have seen the report in which the International Commission of Jurists has joined other NGOs in drawing the attention of the UN Human Rights Council to extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir.
The statement, delivered by International Federation for Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) on behalf of Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Human Rights Watch, International Commission of Jurists, and World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), read as follows:
“We look forward to the publication of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ second-ever report on the grave human rights violations and abuses committed in Kashmir. In Indian Administered Kashmir, government forces have been responsible for serious violations, including unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, torture, and rape and other sexual violence. These grave violations by security forces in Kashmir are met with chronic impunity, as alleged perpetrators are rarely properly prosecuted for human rights violations, leading to near-total immunity for the crimes committed. Non-state armed groups have also been responsible for serious abuses, including attacks against journalists.
We are gravely concerned by the increasing threats faced by, and reprisals against, human rights defenders and others who have cooperated with UN human rights mechanisms in recent years, particularly in the elaboration of the OHCHR’s reports. We urge the Government of India to ensure that human rights defenders and journalists are allowed to carry out their work without threats or reprisals, and take adequate steps to protect them from non-state groups”.
The report has also expressed its concern that the Governments of India and Pakistan continue to deny access to OHCHR and other human rights mechanisms to IOK and AJK and called on both governments to grant unconditional access to these mechanisms, as well as to human rights organizations and the media.
In this regard, Pakistan’s position remains consistent and well known. We have nothing to hide in AJK. We are ready for visit of OHCHR and other human rights mechanisms to both AJK and IOK.
Moving forward, on 2 July, Pakistan conveyed to India that the second meeting to discuss the draft agreement for finalizing the modalities of Kartarpur Sahib Corridor and related technical issues will be held on 14th July 2019 at Wagah. The Indian side has been requested to convey the composition of its delegation. Pakistan remains committed to expedited progress on the matter to ensure that the Corridor is operationalized in time for the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak in November 2019.
The U.S. Administration has designated the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) as Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT). BLA remains a proscribed entity in Pakistan since 2006 and in recent times has carried out several terrorist attacks in the country. It is important that the perpetrators, organizers, financiers and external sponsors including those glorifying these acts of terror against Pakistan are held accountable and brought to justice.
Moving forth, on the invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan, President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani visited Pakistan on 27-28 June 2019. President Ghani was accompanied by a high-level delegation including Ministers, Advisors, Senior Officials and businessmen. The wide-ranging talks between the two sides focused on strengthening bilateral cooperation in diverse areas – including political, trade, economic, security, peace and reconciliation, education and people-to-people exchanges. President Ghani also travelled to Lahore where he participated in a business forum attended by business representatives from both countries.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had wide-ranging and productive engagements during his two-day visit to Brussels, Belgium (24-25 June 2019). The Foreign Minister visited NATO Headquarters and met with its Secretary General; he also addressed the EU’s Political and Security Committee; but, most importantly, he signed the EU-Pakistan Strategic Engagement Plan during his visit.
Furthermore, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, undertook a two-day State Visit to Pakistan 22-23 June 2019. He was accompanied by a high-powered delegation comprising key Ministers and Senior Officials. The visit was marked by exceptional warmth and cordiality. All aspects of bilateral relations came under review. Leadership of both the brother Islamic countries reaffirmed the closeness of Pakistan-Qatar fraternal ties and reiterated the resolve to forge a robust political and economic partnership.
Question: Prime Minister Imran Khan will be visiting United States, can you please officially confirm the dates of his visit?
Secondly, what is the agenda and composition of delegation for this visit? (Mr. Mateen Haider – G-News)
Supplementary Questions: What are Pakistan’s expectations from this trip? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Media Today)
Answer: At the invitation of US President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Washington and hold a meeting with President Trump on 22nd July 2019. Agenda of the meeting is being developed through diplomatic channels. A detailed curtain raiser will be issued before the visit. The focus would be to refresh the bilateral relationship.
Question: Indian media is maligning Pakistan on the Khalistan issue and creating mistrust regarding operationalization of Kartarpur Corridor. Your comments please? (Ms. Rashida Sial – AabTak)
Supplementary Question: There are news emanating from India that President of Hindu organization Shiromani Akali Dal and Sikh Prabandhak Committee have invited Prime Minister Modi to the inauguration ceremony of Kartarpur Corridor, on the Indian side, at Sultanpur Lodhi. Has the Government of Pakistan also extended any invitation to Prime Minister Modi in this regard? (Mr. Zargoon Shah – Geo News)
Supplementary Question: There are also reports that an organization of the Sikh community has written a letter to Pakistan requesting to increase the number of yatrees from 700 to 5000 and also allow yatrees to walk on foot for pilgrimage. Is the Government of Pakistan seriously considering these proposals? Moreover, will these requests be discussed in the upcoming meeting on Kartarpur? (Mr. Khalid Azeem – Saama TV)
Supplementary Question: Will the Indian media be invited for the meeting on Kartarpur at Wagha on 14 July 2019? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Media Today)
Answer: I will refer you to our PR. Pakistan has confirmed 14 July to India for the meeting. Work continues on the Kartarpur corridor on our side. We hope for expedited progress in the meeting to ensure operationalization of the corridor for the 550thbirth anniversary celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak. We are moving forward on this issue with positive spirit. In this regard, some decisions would be taken soon and I will update you accordingly.
Question: Proscribing BLA as a terrorist organization has been a long-standing demand of Pakistan. Is the recent decision of the United States an acknowledgement of Pakistan’s efforts / role in facilitating reconciliation process in Afghanistan? (Mr. Bashir Chaudhary – 92 News)
Supplementary Question: Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its press release regarding proscribing of BLA as terrorist organization has used word “noted” instead of “welcomed”. Would you please explain this? (Mr. Naveed Siddiqui – Dawn News)
Supplementary Question: Regarding BLA, you must have observed its activities in other countries as well especially in the UK. The Indian propaganda and anti-Pakistan activities were seen during the recent Pakistan’s cricket match with Afghanistan. Similarly, such activities are also seen in other European countries. Has Pakistan taken up the matter officially with the UK government? (Mr. Asghar Ali Mubarak – Daily Mail)
Answer: We have already taken up the issue with the government of UK. The British High Commissioner to Pakistan has also met with the Foreign Minister and the matter has been taken up.
Regarding your question on BLA, our Press Release is self-explanatory.
Regarding your question on acknowledgement of Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan by the US, they have acknowledged our position and we will continue our efforts in this regard.
Question: During his visit to Pakistan, Iranian Foreign Minister Mr. Jawad Zarif proposed to connect Chabahar Port of Iran with the Gwadar Port. How do you see this proposal? Has Pakistan formally responded to Iran in this regard? (Mr. Waqas Ahmed – Capital TV)
Answer: I will check and get back to you.
Question: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, Mr. Naeem ul Haq has stated that Taliban leaders will meet Prime Minister Imran Khan this month. The visit is linked to the ongoing peace process on Afghanistan in Doha. Would you please comment on this? Has this visit anything to do with the peace process? (Mr. Muhammad Jaleel – VoA)
It has been reported that Afghan President has also requested the government of Pakistan to bring Taliban to negotiating table? (Mr. Waqas Ahmed – Capital TV)
Answer: I cannot comment on the visit of Afghan leaders to Pakistan. However, Pakistan has played a pivotal role in facilitating and taking forward the peace process. We are doing this in good faith and as a shared responsibility. The ultimate decision regarding political settlement is in the hands of Afghan people. Pakistan would continue stressing the need for an Afghan-led and an Afghan- owned peace process. We hope that these talks could ultimately lead to the result oriented intra-Afghan dialogue.
Question: The leaders of different political parties of Afghanistan visited Pakistan and attended Peace Conference held in Bhurban. There were reports that these leaders were likely to meet the Prime Minister and the President of Pakistan. Would you please share some details? Has President Ghani also discussed the Bhurban Peace Process during his meeting with PM? (Mr. Naveed Akbar – Aaj News)
Supplementary Question: Has Prime Minister Imran Khan raised the issue of terrorism emanating from the territory of Afghanistan to Pakistan and shared any evidence in this regard during his meeting with President Ghani? (Ms. Rashida Sial – Aab Tak)
Supplementary Question: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that he had sought assurance from Pakistani leaders to allow his landlocked country to use Pakistani land route for exporting goods to India. Reportedly, the government of Pakistan is set to operationalize Torkham Border round the clock from August, 2019. Your comments please? (Mr. Naveed Siddiqui – Dawn News)
Answer: Pakistan and Afghanistan attach high priority to enhance bilateral trade and economic relations. During recent visit of the Afghan President to Pakistan, both sides reaffirmed their commitment to adopt a forward-looking approach and to strengthen ties in all areas of mutual interest, including political, trade, economic and investment, cultural and educational spheres. They also discussed to effectively utilize the existing economic mechanism such as holding of meetings of the Joint Economic Commission and Pakistan-Afghanistan Transit Trade Coordination Authority and to address all outstanding issues concerning trade and Afghan transit trade, at the earliest. The leadership identified trade/economic cooperation and regional connectivity as two important points of convergence for future partnership. In order to promote bilateral trade, steps such as opening of Torkham border for twenty-four hours and enhancing transit trade access and connectivity to neighborhood, for both countries were also discussed. Further discussions in this regard would continue in the coming weeks and months.
Question: There are reports that the Indian Prime Minister is likley to participate in the inauguration ceremony of Kartarpur sahib Corridor in October / November this year. Is Pakistan considering inviting Prime Minister Modi? (Mr. Shaukat Piracha – Aap News)
Answer: I have already responded to this question.
Question: Indian Parliament gave its approval for extending President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir for another six months from July 3.While moving the resolution in the Parliament, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that the Centre is committed to bringing Kashmiri Pandits and Sufis back to the valley. Your comments, please? (Ms. Shumaila Andleeb – APP)
Answer: We have repeatedly said that any solution to the Kashmir issue should reflect the will of Kashmiri people and should be resolved as per the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. IOK has become a humanitarian nightmare under Indian occupation where use of pellet guns, draconian laws granting judicial immunity to Indian occupation forces and systemic use of rape and torture to subjugate the Kashmiris struggling for the legitimate right to self determination continues despite international condemnation. This step is another in a long line of Indian attempts to tighten its oppressive regime in IOK. It is time for the international community to fulfill its promise to the Kashmiris and impress upon India to put an immediate halt to its atrocities in IOK and expedite resolution of the J&K dispute in line with the relevant UNSC resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiris.
Question: Sir, I have four brief questions:
1)There is a case in British Court regarding repatriation of Pakistani businessman Mr. Jabir Moti. Would you please update us on this case? Secondly, during the proceeding of this case, Director FBI has said that Mr. Dawood Ibrahim is based in Pakistan. Your comments please?
2) Hafiz Saeed is booked on charges of terror-financing. Please share details?
3) On 10th of July, Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan would be under the same roof to attend the meeting of Foreign Ministers of Commonwealth. Are you expecting a meeting of both the leaders?
4) It is reported that embassies of various countries in Pakistan are allegedly involved in the smuggling of illegal liquor to Pakistan. Reportedly, during the last month containers of eight embassies were captured and seized by the Customs authorities in Karachi. Those containers were shipped to Pakistan in the name of food items. (Mr. Anas Mallick – WION TV)
Answer: Dawood Ibrahim is not in Pakistan, I repeat, he is not in Pakistan. As far as the case of Mr. Jabir Moti is concerned, I will check the details and let you know.
Regarding your second question, please refer your question to the Ministry of Interior.
Regarding your third question, as such there is no scheduled meeting between the two Foreign Ministers.
Regarding your fourth question, I will check and revert.
Question: The 6thSession of Pakistan-Tajikistan Joint Commission of Trade held in Dushanbe on 2nd July 2019, whether an alternative trade route to Central Asia via Xinjiang was also discussed because of the ongoing security situation in Afghanistan? What would be modalities to enhance trade? (Mr. Faisal Raza Khan–92 News)
Answer: At this stage, it is premature to comment on this.
Question: Has Pakistan lodged a protest over the blasts that took place along the LoC? Secondly, as per the Press Release issued by the Foreign Office, Pakistan has raised the issue of political sloganeering during the Pak-Afghan match in England. Have you also raised the issue of Pakistani spectators being attacked during the match? (Mr. Javed Ghaffari –7 News)
Answer: Regarding your question on blasts at LoC, we are awaiting the exact details from concerned quarters.
As for your second question, the issue has been raised at the appropriate diplomatic levels.
Question: Last week, there was a meeting in Bahrain to open doors for closer cooperation between Israel and the Gulf States. Can you comment on this? Secondly, do you have any update on the prisoners languishing in the Saudi Arabia jails? (Mr. Sib Kaifee–Arab News)
Answer: Regarding the second question, I will seek details and get back to you.
Regarding you first question, our position regarding Israel is well known.