[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 humanitarian nightmare in IOJ&K is worsening with continued military lockdown and complete communication blackout for 126th consecutive day, which is affecting life and property of millions of innocent Kashmiris. Over 8 million people in the IOJ&K remain cut-off from the world, with continued concerns being raised about lack of medical supplies and other basic needs. These inhuman and unilateral actions by India are continuing, despite widespread international condemnations.
The Indian government should immediately restore internet and mobile phone services, release all prisoners, especially civil society members and the abducted young children, remove Public Safety Act and other draconian laws, and allow the independent media and international human rights observers to visit the region to independently observe the situation of the Kashmiri people.
We urge the international community, the United Nations, and other human rights organizations to take notice of the brutal suppression of the religious rights and freedoms of the Kashmiri people in utter violation of international laws and conventions. The Indian government cannot suppress the aspirations of the people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir for exercising the right to self-determination as enshrined in the UN Security Council Resolutions.
Pakistan continues to internationally highlight the dire situation in the Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir and the plight of the Kashmiri people in the face of inhuman lockdown since India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019.
In this regard, Pakistan welcomed the holding of OIC’s Human Rights Commission (IPHRC)’s first-ever “Open Discussion” on the worsening human situation in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K), as part of its 16th Regular Session held in Jeddah on 25-28 November 2019. The Open Discussion session, held under IPHRC’s “Standing Mechanism to Monitor Human Rights Situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir”, was attended by all the Commission Members and a large number of the representatives of the OIC Member and Observer States. Addressing the situation in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir in all its dimensions, the Commission:
a) Strongly condemned the blatant violation of human rights in IOJ&K.
b) Reaffirmed the right of self-determination of the people of IOJ&K under the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.
c) Reiterated that India’s illegal steps of 5 August 2019 were illegal and
d) Condemned the continued use of pellet guns that killed and maimed innocent and unarmed civilians, use of arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings, as well as targeting of Kashmiri Muslims including peaceful protestors, under fabricated charges.
e) Reiterated its endorsement of the recommendation of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to establish a Commission of Inquiry under the UN auspices to comprehensively investigate all the allegations of human rights violations.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted an Envoys Conference focused on Africa on 27-28 November 2019.The President of Pakistan addressed the Inaugural Session of the Conference, whereas the Prime Minister graced the closing session. This is a highly significant initiative taken by the government to enhance our relations with the African nations, in diverse fields. It must be noted that Africa is the second largest continent of the world with 20% of the world’s landmass and 54 sovereign states, with 1.2 billion people and the largest youth population on the globe. Henceforth, the tilting of focus towards this region will allow us to tap the hitherto untapped opportunities.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi paid an official visit to Sri Lanka on 1-2 December 2019. The Foreign Minister called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and felicitated the new leadership. During the meetings, the Foreign Minister highlighted the importance that Pakistan attaches to its relations with Sri Lanka, which are rooted in history and characterized by friendship and cordiality. A detailed press release has been issued in this regard.
Separately, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi visited Doha, Qatar, on 3 December 2019, for the second Ministerial consultative meeting on the KL Summit, to be held in Kuala Lumpur on 19-21 December 2019. Addressing the meeting, the Foreign Minister highlighted the enormous challenges confronting the Muslim world. He emphasized the need for an integrated and cooperative approach to manage these challenges — ranging from governance and development to climate change, terrorism and rising Islamophobia. The Foreign Minister expressed the hope that the KL Summit would provide the opportunity to exchange views on these pressing issues with a view to fostering cooperation in diverse areas among participating countries.
On 29th November, Pakistan was re-elected as a member of the OPCW Executive Council for another two-year term (2020-2021). Pakistan’s candidature was endorsed by the Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) which was held in The Hague from 25-29 November 2019.
On 29th November, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met Her Royal Highness Princess Sarah Zeid of Jordan, the United Nations World Food Programme’s Special Adviser on Mother and Child Nutrition, at the Foreign Office. Welcoming the Princess, the Foreign Minister expressed appreciation at the WFP’s commitment to Pakistan, especially its efforts in addressing malnutrition and stunted growth in Pakistan. Foreign Minister Qureshi also shared with the Princess the vision of the government, based on which it had devised people-centric policies, and elaborated on key initiatives undertaken by the Government.
Pakistan has welcomed the announcement regarding the resumption of the U.S.-Taliban talks. We hope that it will lead to intra-Afghan negotiations and ultimately to a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. Pakistan encourages all parties to the conflict to engage constructively as a shared responsibility. Pakistan has always maintained that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. An inclusive peace and reconciliation process, involving all segments of the Afghan society is the only practical way forward.
In a positive development, Moody’s Investors Service – a leading global agency – has upgraded Pakistan’s credit rating outlook to ‘stable’ from ‘negative’. This improvement in the outlook is greatly expected to revitalize foreign investors’ confidence in Pakistan.
Lastly, in another great development, Pakistan has performed quite well in the on-going South Asian Games 2019, being held in Nepal. We have secured 17 gold medals, 23 silver and 24 bronze medals, so far, and we hope that our athletes secure more medals and we are proud of their achievements.
Question: From 5th August till 27th September the media was abuzz with news related to the Indian atrocities in IOJ&K and the steps taken by Pakistan to highlight the Indian atrocities and the lockdown in IOJ&K. However, some domestic eventssuch as Azadi March stole the attention of media from events in IOJ&K. What steps are you taking to regain this lost attention of media to this issue? (Mr. Zahid Farooq Malik – Daily Metro Watch)
Supplementary Question: India has crossed all limits and perpetrated unprecedented violence in IOJ&K. What options are available to Pakistan now? (Mr. Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Media Today)
Answer: I would like to assert that Pakistan stands by its historic position and there is not even a modicum of change in it. I would stress that no change in our policy can be brought about in this regard. The Jammu and Kashmir Dispute remains the cornerstone of the foreign policy of Pakistan.
In response to the second question, I would like toreiterate that India has been taking extreme steps to try to muffle the voice of Kashmiris and to illegally claim IOJ&K. The Indian attempts to change the status of IOJ&K would fail miserably, as they have failed in the past. There can be no resolution of the Jammu & Kashmir Dispute without taking into account the wishes of Kashmiri people, in line with UNSC Resolutions.
Question The Foreign Minister stated in the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee that an International Conference on the Jammu & Kashmir Dispute will be organized soon and Special Envoys will be deputed to highlight this issue globally. Do you have any update on that? (Mr.Zulqarnain Haider– ARY)
Answer: The struggle for Jammu and Kashmir is a continuous process and not an event. Many initiatives and steps are in the offing and I will continue to update you, in due course, accordingly.
Question US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the planners of Mumbai Attacks roam free and need to be prosecuted. Previously, President Trump had already tweeted on the subject. What is your comment on this issue?
Secondly, there were reports regarding a Sikh Yatri being missing from the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor. Do you have any update on that?(Anas Malick – WION)
Answer: Mumbai case is sub-judice, with regular hearings taking place, therefore, I cannot comment on this matter.
In response to the second question I have seen the reports; I will check the details and revert.
Question: It has been reported that Prime Minister Imran Khan is going to undertake visits to Bahrain, Geneva and Malaysia. Would you please confirm and share the objectives/ details of the visits? It is also reported that he will be receiving the highest civilian award in Bahrain?
Secondly do you have any updates on Prime Minister’s shuttle diplomacy between Riyadh and Islamabad? (Mr. Sib Kaifee – Arab News)
Answer: Prime Minister Imran Khan is scheduled to reconvene the first-ever Global Refugee Forum (GRF) in December in Geneva, which is being organized in recognition of Pakistan’s generosity, hospitality and compassion in hosting Afghan Refugees for over 40 years. The Global Refugee Forum – the first major meeting on refugees of the 21st century – will be jointly hosted by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and the Government of Switzerland on 17 and 18 December 2019. Several other Heads of State are expected to join the Prime Minister as co-conveners. Further details will be shared in due course.
On the invitation of Prime Minister of Malaysia Dr. Tun Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister Imran Khan will be participating in the KL Summit, due to take place in Kuala Lumpurfrom 18-20 December 2019.
The KL Summit is an initiative of Malaysian Prime Minister together with the participation of leaders, scholars and intellectuals. It is a platform to exchange views on the current challenges and to work together to address them.
KL Summit would provide Pakistan with the opportunity to exchange views and find solutions to the challenges facing the Muslim world particularly governance, development, terrorism and Islamophobia. The Summit will also provide us an opportunity to foster cooperation in diverse areas with the participating countries.
In reply to your second question, Pakistan is actively pursuing its efforts in this regard.
Question The American troops stationed in Afghanistan were scheduled to leave in December 2019. Do you have any details on that?
Secondly, do you have any update on the resumption of dialogue between Afghan Taliban and the United States? (Mr. Khalid Mehmood– Express News TV)
Answer: I have already spoken on the issue in my opening statement and have nothing further to add.
Question: Mr. TetsuNakamora, a Japanese doctor, was assassinated in Afghanistan in an attack. He had rendered his services in Pakistan as well. What is your stance on this? (Mr. Tariq Mehmood – Hum News)
Answer: I do not have details in this matter.
Question: What is the latest update on the implementation process of International Court of Justice’s verdict regarding the option of review and reconsideration, in the Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav case?(Adeel Warraich – Dunya News)
Answer: We will update you soon.
Question: In the joint statement issued by Japan and India, they have specifically called upon Pakistan to “fully comply” with its international commitments to deal with terrorism. Has Pakistan conveyed its concerns to the government of Japan? What is your official response in this regard? (Aijaz Ahmed – GNN)
Answer: We havecategorically rejected Pakistan specific biased remarks in the India-Japan joint statement of the first Foreign and Defence Ministers meeting of 30 November 2019. Those one-sided remarks are totally divorced from the ground realities.
Japan is well aware of how much Pakistan has suffered and sacrificed in its counter terrorism efforts. Our counter terrorism contributions were publicly acknowledged by the then Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono (now Defence Minister) during his visit to Pakistan in January 2018.
We have registered our strong disappointment and concern to the Japanese side through diplomatic channels.
Pakistan attaches great importance to its relationship with Japan, which is free from any historical baggage. We hope that two countries would continue to work together for advancement of shared goals for peace and development.
Question: Recently, a highly important Envoys Conference of African countries was organized at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A number of key decisions were taken during the Conference. Are there any high-level visits planned in the near future? (Mr. Naveed Siddiqui – Dawn News)
Answer: We have planned a major reach out to the African nations. Details will be shared soon.