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 recent acts of state terrorism have martyred three (3) Kashmiris in the so-called cordon and search operations including Asrar Ahmad Khan, Reyaz Ahmad Thekri and Asif Maqbool Bhat in Handwara and Sopore towns of the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K), while hundreds have sustained injuries. There are reports of more deaths but due to complete communication blackout the exact details are not coming out of the valley.
The Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir remains under siege and cut off from the rest of the world for the 40th consecutive day (since the lockdown was imposed on 4th August 2019) as the Indian occupation forces continue to impose an unprecedented military lock down and total clampdown of both road networks and all means of communications, which risk lives of the people. These inhuman and unilateral actions by India are continuing without any respite despite international condemnation and censure.
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 Deputy High Commissioner Mr. Gaurav Ahluwalia on 7th September and condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control (LoC). These violations were perpetrated in the Khuiratta Sector and resulted in many injuries.
Moving forward, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi addressed the 42nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on 10th September 2019 and highlighted the continued Indian atrocities in IOJ&K. He particularly asked the Human Rights Council to take the following steps;
Urge India to immediately stop the use of pellet guns, end the bloodshed, lift the curfew, reverse the clampdown and communications blackout, restore fundamental freedoms and liberties, release political prisoners, stop targeting human rights defenders, and fulfill obligations under the United Nations Security Council Resolutions and various human rights instruments, as required by International Law. India’s draconian emergency laws in Occupied Jammu & Kashmir cannot be allowed to stand.
Take steps to bring to justice the perpetrators of human rights violations of the innocent Kashmiri people, and in this context, constitute a Commission of Inquiry, as recommended by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Authorize the Office of the High Commissioner and the Human Rights Council’s Special Procedures Mandate Holders to monitor and report on India’s human rights violations in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir and regularly update Human Rights Council.
Call upon India to allow unhindered access to Human Rights Organizations, and international media to Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir.
On the margins of Human Rights Council session, FM Qureshi had extensive interactions and important meetings that included Director General (WHO), Minister of Foreign Affairs of Senegal, Group of Ambassadors of OIC at UNHRC, President of the UNHRC and also UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
On 10 September, 2019 Pakistan got a major diplomatic breakthrough at the United Nations Human Rights Council by delivering a historic Joint Statement on behalf of over 50 countries from across various regions regarding the worsening human rights and humanitarian situation in IOJ&K. The statement underscored the extremely worrying human rights situation in IOJ&K, especially following the decisions taken by India on August 5, 2019. The statement also stated that consistent with the UN Charter, Security Council resolutions, and human rights standards and international law the international community should ask for:
Respect and protection of fundamental human rights of the people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, especially the right to life, liberty and security;
Immediate lifting of curfew, ending the communications shutdown and release of arbitrarily detained people;
Immediate halt to the excessive use of force, especially the use of pellet guns;
Access for human rights organizations and international media;
Implementation of the recommendations of OHCHR’s Jammu and Kashmir Reports, including the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate the egregious human rights violations;
Regular reporting by the UN High Commissioner for human rights on Jammu and Kashmir.
Support for a peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute through the implementation of the UNSC Resolutions.
Pakistan welcomes the comments made by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights during the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 9th September 2019. We believe that UN High Commissioner’s concerns and calls are consistent with the position taken by the UN system vis-a-vis the human rights situation in IOJ&K including the continuing restrictions and crackdown on fundamental rights and freedoms of the Kashmiri people.
We also appreciate the statement by EU in the Human Rights Council, which said that EU had been following the recent developments in Jammu and Kashmir closely. They therefore encourage the Indian government to continue to lift remaining restrictions temporarily imposed and to maintain the constitutional rights and freedoms of the affected population. With regard to the regional situation, the EU encouraged Pakistan and India to avoid further tensions and to refrain from provocations at the line of control and urged both parties to engage in direct dialogue, with a view to a peaceful solution in line with the UN resolutions and the bilateral agreements between India and Pakistan.
Pakistan also noted with appreciation the Chinese statement that said that with regard to the Jammu & Kashmir Dispute, China opposes any unilateral actions that complicate the situation and give rise to new tensions and hopes that the relevant parties will exercise restraint and avoid further escalation of the situation. China also took note of the two reports of OHCHR on the situation of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir. The human rights of the people in Jammu and Kashmir should be respected and guaranteed.
Let me also inform you that Turkey appreciated UN High Commissioner’s remarks on Jammu-Kashmir and reiterated her call on the Indian Government to ease the current restrictions in the region saying (a) the decision of the Indian Government to abolish the special status of Jammu & Kashmir is against the spirit of various UN Security Council Resolutions; (b) It bears the risk of further deterioration of the existing tension and may have serious repercussions beyond the region; (c) expressed the desire that Jammu and Kashmir dispute is resolved through peaceful means between India and Pakistan on the basis of the relevant UN Resolutions.
Malaysia also expressed concern on the human rights situation in IOJ&K and urged all parties to negotiate a peaceful solution in accordance with relevant UN Resolutions.
All these statements and remarks at the UN Human Rights Council overwhelmingly validate Pakistan position on the worsening crisis in the IOJ&K. Therefore, India should stop misleading the international community and fully respect the right to self-determination of the people of IOJ&K.
As part of continuing diplomatic outreach, since our last Press Briefing, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has held telephonic conversations with the Foreign Ministers of Sri Lanka, New Zealand on (29 August, 2019), South Korea (30 August 2019), Iceland (2 September 2019), Iran, Bangladesh and Iceland (on 3 September 2019). The detailed press releases in these regards have already been issued.
On 7 September 2019, Foreign Ministers of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China held the 3rd Session of China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue, in Islamabad. The three sides noted with satisfaction the progress made under the trilateral cooperation since the 2nd Dialogue held in Kabul, on 18 December 2018. They reiterated their resolve to further deepen various strands of trilateral cooperation.
Furthermore, the Foreign Minister held bilateral delegation-level talks with his Chinese and Afghan counterparts on the sidelines of 3rd Session of this meeting.
On 4th September, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates and H.E. Adel Al Jubeir, Minister of State of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia paid a joint visit to Pakistan. In their meeting with Foreign Minister, the situation in IOJ&K was the major focus. The Foreign Minister apprised the two dignitaries in detail on Pakistan’s concerns over the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in IOJ&K. The visiting Ministers underlined the strong bonds of Saudi Arabia and UAE with Pakistan and the strategic salience of their relationships with Pakistan. They reaffirmed their strong support and solidarity with the people of Pakistan. With regard to the situation in IOJ&K, the Ministers took full cognizance of Pakistan’s perspective. It was agreed to work closely in OIC and other fora.
Question: Does the recent cancellation of talks between the US and Taliban have a bearing on the resolution of Jammu & Kashmir Dispute between Pakistan and India? (Mr. Zahid Farooq Malik – Daily Metro Watch)
Supplementary Question: President Trump was going to meet major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan at Camp David. Was Pakistan aware of these meetings and kept in loop in this regard? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Media Today)
Answer: Pakistan learnt about the cancellation of meeting between US President Trump and Taliban leaders at the Camp David. Pakistan wants all sides to exercise restraint and refrain from violence. We have encouraged and facilitated the Afghan peace process in good faith and as a shared responsibility. We shall continue to monitor the situation and urge all parties to return to the negotiation table to take the progress achieved in the talks, so far, to its logical conclusion.
Secondly, Pakistan has always maintained that the only solution to the Afghan conflict lies in a politically negotiated settlement led and owned by the Afghans themselves. A military focused approach has failed to render the desired results. We remain hopeful that the peace talks between the US and the Afghan Taliban would be resumed at the earliest and process will lead to intra-Afghan negotiations which are imperative for finding durable and sustainable peace in Afghanistan. We hope that the momentum, so generated, will be maintained by the international stakeholders for a peaceful outcome in Afghanistan.
Question: In your opening statement, you have mentioned that Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia and UAE have visited Pakistan last week. There are reports that both the Foreign Ministers have emphasized that Jammu & Kashmir Dispute may not be linked with Muslim Ummah. Your comments please? Secondly, US President has again offered a mediatory role to solve the issues between Pakistan and India. How would you see this offer? (Ms. Rashida Sial – Abb Takk)
Supplementary Question: Is Pakistan ready to break all diplomatic relations with India in the light of the recent atrocities committed by the Indian occupation forces in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir? (Mr. Raziq Mehmood Bhatti – Daily Kashmir Express)
Answer: The media accounts are speculative. The legality and international legitimacy of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute is derived from the UNSC resolutions. This is a well-known fact. During the visit, the two Ministers reaffirmed Saudi Arabia’s and UAE’s solidarity with Pakistan and support for the Jammu & Kashmir cause.
Regarding your second question, I can state that many countries have offered mediation between Pakistan and India. However, we cannot move forward unless India agrees to accept these offers.
In response to Mr. Bhatti’s question, I would like to reiterate that struggle for Jammu & Kashmir is a process which spans over 7-decades and is not an event. It is a continuing struggle which Pakistan and the Kashmiris have been undertaking with utmost conviction. This process is moving forward, the Prime Minister of Pakistan is visiting Azad Jammu & Kashmir tomorrow and will be addressing a public gathering there.
Question: Can you please share the official details of Prime Minister’s visit to the United States, agenda of the visit and a possible meeting with the US President on the sidelines? (Mr. Mateen Haider – G-News)
Answer: We will share the details soon.
Question: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that he will immediately annex a part of the 1967 occupied West Bank (Jordan Valley) if re-elected next week. What is Pakistan’s official stance on this? And do you see any similarity between Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Netanyahu? (Ms. Saima Shabeer – Arab News)
Answer: We reject any such move, which would be illegal and a dangerous escalation. While reaffirming our solidarity with the Palestinian, Pakistan reiterates its support for a viable, independent and contiguous State of Palestine, on the basis of internationally agreed parameters, the pre-1967 borders with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.
Question: How many OIC Member States supported Pakistan’s statement during the recent Session of Human Rights Council? Secondly, has Pakistan given any approval for the Iran-China gas pipeline? (Ms. Kausar Lodhi – Prime News)
Answer: The countries included mostly members of OIC and other friendly nations. The joint statement represents the growing international disapproval of Indian illegal and unilateral actions. It also signifies increasing global demand for lifting of lockdown of the Kashmiri population and restrictions on communications and fundamental rights.
Your second question pertains to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources.
Question: In the wake of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s announcement to immediately annex a part of the 1967 occupied West Bank, Saudi Arabia has called for an emergency meeting for the OIC at the level of Foreign Ministers to discuss this issue, develop an urgent plan of action and review the attitudes towards Israel. Will the Jammu & Kashmir dispute also be raised at this forum? (Mr. Naveed Akbar – Aaj News)
Answer: I will check the details and revert to you.
Question: Firstly, do you have any update on the release of Pakistani prisoners languishing in the Saudi jails? Secondly, why is Pakistan proposing to charge US $ 20 from the Sikh pilgrims who will visit the Kartarpur Saheb Corridor? Thirdly, are we expecting another meeting between Commander Kulbushan Jadhav and the Indian Deputy High Commissioner, and can you share some details of the consular access? Lastly, the Joint Statement issued after the Trilateral meeting between Afghanistan-China-Pakistan does not mention the Balochistan Liberation Army. Does this mean any change in the policy since this organization operates from Afghanistan? (Mr. Anas Mallick – WION TV)
Answer: Regarding your first question, there is no update on this front.
Regarding the second question, please note that this proposed fee will not be charged for entering the premises of Gurdwara Kartarpur Saheb. This fee will only be charged in order to supplement the enormous expenditure which the Government of Pakistan is undertaking to complete and maintain the Kartarpur Saheb Corridor and to provide services to the pilgrims. I would assert that this fee will not even cover a fraction of the cost that our Government is bearing in order to facilitate the pilgrims.
Regarding your third question, there is no second meeting planned. I cannot share any further details of the meeting between Commander Jadhav and Indian Consular Officer.
In response to your last question, there is no change in the policy and the statement is self-explanatory.
Question: The visiting Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates did not issue any statement supporting the cause of Jammu & Kashmir. Your comments please? (Mr. Khalid Mehmood – Express News)
Answer: I have already answered this question.
Question: Two Kashmiri youths from Azad Jammu & Kashmir were captured by the Indian Occupation Forces near the LoC. Has the Foreign Office raised this issue with the Indian side? Secondly, Indian government has issued tenders for extensive construction work in the Kargil Sector. How do you see this development? (Mr. Haider Sherazi – G-News)
Answer: Yes, the incident of the two Kashmiri youths has already been raised with the Indian side.
In response to your second question, Pakistan has a considered position that the unilateral actions taken by India on the 5th August 2019 were illegal and illegitimate. There should be no change in the status of the Jammu & Kashmir, as enshrined in the UNSC Resolutions.
Question: Is Pakistan planning to recognize Israel, as being reported in the media? (Mr. Adeel Warriach – Dunya News)
Answer: It has already been stated that such actions are part of baseless propaganda. There is no change in our policy. Our policy of non-recognition of Israel remains unchanged.
Question: DG, ISPR has recently stated that if the Indian atrocities continue, then war will be a compulsion not an option. Secondly, Pakistan’s airspace is open for Indian commercial flights; however, we refused to give approval to Indian President’s request. How do you see this contradiction? (Mr. Ali Jaswal – Xinhua News Agency)
Answer: Firstly, DG ISPR is fully competent to expound upon his statement. In response to your second question, I do not see any discrepancy since these are political decisions taken by the democratic government, which represents the will of the people of Pakistan.
Question: Are there any backdoor diplomatic channels active in order to normalize the situation with India? (Mr. Asghar Ali Mubarak – Daily Mail)
Answer: There is no backdoor diplomacy with India.