Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 24 March 2017

(2017-03-24) Opening Remarks

Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum! Dear Friends!

Yesterday, the entire country and Pakistanis abroad celebrated Pakistan Day with zeal and fervor. We were joined by our friends from across the world on this joyous occasion. I extend my heartiest felicitations to you all and pray that Allah Almighty bestow us with His choicest blessings. I would also like to congratulate the organizers of the Pakistan Day Parade for an excellent presentation.

Pakistan Day was also celebrated across the length and breadth of Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir and Azad Jammu & Kashmir. Pakistani flags were fluttering there and entire Jammu & Kashmir region was echoing with Pakistan’s National Anthem, which was a clear verdict by the Kashmiris, who they want to be with. And this happens every year and every day. And Kashmiris have their eyes on the UN, its members and Security Council, demanding implementation of UNSC Resolutions. International Community is urged to pay attention.

Last week, reportedly, Indian police physically assaulted and ruthlessly beat up seven journalists including senior photo-journalists Tauseef Mustafa, Mubashir Khan, Farooq Javed Khan, Umar Sheikh and Shauib Masoodi at Hyderpora in Srinagar, who were trying to carry out their professional duties.

During last week, over 30 Hurriyet leaders including Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik, Shabbir Ahmed Shah, Syeda Aasiya Andrabi, and Nayeem Ahmed Khan were placed under house arrest and stopped from attending the 23rd March function at Pakistan Embassy in New Delhi. APHC leader, Masarrat Aalam Butt, immediately after his release from Baramulla district jail was re-arrested. He has been under continued illegal detention since 2010, barring forty days during 2015. Over 161 youth in Srinagar, Pulwama, Shopian, and Bandipore districts have been arrested in last one week. India state activities to change the demography in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir is continuing in violation of UNSC Resolutions. The situation of blatant human rights violations is a matter of deep concern.

Last but not the least, two of Foreign Service Officers, Shahbaz Hussain and Liaquat Ali Warriach decorated with Tamgha-i-Imtiaz on 23 March for their extraordinary performance of evacuation of Pakistanis from Libya during 2014, made us proud.

Now the Floor is open for Questions

Question

Reportedly, Representatives of 12 countries will participate in peace conference on Afghanistan on 14 April 2017 in Moscow. The Afghan Taliban have also signaled for their participation in the meeting. Who will represent Pakistan in this meeting? Has Afghan Government forwarded any reservations with the participation of Afghan Taliban? How do you foresee the meeting outcome for the peace and stability in Afghanistan? (Amjad Ali – PTV)

Answer

The decision on the level of Pakistan’s participation will be taken in due course. You may confirm from Russians regarding Afghan Taliban’s participation in this meeting. Regarding Afghan Government’s participation or any reaction, you may approach them directly. However, Pakistan firmly believes in an Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process, aimed at bringing all warring factions, including the Taliban, to the negotiating table. As regards the outcome, I would like to reiterate that Pakistan constructively participates in these meetings for pursuing lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. We hope the deliberations in this meeting would be focused on this objective.

Supplementary Question

We have seen media reports in which Taliban has claimed that Pakistan has recently hosted seven Taliban leaders in Afghanistan. Your comments please. (Sajjad Khan – AFP)

Answer

We do not comment on media reports. In my response to the first question, I have already remarked regarding Pakistan’s commitment to peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Question

Reportedly, India’s National Investigation Agency has summoned 13 Pakistani witnesses in court to the 2007 Samjhauta Express terrorist attack to appear before it in July 2017. Has Indian government contacted Pakistan in this regard? (Fayyaz Raja – Channel 92)

Answer

We have seen the media reports. However, we have not received any such request from the Indian government.

Question

Prime Minister has ordered for immediate opening of Pak-Afghan border as a goodwill gesture. Pakistan has concerns over cross-border terrorism. There are terrorists based in Afghanistan perpetrating terrorism in Pakistan. What is Afghanistan’s response? (Saima Shabbir – Bol TV)

Answer

You have seen the press release issued by PM Office in this regard. The Prime Minister decided to open the border as a goodwill gesture. It is expected that the Afghan Government will take measures to address the reasons that led to the closure of the border. The meeting in London also focused on the need for an institutional mechanism for counter-terrorism cooperation, to which Afghan side was agreeable. We hope that the two countries will work through the agreed mechanism for cooperation for preventing cross-border terrorism and enhancing bilateral interaction in different areas.

Question

On 23rd March, Prime Minister Modi called Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to congratulate him on Pakistan Day. Do you think it was only a ceremonial call, or is there any hope for beginning of Pakistan – India dialogue in the near future? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Kashmir Post)

Answer

I am not aware of a telephone call. I have seen reports of Prime Minister Modi’s message sent to the Prime Minister’s Office. I am not privy to the contents of the letter. However, these are normal courtesies between leadership of various countries to congratulate each other on occasions of national importance. I will not get into any speculations in this regard.

Question

Firstly, the US state Deptt’s Country Report 2016 has scathingly criticized Pakistan on account of human rights situation, whereas in the case of India it has conveniently shied away from questioning Indian state sponsored terrorism in IOK. What is Pakistan’s reaction?

Secondly, after the conclusion of Indus Water talks in Islamabad, we were told that India agreed to the proposal of arbitration court on two questionable hydropower projects. However, Indian officials claimed that no such agreement was reached in Islamabad. Can you please clarify the exact situation? (Shaukat Paracha – Aaj TV)

Answer

Regarding your second question, please approach Ministry of Water and Power for clarification in the matter, as it is the relevant Ministry in matters related to Indus Water talks. I have seen all media reports, as well as counter reports in this regard.

On your first question, we have seen the State Dept’s so-called Country Reports on HR Practices for 2016. As a matter of principle, we do not recognize validity of unilateral approaches including reports sitting in judgment of other states. As such, these reports are invariably inherently flawed and lack objectivity. It comes as no surprise that as regard Pakistan, the Report is far removed from facts and depicts a grossly inaccurate and misrepresented picture.

Pakistan remains deeply committed to the promotion and protection of human rights of all its citizens. The Government accords high priority to advancing the mutually reinforcing objectives of development, human rights and democracy for the people of Pakistan. Many international obligations have been undertaken by Pakistan besides a number of important domestic initiatives for the promotion and protection of human rights.

While we strive to achieve an ideal state of human rights, we are cognizant that all countries are confronted with challenges. International cooperation and constructive dialogue coupled with adherence to international conventions are the best ways of promoting the common objective of universal human rights. Countries that are not even party to some of the core human rights conventions have no standing to question others.

Pakistan is fully conscious of its international and national obligations with regard to promotion and protection of human rights, and the Government remains committed in its resolve to ensure fundamental rights, prosperity and well-being of all the people of Pakistan.

As for your observation on references to the grave human rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir, the country Report on Indian HR record for 2016 is a big question mark on the credibility and fairness of such accounts. During the assessment year, extra-judicial killing of a Kashmiri young man, Burhan Muzaffar Wani, led to the resurrection of a widespread peaceful movement for self-determination, which the Indian occupation forces tried to suppress brutally. They martyred over 150 defenceless Kashmiris, use of pellet guns damaged eye-sights of several hundreds of Kashmiri youth, more than 20,000 are injured with many in critical condition, thousands have been arbitrarily arrested with no reports of their welfare, house raids during the night continue, Kashmiris constantly denied freedom to offer prayers and Kashmiri Leaders remain either detained or are under house arrest, continuously.

Question

Reportedly, Ayaz Hussain Jamali, a Pakistani oil engineer had been kidnapped in South Sudan. His family appealed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to secure his early release. Do you have information regarding the incident? Has our mission approached the relevant authorities in Sudan for his release? (Tariq Siyal- Daily Times)

Answer

Our Mission in Addis Ababa, which is accredited to South Sudan, has informed that:

Ayaz Hussain Jamali was kidnapped from South Sudan Gummry Oil field area block no. 3/7.

He is an employee of China Petroleum Engineering Construction Corporation’s (CPECC) joint venture with South Sudan’s Dar Petroleum Operating Company (DPOC).

He was working in South Sudan Gummry oil field along with one local Sudanese operator and South Sudan army security personnel when the incident happened.

The South Sudan army security person was killed on spot and remaining 3 persons including Mr. Jamali, local FSF operator and local driver were kidnapped.

We have approached the Government of South Sudan and are pressing the matter.

Moreover, our Ambassador in Addis Ababa is in contact with Mr. Babar Jamali, the brother of Mr. Ayaz Jamali, who is also working in Sudan, on a daily basis.

Till now the government of South Sudan has not received any claims from any rebel group.

Let me assure you that Government of Pakistan is resolved to get the Pakistani freed from his kidnappers, and will leave no stone unturned in this regard.

Question

Firstly, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research (SIPRI), India is world’s largest importer of major arms and the US, UK and Israel is its top suppliers. It is evident that Indian arms buildup has disturbed the strategic balance, heightened perils for the regional security and, supposedly, lowered the threshold of nuclear confrontation. What is Pakistan’s position on this situation?

Secondly, can you please quote precedence, or enlighten us on whether Prime Minister, through a letter, can empower any of our High Commissioner or Ambassador in Missions Abroad to do away with standard policy on issuance of visas?

Thirdly, you must have seen the media reports in Dawn, according to which Pakistan has hosted meeting of seven Taliban leaders. Can you confirm this meeting? (Essa Naqvi – Dunya News)

Answer

As to your third question, I have already responded to it.

On your second question regarding Prime Minister’s discretion, the matter that you are pointing to falls within the domain of Ministry of Interior, as they devise policies related to issuance of visas. You may refer your question to them.

On your first question, India’s relentless arms-buying spree is driven by its desire for regional hegemony and global power status. Pakistan has never wanted to engage in any kind of arms race. We have long maintained that the two countries need to devote their resources to their socio-economic development and must engage in a meaningful dialogue for mutual restraint measures and conflict resolution for lasting peace and stability in South Asia. The international community has a role to play in prodding India to positively respond to Pakistan’s proposal for a Strategic Restraint Regime in South Asia.

Question

Reportedly, Indian government has granted permission to an RSS-affiliated organization to open its base camp in Indian occupied Kashmir. They have started recruiting Hindu youth to invade Azad Kashmir. Your comments please! (Asghar Ali Mubarak- Daily Mail Islamabad)

Answer

The situation in IoK has increasingly aggravated since July 2016. The gross violation of the basic human rights of innocent Kashmiris by Indian occupation forces is deplorable. Pakistan has repeatedly urged the international community to call upon India to stop the bloodshed and ensure resolution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UNSC resolution. India also continues to indulge in the targeting of innocent Kashmiri civilians in AJK and heighten tension at the LOC, which threatens peace and stability in the region.

Question

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that ISIS is recruiting people from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Your comments on this please.

Secondly, although Pakistan has recently opened Pak-Afghan border as a goodwill gesture, we are witnessing a continuous blame-game from Afghanistan, as Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani has recently said that all difficulties in Afghanistan are due to Pakistan. Are there any diplomatic efforts ongoing to end this blame-game, and start Confidence Building Measures with Afghanistan. (Rabia Pir- VOA Radio)

Answer

With regard to your first question, Mr. Tillerson has expressed his apprehension and concern regarding ISIS’s efforts to recruit people, and has identified some countries. In the context of Pakistan, we have undertaken great efforts to eliminate terrorism from its roots in Pakistan and have made significant successes. This is manifested in Pakistan’s improving economic indicators and reduction in terrorist incidents in the country. Our efforts have been recognized by the world leadership, including that of United States. Many international leaders and experts have witnessed first-hand the successes achieved in Pakistan as a result of counter-terrorism operations. They have also recorded their sentiments and what they saw, in media columns. Various newspapers carried a number of articles in this regard. Pakistan draws no distinction between terrorist elements and will succeed in its endeavors to root out their menace from its soil. A number of economy- monitoring entities have also given their favourable assessments on Pakistan.

There is no presence of ISIS in Pakistan. What Mr. Tillerson expressed his concern about was ISIS efforts to recruit people from different countries. The recruitment could be done from any country from amongst the vulnerable people. On our part, we are determined to thwart any such attempt by any terrorist organization.

As to your second question, we have already responded to such queries in a very comprehensive manner. It is imperative to note that blame game only benefits those who do not want to see peace and stability in Afghanistan. It is too simplistic to pin blame on someone else. We have seen a number of independent reports in the recent past, which have identified factors responsible for instability in that country. The factors identified remain internal to Afghanistan.

You asked about the way forward. I have already referred to this in my response. When Adviser Sartaj Aziz met Afghan NSA on the occasion afforded by the CMAG meeting in UK recently, both sides understood the need to engage constructively and tackle issues of mutual concern, particularly that of cross-border terrorism, and agreed on the need to mutually cooperate in countering the menace of terrorism. An institutionalized mechanism will be instrumental in this fruitful cooperation.

Question

BJP has chosen Yogi Adityanath, as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister. His sole qualification is his anti-Muslim sentiments. A video of his men campaigning to insult and punish Muslim women has gone viral. Being the second largest Muslim country, what is Pakistan’s reaction to the rising Hindu ideology with implications for Muslims? Are the Muslim states mindful of these developments? (Mona Khan – Geo TV)

Answer

We do not comment on the internal matters of any country. However, the treatment of minorities and the systemic violations of human rights in India especially Muslims, Dalits and Christians is a matter of serious concern, which has also been raised by various human rights organizations and governments all over the world. We hope effective measures are taken to curtail this worrying trend.

Question

Copenhagen Parliament has recently passed a legislation to include Pakistan in Category-V countries, which means that Pakistanis residing in Denmark would face difficulty in inviting their families on visit visa. What are you doing to address this matter? (Anwar Abbas – Waqt News)

Answer

I need to get more information regarding this specific issue. The principled position in this regard is that Pakistan Missions abroad always protect Pakistan’s national interest and that of our citizens. Individual countries have their own visa regimes that we don’t call into question raising the issue unless they are discriminatory in nature. Let me check the specific details in this regard, and then would be able to respond.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Government of Pakistan