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Record of Press Briefing by Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Spokesperson

Islamabad, March 30, 2017 (PPI-OT):
Opening Remarks

Bismillah Ir Rehman Nir Rahim Assalaam Alaikum

We are deeply saddened, shocked and strongly condemn the continued bloodshed of innocent and defenceless Kashmiris in Indian occupied Kashmir. To suppress the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination, India is using brute force and has embarked on a killing spree of Kashmiris. On Wednesday, they martyred 4 Kashmiris, including 3 teenagers and injured scores. In a most despicable act, the Indian occupation forces even opened live ammunition fire on those offering funeral prayers of the martyred. This killing and injuries to the Kashmiris is in addition to over 150 they have killed since 8 July and over 20,000 they injured.

This all happened at a time when the OIC’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) was visiting AJK to gather personal account of those Kashmiris who suffered from Indian brutalities in IOK. Members of IPHRC have taken note of the grave situation of human rights violations in IOK.

Over 7000 are affected by the pellet gun shots, causing complete or partial blindness to over 1100. Fate of those ten thousand arrested remains unknown. No one knows how many more unnamed and unmarked graves have been added by now to already thousands of such graves discovered during 2009 by IPTK. We call upon India to stop the bloodshed in IOK and Int’l Community to ensure that India is held accountable for its crimes against humanity and genocide of Kashmiris.

Pakistan continues its strides on the foreign relations and economic fronts. Recent days have witnessed a number of high level visits as also outgoing visits. Economic indicators have shown constant growth. Recently, ground-breaking ceremony of a Joint Venture Hub Coal-fired power plant under CPEC took place. The project would not only help bridge gap in the country’s energy requirement but it would also create job opportunities.

The warmth and sincerity in our relations with China transcends all levels of the government and people as manifested in the words of Mr. Wang Binghua, a Chinese power sector entrepreneur, who said; “China’s interest in Pakistan is focused on sustainable development, not profits.”

I would like to congratulate Dr. Adil Haider on receiving the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honour this year in the United States of America and making Pakistanis proud. Earlier in 2011, two Pakistani brothers, Dr. Fahim Rahim and Dr. Naeem Rahim, also received this Medal in USA and brought home honour. I extend my belated congratulations to them as well and all others who made Pakistan proud. Recently, our Athletes brought home joy and pride with 16 medals from Special Olympics World Winter Games. I congratulate them.

Now the Floor is open for Questions

Question

Reportedly, India will host a meeting of the Indian Coast Guard and Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) next month. Can you confirm the development? (Sheeba Mahar – Daily SAMAA)

Answer

The meeting between the Indian coast guards and Pakistan maritime agency will be held from 16-19 April 2017 in New Delhi. This is a yearly meeting. The last meeting was held in July 2016 in MOFA in Islamabad, when the delegation of Indian coast guards visited Pakistan.

Question

Anti-Muslim riots erupted in Modi’s Gujarat after one person namely Ibrahim Belim was killed and at least 12 were injured in a clash between Hindu and Muslim students. What’s happening with the Muslims especially when Yogi Aditynath was crowned as Chief Minister over there? What are you comments on the persecution of religious minorities in India?

Secondly, a fanatic BJP MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha has demanded demolition of the iconic Jinnah House in Mumbai. What is Pakistan’s reaction to this? Has Government of Pakistan taken up this issue with India? (Shaukat Paracha – Aaj TV)

Answer

Indian treatment of its Christians, Muslims and other minorities, is deplorable, as it encourages incitement to hatred and violence. It is happening as the Indian Government in New Delhi stands back and watches. The international community needs to take notice of extremely vitriolic statements by those in power in India, like CM Yogi Aditynath. There are reports by International Institutions expressing deep concern over persecution of religious minorities in India by elements with official backing. The genocide of Muslims in Gujarat during 2002 is still fresh in people’s minds.

On your second question, Jinnah House in Mumbai was the residence with ownership of the father of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Pakistan has repeatedly expressed its desire to take possession of the property. The Government of India should respect the ownership rights of the Government of Pakistan in this regard. We also expect that Indian Government will fulfill its obligation of protecting that property and its upkeep.

As regards taking up this issue with India, we have already taken it up with Indian authorities, and it is an ongoing matter. The property belongs to the Founder of Pakistan and should be given to Pakistan. On various occasions, the Indian Government has promised to handover the property to the Government of Pakistan but have not fulfilled their commitment as yet.

Question

India’s External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Gopal Baglay said that terrorism emanating from Pakistan is affecting not only India but other neighbours of Pakistan as well. Whereas, Pakistan is the victim of Indian sponsored terrorism, how do you respond to this Indian allegation? (Tariq Mahmood – SAMAA TV)

Answer

Pakistan continues to suffer from Indian-sponsored and financed terrorism. Kulbhushan Yadav’s arrest and public confession of Indian state agencies’ involvement in subversive activities and terror financing is a case in point. We have constantly registered our concern over use of Afghan soil against Pakistan with ample indications of Indian involvement. RSS and other fascist and terrorist organizations such as Abhinav Bharat, etc. have been found involved in staging terrorist attacks on Indian soil and blaming it on others. Let us not forget that the Samjhauta Express terrorist attack of Feb. 2007 was planned and carried out by Swami Assemanand, RSS activist, who confessed and also admitted that Col. Purohit, then a serving Indian Army officer, was also involved.

Question

Recently, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Subramanian Swamy has introduced a cow slaughter bill 2017, which proposes capital punishment to cow slaughters. Your comments please!

Secondly, Indian media has reported that Shiv Sena has cracked down on more than 500 Muslim eateries and they have been told to close down. Apparently, it has been done with the help of Indian police and local authorities. I need your comment on it. How do you see India’s minorities especially Muslims community being impacted by such actions? (Essa Naqvi – Dunya News)

Answer

I have already responded to a similar question earlier pertaining to the persecution of the religious minorities in India. Because of the rise of Hindu fundamentalism and Hindutva sentiment over there, India is stifling and suffocating its religious minorities. It is not just the Muslim minority, other minorities are also suffering, which should be noted by the international community and particularly, OIC and Muslim countries.

Question

Pakistan has started building a fence along the Afghan border to stop cross-border terrorism from Afghan soil. On the other hand, Afghanistan Interior Ministry has said neither they have seen the border with Pakistan being fenced nor will they allow it. Do you think that it will deteriorate the already tense ties between the two countries? (Asghar Ali Mubarak – Daily Mail Islamabad)

Supplementary Questions

We have heard reports Pakistan and Afghan officials are in contact at private and unofficial levels. The negotiating process is ongoing, and there is an understanding on both sides to settle disputes. Please give us an idea as to where is the process of talks going right now? (Tahir Rathore – 24 News)

After the meeting between Adviser Sartaj Aziz and Afghan National Security Adviser in London, Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan posted on social media that both sides reached a mechanism to settle the issues. Can you please give us more details of the mechanism on which both countries agreed? (Naveed Akbar – Daily Dunya)

Answer

Pakistan has continued to emphasize that effective border management is important for combating terrorism and preventing cross border movement of terrorists. The London meeting between the Adviser and Afghan NSA Mr. Hanif Atmer, underscored the importance for a bilateral cooperation mechanism to address counter-terrorism and border management issues in an amicable manner.

I think both the sides have realized that terrorism is a common threat, and that we need to take necessary measures to check terrorism as it is affecting people of both the countries. For this to happen, effective border control management is an imperative.

As regards the question on process of talks right now, we avail all opportunities to engage with each other and have a clearer understanding of each other concerns as happened in London when Adviser met Afghan NSA, an occasion afforded by CMAG, as well as on a number of other occasions.

Question

We all know that Hussain Haqqani is a controversial figure in Pakistan’s history. Recently all states institutions have reacted in a strong manner to his recent revelations in a news report. My question is: does he have diplomatic immunity, as he is not career diplomat?

Secondly, as a lot of Black Water and CIA agents entered at that time in Pakistan, the visa policy has come under a lot of discussion. Right now, Chinese are storming Pakistan in the same capacity, are they being treated properly in terms of visas to avoid another Haqqani type of episode? (Syed Mohsin Raza – Asas Group of Publications)

Answer

As to your second question, it is speculative in nature, and therefore doesn’t warrant a response. Visa policies are made by Ministry of Interior, after taking a number of aspects into consideration. In case you need more information on this, please contact them.

China is a longstanding friend of Pakistan. Our relationship is based on the merits of equality, mutual respect and understanding. The bilateral relationship is diverse and wide ranging, and encompasses the areas of cooperation in defence, cultural, economic and education, to name a few. Our bilateral trade has exceeded US $19 bn last year. This relationship has been transformed, and taken to another level by CPEC, which is considered a game changer in terms of economic development for not only Pakistan and China but also the entire region.

As to your first question, it is important to understand what diplomatic immunity means. Any diplomat, serving or non-serving, has no diplomatic immunity within his or her country. I think this answers your question.

Question

United Nations Population Fund observers visited Hassanabdal to monitor the first phase of census and were satisfied with the process. How is UNFPA authorized to observe purely an internal matter? (Shahid Maitla – ARY News)

Answer

Pakistan Bureau of Statistics is inviting national / international observers for observing Census – 2017 operation as a third party / neutral observers, so that the transparency and credibility of Census may be observed. Under this arrangement, UNFPA has been invited by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics to observe the census field operation. This observation mission is expected to objectively observe the census process against international standards to increase accuracy and transparency of the whole process. They are independent statisticians / demographers / social scientists who neutrally witness the enumeration process.

Such missions are conducted in many countries and their observations are expected to contribute to the authenticity and quality of the process.

Question

Who will represent Pakistan in the upcoming Moscow meeting? Is any Taliban delegation participating in the meeting? (Rabia – Mashal Radio)

Answer

It will be decided in due course of time.

As to the second part of the question, I have given an elaborate answer in my last press briefing, which you may wish to refer to.

Question

Reportedly, Russia is actively working to curb the increasing threat of Daesh and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan. With Russian initiative gaining momentum, what is the future of QCG? Are these two processes complementary to each other?

Secondly, Indian Supreme Court has asked its government to stop using pallet guns on innocent Kashmiris. Voices are now being raised from within India to end blatant human rights violations in IoK. What are your views on this? (Shabbir Waghara – PTV World News)

Answer

As to your first question, QCG was setup in light of the meetings that took place on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia Conference held in Islamabad in December 2015, with a view to make concerted efforts for peace talks between the Afghan Government and the Taliban. The 3 facilitating countries in QCG; viz. China, the US and Pakistan made efforts towards encouraging Taliban to come to the negotiating table. In our view, QCG remains an effective forum. A number of other processes also exist for promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan. Recently, Russia took an initiative of organizing six party regional consultations that were held on 15 February 2017. Now it has planned to convene, 12 party talks in Moscow in mid April where the Central Asian countries and US have also been invited. Pakistan will participate in the forthcoming Moscow meeting in accordance with our policy of constructive engagement at all forums relating to Afghan peace.

Regarding your question on Indian atrocities in IoK, much has already been said in this regard. We are also hearing saner voices from within India, raising serious concerns of Indian Government’s maltreatment of defenceless Kashmiris, and calling for a just resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. I have, on all previous occasions, elaborately responded that we condemn these atrocious acts of Indian brutality in IoK in the strongest possible terms. We also urge international community to take a serious note of this, and ensure that India stops bloodshed immediately and gives Kashmiris in IoK their right to self-determination under relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, to be implemented as soon as possible under UN-supervised plebiscite.

Question

India has deployed additional 20,000 paramilitary personnel in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. More than 700,000 fully equipped Indian occupation forces are already in IoK. Will the world note and react Indian effort to suppress the movement and what can Pakistan do? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Kashmir Post)

Answer

IoK remains the most militarized area in the world, with a ratio of civilians to uniformed personnel 17:1. The deployment of additional 20,000 paramilitary personnel to the already present 700,000 fully equipped Indian occupation forces will not solve the problem. Let me re-emphasize and reiterate that the only solution to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute remains the implementation of the UNSC resolutions for the realization of Kashmiris’ right to self-determination. Question There is a much-asked question from several quarters but Foreign Office is tight-lipped about it. It is regarding General Raheel Sharif to lead the 39-nation military alliance. Would you like to comment on this? (Naveed Siddiqui-Dawn News) Answer I have seen the statement made by the Minister of Defence. I don’t think after what has been said by him and the things which have been discussed in the Parliament, I have anything to add. Supplementary Question Have Saudis contacted us diplomatically in this regard? (Anwar Abbas – Waqt News)

Answer

I am not aware. Question

Minister of Defense said that it is a Government-to-Government arrangement. So, if this is that arrangement, whether our policy of neutrality has changed? (Ali Hussain – Business Recorder)

Answer

You are talking about two different things. The basic purpose of this force is counter terrorism. Terms of reference of counter terrorism operations were to be made.

Supplementary Question

Has Pakistan officially joined this alliance? (Ali Hussain- Business Recorder)

Answer

We are already part of it.

Question

Once again India has refused to play cricket series with Pakistan. Would you like to comment on it please? (Saad Umer – Roz News)

Answer

I have said earlier that they have referred to some issues, which are impeding their decision. We have said very clearly that we need to talk to each other because dialogue is the only way to resolve issues between the two countries.

For more information, contact:
Spokesman
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan
Tell: +92-51-9205494
Fax: +92-51-9204202
Cell: +92-336-5644459
Website: www.mofa.gov.pk

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