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Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 15 December 2016

(2016-12-15) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.]

Opening Remarks

Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum

Since we met last week, genocide and crimes against humanity committed by Indian occupation forces in IOK claimed more precious lives of Kashmiris. We strongly condemn martyrdom of innocent Kashmiris. Kashmiris' right to freedom of expression, religious practice, and freedom of movement remained curbed under Indian oppressive measures, which is highly deplorable.

Questions have been constantly raised by many among you on the silence of the international community over Indian worst human rights violations in IOK. I had said that civil society members in various regions, joined by the Members Parliament and members of Kashmiri and Pakistani Diaspora have held numerous events to sensitise the International Community on the blatant violations of human rights in IOK, availing the occasion of human rights day and on other days.

Rochdale Borough Council while expressing their concern over grave human rights violations, urged the UN and Int'l HR bodies to protect, monitor and human rights in IOK. The Council noted that the genocide committed by Indian forces in IOK is designed to curb pro-freedom voices and Kashmiris' right to self-determination enshrined in several UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir. The Council observed that the voice of Kashmiris is challenging India and world's conscience. The Council condemned Indian Government's statements on unilateral abrogation of the Indus Water Treaty.

Lord Qurban Hussain of Luton raised question on 12 Dec. in the House of Lords, "What steps Her Majesty's Government is taking to support the UN investigations into human rights abuses in Indian occupied Kashmir?' Baroness Goldie responded that UK was concerned and supports prompt, transparent and thorough investigation and UK also supports enabling of UN Bodies to fulfill their mandates. She confirmed that British PM Theresa May took up the issue of Kashmir with PM Modi during her recent visit. On Human Rights Day, a large number of British Parliamentarians raised their deep concerns over Indian atrocities in IOK.

SAPM Tariq Fatemi, who is on visit to the US and Pakistan's Ambassadors in various countries have effectively raised the issue of ongoing brutalities in IOK and Kashmir dispute.

Now the Floor is open for Questions

Question

It is reported in the media, a video has gone viral, in which a Hindu girl has been burnt alive in Madhya Pradesh for attending a prayer meeting in a Christian Church. Your comments on this in the light of Rajnath Singh's latest comments that religious communities are living in India in harmony.

Secondly, Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh has threatened Pakistan to divide into 10 parts. Your comments on this. (Khawaja Nayaar Iqbal - Kashmir Post)

Supplementary Question

Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh has blamed that Pakistan wants to divide India on religious lines. He also warned of dividing Pakistan into 10 parts in the most blatant threat to territorial sovereignty of any one country by another. He also boasted as to how religiously diverse populations in India are living in harmony. Your comment please. (Tariq Mahmood - SAMAA TV)

Answer

Both of you have asked almost similar questions. As for the first question, the international community is deeply concerned about treatment of minorities in India. Muslims, Dalits and Christians are especially victims of Hindu extremist and terrorist organizations such as RSS, Shiv Sena, Abhinav Bharat, etc. International Community is witnessing worst human rights violations and persecution of minorities, particularly of Muslims, in India. I also recall one report in which it was stated that in the last couple of years, more than 200 churches have been burnt down by the Hindu extremists and terrorists in India.

As to your second question, Interior Minister has responded very comprehensively in this regard. Let me add that we strongly condemn the absurd remarks of the Indian Home Minister which are in complete violation of all diplomatic norms, UN Charter and other international instruments guaranteeing sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. These remarks vindicate Pakistan's long standing position that Indian government and its intelligence agencies are involved in subversive and terrorist activities and terror financing in Pakistan to fuel tension and destabilize the country. The international community must take notice of such irresponsible statements and Indian sponsored terrorism in Pakistan.

Question

The Hindu and Kashmir media reported that Nobel Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta has called upon India to allow UNMOGIP in IoK, which will help deescalate tension over the Kashmir issue this, he argues, will address the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. He also called for dialogue. Your comment please! (Sheeba Mahar - Daily SAMAA)

Answer

UNMOGIP was constituted under a UN Security Council resolution to observe, to the extent possible, developments pertaining to the strict observance of the ceasefire line and to report thereon to the UN Secretary-General.

Pakistan therefore regularly facilitates the UNMOGIP in the performance of its responsibilities. On various occasions of ceasefire violations, Pakistan has taken UNMOGIP to the affected area. Unfortunately India doesn't allow the same on their side.

We welcome the call by Jose Ramos-Horta and believe that it is a preliminary step in the right direction. Pakistan's principled position has consistently been that Jammu & Kashmir dispute should be resolved through a free and fair plebiscite under the UN auspicious in line with the UN Security Council resolutions.

Question

One outcome of the Heart of Asia Conference was the announcement by India and Afghanistan for an Air Cargo Service, to transport goods between the two countries. What implications does this have for Pakistan? (Bilal Masood - Radio Pakistan)

Answer

I have seen the reports, but we have not received any such proposal yet. Once a request is received, we will process it according to our regulations and procedures.

Question

With our recent concerted efforts to highlight the issue of Kashmir in the international community profusely, and offers by the leadership of many countries to help in the mediation of the Kashmir dispute, is Pakistan planning an international conference on Kashmir like the Heart of Kashmir or Heart of Pakistan Conference, or can a thought be given to any such proposal? (Asghar Ali Mubarak - Daily Mail Islamabad)

Answer

First of all, as I have said many times, we welcome all offers by various members of international community as well as the UN Secretary General to help mediate the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India. We welcomed all these offers because Pakistan believes that it is only through dialogue and negotiations, and following the peaceful way, that the outstanding issues can be resolved. Therefore, we have always been creating enabling atmosphere expecting India to reciprocate. Let me remind you that mediation is between two countries. As they say, it takes two to tango. Dialogue can only take place when all the parties are willing to come to the negotiating table. For its part, Pakistan has shown necessary gestures, where warranted, to resume dialogue. International community is well aware that Pakistan has always welcomed to resolve Kashmir dispute amicably.

Question

Hurriyet leadership in IoK in a memorandum to the UN has reminded the world body that the people of Kashmir continue to remain deprived of their right to self-determination, right to liberty, justice and political and economic rights. Will Pakistan's Permanent Representative pursue it with the UNSG? (Shahid Maitla - ARY News)

Answer

The essence of your question is whether Pakistan will formally take up the issue of Kashmir with the UN Secretary General. I think it needs no elaborate mention that Pakistan has always extended full diplomatic, moral and political support to the cause of Kashmir. Pakistan has consistently highlighted the gross violations of the basic human rights of the people of IoK by Indian occupation forces on all the relevant forums. The Kashmir issue is already on the UNSC agenda. The UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir are still outstanding and remain unimplemented. We have constantly taken up this matter with the UN Secretary General, the President of UN Security Council and other UN related bodies. Our Permanent Representatives in New York and Geneva regularly take up this issue with the relevant UN authorities. This will continue until the time the aspirations of the Kashmir people in accordance with UNSC resolution are realized, which calls for plebiscite in IoK under UN auspices.

Question

According to a media report, Commander of US and ISAF forces in Afghanistan Gen. John Nicholson said that the Pak-Afghan region has the highest ratio of terrorists in the world. This report vindicates Pakistan's stance that it is sincere in its counter terrorism efforts and it is Afghanistan wherein critical terrorist hideouts exist. Your comments please!

Secondly, IS has claimed responsibility for killing of counter terrorism police officer Riaz Islam in a terrorist attack last Saturday. You have said in the past that there is not organized presence of Daesh in Pakistan. Your comments please! (Shaukat Paracha - Aaj TV)

Answer

Gen. Nicholson's assessment suggested that a large number of terrorist organizations are based in Afghanistan. Pakistan has taken firm action to root out terrorism through operation Zarb-e-Azab, the impact of which can be seen. This has already been acknowledged by the leadership in the US at various levels. I would like to mention the visit of Senator John McCain in which he was highly appreciative of Pakistan's successes in counter terrorism operation. When he returned to the US he also wrote a very comprehensive article for the media in this regard.

Pakistan wants peace and stability in Afghanistan. We are engaged in border management which is imperative for effective counter terrorism. Cooperation of the Afghan Government and the US authorities has been repeatedly solicited in this regard. We look forward to receiving their support.

Let me add a few observations with reference to the Annual Assessment Report on US operations in Afghanistan, which you referred:

Out of 98 US designated terrorist groups around the world, around 13 are in Afghanistan.

US forces killed/captured 50 leaders of Al-Qaeda Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) in Afghanistan.

Around 200 other members of Al-Qaeda and Al-Qaeda Islamic state groups were killed/captured in Afghanistan.

5 Emirs of 20 terrorist groups were killed in Afghanistan.

Hamidullah, the Emir of the Islamic Jihad Union was killed in Afghanistan

Farouq al Qatari, Emir of eastern Afghanistan, for Al-Qaeda Islamic State was killed in Afghanistan (23 October 2016). He was Director External Operations ostensibly planning terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

In "Afghanistan" i) Islamic State of Khurasan (members of TTP, Islamic movement of Uzbekistan and some Members of TTA), have organized presence.



You mentioned the organized presence of Daesh in Pakistan. There is no organized presence, I repeat, no organized presence of Daesh in Pakistan. The pronouncement of one or two random individuals of having affiliation to Daesh does not form the basis for claiming organized presence for this entity in Pakistan. I wanted to share this comprehensive list (cited above), because there have been repeated queries time and again about presence of certain terrorist elements in Pakistan. I have said it in the past also that where we need to focus or look for to find the presence of those terrorists.

Question

Afghan and US officials are increasingly worried that any deepening of ties between Russia and Taliban militants fighting to topple the government in Kabul could complicate the already precarious security situation. How does Pakistan analyze growing Russian influence in Afghanistan? Do you see history being repeated? (Essa Naqvi - Dunya News)

Answer

I would like to address this question from the perspective of peace efforts. Pakistan has repeatedly emphasized the need for a politically negotiated settlement between the Afghan Government and the Taliban and has continuously endeavored towards this goal. In this spirit, Pakistan facilitated Murree peace talks between the afghan Government and the Taliban in July 2015. However, the breaking of news of death of Mullah Omer led to suspension of these talks. We continued our efforts and remained actively engaged in serious efforts through the QCG earlier this year. Again, the killing of Mullah Akhter Mansoor scuttled the process. Pakistan believes that Afghan conflict has to be resolved through peaceful and political means. The most apt way to move forward in this regard is serious talks between Afghan Government and the Taliban. For this, Afghan Government needs to send positive signals to the Taliban inviting them to join the peace process along with necessary incentives. In our view, an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process is the best way and not the military option.

Question

You have said a number of times that Pakistan has always played the role of a facilitator for establishing peace in Afghanistan, and is also ready to play this role in the future. My questions are:

Which Taliban leaders participated in Murree peace talks?

Currently which Afghan Taliban leaders are present in Pakistan?

How many projects funded by Pakistan for the development of Afghanistan have been completed during the last ten years?

There are media reports that one brother of the leader of the Haqqani Network is living in Peshawar while the other is also living somewhere in Pakistan. How far these statements are true? (Asghar Khan Askari - Khyber News)

Answer

Your questions are very specific. I don't have specific answers to these, but will respond anyways.

First of all regarding the Murree talks, you need to see the spirit behind this. Pakistan is committed towards peace and stability in Afghanistan. We believe that peace and stability in Afghanistan is not only in the interest of Pakistan but also of the entire region. We have made sincere efforts in this regard. Our participation in Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar is a clear manifestation of this. Murree Peace talks are also another reflection of Pakistan's commitment to see a stable and prosperous Afghanistan. It's an altogether different thing that the Murree talks were scuttled due to the announcement of Mullah Omar's death by someone, just before the beginning of the second round of the talks.

You also asked about the projects of Pakistan in Afghanistan. I believe that we have a list of that available on our website. But this is just one aspect of the assistance which Pakistan has given to Afghanistan which is in the shape of projects in health, education and infrastructure development sectors. We have spent US $ 500 million on these projects, and has made an additional commitment of US $ 500 million to efforts towards peace and stability in Afghanistan. Besides this, we have been hosting for the last thirty seven years or more, an unprecedented number of Afghan refugees, and that too in some times extreme and difficult circumstances. Another aspect of this assistance is the use of Pakistan's territory by Afghanistan for trade and other related purposes. Afghanistan is a landlocked country and Pakistan has always extended every assistance to Afghanistan in this regard. On a number of occasions in the past, there were unpaid dues of Afghanistan that related to trade transportation through Pakistan's territory, but these were waived off by the government of Pakistan as a goodwill gesture. I think, we need to quantify all these things to see the total impact of assistance that Pakistan has so far extended to Afghanistan.

As regards the Haqqani Network, I think it is the third time that I would be saying that if you look at the statistics of Haqqani Networks' commanders and senior leaders killed in Afghanistan from July till date, it will be sufficient for the people to realize where the Haqqani Network and its leadership actually is.

Question

In a latest development, World Bank has temporarily halted the appointment of a neutral expert to mutually resolve the water dispute under IWT. According to the Chief Commissioner on IWT from Pakistan this move b the World Bank seems to be in India's favour. What's your take on it? (Tariq Sial - Daily Times)

Answer

This matter pertains to Ministry of Water & Power. You may approach them. I have seen the statement attributed to the Indus Water Commissioner, stating that a letter from the World Bank has been received and that inter-departmental consultations are on.

Question

In yet another instance of oppression of Indian-occupation forces, APHC leaders have been forcibly stopped to hold "Seerat Conference in IoK" on Eid Milad Nabi. This is another instance of India's repressive acts to subsume religious freedom in IoK. Your comments please! (Amjad Ali - PTV News)

Answer

Particularly since July 2016, Pakistan has consistently condemned and highlighted the gross violations of the basic human rights of the people of IoK perpetrated by India. The denial by India to allow APHC leaders to hold the Seerat UnNabi (SAWS) Conference in IoK is a blatant violation of the basic human right and religious freedom and defiance of the UN Charter. It would be better that UN Charter is read to understand how India is blatantly defying it, repeatedly.

Indian occupation forces have also consistently prevented Hurriyat leaders from offering Juma prayers since July on at least 18 to 20 different occasions. This is unacceptable according to all standards of ethics, morals and basic human rights.

Question

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Mr. Tariq Fatemi is on a 10 day visit to US. So far, however, he has not met with any member of the incoming US administration of President-Elect Donald Trump. How do you assess Mr. Tariq Fatemi's visit to the US, and whether its overall objective of strengthening mutual cooperation and clarifying misperceptions between both sides was achieved?

Secondly, we have seen media reports that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is keen to visit US for the oath taking ceremony of President-Elect Donald Trump in January. If this is so, what diplomatic efforts has Pakistan taken in this regard? (Mateen Haider - Such TV)

Answer

As to your second question, I am not aware of any such proposal that the Prime Minister intends to attend President-Elect Donald Trump's oath taking ceremony.

As to your first question, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, who is on a visit to the U.S., has had a busy schedule and an extensive range of interactions in Washington and New York so far. More specifically, in Washington, he met Susan Rice, the U.S. National Security Advisor and Mr. Tony Blinken, Deputy Secretary of State. He also met Mr. Stephen Hadley, former National Security Advisor to President Bush and Mr. Sajid Tarrar, Founder of American Muslims for Trump. On the Hill, Mr. Fatemi met with Senator John McCain, Chairman Senate Armed Services Committee, Mr. Bob Corker, Chairman Senate Foreign Relations Committee and other members of the committee and with Congressman Eliot Engel, Ranking Member, House Foreign Affairs Committee. Besides, he has had in depth exchanges with the leading experts on the region in the Washington Think Tank community. Mr. Fatemi also interacted with senior media representatives. This provided or afforded a good opportunity to further Pakistan's viewpoint on a number of important issues mutual interest, including the regional issues.

Question

A report by International Crisis Group has claimed that Pakistani and Saudi elements are involved in the 9th October insurgency in Myanmar. Your comments please! (Shumaila - BBC)

Answer

Unless I have seen the report I would not be able to comment on it. But I think that any such accusation is nothing but ridiculous.

Question

Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in an earlier statement refuted a media report that Moscow and Islamabad were engaged in secret talks on joining CPEC. Yesterday, we saw a press release from your side, in which it was stated that during Pakistan-Russia bilateral consultations, the two sides discussed connectivity besides other matters. Can you clarify whether the two sides were finally engaged in talks regarding joining CPEC projects? (Ali Husnain - Business Recorder)

Answer

As to the first part of your question, I have already responded last time and would like to refer you to that reply. Regarding yesterday's press release, on Pakistan-Russia bilateral consultations, it was the first meeting in the context of regional issues.