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Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 18 November 2016

(2016-11-18) [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

Let me begin by reading, quote unquote, the excerpts from Kashmiri Leaders' recent joint statement:

"Hurriyat leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik said that people of Kashmir have won a moral victory by refusing to yield and submit to oppression, made it clear to India that come what may we will be masters of our destiny. Kashmiris have shown to the world their deep thirst for freedom for which they are prepared to stake their lives, their livelihood, their education, their everything. We are face to face with an enemy who refuses to acknowledge and recognize the truth and uses every means-lies and obfuscations to undermine our just struggle. Not only does the enemy control us militarily they also control our means of livelihood, our education, our channels of communication. Our youth are on the streets, resolute and continue to offer sacrifices. Their resistance and their passion for Azaadi is immense and is our most valuable and enduring resource. The current struggle has taken our movement forward by opening out the possibilities and the scope of our struggle. The road has got cleared, we have moved closer to our goal. We now have to consolidate our gains and Insha'Allah by the grace of Almighty Allah and by the power of our commitment, victory will be ours."

We salute our brave Kashmiri brethren in Indian occupied Kashmir for the sacrifices for the movement of their right to self-determination. People of Pakistan from across the world remain committed to our whole-hearted support to them.

Brotherly country, Turkey's President paid a 2-day visit. A very warm welcome was extended to him. The relations between the two countries have grown from strength to strength in diverse fields. Both countries stood by each other on all occasions and take coordinated position on all issues of interest to each other. In his address to the Parliament's Joint Session, he inter alia, reaffirmed support on Kashmir issue and expressed concern over the plight of Kashmiris in IoK.

The NSG Meeting was held in Vienna on 11 Nov. Under the Prime Minister's directive, Pakistan has adopted a multipronged approach with sustained outreach to garner support since the submission of its formal application for the NSG membership. The high-level political outreach by the Prime Minister, Adviser and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs as also of our Envoys in various NSG members countries' capitals has been very effective in putting across Pakistan's viewpoint and also recognition of our credentials. We have organized technical briefings for the NSG member states to promote better appreciation of Pakistan's NSG credentials.

Now the Floor is open for Questions

Question

My question relates to Pakistan's Permanent Representative to UN, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi's statement that terrorists are getting together in Afghanistan. Your comments please.

My next question pertains to Donald Trump's election. Since becoming the President-elect Mr. Trump has made contact with the 30 countries of the world; has he also contacted Pakistan? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal - Kashmir Post)

Answer

As to your first question, I am not sure about which statement you are referring to, as Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi is promoting Pakistan's interests actively at the UN, and defending Pakistan's viewpoint against challenges faced by the country. If you are mentioning about this, I hope you understand that the biggest challenge facing us today is that of terrorism. Terrorism is a global phenomenon. If it is this that Ambassador Lodhi is referring to, you are well aware as to how Pakistan feels about the menace of terrorism and the adverse impact this scourge has had on the people of Pakistan. We have incurred both human and economic loss of highest proportion at the hands of terrorists. We have lost more than 70 thousand of our nationals, including a large number of security personnel.

As to your second question, I am not aware if we have received any call from the new US administration. You are aware that the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan have already congratulated Mr. Trump on his victory. We look forward to working with the new administration closely.

Question

The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) held a meeting in Vienna on 11 November 2016 to consider the membership of Pakistan and India. What has been the outcome of the meeting? How does Pakistan see the developments in the NSG? (Mateen Haider - Such TV)

Answer

At the 11th Nov meeting of the NSG, majority of the members supported a two-step process involving i) agreement on objective and non-discriminatory criteria and ii) consideration of applications membership for non-NPT states_ the position that resonated Pakistan's stance on the issue, vis-a-vis some of member countries' desire to the contrary. The outcome of the meeting, therefore, remained inconclusive.

However, as a result of its active diplomacy, Pakistan has been able to establish itself as a serious candidate for NSG membership. An increasing number of country see merit in following a non-discriminatory approach and avoiding any formula tailored to favour a specific country. There is an increasing recognition of the fact that the 2008 exemption to India neither benefitted the non-proliferation regime nor the objective of strategic stability in South Asia.

We are confident that the NSG Members will bear in mind the immense responsibility they bear in preventing further erosion of the non-proliferation regime and preserving the credibility of the Group as a rule-based organization.

We have indicated our openness to measures for strengthening the non-proliferation objectives of the NSG. This includes our proposal for a binding bilateral agreement with India on non-testing. We are also mindful of the fact that the process could take some time due to complicated technical, political and legal issues that need to be addressed by the NSG.

Question

Russian Foreign Ministry is reported to have said that Pakistan, Russia and China will hold consultations on Afghanistan in December. Do you confirm this? This is a significant development vis--vis US-India-Afghanistan tripartite on the sidelines of 71st UNGA. Your comment please!

I have another question: how do you comment on one political party's decision not to attend the joint session of the Parliament yesterday, where Turkish President Reccap Erdogan addressed members of the Parliament. What impression would this leave on the Turkish people and President? (Shaukat Paracha Aaj TV)

Answer

Yes, we attach high importance to all initiatives aimed at bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region at large. There are other such initiatives also between different countries. Under the said trilateral, a working level meeting has already taken place. The meeting is due to be held next month. The deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan has raised concerns about the spillover effect due to the presence of NSAs and other elements there.

As to your second part of your question, I believe it is more of a political nature and relates to Pakistan's domestic politics. I may not be in a position to respond to this. But let me reiterate that Turkey is a brotherly country and Pakistani people from all walks of life have highest regards and respect for Turkey, its people and its leadership. This has been reaffirmed by all segments of society within Pakistan.

Question

Pakistan has decided to attend the "Heart of Asia" to be held in Amritsar next month. However, India continues to commit gross human rights violation on innocent Kashmiris in IoK and has committed unprovoked ceasefire violations LoC/WB. How do you comment on Pakistan's decision to attend the Heart of Asia conference in this backdrop? (Asghar Ali Mubarak - Daily Mail Islamabad)

Answer

You have talked about two different issues, one that relates to our western neighbor Afghanistan, and the other that relates to Indian atrocities in IoK. On Afghanistan, Pakistan's position has been very clear all along. We encourage all initiatives that are aimed at bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan. The rationale behind it is that peace in Afghanistan will have direct bearing on peace and security in the entire region. We also have a very special and close relationship with the people of Afghanistan. Since Heart of Asia is about Afghanistan, therefore, Pakistan has decided to attend the Conference. Adviser Sartaj Aziz has already announced in this regard.

On the part of your question that relates to India, we have spoken a lot that how Pakistan feels about the issue of Kashmir and the fact that Pakistan has and always will provide diplomatic, moral and political support to the cause of Kashmir. India has blatantly committed gross human rights violations, and denied the people of Kashmir the basic rights of freedom and perpetrated crimes against humanity in IoK for the past seventy years. The oppressed Kashmiris in IoK have been raising their voice against Indian atrocities through a movement, which is not only indigenous but also legitimate and calls for their fundamental right to self-determination. Indian unprovoked ceasefire violations at LoC and Working Boundary has caused loss of precious civilians lives, is condemnable. Indian attempt to raise tension at LoC and WB is to hide their genocide and crimes against humanity its occupation forces have been perpetrating with impunity in IoK.

Question

How do you see Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's statement regarding scraping of India's no-first use nuclear doctrine, suggesting use of nuclear weapons in case of escalating tension, in the backdrop of Indian aggression at LoC & Working Boundary and their ironic aspiration for NSG membership? (Essa Naqvi - Dunaya News)

Answer

The statement of Indian Defence Minister is yet another manifestation of India's doublespeak. Pakistan has long maintained that the ambiguous no-first use declaration is not verifiable and amounts to nothing. It cannot substitute for verifiable arms control and restraint measures as proposed in Pakistan's standing offer of Strategic Restraint Regime.

Such statements from a person no less than defence minister of a country that has repeatedly and constantly heightened tensions with her aggressive posturing, should be a matter of concern not just for the countries in this region but it should be seen as a threat to the global peace and stability.

In this backdrop, signing of nuclear deals by some countries is a matter of concern as it has only reinforced arrogance and belligerence to the Indian conduct in the region and beyond. Pakistan has time and again cautioned the international community of Indian tendency towards adventurism. Their atrocities and worst crimes against humanity in Indian occupied Kashmir with impunity and non-stop ceasefire violations at LoC and WB testify this assertion.

Question

India's constant violations at the LoC & Working Boundary and Adviser's word of caution on strategic miscalculates, are you contemplating an all out war between the two countries? (Amjad Ali PTV News)

Answer

India has deliberately escalated tension at the Line of Control (LoC) and the Working Boundary (WB) is an attempt to try to divert international attention from the grim situation in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, where the Indian occupation forces have unleashed a reign of terror on the innocent unarmed and defenseless civilians. The Indian forces are continuously engaged in Ceasefire Violations on the LoC and the Working Boundary, resulting in the loss of innocent precious lives. The villages and populated areas are being deliberately targeted by the Indian occupation forces.

Pakistan has no desire to escalate the situation. However, we have been forced to react but with maximum restraint. The word of caution from Pakistan side is to remind India of its responsibilities under bilateral arrangements and international law.

Question

With worsening human rights situation in IoK and the fundamental rights denied and so-called standard bearers of human rights, the Western countries / UN, US and EU, watching as silent spectators the genocide of Muslim Kashmiris, what future do you see of Kashmiri struggle to self-determination in this backdrop? (Mona Khan Geo News & Mr. Tariq Mahmood SAMAA TV)

Answer

The Western media has given significant coverage to the recent uprising and grave situation in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir and reign of terror being perpetrated by the Indian occupation forces.

The Guardian, a widely read British newspaper, has published a very long report on Indian barbarities in IoK on November 8. Similarly, other major news papers including New York Times, Washington Post and Aljazeera have widely covered the worsening situation in IoK. Voices among the general public against serious human rights violations in IoK are getting very vocal in the West also and they are calling for the end of bloodshed in IoK.

A number of countries have raised their concern on the situation in IoK. The people of IoK look towards the international community for its role in fulfilling international commitments in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions and international human rights and humanitarian laws.

As far as Kashmir struggle for promised right to self determination is concerned, the unbreakable resolve and determination shown by the valiant people of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir has manifested time and again, that this sacred struggle will continue till the oppressed people of IoK break free from the Indian clutches.

Just look at the events taking place across Europe, particularly in the UK, where there is a large Kashmiri & Pakistani Diaspora, who have been assisted by Members of the Parliament and civil society, in raising awareness about India's inhuman atrocities against the people of IoK. These people have organized serial of events previously, and plan to do more of such events well into 2017, which is a manifestation of how the voice on the issue of Kashmir is becoming louder every day. You must have seen the press release on the emergency session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers, in which Pakistan has effectively raised the voice against India's condemnable act of human rights violations in IoK.

Question

I want to ask you about Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi's statement that the foreign terrorists are gaining foot-hold in Afghanistan. Can you identify which countries they belong to?

Secondly, does Pakistan plan to raise the issue of Kashmir at the UNSC? (Tahir Rathore - Channel 24)

Answer

As to your second question, Kashmir is already on UNSC agenda. Pakistan has repeatedly raised the issue of Kashmir with the UN. The Security Council has passed resolutions on the issue of Kashmir that to date lay unimplemented due to Indian intransigence towards creating enabling environment for holding of a UN supervised plebiscite, which would give the people of Kashmir their right to self-determination and choose their destiny.

As to the first part of your question, there are several news reports as to how Daesh/ISIS is increasing its footprint in Afghanistan. Taliban are already operating from there. We are all aware that due to turmoil in Afghanistan for long, space has been created for foreign elements to gain hold there with huge loss to the Afghan people and the neighborhood.

Question

Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said that he is looking forward to visit Pakistan. Do you have any information regarding his visit to Pakistan?

Secondly, Pakistan, Russia and China will hold consultations on Afghanistan in December. Do you think that these consultations will be useful without the inclusion of Afghanistan? (Rabia Pir - VOA)

Answer

The Prime Minister has extended invitation to Mr. Abdullah Abdullah. I have also seen the statement of Afghan Chief Executive Mr. Abdullah Abdullah. The mutually convenient dates for the visit are being worked out and will be shared with you when finalized.

With regard to your second question, I have already responded that countries in the region are concerned about spillover effect. Once this meeting is held in December, the outcome may clarify the remaining questions that you may have in this regard.

Question

Recently, in an incident in Nigeria over 100 people have been killed. Do we condemn it?

My second question is that we expect world organizations to support Kashmir and to condemn human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Why is so that we are observing silence on the issues like Syria, Yemen and other countries where human rights violations are taking place? (Anwar Abbas - Waqt News)

Answer

As to your first question, while I am not sure of the reference, any loss of an innocent life is a loss of humanity, irrespective of any religion.

As to your second question, I believe that we have made Pakistan's stance on it very clear time and again. We call for unity in Muslim Ummah. We also call for reconciliation and negotiation among the factions which are at loggerheads with each other. Our position taken previously is based on the principles of international Law and UN charter. As I mentioned that key to long term solutions is through a peaceful and inclusive process.

Question

Your counterpart in US State Department has shown concern regarding the tension between Pakistan and India. He also advised both countries to show restraint. What's your take on it? (Tariq Sial - Daily Times)

Answer

I think we have talked about this on a number of occasions. Pakistan's position is very clear on this issue of heightening tensions. It is India, which is escalating the situation at LoC and working boundary and I think it is India, which needs to be cautioned in this regard. We have already briefed the P-5 Ambassadors on a number of occasions. We have also given message to the Indian side that they should honor the 2003 ceasefire understanding. The world is mindful of the situation but I would say once again that it is an attempt from the Indian side to divert world's attention from the crimes against humanity in the IoK.

Question

Interior Ministry has asked the staff of the Pak-Turk schools to leave the country. But as we see the Joint Statement of yesterday, it does not mention about Gulen's network. Does Pakistan consider it as a terrorist organization or not? (Shamaila Andleeb - APP)

Answer

There have been some speculative media reports with regard to Turkish employees of Pak-Turk schools.

It is emphasized that all actions being taken by the Government of Pakistan in the matter are in accordance with our national law and consistent with the actions taken against the parent organization by the Government of Turkey. The organization was registered under the 'Charities Act' in the Republic of Turkey. After the organization was banned in the country of origin, its branches abroad have ceased to exist.

The Government is fully conscious of the importance of continued smooth functioning of the schools in which thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled. We would like to reassure that appropriate arrangements are being made to ensure uninterrupted running of these educational institutions, keeping in view the interest of the students as well as the employees.