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Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 16 March 2017

(2017-03-16) Opening Remarks


Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum


We strongly condemn Indian occupation forces' continued brutalities in India occupied Kashmir, which claimed life of a minor Kashmiri girl Kaneeza while another minor boy was injured. From March 9, 2017 till to date, brutalities unleashed on the defenceless Kashmiris as the international community watched the crimes against humanity committed by the Indian occupation forces with impunity continue. 7 other Kashmiri youth were martyred by Indian troops in fake encounters

On March 9, four including a 15-year-old boy and a 9th class student were killed by Indian troops at Padgampora in Pulwama district. The troops fired live ammunition, tear gas and pellets on the unarmed people. 100 Kashmiris were injured. A number of residential houses were blasted by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) by Indian troops. Pellet caused eye injuries to a dozen Kashmiris. Over 70 youth were arrested in Srinagar, Shopian, Pulwama districts.

Imam of a mosque Mushtaq Ahmed Shergojri who was travelling in a vehicle was killed in Bandipore. As usual, last Friday also Azaan was not allowed in Jamia Masjid in Srinagar and people stopped from offering Juma prayers. We condemn it.

Hurriyat Leaders Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Shabbir Ahmed Shah, Syeda Aasiya Andrabi, Yasin Malik and others were arrested. Their constant Harassment and repeated detention and denial of their fundamental rights is highly deplorable.

Pakistan has raised the issue of grave human rights violations in IOK at the Human Rights Council in Geneva during its ongoing 34th Session.

Pakistan this week hosted regional seminar on implementation of UNSC Resolution 1540 in Islamabad in collaboration with the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs in which senior disarmament officials and experts of various countries and organizations participated.

Adviser to the PM on Foreign Affairs is on a visit to London to attend the CMAG meeting. Presence of Adviser there where Afghan NSA was also on a visit was seen as an opportunity for them to meet and discuss situation in Afghanistan and bilateral issues, particularly, related to the border management and cross-border terrorism that caused loss of numerous precious lives of our citizens, of late.

We are made proud by two Pakistanis; Mr. Muhammad Yahya Mansoor in Saudi Arabia and Mr. Ifzal Zaffar in Hong Kong, for their act of bravery and dedication that saved precious human lives.

Now the Floor is open for Questions


Question


Pakistan Naval ships along with helicopters have arrived at Iranian Bandar Abbas port in Persian Gulf for a three-day visit. What is the purpose of this visit and at what level this visit is carried out? (Saima Shabir - Bol News)


Answer

As a routine matter of conducting Navy drills, Pakistan Naval Ships pay goodwill port calls on various ports around the world. PNS Sultan with an embarked helicopter and PNS Jurrat are currently on a goodwill visit to Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. Pakistan Navy delegation has received a very warm welcome from the Iranian Navy and government. This visit is being carried out at the level of the Commodore of Pakistan Navy. Commodore Mirza Foad Amin Baig is commanding the PN task Group as the Mission Commander.

The visit is aimed at promoting peace and security in the region and enhancing maritime collaboration between the two brotherly neighbours. This visit would further strengthen Pakistan - Iran bilateral relations.


Question

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is considering holding talks with officials from Pakistan and India on the deteriorating situation in Jammu & Kashmir. Has he been briefed appropriately by our PR in New York regarding what is going on in Kashmir, so that the Pakistan stance could be highlighted? (Shabbir Waghara - PTV World)


Answer

When the UN Secretary General assumed the office, he had announced that he would like to resolve the conflicts in various regions and he also talked about Kashmir, which we have welcomed. Our Permanent Representative at UN New York and Envoys across the world brief the people concerned on the issue of Kashmir. Maleeha Lodhi, our Permanent Representative, has comprehensively briefed Secretary General Antonio Guterres about the issue of Kashmir on various occasions. The issue of Kashmir is on the UN Security Council agenda for a very long time and UNSC Resolutions have remained unimplemented. It is the responsibility of the UN to resolve the issue of Kashmir. The gross human rights violations of the people of IoK have aggravated considerably since July 2016. Indian security forces are responsible for the disappearance of more than 10,000 persons, 95,000 deaths, 6000 unknown, unmarked mass graves, 10,000 cases of rape and countless cases of torture in IOK. Pakistan has consistently raised the Jammu & Kashmir dispute and the need for its expedited resolution at all forums including the UN in New York. The Prime Minister also strongly raised this issue in his address to the UNGA in September last year as well as on other occasions.


Question

Modi's political party BJP has won state elections in Uttar Pradesh, the largest state in India. During election campaign BJP once again used Pakistan-bashing tactics to get votes. Recently, we saw Shashi Tharoor visiting Pakistan for APA, and India's offer to hold Indus Water Commissioner's meeting. How do you foresee the future of India-Pakistan relations in this scenario? (Shaukat Paracha - Aaj TV)


Supplementary Question

Today, Times of India has reported that over two dozen posters, undersigned by recently elected MPAs of BJP in UP, call for the Muslim community in the area to leave UP by the end of this year or face consequences. What are your comments on the rise of polarization and Hindutva sentiments in India? (Essa Naqvi - Dunya News)


Answer

BJP's policy of using Pakistan card in their domestic politics is unfortunate and regrettable. It has been Pakistan's policy to pursue friendly relations with all its neighbours. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's vision clearly states Pakistan's foreign policy objective of achieving regional prosperity through peaceful neighbourhood. We want a peaceful resolution of all outstanding issues with India, particularly, the Jammu and Kashmir Dispute.

You mentioned about APA and the upcoming meeting of Indus Water Commissioner. APA is a multilateral forum hosted by the National Assembly of Pakistan. A number of countries including India sent their legislators to the Conference. Pakistan is also hosting the upcoming Indus Water Treaty Commissioners' meeting. We have been emphasizing the need for sustainable and result oriented dialogue vis-a-vis our relationship with India - dialogue which should not disrupt or breakdown on flimsy grounds. Pakistan has shown a number of gestures which were not reciprocated by India. We hope that India will soon realize that dialogue is a key to peace and stability in the region, as well as peace between our two countries, particularly in the context of the issue of Jammu & Kashmir.

With reference to Mr. Essa Naqvi's question, let me draw your attention to a report released last month by US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which has also pointed out the persecution of religious minorities in India over the years. The report noted with deep concern, the treatment of successive Indian Governments towards minorities, particularly Muslims. Of course, it is a matter of deep concern for us also. International Community should take note of this. The policies of the current BJP Government under PM Modi, and the rise of Hindutva and Hindu extremist mindset, has raised the lot of concerns not just for the Muslims, but other religious minorities in India also, like Christians. We have expressed our concerns about this in the past; similar concerns have figured in UN Geneva's ongoing session on Human Rights also.


Question

US CENTCOM Commander General Joseph Votel said that Pak-India conflict could go nuclear and India's policy of diplomatic isolation of Pakistan may be a hindrance to improve ties between the two countries. Your comments please! (Amjad Ali - PTV News)


Answer

Realization by the international community of the perilous situation created by India has long been emphasized by Pakistan. Indian belligerent posture, irrational defence build-up by India. Indian remained the largest importer of defence equipment in the region and its hegemonic designs are endangering peace and security in the region and beyond. India has to learn to live in peace with all its neighbors, including Pakistan. It is only through peace and dialogue that we can lift millions of our people from the throes of poverty.


Question

India has test fired the super-sonic Brahmos cruise missile with an extended range of 450 km. Was Pakistan informed prior to test? Has India not breached MTCR, which it joined in June 2016? (Mian Abrar - Pakistan Today)


Answer

The test was not notified to Pakistan. The bilateral agreement on pre-notification of missile tests covers only ballistic missiles. Cruise missiles are not covered. This underscores the need for Pakistan and India to engage in meaningful discussions on further measures for confidence-building, avoidance of arms race and promotion of strategic stability in South Asia. Pakistan stands ready for such talks with India. Our proposal for a Strategic Restraint Regime for South Asia is still on the table.

The international community should also take note of the reports that India had been exercising "strategic restraint" on its missile development prior to getting the MTCR membership. This speaks of the Indian duplicity in paying lip service to the objective of non-proliferation while relentlessly pursuing a conventional and strategic arms buildup.


Question

Reportedly, US has disbursed US$350 million under the CSF grant to Pakistan. This followed by Gen. Votel's statement are positive development in the context of Pak-US relations. Your comments please.

My second question relates to Mr. Hussain Haqqani recent assertions. What are the implications of these claims on Pakistan's foreign policy, and the administrative set up within Pakistan? Abid Khursheed - ATV)


Answer

I will reply to your second question first. You must be aware that there has been a debate in the Parliament regarding this matter. The Defence Minister has said that he will issue a statement on the coming Monday. Therefore, let us not get into speculations and wait for his statement.

As regards your first question, the CSF disbursement by the U.S. continues and has been an important vehicle through which U.S. has reimbursed Pakistan over the years for the expenses incurred in providing support to counter terrorism operations.

As regards, General Joseph Votel, Commander CENTCOM's testimony before the Senate Armed Services committee, yes he has acknowledged Pakistan as a critical partner in the counter terrorism fight, while also noting that the US relationship with Pakistan remains a very important one. Gen. Votel also spoke of the actions taken by Pakistan against the Haqqani Network.

Importantly, Gen Votel noted that the Indian policy to diplomatically isolate Pakistan hindered any prospects for improved relations and that the tension on the eastern border distracted Pakistan's efforts to secure border with Afghanistan from incursion by Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters. Indeed, these are significant observations coming from a senior US commander on the importance of Pak-US relationship.


Question

Reportedly, Pakistan has handed over a letter to India regarding Kulbushan Yadev. Can you please divulge the details of this letter? (Naveed Akbar - Daily Dunya)


Answer

The case of Kulbushan Yadev is under investigation. You may contact the investigating agencies regarding further development in this regard. As you are aware, we have taken up the issue of Indian subversive activities and involvement in terrorism and terror financing in Pakistan to destabilize the country, with the international community at various forums. For specific details please contact Ministry of Interior.


Question

Reportedly, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has assured a Christian delegation in Goa that Ghar Wapsi will not be allowed in Goa. We have seen in the past that Hindu extremist and terrorist organizations have been engaged in converting minorities to Hinduism under the programme "Ghar Wapsi". What is Pakistan's official position in this regard?

Secondly, reportedly, Pakistan Consulate General in Dubai issued 230 plus visas to Indian and Americans in 2011. Please share more details in this regard! (Tariq Mahmood - Daily SAMAA)


Answer

As to your second question first, I believe the context is Mr. Hussain Haqqani episode, for which I have responded earlier.

On your first question, the instances of attacks in India by the Hindu extremists on minorities, especially Muslims, is a cause of grave concern. Muslims are being killed by Hindu fanatics for slaughtering cows and for trading and eating beef. They are being forcefully converted to Hinduism through 'Ghar Wapsi' Programme, which was started in 2003 soon after massacre of 3000 Muslims in Gujarat in 2002. India needs to address the despicable treatment meted out to its minorities if it wishes to live up to its claims of being the biggest democracy. The concern on this count has been reflected in the report by US Commission on International Religions freedom.


Question

As you said in your opening remarks, Adviser Sartaj Aziz met the Afghan NSA in London on the sidelines of CMAG. Will it pave way for better understanding between the two countries?

Secondly, one week ago, India DHM was called by Foreign Office to express our concerns over the acquittal of Swami Aseemanand, who is the mastermind of the Samjhauta Express terrorist attack. My question is that has India responded in this regard? (Sheeba Mahar - Daily SAMAA)


Answer

As to your question regarding the Samjhauta Express terrorist attack, yes we did call him to express our concern. There was a press release also issued in this regard. So far, the Indian side has not shared any details of Samjhauta Express terrorist attack, despite the fact that promises were made at the highest political level that India will share its investigations with us. This is a matter of great concern that India is exonerating all those who were involved in Samjhauta Express terrorist attack in a very systematic manner. We will continue to take up the issue.

Regarding the meeting between Adviser Sartaj Aziz and Afghan NSA, I have already mentioned that Adviser Sartaj Aziz is in London to attend the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meeting. Afghan NSA Hanif Atmar was also there. It provided a good occasion for them to engage and discuss issues of mutual interest. The issues pertain to use of Afghan soil against Pakistan, our concern about sanctuaries enjoyed by various terrorist outfits and our concern about the funding and the financing of these terrorist elements to destabilize Pakistan. This is also the background for Pak-Afghan closure of border.


Question

My question is related to Pak-Afghan Border. Thousands of containers are stuck at Chaman and Torkham border and thousands of people are wandering. They don't know about the date of opening of the border, it was only opened for two days. With valid documents they are waiting for the opening of the border. Your comments please. ( Taj Nabi - APP)


Supplementary question

There are reports that Pakistan has started the fencing of the Pak Afghan border. Are these reports true? (ShabbirWaghra - PTV World)


Answer

You are actually asking about the operational details, for which you may ask the concerned department, responsible for managing the border, about the measures taken in this regard.

As to the closing of the border, I have said this thing earlier that it is a temporary measure. Security of our people and territory is of vital importance, which has been attacked time and again by the terrorist elements enjoying safe heavens in Afghanistan. They have been actually used against Pakistan. We are taking measures to this effect. I'm sure all these occasions provide the opportunity to the leadership of both sides to discuss the issues and come to an understanding as to how to overcome such challenges, so that sooner than later we are able to open the border, and resume the trading of goods and interaction of the people as usual. I can't give you the date but we are mindful and we are taking measures which are essential. When decided to open the border, it will also be conveyed to you.


Question

Today, there was news published with reference to an old lady, who is reported to be a poor widow, and whose son, Amir Hamid, s/o Abdul Hamid, resident of Haripur, has been imprisoned in Urumqi jail in China for the past two years. She said that she had contacted Foreign Office on a number of occasions but without any response. Your comments please. (Changez Khan Jadoon- Akhbar-e-Khyber)


Answer

For this specific case, I will have to check details. But as a matter of principle, whenever any Pakistani is arrested anywhere in the world, our concerned Mission immediately requests for their consular access. After that, all possible support is provided to him, which also includes legal assistance. This is our modus operandi in cases of similar nature. As I said, I will look into this particular instance and comment accordingly.


Question

On the sidelines of the CMAG meeting, is there a possibility of meeting between Adviser to the Prime Minister Sartaj Aziz and the Indian Minister? (Tariq Siyal - Daily Times)


Answer

I'm not aware of any such proposal. The only proposal I am aware of was the meeting with Afghan NSA.


Question

Pakistan's Ambassador to US Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry stated that Pakistan and US should work together against ISIS. What sort of work Pakistan wants to do with US against Daesh? (Rabia Pir - VOA Radio)


Answer

What he referred to was combating the menace of terrorism through cooperation, and in the larger context of promoting cooperation between Pakistan and the US. As you already know, we have a cooperative mechanism in place between the two countries for Counter-Terrorism and security related matters.

ISIS is a terrorist organization with a strong foothold in Afghanistan, and falls under the same category, where there is need for counter-terrorism action. ISIS has its presence in Afghanistan. Their growing influence and presence have serious implications not just for Pakistan but other countries in the region as well. It is a common concern and Pakistan shares this common concern. It is in this context that he has called for greater bilateral cooperation between Pakistan and the US to take concrete measures to combat terrorism


Question

Reportedly, Russia has approached Taliban's political representatives to join the dialogue it has initiated on Afghanistan, but Afghan Government resisted this offer. What is Pakistan's position on the situation as Pakistan was part of tripartite held on 27 December 2016, in which engaging Taliban was discussed? (Essa Naqvi - Dunya News)


Answer

Pakistan remains supportive of an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process for a political settlement. Our participation in Afghan related forums including the 27 December 2017 trilateral and later six-party regional consultations are based on our policy of supporting Afghan peace initiatives. There are a number of initiatives on Afghanistan. In many of them Pakistan whole-heartedly participates. Bringing warring factions to the negotiating table for dialogue with the Afghan government is an imperative.


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