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Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 15 June 2017

(2017-06-15) [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

Congratulations on Pakistan's victory yesterday. We wish the team success in the final.

Indian occupation forces in IoK, showing complete disrespect to the Holy month of Ramazan, martyred more than 25 Kashmiris, including children and injured over 200, mostly students, using pellet guns. Jamia Masjid (Mosque) was locked down and Kashmiris were not allowed to offer Juma Prayers.

One of the worst sufferers of the Indian brutalities are Kashmiri children. They have not only suffered direct injuries with bullets, pellet guns, etc. but have also been witness to all the gory incidents that have occurred in Indian occupied Kashmir. Hundreds of children have been blinded - completely or partially - during this past year alone. Pakistan's offer to get their eyes treated in any country in Europe still holds. We have broached this issue with UN HR officials in Geneva. Pakistan has also effectively taken up violations of Kashmiris' rights and Indian atrocities in IoK at the ongoing 35th session of Human Rights Council in Geneva.

As we speak today, Indian occupation forces may be brutally beating up Kashmiris for celebrating Pakistan cricket team's win in semi-final as they did after Pakistan won on 12 June at Cardiff. The occupation forces broke into shops and looted goods to punish Kashmiris celebrating Pakistan's victory.

Kashmiri Leaders are being constantly harassed and meted out inhuman treatment. Indian NIA and RSS with collaboration of Indian media are using every dirty tactic to subvert and malign the indigenous movement of Kashmiris for self-determination. India is engaging in activities to misguide the Int'l Community by portraying Kashmiris' genuine freedom movement as terrorism. Kashmiris are concerned that India will undertake false flag operation or stage a terrorist event to carry out heavy military action to justify killing of innocent Kashmiris. Recent statements of Indian Army Chief, who said "I wish instead of throwing stones Kashmiris were firing at us so that I could do what I wanted to" and Vishwa Hindu Parishad Leader Pravin Togadia, who demanded "carpet bombing", indicate such intentions. It is a recorded fact that Indian agencies in collaboration with terrorist organizations such as RSS and Abhinav Bharat have staged terrorist attacks and blamed them on others to use as an excuse to justify use of brute force against innocent people.

Terror unleashed by the Indian forces has failed to dampen the spirit of Kashmiris and their yearnings for freedom from the Indian occupation. The people and Government of Pakistan will continue to extend their unflinching moral, political and diplomatic support to them in their struggle.

On the diplomatic front, membership of SCO last week is a milestone and significant achievement in our foreign policy.

Now the Floor is open for Questions

Question

We have heard reports that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will soon be travelling to Kabul to mediate between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Is Pakistan willing to accept this mediation? What is our position in this regard?

Secondly, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President met on the sidelines of SCO Summit. Reportedly, the two leaders agreed working through the Quadrilateral Coordination Group for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, which is an important development. Your comments please!

Thirdly, you must have seen media reports about Daesh controlling Tora Bora and having a large presence on Pak-Afghan border, where the Government in Kabul has no writ. How does Pakistan see this dangerous development? (Naveed Akbar - Daily Dunya)

Answer

Responding to your second question first, the meeting between both the leaders on the sidelines of the SCO summit was very constructive. We have consistently emphasized that a politically negotiated settlement is imperative for the Afghan conflict. QCG is an effective forum in this regard. In this context Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Ashraf Ghani reiterated their willingness to advance peace process through QCG provided other member states agree to this proposal. We believe that it is a positive development.

As to your third question about the increasing footprint of Daesh in Afghanistan, we have responded to this question number of times. The war-like situation in Afghanistan is going on for the last 40 years, and has given space to non-state actors and various terrorist organizations, who have held sway in the ungoverned spaces. This is a matter of concern for not just Pakistan, but all the countries in the region. There have been numerous meetings held by regional countries to address the rising influence of Daesh and other terrorist organizations in Afghanistan. It is a matter of serious concern and a direct threat to regional peace and stability. Pakistan and many other countries are endeavoring to restore peace and stability in Afghanistan. We are committed to deal with any stumbling block through cooperation.

As to your first question, China is an important partner in efforts to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan. Both China and Pakistan are working closely under the initiatives like QCG, Heart of Asia (Istanbul Process), etc. which are aimed at bringing lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. We are also in contact with the Afghan leadership in this regard. You are aware that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met Afghan President on the sidelines of SCO Summit, Pakistan was represented at the Kabul Process and held bilateral meetings on the sidelines, and the Adviser to the Prime Minister on the Foreign Affairs met Afghan NSA Mr. Hanif Atmar on the sidelines of CMAG in London. Both sides are in contact with each other and have realized that we need to work together to tackle common challenges that are impeding efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Question

Reportedly, during his meeting with the Prime Minister on the sidelines of SCO Summit, Russian President, offered mediation between India and Pakistan to resolve issues between the two countries. What is Pakistan's reaction to an offer from India's longstanding partner? (Amjad Ali - PTV News)

Answer

There is a growing realization and concern among the regional countries and the UN as well on the threat to peace in the region due to Indian unprovoked hostility on the LoC and Working Boundary. Indian attempts to distract the world attention from the brutalities its occupation forces have unleashed on unarmed Kashmiris in occupied Kashmir have endangered peace and security in the Sub-Continent and beyond. Pakistan would welcomes UNSC Permanent Member, Russia's "reported" attention and intention to play a role in this longstanding issue on the UNSC agenda.

Question

JI Afghanistan, a major coalition partner in Afghan National Government, boycotted 'Kabul Process' which is indication of internal political divide: JI Chief Salahuddin Rabbani, in his statement, also clearly blamed internal elements for 31st May deadly Kabul attack. Your comments in the context of peace prospects and NDS blame game?

Secondly, US Defence Secretary James Mattis has indicated troops surge in Afghanistan. How does Pakistan see this development? (Shahid Maitla - ARY News)

Answer

As to your first question, this is an internal political issue of Afghanistan. Pakistan has always continued to emphasize that internal unity amongst the Afghan ranks is important for promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan. Pakistan has always urged and continued to emphasize the need of promoting unity and solidarity for working towards political solution of Afghan issue. There are assessment reports on the situation in Afghanistan that say that the factors responsible are internal to Afghanistan and, therefore, should be addressed accordingly. As for blame game that you referred, it benefits only those who do not want to peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan has high stakes in peace in Afghanistan. Peace and stability in Afghanistan is in Pakistan's interest.

On your second question, Pakistan has continued to emphasize that we desire lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. Pakistan is affected by instability in Afghanistan more than any other country. If I may recall correctly, the Spokesperson State Deptt. has also recently stated that ‘political solution rather than military solution would eventually bring peace to Afghanistan.' Troops surge is a decision of the US Government and I have no comments. However, as regards peace and stability in Afghanistan, Pakistan has continued to reiterate that it is our desire that concerted efforts should be made for lasting peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan would benefit more from a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan rather than an unstable Afghanistan. We believe that a lasting solution to Afghan conflict could be achieved through an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process. However, we understand that increase in US/NATO troops is being done for strengthening capacity building of Afghan security forces.

Question

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has visited Saudi Arabia to help resolve the Gulf crisis. PM Nawaz has said that Pakistan will do all it can to amicably resolve the diplomatic crisis in the Arabian Gulf. Also, there was false news of sending troops to Qatar - What was the outcome of Prime Minister's visit to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? (Tariq Sial - Such TV)

Supplementary Questions

Reportedly, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has said to Pakistan that 'You're with us or against us'. Your comments on this please. Also, when will Pakistan visit Qatar? (Mona Khan - Geo News

) What is the response of Pakistan's mediation of Gulf Crisis with Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? (Anwar Abbas - Waqt News)

Answer

In the brief visit to KSA, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was extended a warm welcome. He met with King Salman bin Abdul Aziz at the Royal Palace and also attended Iftar dinner hosted by the King of KSA. The Prime Minister discussed the regional situation with his host and expressed the solidarity with Saudi nation for the security of holy land. The PM office soon after this visit issued a statement that has been circulated to media and is also available on MoFA's website. Please refer to the Press Release in this regard.

Regarding your question about troops to Qatar, we have issued Press Release, which is available on our website, in which we negated those reports.

Mona your question was based on media report and as you know, we don’t comment on media reports.

Question

The recent incident of India barring Sikh pilgrims from entering Pakistan is yet again proof of India's malicious intention towards Pakistan. Your comments please! (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal - Kashmir Post)

Answer

It is sad that several Sikh Pilgrims failed to reach Lahore to attend the 10 day Jorr Mela which marks the day of Arjun Dev on Friday after they were stopped at Attari by Indian authorities. 96 Sikh pilgrims were issued visas by the Pakistan High Commission to travel by special train to Lahore. However, on reaching Attari Railway Station they were stopped by Indian authorities citing that the number of pilgrims were too few and could not be sent by a special train.

India also did not allow a special train from Pakistan to carry the pilgrims due to which only 14 pilgrims who had on-foot visas could travel. Pakistan has taken several steps to facilitate religious minorities' including up-gradation of facilities for Sikh and Hindu Pilgrims from India in line with the 1974 Protocol. We are disappointed that the negative attitude of the Indian Government prevented Sikh pilgrims with valid visas for Pakistan from attending their religious event.

The maltreatment of minorities is cause for international concern. International human rights organizations including Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have increasingly criticized the treatment of minorities and violation of their rights in India which face an increased sense of discrimination and marginalization. Unfortunately the Indian treatment of minorities continues to move from bad to worse indicating rising extremism and intolerance in Indian society.

Question

A Pakistan youth named Abdullah, who on 25 May went for handshake with Indian soldiers, and was arrested by Indians on Wagah border and put in prison. As a good will gesture by India following the sideline meeting of the two Premiers during SCO summit, 11 Pakistanis were reported to be released. Do these also include Abdullah? Kindly give update on this matter? (Syed Mohsin Raza - Asas Group of Publication)

Answer

I recall that our Mission has taken the matter with the Indian side. But I'll confirm after checking. About those 11 Pakistanis, I think they all had served their sentences. I'll get back to you about Mr. Abdullah's status.

Question

The US has once again carried out drone strikes in tribal areas of Pakistan. Has Pakistan taken up the issue with the US authorities? In this attack, a commander of the Haqqani network was killed. Can you confirm this report? (Rabia Pir – VOA DEEWA Radio)

Answer

As you know, we do not comment on media reports. Pakistan’s position on drone strikes has been very clear and consistent.

Question

While criticizing current Indian Army Chief’s recent statement on use of human shield in IoK, one of the Congress leaders called him “sarak ka gunda” [a roadside thug]. Already, he and others have received a title of “criminal leadership” by Human Rights Watch. Please comment in the light of India’s increasing brutalities on innocent Kashmiris! (Amjad Ali – PTV News)

Answer

The international community, including the UN, continues to show their concern over human rights violations in IoK. Prominent human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also severely criticized Indian brutalities in IoK. The use of human shield as done in IoK has no place in the civilized world of today. The Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs has written to the UNSG, President of the UNGA and the HRC in this regard.

Question

Pakistan has been successful in Britain and France regarding its deliberation against Indian atrocities and war crimes in Indian occupied Kashmir. We have now heard that India is stating that ICJ does not have the purview to discuss the Kashmir dispute, and recently Sushma Swaraj made a statement to this effect. Your comments please!

Secondly, you mentioned about Foreign Office’s statement of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The last paragraph of the statement extends hope to resolve the Gulf crisis. My question is whether we are only hoping or making some result oriented efforts? (Faisal Raza Khan – 92 News)

Answer

Responding to your second question, a press release to this effect was issued by the Prime Minister’s Office. I have nothing more to add.

On your first question, you referred to Sushma Swaraj’s statement about taking the matter of Kashmir to ICJ. Pakistan is a sovereign country and reserves the right to take up any matter at any forum it deems appropriate. As for Kashmir, it is an internationally recognized dispute and outstanding on the UNSC agenda. Pakistan’s position is consistent that we call for an early implementation of the relevant UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir, which promise the right of self-determination to the Kashmiri people under a UN supervised plebiscite.

Question

My question is regarding the Eurasian Block. Ukraine has been partially admitted entry into EU. Have we initiated any policy to enhance trade with Eurasian Block, or facilitate investors to do business with EU? What is Pakistan’s policy towards various Eurasian projects? Do you think that the US is apprehensive of such projects? (Salman Hashmi – Forensic Eye)

Supplementary Question

At the SCO Summit, Russian President, Vladimir Putin called Pakistan an important partner of Moscow in South Asia. What are the prospects of expanding Pakistan-Russian relations in the future in both bilateral and multilateral contexts? Are there any plans of President Putin’s visit to Pakistan? (Tariq Mahmood – SAMAA TV)

Answer

Responding to your first question, what you are asking is US reaction to Eurasian development projects. However, I will respond from Pakistan’s perspective. Last month, Belt and Road Forum was held in Beijing and was attended by Pakistan, Leadership of many countries and over a 100 different Representatives. Pakistan is connected to the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative through CPEC, which is a flagship project of OBOR. OBOR is a connectivity and economic development initiative that aims to connect Asia with Europe and later Africa. During the last couple of months, we have heard reports suggesting that Russia wants its own Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) project to be integrated with or supplement OBOR. The significance of OBOR was evident during the Belt and Road Forum, as a large number of countries and international organizations participated in the event. Pakistan’s Prime Minister had the distinction of having been invited to speak on three different occasions at the BRF.

On your second question, over the years, Pakistan-Russia relations have deepened with increased exchange of high-level visits and continued dialogues on important regional and international issues. The relationship is following a positive trajectory. Both sides have signed defence agreement, held joint military exercises and Russia is investing US$ 2bn in South-North gas pipeline project. There is tremendous scope for enhancing ties further, particularly in political, economic and trade, energy, defense, culture and education fields.

President Putin is a world leader and a statesman. We would extend a very warm welcome to him when he decides to visit Pakistan.

Question

Recently, IS released a video of the killing of the Chinese couple, and the Interior Minister said that the couple was doing missionary work in Pakistan. However, Chinese Government is reluctant to accept such an assertion, and has announced to investigate the issue. What are your comments? (Naveed Saddique – Dawn News)

Did we take up the matter of granting business visa to the Chinese couple with the Chinese authorities? (Anwar Abbas – Waqt News)

Answer

As to your first question, the statement made by the Interior Minister was self-explanatory. You may contact the relevant quarters for further details in the matter.

On the second question, we have very close relationship with China. You are well aware of the strength of this relationship. With reference to the abducted Chinese couple, you must have seen statements from Chinese Spokesperson, and the one issued from this podium. The Government of Pakistan regards this as a matter of utmost gravity and seriousness. Since the occurrence of incident the law enforcement agencies have been making all out effort to trace and apprehend the perpetrators of this crime and taking all possible measures. The Governments of Pakistan and China are also working together and coordinating on the issue. For operational details you may contact the relevant agencies. I wish to highlight that the two abducted persons were not related to CPEC.