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Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 06 July 2017

(2017-07-06) [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

We are meeting after 2 weeks. To begin with, the Prime Minister's visit to Tajikistan and other high-level visits to Pakistan highlight the significant activities on the foreign policy front.

All of us celebrated Eid with mixed feelings due to the tragic incidents in Parachinar, Quetta, Karachi and Ahmed Pur. We condemn terrorism and those who perpetrate, finance and support terrorists. Our sincere condolences and prayers are for the victims, bereaved families and injured in those incidents.

We also condemn continuous shedding of blood of the defenceless Kashmiri people in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Indian Occupation Forces mercilessly killed 15 and seriously injured 250 Kashmiris, including children, old age people, women and journalists. Eyes and vital organs of around 2 dozen young boys were targeted with pellet gun bullets.

Reportedly, Indian forces in IoK are using ammunition containing chemical agents and precursors to kill Kashmiri youth and destroy Kashmiris' properties. Charred bodies of Kashmiri youth were found in the debris of five houses destroyed by the Indian forces at Bahmnoo and Kakpora in Pulwama. The bodies were so extensively burnt that they were beyond visual recognition. Body of Kifayat Ahmad, one of the three martyred youth, could be identified. There were more such occurrences of crimes by the Indian army. If use of chemicals in the ammunition is confirmed, then it would constitute a serious violation of Int'l norms and India's Int'l obligations under Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

We call upon the Int'l Community, particularly, relevant Int'l Organizations to initiate investigations into these reports.

The Kashmiri leaders, including Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Mohammad Yasin Malik, Shabbir Ahmed Shah and others were not allowed to join congregational Eid-ul-Fitr prayers. They were detained. They were also not allowed to offer Juma-tul-wida prayers and Friday prayers on 30 June. Under the lawless law, Public Safety Act, Massrat Alam Bhat, Aasiya Andrabi, Fehmeeda Sofi and other hundreds of Hurriyat leaders, activists and students are languishing in different jails of the occupied territory. We condemn the killing of Kashmiris, denial of their fundamental rights and religious freedom and illegal detention of Kashmiris and their leaders. We condemn Indian harassment of Kashmiris leaders' relatives.

Now the Floor is open for Questions

Question

Senator McCain, while acknowledging Pakistan's importance in the region, reportedly said in Kabul that if Pakistan does not change its behavior, then we may have to change our behavior as a nation. He said that his delegation also conveyed this message to their meetings with Pakistani army. What are your comments? (Tariq Sial - Such TV)

Answer

These are media reports and I cannot comment on them. However, US Senate Delegation's meetings in Pakistan were held in a very cordial atmosphere and were very good in terms of outcome. Senator McCain also gave his comments on PTV to this effect.

Question

Although you call these media report, US has maintained a constant position that terrorist sanctuaries exist in Pakistan. Afghan media reported that Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Bari has been killed in a drone strike in Afghan province of Helmand. US and Afghanistan have often blamed Pakistan for presence of Afghan Taliban leadership particularly Haqqani Network inside Pakistan's territory. Your comments please. (Shaukat Paracha - Aaj News)

Answer

I have earlier also mentioned that it's more of rhetoric than anything else. It is an attempt to put the blame of failures in Afghanistan on others. As a result of Pakistan's counter-terrorism operations, without any discrimination, the terrorists are on the run and their infrastructure has been dismantled. These terrorists, namely TTP, TTA, Daesh, JuA, remnants of Al-Qaeda and a number other splinter groups are settled in the ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan. TTP and TTA have fled to Afghanistan. In Pakistan, there is no organized presence of any of those terror outfits. Let us examine the rhetoric in the backdrop of the statistics I'll present here. On June 12, 2017, TTA leader, Mullah Abdul Bari was killed by Afghan 215th Maiwand Corps in Nad-e-Ali, Helmand. Reuters in its 30 August 2016 news reported killing of four (04) commanders of Haqqani network in US airstrike in Afghanistan's Jani Khel district.The report also mentioned that Haqqani fighters have 'traditional stronghold' in Eastern Afghanistan. TOLO News reported killing of Haqqani commander, Karnail, on 25 July 2016 in eastern Khost province of Afghanistan in an encounter with the Afghan security forces. Daily Express Tribune carried datelines of New Indian Express and Xinhua news agency on 10th June, to report killing of Haqqani commander, Sirajuddin Khademi, in a US drone strike in Sarwaza district of Paktika province on 8 June. The report mentioned that Haqqani network, regarded as military wing of Taliban outfit, has been operating mostly in Afghanistan's eastern provinces and Kabul.

With these statistics, it is evident that Haqqani network is based in Afghanistan and operates from there.

Question

US State Department has issued license for granting 22 predator Guardian drones to India. Does Pakistan posses similar technology? How it will impact the regional strategic stability in South Asia?

Secondly, what is the update on two kidnapped Pakistani diplomats in Afghanistan? (Shahid Maitla - ARY News)

Supplementary Question

PM Modi has been visiting countries and signing defence deals. What would be its impact on the regional security and strategic balance and what steps Pakistan is taking in this regard? (Khawaja Nayyar - Kashmir Post)

Answer

As noted in a recent press release by this Ministry, Pakistan has deep concerns on the supply of advanced military technologies and hardware to India which further undermine the objective of preserving strategic balance in the region. We will continue to voice these concerns, both through bilateral engagements as well as at relevant international forums. While urging the international community to objectively assess the highly destabilizing consequences of its actions and policies towards our region, Pakistan will not be oblivious to the imperative of safeguarding its national security.

Responding to your second question, I will have to get the update.

Question

Indian Minister Manohar Parrikar claimed that planning for the surgical strikes in September 2016 was done 15 months in advance, that is in July 2015. This falsifies the reason cited by the Indian DGMO Lt. Gen. Ranbir Singh for their so-called 'surgical strike'. Your comments please! (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal - Kashmir Post)

Supplementary Question

During Prime Minister Modi's visit to Israel, the two leaders have renewed commitment against terrorism while both exist on the world map as gross human rights violators. Where is the civilized world and why is it silent now? (Syed Mohsin Raza - Asas Group of Publications)

Answer

You yourself have pointed out the discrepancy in the Indian claims which contradict each other belying their claims. False claims of surgical strikes denote Indian irresponsible attitude, which threatens regional peace and stability.

On Syed Mohsin Raza's question, Pakistan itself is a victim of terrorism in which Indian state agencies have a proven involvement. That country is involved in perpetrating state-sponsored terrorism.

Question

Reportedly, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has urged Muslims world over to openly support the oppressed people of Jammu & Kashmir. The statement has been welcomed by the Kashmiris. How does Pakistan see change in Iran's public position on Kashmir? (Amjad Ali - PTV News)

Answer

We welcome Ayatollah Khamenei's statement. The entire Muslim Ummah is concerned over grave human rights situation in IoK. OIC has repeatedly condemned Indian atrocities and called for an independent fact finding mission to be sent to Indian occupied Kashmir. Pakistan believes that India must be confronted to immediately stop the bloodshed in IoK and call for an early implementation of relevant UNSC Resolutions that promise Kashmiris UN-supervised plebiscite to exercise their right to self-determination.

Question

Senator John McCain's affirmation that there is no change in US position on Kashmir and listing of Kashmiri self-determination movement Leader Salahuddin as Terrorist reflects confusion on the US part. What is Pakistan's assessment? (Essa Naqvi - Dunya News)

Supplementary Question

Reportedly, Indian Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan has said that Indian army is committing excesses in Kashmir, Tripura, Jharkhand and Bengal. Indian themselves realize but human rights champions in the Western democracies are watching silently. What is Pakistan’s next strategy? (Tariq Mahmood - SAMAA TV)

Answer

On the first question, we welcome Senator McCain's affirmation that there is no change in US position on Kashmir. Spokesperson of State Department had also reaffirmed it. Regarding listing, we have already stated that the designation of individuals supporting the Kashmir self-determination movement as terrorist is completely unjustified.

On the supplementary question, gross violation of human rights of innocent Kashmiris by Indian occupation forces requires no validation. Use of pellet guns blinding hundreds of Kashmiris, including young children and girls, use of human shields which is unprecedented in civilized history, and excessive use of force against unprotected civilians in IoK is an unfortunate reality. Pakistan has consistently urged the international community to put aside political and economic expediencies and condemn the inhumane treatment of Kashmiris in IoK by India. Despite condemnation by international Human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, India continues to make a travesty of the Human Rights Charter in IoK. We urge the international community to ask India to put an immediate halt to Indian brutalities in IoK.

Question

US leadership has repeatedly recognized Pakistan's role for peace in Afghanistan as crucial. On the other hand, India is expected to cooperate as key to peace & stability in Afghanistan and the region. With Afghan President's skepticism towards Pakistan whether Pakistan will fit into US policy on Afghanistan? (Nayyar Ali - News One)

Answer

We had discussion on the issue of peace efforts in Afghanistan during the US Senators' visit over the weekend. US policy on Afghanistan is expected, shortly. There is convergence of thoughts of both the US and Pakistan in the context. Pakistan's position on the efforts for reconciliation is clear. We believe in Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process. We also firmly believe that peace and security in Afghanistan has direct bearing on the peace and security in Pakistan. Peace in Afghanistan is in Pakistan's interest. We fully support all efforts aimed at bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.

As for India, we have no doubt that India is part of the problem. India doesn’t want peace in Afghanistan as its presence there is primarily aimed against Pakistan. Let me emphasize that Pakistan and Pakistani people are the most sincere friends of Afghanistan.

Question

During recent visit of US Senators to Pakistan, US senators have accused Pakistan of supporting Haqqani network and other terrorist groups. It has also been learnt that Pakistan has suggested joint military cooperation of US and Pakistan armed forces may prevent these terrorist activities with the help of Afghan government. Your comments please! (Asghar Khan Askari - Khyber News)

Answer

I am not aware of such a proposal. As far as Pakistan is concerned, we have rendered huge sacrifices. We draw no distinction in our fight against terrorism. We have been successful in dismantling terrorist infrastructure. Terrorists are on the run. This is manifested in improved security situation and economic indicators in the country.

Question

Is there any update on the revival of QCG? (Rabia - Mashal Radio)

Answer

I am not aware of the latest in this regard. You may recall that the matter of QCG was discussed during the meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Ashraf Ghani in Astana. It was agreed that QCG was one of the means for cooperation in the context of peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Question

Reportedly, during US Senator's visit to Pakistan, both countries have agreed to conduct joint operations to tackle the terrorists in Afghanistan close to Pakistan border. Your comments please! (Rabia Pir - VOA/ DEEWA Radio)

Answer

We do not comment on media reports.

Question

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Tajikistan. How important will this interaction be, as they are meeting again in less than a month since they earlier met in Astana? (Ishtiaq Ahmed - VOA)

Answer

As you are aware, there have been a number of high level interactions between Pakistan and Afghanistan, lately. The most recent was between Prime Minister Nawaz and President Ashraf Ghani on the sideline of SCO Summit in Astana. Prime Minister's ongoing visit to Tajikistan has three elements, namely, bilateral, trilateral and quadrilateral. During Prime Minister's ongoing visit, a Quadrilateral meeting including Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan was also scheduled, which will be an occasion for the two leaders to be together. I need to check if there is any bilateral meeting scheduled on the sidelines in Dushanbe. Such occasions afford opportunity to hold bilateral meetings on the sidelines. Adviser Sartaj Aziz met Afghan NSA Mr. Hanif Atmar on the sidelines of CMAG. Senior officials from both Pakistan and Afghanistan also met on the sidelines of Kabul process in Afghanistan, last month.

Both sides have been interacting to overcome the common challenges facing us.

Question

Two officers of Ministry of Foreign Affairs appeared before the Joint Investigation Team. Can you please tell us the details? (Umar Bilal – Capital TV)

Supplementary Question

Pakistan has business contacts with Qatar and Pakistan has signed energy contracts like LNG with Qatar. Reportedly, two JIT investigators traveled to Qatar but they were not allowed to enter in the country. What is Pakistan’s policy on Qatar? (Salman Hashmi – Forensic Eye)

Answer

I am not aware.

Question

My question is related to Bern meeting related to NSG. After the preliminary meeting a press release was issued by NSG in which they again endorsed 2008 US-India waiver which was given to India regarding the nuclear fissile material & technology. How do you see that keeping in view this agreement? After 2008, NSG is continuously endorsing this agreement. Don’t you think that this is equal to giving political leverage to India to have NSG membership?

Secondly, Article 2 of NPT suggests that no country who is signatory of NPT can transfer nuclear technology or fissile material to Non-NPT member, but they are doing that in case of India which is non-NPT country. Do you not think NPT is practically dead at this moment? (Faisal Raza Khan – 92 News)

Answer

The Group is in the process of formulating criteria for admission of non-NPT states in the NSG. Pakistan is of the view that NSG should evolve and agree on transparent, objective and non-discriminatory criteria that provides for simultaneous membership to non-NPT states. We believe that Pakistan’s membership in NSG is a mutually beneficial proposition. Pakistan's NSG membership will further NSG non-proliferation objectives by the inclusion of a state with nuclear supply capabilities and its adherence to NSG Guidelines and best practices on supply of controlled items, goods, materials, technologies and services.

The grant of waivers and special treatments undermines the credibility of global non-proliferation regime besides eroding regional strategic stability.

Since the grant of waiver in 2008, India massively expanded its capacity to produce fissile material for military use thus moving against the objective of strategic stability in the region. International reports about new nuclear facilities built by India confirm Pakistan’s concerns in this regard.

Question

Is there any solid outcome on human rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir during recent US Senators’ visit to Pakistan or US is only concentrating on Afghanistan? (Kausar Lodhi – Prime News)

Answer

We have issued a detailed press release on our discussion with the US Senators, which also contained the issue of human rights violations committed by Indian occupying forces on unprotected Kashmiris in IoK.