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Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 10 August 2017

(2017-08-10) Opening Remarks


Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum

We condemn blast in Dir, which claimed precious lives. We pay tribute to Shuhdah. The new Foreign Minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, has assumed charge of the office and Adviser Sartaj Aziz has bid farewell to the Ministry. The FM met senior officials of the Ministry during which the foreign policy objectives were reviewed and he also shared his vision of meeting the challenges and availing the opportunities in the realm of inter-state relations from Pakistan's perspectives.

On the diplomatic front, National Assembly Speaker of Republic of Korea (Mr. Chung Sye-Kyun) paid a fruitful visit this week and, inter alia, held meeting with the Foreign Minister. He expressed keen interest in Korean investments in Pakistan and deepening economic cooperation.

On human rights situation in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir, we have watched the continuous condemnable acts committed by Indian occupation forces, that is; daily killing of innocent Kashmiris. This week 15 Kashmiris have been martyred, mostly youth. Last week the count was 8. And these brutal killings by Indian forces are going on and on. The statistics of Kashmiris' sufferings on various counts, as a result of Indian barbarities, and impunity with which Indian forces are committing the crimes against humanity, challenge the credibility of Int'l Community's commitment to human rights, particularly the so-called protectors and defenders of human rights.

We will not be incorrect if we term these killings of defenseless Kashmiri youth, women, children and old age, by Indian forces as 'genocide.' Indian policy of killing innocent Kashmiris is part of a strategy, to break the spirit of Kashmiris, alter the demography in Jammu & Kashmir and to convert it into a Muslim minority from an overwhelming Muslim majority state. To that end, besides killing Kashmiris in scores, the other measures that India has taken are settling non-Kashmiris, accommodating Indian forces personnel, who have been committing crimes against humanity, exclusive colonies for political manipulation, etc.

With these measures, India is bringing material change to the Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir, which is a violation of UNSC Resolution on Jammu & Kashmir. India is also in grave violation of UN Charter and all the UN instruments on human rights and fundamental rights.

We were made proud by our young sportspeople, who won altogether 25 gold, silver and bronze medals in 4th South Asian Karate Championship in Sri Lanka.


Now the Floor is open for Questions


Question

Pakistan has rendered unprecedented sacrifices in the war against terrorism. However, despite all these efforts, how does Pakistan see the persistent US demand to "do more"? (Saad Umar - Roze TV)


Supplementary Question

Reportedly, US NSA Gen H.R. McMaster said that President Donald Trump wants Pakistan to change its 'paradoxical' policy of supporting the militants. US Administration is once again repeating the "do more" rhetoric while suspending Pakistan's $50 million military assistance. Have we taken up the matter with US administration? Secondly, is Pakistan prepared for an adverse US policy in the near or long term future? (Shaukat Paracha - Aaj TV)


Answer

Responding to the second question first, US policy review on the region is still not over. To say anything before it is made public would be premature. As for the rhetoric that you mentioned, which is based on misperception created through media propaganda, I have already given my views many times on this particular aspect. To allay misperception, Pakistan prefers to discuss through established channels of communications rather than talking through media.

As for the first question, as I have said earlier that there are media reports on various aspects of the US policy review. Let the process be completed. It will be inappropriate to say anything based on speculations. As for Pakistan's contributions in fighting the scourge of terrorism, which is a global phenomenon and not specific to any one country, and the sacrifices and losses that our people and our country has suffered, need no certification. World leaders have repeatedly recognized Pakistan's successes and sacrifices. Having suffered the most at the hands of terrorism, in which there is proven hand of our Eastern neighbor, India, Pakistan is engaged in counter-terrorism operations to eradicate the menace from the country completely.


Question

While the US may be considering troops surge in Afghanistan, as reported, certain segments in Afghan society view elections as the alternate way to bring stability to the war-torn country. How does Pakistan see the troops surge in Afghanistan and in what ways can the political solution be brought about in Afghanistan? (Tariq Mahmood - SAMAA TV)


Answer

I have just mentioned that the policy review of the US on Afghanistan and the region is ongoing. I cannot speculate about it at this juncture. Regarding settlement of Afghan conflict, we believe that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. The focus of international campaign since 2001 has been on a military approach. We believe this approach has not borne fruit and thus needs a revisit. The enduring solution to the protracted conflict in Afghanistan can only be achieved through reconciliation and peace talks. Pakistan has therefore welcomed and supported Afghan government's peace deal with Hizb-e-Islami. We believe it can serve as a model for future talks with other insurgent groups, including Taliban. Pakistan will do all within its means to support the reconciliation process that has ownership of Afghan government. We support Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.


Question

It has been reported that Pakistan will initiate the campaign of registering Afghan nationals residing in Pakistan from 16 August onwards. You are well aware that there is a hostile Government in Afghanistan, and our streets are also not free from the menace of terrorism thanks to Afghanistan. What are the reasons that Pakistan is still accommodating Afghan refugees, and does not want to send them back despite our own constraints at home? (Syed Mohsin Raza - Asas Group of Publication)


Supplementary Question

Afghan media constantly runs anti-Pakistan campaigns. India is instrumental behind these campaigns against Pakistan. Did Pakistan forcefully take up the issue of Indian use of Afghan soil against Pakistan with US delegates who visited Pakistan? (Saima Shabbir - Bol News)


Answer

Responding to the first question, as far as your question about registration of Afghan refugees is concerned, you may refer your query to Ministry of SAFRON, which deals with the Refugees' issues. However, I would like to add that registration of Afghan refugees is a normal process. Pakistan has been registering people from Afghanistan for the past several years. As far as hosting of the refugees is concerned, I have given a detailed response in my earlier briefings. We have respectfully hosted Afghan refugees on our soil for the past almost four decades. The number of Afghan refugees had started from 6.2 million, and there are, reportedly, still more than 3 million residing in Pakistan. We have always stressed on the dignified return of Afghan refugees to their motherland. At no stage have we compelled them to leave Pakistan. There is a specific program under which Afghan refugees voluntarily return to Afghanistan. I have given a comprehensive response regarding this matter in my earlier briefings. Let me briefly mention that between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the relationship is not restricted to the governments but the peoples of the two countries.

As for the aspect of terrorism, you are all well aware that Pakistan has suffered most at the hands of terrorism. We have also time and again raised the issue of foreign elements behind subversive activities and terrorism within Pakistan. We have taken all-out action against terrorists without discrimination, and have gained considerable success as a result. At various political levels, many countries' leadership have acknowledged and recognized Pakistan's achievements in its fight against terrorism.

Regarding Ms. Saima Shabbir's question, we have constantly raised our concerns with Afghan authorities at various levels regarding involvement of India in fomenting unrest inside Pakistan and orchestrating terrorist activities, using Afghan soil. In addition, the issue has also been taken up with other stakeholders in Afghanistan and raised at international forums such as UN.


Question

According to media reports, Pakistan and Afghanistan recently resumed talks on revival of Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Economic Commission and its meeting will be held in Kabul next month. Do you have any more update on this? (Tariq Sial - INN & Jinnah Newspaper) Answer

I have seen the relevant media report, but do not have details with me right now. However, in the context of your question, this is indeed an important development. Here, I would also reflect on various meetings held at various levels of political leadership of both countries to enhance cooperation. The meeting held between former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Astana on the sidelines of SCO Summit, another one held between former Adviser Sartaj Aziz and Afghan NSA Hanif Atmer on the sidelines of CMAG in London, Parliamentary visits and other bilateral meetings were held on the sidelines of Kabul Process, have paved the way.

In these meetings, we have talked about increasing cooperation and reactivating engagement between both countries under the existing mechanisms, and strengthening areas of future collaboration. There are also many other developments taking place. There were exchanges of media personnel from both sides. Another segment was that of exchange of views between civil society members from both countries.


Question

Reportedly, Modi's political party, BJP is keen to amend Article 35-A of the Indian Constitution, which empowers the puppet government of Indian occupied Kashmir to grant permanent residentship in the valley. What is Pakistan's stance on the issue and how does Pakistan see the Indian attempts to change the demography of Indian occupied Kashmir? (Khawaja Nayaar Iqbal - Kashmir Post)


Answer

The Kashmiris have been promised the right to self determination through a free, fair and transparent plebiscite under the auspices of the UN in line with the relevant UNSC resolutions. This has been pending due to Indian obstinacy since the last 7 decades. Now, India is attempting to preempt the results of any future UN Plebiscite by changing the demography of Indian occupied Kashmir through unlawful means in contravention of the UNSC Resolutions.

The former Adviser to the PM on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sartaj Aziz, had written a letter to the UNSG underscoring the Indian attempts. We expect the international community to take practical steps to halt Indian violation of UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir and its international obligations.


Question

Reportedly, Pakistan will start getting gas under the TAPI project by 2020. Please share the details on the progress made on the project so far? (Sheeba Mehar - Daily SAMAA)


Answer

For details, you may contact Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources. However, I'll share with you whatever is available with me right now. Originally, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan (TAP) gas pipeline project was launched in May 2002 in Islamabad. When India joined the project in 2008, it was renamed as Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project.

The TAPI gas pipeline will be 1,735 km long and will initiate from Dauletabad gas fields in Turkmenistan and end at Fazilka, an Indian town near Indo-Pakistan border

Ground breaking ceremony of the project was held on 13 December 2015 at Mary, Turkmenistan. Former Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif attended the ground breaking ceremony. We are committed to its early completion.

TAPI is not just a gas pipeline project, but we view it in regional connectivity paradigm in which we see Pakistan as a trade and transit corridor by virtue of our geographic location in the region at the confluence of South Asia, West Asia, Central Asia and Western China. The project envisaged to encompass besides the gas pipeline, roads, electricity transmission and fiber optic lines, as well as economic zones, connecting Pakistan with Turkmenistan.


Question

Were you familiar with the article that was published in New York Times today about the death of former Taliban Chief, and if so, would you agree with the assassins' allegations of Pakistan's relationship with them? (AFP)


Answer

We do not comment on media reports. As far as Pakistan's contributions in the context of counter-terrorism efforts are concerned, we have given very elaborate responses, which are available on Ministry's website.


Question

India has violated LoC twice this week, with resultant casualties. Foreign Office has summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner, but it has now become a routine. What else can Pakistan do other than summoning of Indian officials, to stop these violations from occurring? (Naveed Siddique - Dawn News)


Answer

Mr. Siddique, we are diplomats. Our job is to try and settle things amicably through dialogue and negotiations. Summoning of officials from the Embassy of another country is normal practice whenever the host country feels that a violation has been made.

You mentioned about casualties along LoC. The volume of Indian ceasefire violations on LoC in the year 2017, which occurred more than 600 times and resulted in over 34 casualties of civilians, speak volumes about the magnitude of these violations. Indian occupation forces have deliberately targeted civilians across LoC.

One needs to understand the reasons why India is using these tactics. India wants to divert international attention from barbarities and atrocities committed in IoK on defenceless Kashmiris. We have already given statistics on this many a times, and you clearly understand the gravity of the situation, as to how they are constantly killing, maiming, deliberately blinding and dishonoring innocent women in IoK. I have said it before that international community needs to take practical steps to immediately stop bloodshed in IoK and stop violations on LoC, which is a violation of the relevant UNSC Resolutions. You are well aware of how India is already constantly violating UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir.

India also lies about infiltration from across LoC to malign the indigenous Kashmiri self-determination movement and Pakistan. This Indian lie was exposed in 2009 when International People's Tribunal (IPTK), an IoK-based NGO, discovered more than 6,000 unnamed and unmarked mass graves in IoK. When DNA tests and investigations were carried out by IPTK, it was revealed that those mercilessly killed and buried by Indian occupation forces were not infiltrators but local Kashmiri people, who had been killed in fake encounters. It is in this context that we need to understand why India constantly violates LoC and keeps the border heated.

It goes beyond saying that Indian belligerence is not only endangering regional peace and stability but is also a threat to international peace.


Question

You mentioned many times that India has violated UNSC resolutions on Kashmir. Can you explain with some references? (Amjad Ali - PTV)


Answer

I have already given a detailed reply of how India is in constant violation of UN Security Resolutions on Kashmir. India allows limited access to UNMOGIP in IoK. UNMOGIP has been mandated to monitor peace at LoC and report back in case of any violations. India's hindrance in the work of UNMOGIP is a serious impediment to the normal workings of the group and a violation of the relevant UNSC Resolutions.

India is indeed a violator of not just UNSC resolutions on Kashmir but also the UN Charter and all the conventions and Int'l Laws on human rights and fundamental rights. Let me quote from UNSC Resolution 47 of 21st April 1948, which, India has constantly violated. The Resolution under heading 'Plebiscite' says in para-13 & 14: "The Government of India should use and should ensure that the Government of the State also use their best endeavours to effect the withdrawal from the State of all Indian nationals other than those who are normally resident therein or who on or since 15 August 1947 have entered it for a lawful purpose.

The Government of India should ensure that the Government of the State releases all political prisoners and take all possible steps so that:

(a) All citizens of the State who have left it on account of disturbances are invited, and are free, to return to their homes and to exercise their rights as such citizens; (b) There is no victimization.

India calls occupied Jammu & Kashmir and AJK as its integral part. Kashmir being an internationally recognized dispute and with UNSC Resolutions outstanding, Indian claim is a violation of the Resolutions and has no legal, political or moral basis.

According to the UNCIP and UNSC resolutions, deployment of troops is also a violation. In IoK, it is the highest concentration of fully armed forces in the world. India has unlawfully deployed over 700,000 armed forces personnel.

There is long list of Indian violations of international laws and conventions on human rights. Fake encounters (discovery of unnamed & unmarked mass graves), rape as a tool to harass Kashmiris struggling for their right to self-determination, denial of right to religious practice, disappearances, deliberate blinding, illegal prolonged detentions, implicating Hurriyat leaders on trumped up charges of terrorism and so on.


Question

Reportedly, China has finished four major energy projects under CPEC, which were being constructed in Punjab and Balochistan. How much will they supplement energy shortfall in the country. Please give an update on the ongoing CPEC projects including these. (Shahid Maitla - ARY News)


Answer

Many of the CPEC projects are in implementation phase while extensive planning is also under way on all others. These projects range from short-term (2020), medium-term (2025) and long term (2030). There are a number of projects especially in infrastructure and energy which will be completed by end 2017 and early 2018 in the Early Harvest phase.

Energy is an important segment of investments under CPEC. 72% of the CPEC investment has been earmarked for energy projects. Coal, solar and hydropower projects conceived under CPEC will help address the energy shortfall as well to meet the developmental requirement in Pakistan. Few Early Harvest Projects such as the 1320 MW Sahiwal coal fired power plant has recently been inaugurated.

For specific details about the projects, you may refer to Ministry of Planning, Development & Reforms.


Question

Recently, the banned outfit Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) has announced to establish its political wing, to which US and India have expressed their concerns. What is Foreign Office's view over this development? (Salman Rao - TNN)


Answer

You may like to refer your query to the concerned quarters that deal with such matters.


Question

Reportedly, Foreign Office had sent letters to different Ministries requesting to ban some Russian and North Korean organizations known to have been assisting North Korea in its nuclear program. Please give us more details on this issue! (Umar Bilal - Capital TV)


Answer

The report is inaccurate. The UN Security Council sanctions are imposed formally through promulgation of Statutory Regulatory Orders (SRO) only. Pakistan fully implements the UN sanctions regime and has imposed sanctions on those entities that are designated by the UN. It does not follow unilateral sanctions of other countries against a third country.


Question

Pakistan is celebrating 70 years of its Independence this year. You have talked about the grave human rights situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir in your Opening Remarks. Our Prime Minister has also vowed to have better relations with India so that the issue of Jammu & Kashmir can be resolved amicably. On another front, India has recently interfered in China as reflective of the Sikkim standoff. Pakistan is also reviewing its foreign policy. Is Pakistan consulting with China to raise the issue of Indian violations and issue of Kashmir at UN or any other relevant forum? (Asghar Ali Mubarak - Daily Mail Islamabad)


Answer

I have responded to a similar question related to Sikkim standoff between India and China. We have noted the Indian violation. We are concerned at the increasing Indian belligerence towards its neighbors, which is endangering regional peace and stability. This is not the first instance. If you recall sometime ago, India had interfered in a neighboring country and created hurdles. The Indian belligerent posture towards its neighbors has a direct bearing on regional peace and security and will also impact international peace and security. As for Pakistan's policy in the region, the Government pursues a policy of 'peaceful neighborhood'