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Record of Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 02 August 2018

(2018-08-02) [This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.]

Opening Remarks

Bismillah IrRehman NiRahim

Assalaam o Alaikum

We had the successful holding of general elections on 25 July 2018. Pakistan is witnessing a continuous journey towards consolidation of democracy, having completed two democratically elected tenures and transitioning the next. As a part of the traditional practice of welcoming International Election Observers, the general elections were observed by International Election observers from the Commonwealth and the European Union, who also expressed satisfaction at their conduct.

Now a brief round-up of the events on the foreign policy front:

The human rights situation in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir reflects the unabated use of force, oppression, suppression and mass killings by Indian occupying forces of innocent and defenceless Kashmiris. During last month, Indian troops in unabated acts of state terrorism, martyred twenty one (21) Kashmiris including 4 young boys and a woman during the last month of July. During the month, 310 Kashmiris were also critically injured, when Indian police and paramilitary personnel used brute force and fired pellet guns and teargas shells against peaceful demonstrators. The troops also damaged 46 houses during this period.

India's attempts to hide and whitewash its atrocities in IoK continue. Bureau Chief of Washington Post for India, Annie Gowan has said that she was not granted a special permit to report in Indian occupied Kashmir and voiced her frustration and disappointment regarding this issue on her twitter account. Indian attempt to hide the Human Rights violations carried out by the Indian occupying forces in Jammu & Kashmir by banning the entry of foreign journalists is condemnable and will render no success. This action belies the illusion being created by India and reflects its autocratic and fascist mindset. If India has nothing to hide, it should allow the foreign journalists and Commission of Inquiry as recommended by OHCHR.

We express our deep worry and concern over the unhygienic conditions provided in Central Jail of Srinagar and District Jail in Rajouri, where a number of so-called political prisoners have been packed beyond capacity, besides denying the basic medical facilities and delaying the free and fair trials of the prisoners. This violates the international Conventions on Rights of Prisoners. We urge the international community to take notice of all these injustices. Also, the health of illegally detained Kashmiri leaders including Shabir Ahmad Shah, Masarat Alam Bhatt, Syeda Aasiya Andrabi, Fehmeeda Sofi, Nahida Nasreen, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Mohammad Aiyaz Akbar, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Peer Saifullah, Mehrajudin Kalwal, Farooq Ahmad Dar, Ghulam Muhammad Khan Sopori and hundreds of Hurriyet leaders in different jails and interrogations centers is deteriorating fast.

In a daring heli-borne operation on 31 July 2018, Pakistan Army rescued Russian climber Alexander Gukov, who was stranded at Latok-I peak in Gilgit-Baltistan since July 24, 2018. This was the 8th rescue attempt by Pakistan Army helicopters to recover the Russian climber. Seven earlier attempts, since July 26 were hampered by inclement weather and poor visibility. Gukov and his climbing partner, Sergey Glazunov, had been on an expedition to climb the Latok-I peak in Gilgit-Baltistan. Glazunov lost his life while rappelling from the mountain on July 25. This courageous rescue is a testament to the dedication, expertise, training and competence of the Pakistan Army Aviation pilots who braved extremely treacherous conditions to recover the climber.

The Russian government has conveyed deep gratitude to Pakistan for the rescue and lauded the professionalism of Pakistan Army for successfully carrying out this courageous operation.

Pakistan strongly condemned the terrorist attack outside Hamid Karzai International airport in Kabul on 22nd July 2018 resulting in the loss of several innocent lives and injuring many others. We express our deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives and pray to Almighty Allah for early recovery of the injured.

Afghanistan and Pakistan held inaugural meetings of the five Working Groups (WGs) under the Afghanistan and Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) in Kabul on July 22, 2018. The Afghan delegation was led by the Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai, and the Pakistani side by the Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua. In the inaugural joint meeting of the WGs, the Afghan and Pakistani side assessed prospects for the APAPPS forum that covers all areas of mutual interest, including counter terrorism & security, peace and reconciliation, bilateral trade and transit, connectivity, Afghan refugees' repatriation and promoting people to people contacts.

The Government and the people of Pakistan offer their heartfelt condolences to the Government and people of Greece on the deadly wildfire that hit the northeast of Athens. We also express our deep sympathies to the bereaved families and their loved ones in this hour of grief. Due to the tragic incident, over 80 people lost their lives and thousands are missing. The fire has caused huge damage to the property also. The people of Pakistan stand with the people of Greece and assure them of their support in the efforts aimed at responding to this disaster.

We congratulate the all-girls Pakistani team of National University of Science and Technology (NUST) on winning the 'Spirit of Formula Student Award 2018' held in UK. The team was given a standing ovation in the award ceremony as they were the first-ever totally female team in the competition's history. A proud moment indeed for the whole Pakistani nation! It is emphatic evidence of the quality of education and opportunities women are provided within Pakistan and also underscore the country's dedication towards women education and empowerment.

Now the Floor is open for Questions

Question:

US envoy for South Asia, Ms. Alice Wells has met with Taliban officials for peace talks in Qatar. Do you confirm this? Was Pakistan invited to take part in this peace process? (Khawaja Nayyer - Kashmir Post)

Answer:

We do not comment on media reports. However, I would add that Pakistan's stance has been that the only solution to the Afghan conflict lies in a politically negotiated settlement led by an Afghan-owned and Afghan- led peace process. A military based approach has failed to render the desired results in the past seventeen years. We would therefore urge the parties concerned to give dialogue and diplomacy a fair chance.

Question:

Would you like to update us on whether the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was approached by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) leaders, as reportedly, they had a meeting with the Foreign Secretary this week. Also, how many foreign leaders would be attending the oath-taking ceremony of the Prime Minister and how many guests are coming from India, as there are reports that some of the Bollywood artists and Indian sportsmen will visit Pakistan? Moreover, how many Heads of Governments/State have shown interest? (Mr. Mateen Haider - BOL TV)

Answer:

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has issued a comprehensive tweet in this regard. You may refer to it. No foreign leaders will participate in the oath-taking ceremony.

Question:

There are videos circulating in social media that the Indian army is randomly cutting fruit trees in Jammu & Kashmir. What would you say on that?

Secondly, last night there was a news story on Indian media that Mr. Imran Khan is trying to avoid embarrassment by not inviting Prime Minister Modi for the fear that he may not attend the oath-taking ceremony. Your comments please! (Raja Faisal - Tribune 24/7)

Answer:

Regarding your second question, we do not comment on media reports. However, as I said earlier, PTI's statement is very clear in this regard.

On Jammu & Kashmir, you are right that there has been a continuous rise of state terrorism in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir as Indian troops are not even sparing the fruit trees and taking all possible measures to stifle the normal life in the Valley. Furthermore, regarding the human rights violations in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir, the OHCHR Report is already a vindication of Pakistan's long standing claim that India is carrying out inhumane and brutal human rights atrocities in IOK since decades. The international community is seized of the matter. We urge them to implement the recommendations of the OHCHR Report for establishing the Commission of Inquiry to ascertain the facts on ground, in both AJK and IOK.

Question:

Reportedly, the U.S. has granted India Strategic Trade Organization Status (STA-1) under export control regime. This will facilitate the smooth transfer of sensitive technology to India. How do you view this development?

Second, PTI has stated that they will get advice from Foreign Office on whether to invite regional Heads of Governments/State from SAARC Member States. What advice has Foreign Office given them? Why Pakistan is shying away from inviting foreign leaders to Pakistan? (Shaukat Piracha - AAJ TV)

Answer:

Regarding your first question, Pakistan believes in free access to dual use technologies for socioeconomic development and peaceful uses without discrimination. However, supply of technologies and advanced weaponry that can undermine the regional strategic balance is detrimental to regional peace and security. This is not the first time that controls over transfers of sensitive goods are being relaxed for political considerations contrary to the non proliferation intent of such controls.

Your second question has already been answered.

Question:

The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement warned that any potential International Monetary Fund bailout for Pakistan's new Government should not provide funds to pay off Chinese lenders. How can this hurt Pakistan, as U.S. has played a key role regarding Pakistan's listing in FATF. How will it affect US-Pakistan bilateral relationship? (Mohsin Raza - ASAS Group of Publications)

Answer:

Yesterday, the Foreign Minister has already spoken in detail regarding this matter. I have nothing more to add.

Question:

Reportedly, the U.S. National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA), passed by Congress this week, does not link future payments of security-related assistance to Pakistan to the country's counterterrorism efforts. Your comment please! (Jalil - Voice of America)

Answer:

It was not aid but reimbursements to be made to Pakistan under the Coalition Support Fund, which have been discontinued. Our position is very clear that mutual problems can only be addressed through mutual consultations and deeper engagement.

Question:

There are reports that Pakistan has received huge financial support from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Do you confirm and what are your comments? (Kausar Lodhi - Waqt News)

Answer:

The subject pertains to Ministry of Finance.

Question:

Reportedly, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called PTI Chairman Mr. Imran Khan on Sunday and congratulated him on his victory in the parliamentary elections. How do you see the impact of this gesture on Pak-Afghan relations?

Secondly, the Indian Prime Minister Modi called PM-elect Mr. Imran Khan, in what is being termed as an unusual gesture by a difficult neighbour. How do you analyze his telephone message to the new Prime Minister-elect? Was Foreign Office aware of this conversation? (Anas Mallick - Neo TV)

Answer:

Regarding President Ashraf Ghani's call, Afghanistan and Pakistan have held regular high-level engagements in the last year. A number of important visits took place. We are confident that these high-level engagements at the leadership level would continue, as the new government takes over in Pakistan.

Regarding your second question, we hope that in the coming days both sides can come together to address key concerns in what is admittedly a difficult relationship. We also hope that this positive conversation can lead to the resumption of the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue and holding of SAARC Summit in Pakistan.

Question:

The EU and Commonwealth Election Observers Group have reaffirmed their satisfaction at the overall conduct of the general elections held this year. How does Foreign Office review their reports? (Tariq Mahmood - HUM News)

Answer:

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has a tradition of welcoming International Election Observers. International Election Observation Missions were deployed during 2003, 2008 and 2013 general elections in Pakistan. ECP is constitutionally independent and autonomous body mandated to conduct general elections in Pakistan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, like other government departments, acted as a facilitator to ECP. It would be appropriate if any question related to the elections, including reports of International Election Observation Missions is raised with ECP.

Question:

Reportedly, Pakistan's High Commissioner, Mr. Sohail Mahmood has recently said that there is a need to rethink the entrenched narratives of the past and that Pakistan is prepared to take two steps forward if India took one for normalization of ties. Your comments please!

Second, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs in a statement welcoming the new Government in Pakistan has said that Pakistan should play its role to eradicate terrorism in South Asia? (Asghar Ali Mubarak - Diplomatic Mail)

Answer:

Pakistan has consistently maintained that peaceful coexistence is essential for mutual progress and development. It has been our principled position that the only way to resolve any issue is through comprehensive result-oriented dialogue. The High Commissioner's remarks need to be viewed in that spirit.