Islamabad, July 05, 2018 (PPI-OT): Opening Remarks
Bismillah IrRehman NirRahim Assalaam Alaikum
Let me begin by giving a brief round of activities on the foreign policy front:
A briefing for Islamabad-based Heads of Mission was held on 27 June 2018 at Ministry of Foreign Affairs Islamabad regarding the recent Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), ”Report on the situation of human rights in Kashmir: Developments in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir from June 2016 to April 2018 and general human rights concerns in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.” The meeting was chaired by the Foreign Minister. The Report had a categorical focus on the Indian atrocities in IoK and explicitly underscored India’s obligation to fulfill its commitment to International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law, as well as, to halt the human sufferings in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The Foreign Minister in his remarks stated that it was regrettable that our fundamental human conscience had been surpassed by our more ‘practical’ interests, when it came to the human rights violations in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. It is time for the international community to move beyond political and economic expediencies and fulfill its promises to the Kashmiri people, as per United Nations Security Council Resolutions.
It is with utmost grief that I announce the tragic death of Ms. Zainab, a young Pakistani who was undergoing treatment in India, who breathed her last on Tuesday 3 July in an Indian hospital. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Pakistan High Commission, New Delhi, took immediate steps to ensure the early and smooth repatriation of Ms. Zainab’s body to Pakistan. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family. May Allah give them courage to bear this loss with fortitude.
The Government of Pakistan handed over a list of 471 Indian prisoners (53 civilian + 418 fishermen) in Pakistan to the High Commission of India in Islamabad on 01 July 2018. This is consistent with the provisions of the Consular Access Agreement between Pakistan and India, signed on 21 May 2008, under which both countries are required to exchange lists of prisoners in each other’s custody twice a year, on 1 January and 1 July, respectively. The Indian Government also handed over the list of Pakistani prisoners in Indian, to Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi.
The Indian occupation forces continue to kill innocent defenceless Kashmiris with impunity. In the month of June alone, Indian occupation forces martyred thirty – three (33) Kashmiris and injured at least 236. Out of these, 7 youth were killed in a fake encounter in Kupwara. Those martyred also included three widowed women and four children. Those injured suffered fatal and serious injuries due to indiscriminate brute force including firing of bullets, pellets, PAVA and teargas shells by Indian occupation forces. Over 176 people, including Hurriyat activists and students were arrested last month during house raids and crackdown operations.
Last week was equally traumatic and tragic for Kashmiris in IoK. The bloodthirsty Indian army and paramilitary forces killed 14-years young boy, Faizan Ahmad Khan. The boy got bullet injuries; even more tragic was the sight of the hospital doctor who declared him dead and who happened to be Faizan’s own father! Also, Sajad Ahmad Shah and 31-year old Mudasir Ahmad Bhat in Pulwama and Kupwara were martyred with bullets, pellets and teargas shells. The relentless killing, maiming, unlawful arrests and torture have become a routine matter in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, which is a cause of serious concern, also underscored by the recent report of OHCHR. We reiterate that OHCHR’s recommendation for establishment of Commission of Inquiry to assess the Human Rights situation in the region may immediately be implemented. We urge the international community to call India to account for its grave human rights violations in IoK.
A ceremony to pay tribute to Ambassador Jamshed K. Marker, who passed away on 21 June 2018 in Karachi at the age of 95, was held at the Foreign Ministry. Prime Minister Justice (Retd) Nasir-ul-Mulk graced the occasion as Chief Guest. Members of the Marker family, the President Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Masood Khan, members of the Cabinet, diplomatic corps and retired Ambassadors witnessed the ceremony. To mark the occasion, the Prime Minister also unveiled the plaque of the Jamshed Marker in the Conference Room at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Foreign Minister, Abdullah Hussain Haroon received Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General (USG) for UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations (UN DPKO), at the Foreign Office on 02 July 2018. The USG is accompanied by UN Military and Police Advisors. The Foreign Minister underscored that Pakistan remained a consistent and active supporter of multilateralism, noting that Pakistan’s engagement with and support to the United Nations were a key pillar of its foreign policy. The Foreign Minister also recalled Pakistan’s longstanding partnership with and contributions to the UN, especially in several of its peacekeeping missions across the world. Underscoring Pakistan’s unique role and contribution as one of the top troop contributing countries, the Foreign Minister reaffirmed Pakistan’s full support to the UN peacekeeping operations. USG Lacroix acknowledged Pakistan’s leading role in UN peacekeeping; expressed deep appreciation for the professionalism of Pakistani peacekeepers and paid tribute to the ultimate sacrifices of 156 Pakistani peacekeepers to the cause of international peace.
Pakistan strongly condemns terrorist attack in Jalalabad city, killing and injuring many innocent civilians. We are distressed and grieved at the loss of precious human lives. Pakistan reiterates its condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
We congratulate Archbishop Joseph Coutts of the Catholic Church of Karachi who was elevated to the rank of Cardinal on 28 June 2018 by Pope Francis. Pope Francis elevated 14 Archbishops to the rank of Cardinal; the Archbishop Joseph Coutts is one of them. He is the second Pakistani accorded this honour after Cardinal Joseph Cordeiro, who was appointed in 1973. In the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, Cardinals come immediately after the Pope. One of the primary responsibilities of the Cardinals is to elect a new Pope when the position becomes vacant. The appointment of Archbishop Joseph Coutts is an honour for the entire nation. Pope Francis is held in high esteem in Pakistan. Pakistan is committed to cordial relations with the Holy See. Mr. Muhammad Yusuf Shaikh, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs led the Pakistan delegation to the Ceremony. Ministerial participation underscores the importance Pakistan attaches to the elevation of Archbishop Joseph Coutts to a Cardinal. It also recognizes his contribution and services to the Catholic Church and promotion of inter-faith harmony in the country.
Now the Floor is open for Questions
Recently, Ex-President Asif Ali Zardari has claimed that former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has taken political asylum in UK. Do you confirm? Also, is it obligatory on the country giving asylum to inform the country of origin about the applicant, applying for political asylum? (Syed Mohsin Raza – Asas Group of Publications)
Regarding your second question, to the best of my knowledge, it is not obligatory on the country wherein political asylum is taken to inform the country of origin.
On your first question, I have no information.
Reportedly, Ambassador Alice Wells, during her recent visit to Kabul, has urged all stakeholders to renew their efforts to find a ‘negotiated political solution’, while stating that it is ‘unacceptable’ for Taliban not to come to the negotiating table. Is US coming of age in recognizing that Afghan problem only has a political solution? Your comments on her statement please?
Reportedly, Ambassador Wells was in Pakistan to solicit our help in bringing Taliban to the negotiating table before Afghanistan elections of October 20. Do you confirm? What US expectations have been shared with us in this context? What is our policy regarding the issue? (Shaukat Paracha – Anchorperson)
Regarding your first question, we have time and again emphasized that Pakistan is committed to peace and security in Afghanistan and fully supports President’s Ghani peace initiative. There is no military solution to the decade’s long conflict in Afghanistan. We hope that Taliban would grab the opportunity for the unconditional peace talks.
Regarding your second question, Ambassador Alice Wells had a useful visit to Pakistan from 1-3 July during which she held detailed discussions. During the meeting at the Foreign Ministry, the two sides discussed the bilateral relationship as well as regional situation especially Afghanistan. The two sides also shared the recent developments in the wake of ceasefire in Afghanistan on the occasion of Eid ul Fitr and President Ghani’s offer of unconditional talks to Taliban. The Foreign Secretary reiterated Pakistan’s support to the peace and reconciliation efforts by Afghanistan as well as other stakeholders. The US has appreciated the engagement between Pakistan and Afghanistan particularly in the context of operationalization of APAPPS. The FS also raised issues of concern and importance to Pakistan, including border management, return of afghan refugees and the presence of anti-Pakistan sanctuaries on the other side of the border.
The visit of Ambassador Alice Wells was in the context of our ongoing engagement with the US. Pakistan believes that convincing Taliban to join the peace process is the shared responsibility of all stakeholders. All countries having contacts with Taliban, including the US, should use their influence to bring them to the negotiating table.
President Ashraf Ghani has recently said that Afghanistan and Pakistan have agreed, in principle, to counter the menace of terrorism jointly. Do you confirm? If yes, please share the details of the agreement.? (Amjad Ali – PTV)
In the light of the seven principles agreed during former Prime Minister Abbasi’s meeting with President Ghani in Kabul on April 6th, 2018, Afghanistan and Pakistan finalized the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) on 14th February 2018, in Islamabad. APAPPS provides institutionalized framework for bilateral engagement through five working groups. i.e. politico-diplomatic, economy and trade, refugee repatriation, mil to mil and intelligence to intelligence working groups.
The two sides have agreed to enhance their cooperation and coordination in the matters of security and counter-terrorism through the relevant working groups.
In your view, how important is it for UN Secretary General and UN Human Rights Commissioner to visit Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir at this juncture, when complete mayhem and anarchy pervades the valley? (Asghar Ali Mubarik – Diplomatic Mail)
The OHCHR report recommends the establishment of an independent international commission of inquiry to look into the Indian atrocities in IoK. It is essential for the UNSG and the UNHRC to visit IoK to ensure the credibility of the international multilateral system and to prevent the human rights charter from being reduced to verbal rhetoric. The international community and the UN promised the Kashmiris the right to self-determination through a free, fair and transparent plebiscite under the auspices of the UN. Indian intransigence has prevented this despite a lapse of 70 years. It is time for words to be put to action and a visit of the UNSG and UNHRC can be the first step towards that.
Selective application of human rights and turning a blind eye to violations due to political and economic expediencies make the human rights charter a farce. From Palestine to IoK there is a need to break silence, speak up and redress disputes. In the interconnected, global world of today member states cannot afford to be indifferent to such disputes and conflict as they can and do spillover to the detriment of all.
Recently, we have been hearing a lot from various quarters that Pakistan should bring Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table. In your view, is it only Pakistan’s responsibility? (Fakhar Ur Rehman – SAMAA TV)
I have already said that it is the shared responsibility of all stakeholders who have contacts with the Taliban to bring them to the negotiating table. Pakistan is ready to play its role in this regard.
Can you please share details of the number of Working Groups under APAPPS that have become functional, including whether their focal points have been nominated and agreements reached at? (Naveed Akbar – Dunya News)
APAPPS is our initiative and Pakistan is desirous of working under its institutional framework in an expeditious manner. The five operational working groups under APAPPS are i) Politico-Diplomatic; ii) Economic and Trade: iii) Refugee Repatriation; iv) Military and v) Intelligence cooperation;
What is the update regarding election monitoring observers’ interest to come to Pakistan for election monitoring? How many countries and organizations have shown interest in this regard? Have we received any request from the Commonwealth?
Second, a video of Pakistan’s Ambassador to US has gone viral in which the Ambassador is seen dancing in the club? Has Foreign Office taken notice of such an activity or verified that video? (Mateen Haider – Freelance)
Your first question pertains to Election Commission.
On your second question, I have not seen the video so I cannot comment.
Reportedly, Russian Ambassador in Islamabad, in an interview has said that Pakistan and Russia will hold military exercises on Russian mountains in 2018. Is it the same as under SCO ambit? Please confirm!
Second, he has also said that the technical aspects of the North-South gas pipeline are being finalized. What is the update on it? (Anas Malick – Republic TV)
On your first question, Pakistan and Russia have been arranging joint military exercises ”Friendship” ”(DRUZHBA)” since last two years. The first joint military exercise was held in KP Pakistan in September 2016 and the second took place in Russia in October 2017. The two navies also held two editions of ”Arabian Monsoon” counter narcotics naval exercises in Arabian Sea in November 2014 and December 2015. The two countries are likely to continue the joint military exercise.
Pakistan will also be participating in the Joint Military Anti-Terrorist Command and Staff Exercise under SCO ”Peace Mission 2018” which will be held in Russia this August. The exercise will be held in the Ural Mountains. These anti-terrorism joint military exercises are conducted under the aegis of SCO on a regular basis to strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation among the Member States. Further details pertaining to military exercises are with the Defense Ministry.
On your second question, the two countries signed the ”Intergovernmental Agreement on the Construction of North South Gas Pipeline” project from Karachi to Lahore in October 2015 for long term cooperation in the energy sector. Under the IGA, a Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) has been set up. Technical details of the project are being finalized by the Ministry of Energy, Petroleum Division and its Russian counterpart. Details on the technical aspect of the project may be taken from M/o Energy (Petroleum Division).
What is the update on the restrictions imposed on Pakistan’s diplomats in the US and on US diplomats in Pakistan? (Zahid Mishwani – ARY News)
Both sides are actively engaged on the matter.
How do you see President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Switzerland, particularly in the context of the future of Iranian nuclear deal? (Sheraz Ashgar – IRNA)
Pakistan has consistently reiterated that it continues to support JCPOA, and hopes that the parties to the agreement would continue their commitment to the deal.
The deadline for Afghan refugees’ repatriation has passed. What decision has been made regarding their repatriation? Will their stay be extended? What is Foreign Office’s view in this regard? (Shabbir Waghra – PTV World)
Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees with honour and dignity for almost four decades. They have been extended live amenities like education and health at par with our own citizens. Around 50000 children of these refugees have graduated from Pakistani universities and are now contributing to the development of their country. Pakistan aspires dignified, sustainable and complete repatriation of Afghan refugees to their home country. We are engaged with Afghanistan in this regard.
Pakistan has decided to extend the validity of Proof of Residence (PORs) and Afghan Citizen Cards (ACC) until Sep 30, 2018. The incoming government would take a decision for further extension.
What is the future of SAARC Summit to be held in Pakistan? Is it true that Pakistan chapter of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry has refused to participate in SAARC Development Fund partnership conclave in India recently? Your comments! India? (Kh. Nayyar Iqbal – Kashmir Post)
Pakistan attaches great importance to SAARC and is committed to the principles and objectives of the SAARC Charter. It is essential to keep the SAARC process moving we look forward to the holding of the SAARC Summit in Islamabad at the earliest. It has been delayed long enough.
As regards the second part of your query, the senior officials of the Pakistan Chapter of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry could not attend the event due to other pressing engagements. However, deputy Secretary General from Pakistan attended the conclave.
Pakistan’s leadership in the Caretaker setup has given many statements regarding Pakistan’s inclusion into FATF’s grey list, what are your comments on these statements when we understand that the caretaker government has no political mandate as such? (Ali Hussain – Business Recorder)
Your question pertains to Ministry of Finance
Reportedly, the Indian High Commission has written a letter to Foreign Office regarding Mumbai trial, asking us to expedite the process of Judicial Commission. Do you confirm receiving any such letter? (Rashida Sial – Ab Takk)
Your question pertains to FIA and Ministry of Interior.
Reportedly, Ambassador Alice Wells recently met Resident Ambassadors of various countries in Islamabad including that of China and Australia, to put pressure on Pakistan. Do you confirm this? (Shamim – 7-News)
The Press Release issued by US Embassy in Islamabad mentions Ambassador Alice Wells’ meetings with Ambassadors of various countries. Such meetings are routine.
For more information, contact:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan