By, Asghar Ali Mubarak, February, 28, 2018
Islamabad; A brief round-up of the activities on the foreign policy front first. The Indian Deputy High Commissioner, Mr. J.P. Singh was summoned to the Foreign Office over the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control on 23 & 27 February 2018 resulting in the shahadat of two innocent civilians namely Mr. Muhammad Farooq, and 13-year old boy (M.Zain s/o M. Imtiaz) while injuring three others. Despite calls for restraint, India continues to indulge in ceasefire violations. In 2018, the Indian forces have carried out more than 400 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, resulting in the shahadat of 18 innocent civilians and injuries to 68 others.
In Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, Indian brutalities continue. The Indian occupation forces killed two Kashmiri youths including Mr.Mushtaq Ahmad Chopan (26-year old) who was detained in Tral and Hajin areas. Amnesty International in its Annual Report of 2017-18 has highlighted the impunity enjoyed by the Indian forces for human rights abuses in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The report states that in April 2017, eight people were killed by the Indian forces, following the protests, during a by-election for an Indian Parliamentary seat. It also mentions the arrest of Kashmiri photojournalist, Kamran Yousuf and a French film-maker researching a documentary on the Kashmir conflict in the Indian occupied territory. The miseries of the people in the Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir have increased every passing day. We strongly condemn the inhumane and brutal treatment meted out to innocent and defenseless Kashmiris, both within the occupied land or in detention. We urge the international community to play its role in calling upon India to account for its crimes against humanity in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir.
Subsequent to a joint invitation from Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan undertook a 2-day visit to Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, to participate in the link-up ceremonies of the TAPI pipeline and associated projects. The ceremonies were also attended by the President of Afghanistan. In his statement at the inaugural ceremony in Turkmenistan, the Prime Minister reaffirmed TAPI’s significance, as not just a gas transit initiative connecting Central Asia with South Asia, but a multi-modal project that would lead to greater regional and economic collaboration. He further emphasized Pakistan’s commitment to the early completion of TAPI. An Intergovernmental Agreement on Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan electricity transmission line was also signed.
The Prime Minister also visited Herat, Afghanistan where he was received by the Afghan President. During the inaugural ceremony of the Afghan side of the Pipeline project, the Prime Minister reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to lasting peace and security in Afghanistan and stressed the potential of Afghanistan in becoming a regional hub of energy connectivity.
During his official visit to the Russian Federation from 19 to 22 February 2018, Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif met Chairman Gazprom Mr. Alexey Miller in Saint Petersburg, on Thursday, 22 February. The discussions focused on the implementation of Inter-Governmental Agreements signed between Pakistan and Russia regarding the import of LNG in October 2017 and North-South Gas Pipeline project in October 2015. The Chairman Gazprom expressed keen interest in further strengthening cooperation with Pakistan in the field of Energy. The Foreign Minister, Khawaja Asif and Chairman Miller agreed that Gazprom could play a pivotal role in enhancing trade and economic cooperation between Pakistan and the Russian Federation.
Ms. Lisa Curtis, Senior Director for South and Central Asia at the NSC of US visited Pakistan on 26 February 2018. She called on the Foreign Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The meeting took place in the context of our regular and continuous engagement with the US.
In yet another evidence of pervading extremism and anti-Pakistan prejudice in India, the Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association (IMPPA) decided to uphold its ban on Pakistani artists, being caste in Indian media. It is unfortunate that art and cinema which bring people together by acting as cultural bridges are being held hostage to hate and xenophobia. Unfortunately this decision, following several others, including non-issuance of visas to Pakistani Zaireen, refusal to allow participation of Sikhs and Katas raj pilgrims and cancellation of sports matches underscores the growing intolerance and bias prevalent in India exposing it of the sham-ocracy it is increasingly becoming. Politicizing religious and cultural activities is detrimental, most of all to India itself.
A Photo Exhibition to commemorate the Chinese New Year was inaugurated by the Foreign Minister, Khawaja Mohammad Asif and the Ambassador of People’s Republic of China H.E Yao Jing on 26 February 2018 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The photo exhibition is a glimpse of the strong Pakistan-China partnership, which celebrates the rich cultural linkages and bonds between Pakistan and China.