Pakistan committed to policy of restraint but will safeguard its vital interests: FO
Islamabad: (Asghar Ali Mubarak) Answering a question during weekly news briefing in Islamabad today (Thursday), Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal said India uses Pakistan card to influence its internal politics.
He said Indian media is active vis-a-vis Pakistan and New Delhi is also trying to divert attention of the international community from the Occupied Kashmir.
He regretted that daughter of Faiz Ahmad Faiz was not allowed to address a function in India. He said Pakistan has always tried to tone down Indian aggression and we are not oblivious to the rapid armed buildup and induction of destabilizing weapon system in our neighbored. He said Pakistan is committed to a policy of restraint and avoidance of armed race in South Asia, but will take necessary steps to safeguard its vital interests.
Answering another question Dr Muhammad Faisal said travel restrictions on diplomats of both Pakistan and the United States have now been in place. He said now diplomats and their families will have to seek prior permission to travel outside the radius of 25 miles.
Replying to a question, he said Colonel Joseph of the United States had diplomatic immunity and he was allowed to leave Pakistan on the assurance that he will be tried in a US court for killing a Pakistani citizen in road accident.
Regarding fourth round of Pakistan-Afghanistan discussions in Islamabad, the spokesperson said both the countries have finalized Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPS).
He said the plan provides a framework to strengthen mutual trust, deepen interaction in all spheres of bilateral engagements and also provides a mechanism to final solutions for areas of mutual concerns. He said APAPS will continue towards common objective of eliminating terrorism and help achieving peace stability, prosperity and development of the two countries.
To a question, he said Pakistan as a neighbour will continue its engagements with Iran and is against unilateral sanctions against Tehran.
Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 17 May 2018
[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.]
We start with a brief roundup of the activities on the foreign policy front:
The Director General (SA & SAARC), Dr. Mohammad Faisal, summoned the Indian Acting Deputy High Commissioner yesterday and condemned the unprovoked ceasefire violations by the Indian occupation forces along the Line of Control on 15th May 2018 in Hotspring’s Sector, resulting in the shahadat of 1 innocent civilian (ChaudryMuzaffar s/o Mr. Alif resident of village Dehra Sher Khan). The Indian forces along the Line of Control and the Working boundary are continuously targeting civilian populated areas with heavy weapons. In 2018, the Indian forces have carried out more than 1000 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, resulting in the shahadat of 24 innocent civilians, while injuring 107 others. This unprecedented escalation in ceasefire violations by India is continuing from the year 2017, when the Indian forces committed 1970 ceasefire violations. The deliberate targeting of civilian populated areas is indeed deplorable and contrary to human dignity, international human rights and humanitarian laws. The ceasefire violations by India are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation.
Indian state terrorism continued unabated in the past week in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Indian occupation forces constantly terrorize the people of Jammu and Kashmir with violent operations, fake encounters, illegal house searches, targeting people and damaging properties in Srinagar, Shopian, Pulwama, Islamabad, Kulgam, Kupwara, Bandipore and Baramulla districts of Indian occupied Kashmir.
We condemn the unlawful detention of the Hurriyet leaders including Shabbir Ahmad Shah, MassratAlam Bhat, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, Dr. QasimFakhtoo, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Ayaz Akbar, Peer Saifullah, Raja Meraj-ud-din Kalwal, Farooq Ahmad Dar, 55-year-old, SyedaAasiyaAndrabi, FehmeedaSofi and NahidaNasreen, as well as students and youth who are languishing in different jails of occupied Kashmir and in India.
The arrest of Hurriyet leaders Bashir Ahmad Lone and Muhammad Rafiq Shah Owais under draconian Public Safety Act (PSA) for merely participating in funeral prayers of martyr Professor Dr Muhammad Rafiq Bhat in Ganderbal is highly deplorable. We urge the international community to play its role in calling upon India to account for its crimes against humanity in Jammu & Kashmir. Like many other public figures and leader of IoK, Mr. Shabir Shah has been arrested for his non-violent political struggle for the resolution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute. Despite the urgent need to ensure his safety, he has not been shifted to a high-risk ward and authorities continue to torment him by giving him no access to medical facilities. Several other incarcerated leaders and political activists languish in various Indian jails for their political beliefs. We condemn the political vendetta they face and will continue to provide political, moral and diplomatic support to the oppressed people of IoK for the realization of the inalienable right to self-determination.
On Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed visit to occupied Kashmir, the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) comprising Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik have called for a march towards Srinagar’s LalChowk on Saturday, May 19.
Pakistan has noted with grave concern that despite calls by the international community to comply with UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on the two-state solution, US has moved its Embassy to the Holy City of Jerusalem. This represents a violation of international law and several United Nations Security Council resolutions, in particular resolutions 476 and 478. The Government and people of Pakistan stand firmly with the Palestinian people also renews the call for establishment of a viable, independent and contiguous State of Palestine, on the basis of internationally agreed parameters, the pre-1967 borders, and with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.
The Government of Pakistan strongly condemns the merciless killings and injuries to innocent unarmed Palestinian civilian protesters by the occupying authorities. The protests are a consequence of the relocation of the United States Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv in opposition to the position of the United Nations and under international law. Pakistan calls on the United Nations and the international community to investigate and bring to end the use of force, which has resulted in causalities of innocent Palestinian civilians, including women, children and the elderly.
The 4th meeting of Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) was held in Islamabad on May 14 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The delegations were led by Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai and Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary, TehminaJanjua. In pursuance of the seven principles agreed in the meeting between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Prime Minister ShahidKhaqanAbbasi during his visit to Kabul on 6 April 2018, the two sides finalized the Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS). This operationalizes the working groups envisaged under APAPPS.
APAPPS provides a framework to deepen interaction in all spheres of bilateral engagements. It is also a mechanism for finding solutions to bilateral areas of concern. Both sides agreed that effective and full implementation of APAPPS would contribute towards the common objectives of eliminating terrorism and achieving peace, stability, prosperity and development of the people of the two countries.
Pakistan condemns the multiple missile attacks on Jazan and Riyadh by Houthi militia. The successful interception of the missiles by the Saudi forces prevented loss of innocent lives and is commendable. Pakistan reiterates its solidarity with Saudi leadership and people and stands by Saudi Arabia against any threats to its territorial integrity and threats against HarmainSharifain.
Prime Minister ShahidKhaqanAbbasi extended the deepest felicitations to Dr. Mahathir Muhammad on becoming Prime Minister of Malaysia. The Prime Minister underscored that the unprecedented victory of PakatanHarapan is the clear demonstration of Malaysian people’s trust in the dynamic and inspirational leadership of Dr. Mahathir Muhammad. The Prime Minister underlined that the relationship between our two brotherly Muslim countries has grown from strength to strength over the decades and also hoped that under the leadership of the Prime Minster Dr. Mahathir, the bilateral relations between two countries will be further broadened and deepened in diverse fields, particularly economic and trade.
Now the Floor is open for Questions
Iran’s Foreign Minister is on a diplomatic mission to China, Russia and other world capitals, post US withdrawal from Iranian nuclear deal. In case of US bilateral sanctions on Iran, what will be Pakistan’s response, particularly in terms of trade and IP gas pipeline?
Second, can you confirm if the travel ban on Pakistani diplomats in the US has been imposed by the US authorities?
Third, some countries have started the move against the US shifting its embassy to Jeruselam. Will Pakistan support this move? (Essa Naqvi – Dunya News)
Your last question first. Pakistan calls on the United Nations and the international community to investigate and bring to end the use of force, which has resulted in causalities of innocent Palestinian civilians, including women, children and the elderly.
Pakistan also renews its call for establishment of a viable, independent and contiguous state of Palestine, on the basis of internationally agreed parameters, the pre-1967 borders, and with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital. Turkey has called for an emergency meeting of the OIC after the Israeli forces’ killing spree in Gaza. Prime Minister will attend the meeting tomorrow. Foreign Secretary is already in Turkey for Senior Official meeting of the OIC. We expect some positive outcome after the meeting.
On your first question, Pakistan has continued to support JCPOA. We hope that the remaining parties to the agreement would continue their commitment to it. We will continue to engage with Iran as a neighbour to strengthen our political and economic relations. As a matter of principle we are against unilateral sanctions.
On your second question, as I had informed last week, the US State Department has imposed travel restrictions on Pakistani diplomats in Washington starting from 11 May 2018. The Diplomatic staff and their families will now have to seek prior permission for travelling outside the radius of 25 miles (approx 40 kms). As a matter of reciprocity, US diplomats in Pakistan have also been asked to seek prior permission for movement exceeding 25 miles limit. We hope that the matter can be resolved through dialogue.
Day after the restrictions were imposed on the US diplomats in Islamabad, a US minister has met with Senator Rehman Malik. Was Foreign Office taken into confidence regarding the meeting and what action has been taken in this regard? (Anwar Abbas – Waqt News)
When our political leaders visit the US, they hold similar meetings. I am not aware of the meeting in question, but if it has taken place, it has no link with the restrictions imposed on US diplomats.
Colonel Joseph was sent back. Was any blood money agreed? What is the exact amount of Diyat?
Secondly, ATC has instructed the Foreign Office to submit a reply regarding the summoning of 27 witnesses regarding Mumbai trial case. Can you confirm?
Thirdly, do you confirm that a meeting of religious scholars from Pakistan and Afghanistan was held in Indonesia recently? Was it a governmental initiative? What was the outcome? (RashidaSial – Such TV)
On your third question, President of Indonesia during his visit to Pakistan in January this year had shared the idea of hosting a trilateral Afghanistan-Indonesia-Pakistan Ulema meeting in Jakarta with our President and the Prime Minister. Our leadership had welcomed and assured Pakistan’s support for the Indonesian initiative. Pakistani Ulema, therefore, constructively participated in the meeting. A joint deceleration was adopted at the end of the meeting which reiterated that Islam is a religion of peace and all disputes among Muslims should be resolved in the light of Quran and Sunnah. The declaration emphasized that Ulema have the obligations to promote universal values of peace, tolerance, aitidal (Ar) and social justice. It rendered its support for an inclusive peace process and also assured to contribute towards it.
Regarding your second question, Yes, Foreign Office has received the notice. It is the subject of Ministry of Interior and sought their comments before further proceeding in the matter.
On the question regarding the case of Colonel Joseph, I have no information regarding blood money. You can get further details from MoI.
The 4th round of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) was held in Islamabad on Monday. What specific areas of mutual interest were agreed for way forward? (Saad Umar – Roze TV)
Pakistan and Afghanistan during the fourth round of discussions in Islamabad on May 14, 2018 finalized the Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS). APAPPS provides a framework to strengthen mutual trust, deepen interaction in all spheres of bilateral engagement and also provides a mechanism for finding solutions to areas of mutual concern. APAPPS would contribute towards the common objectives of eliminating terrorism and help achieving peace, stability, prosperity and development of the peoples of the two countries. Five working groups have been operationalized for meaningful engagement, namely (i) Politico-Diplomatic Working Group (ii) Economic Working Group (iii) Refugee Working Group (iv) Military to Military Coordination (v) Intelligence Cooperation.
After the statement of Nawaz Sharif, a very damaging situation has come to fore. Indian media has also spread propaganda in this regard. How does Foreign Office view this?
Second, there are rumors that Colonel Joseph went back from Noor Khan Airbase, which gives an impression that military has intervened in the matter. What are Foreign Office’s comments? (Zahid Farooq – Daily Metro Watch)
It is our internal matter. However, the Indian propaganda against Pakistan, especially during their elections and the hyperdrive they get themselves into, is an established pattern and should be treated as such.
Reportedly, the former Indian Finance Minister P Chidambaram in an article written in the Indian Express has said, “The king will never raise the sword against his own people. With great sorrow, it must be admitted that there is an undeclared internal war in the Kashmir Valley. Further he said that “Across the aisle: India is failing the test on Jammu and Kashmir”. What are your comments? (Khawaja Nayaar Iqbal – Daily Kashmir Post)
Despite the acknowledgement in some sections of Indian society about the futility of using military might in IoK, Indian massacre of innocent Kashmiri continues with the death toll rising to more than 40 since last month. Hurriyat leaders continue to be detained and communication services are frequently suspended. The bloodshed in IoK should serve as a wakeup call for the international conscience if the human rights charter is to stay relevant.
Reportedly, India has started off the process to induct its first ICBM Agni-V into the Strategic Forces Command (SFC), with a range to potentially target the entire China, Africa and parts of Europe. How does Pakistan view this development?
Secondly, when you say that Indian media has gone in hyperdrive, that means that there is nothing wrong in the statement of Nawaz Sharif, which could be detrimental to Pakistan’s interest. What are your views? (ShaukatParacha – Aaj News)
Indian media always remain in hyper drive mode, which leads the Indian policy of aggression against Pakistan. In the case of Commander KulbhushanJhadev’s mother and wife’s visit to Pakistan, the same Indian media negatively portrayed the humanitarian gesture of Pakistan. On the other issue, I will not comment on our internal matters.
On your second question, Pakistan is not oblivious to the rapid arms build-up and induction of destabilizing weapon systems in our neighborhoods. While committed to a policy of restraint and avoidance of arms race in South Asia, Pakistan will take necessary steps for safeguarding its vital national interests. Developments such as the induction of ICBMs, with extra-regional targeting capabilities, should be a matter of concern to the international community at large.
Reportedly, Indian Government continues with its atrocious treatment of Pakistanis. This time the revered daughter of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Ms. Muneeza Hashmi, was not permitted to speak at a conference in New Delhi, and was even not allowed to check into her hotel despite Indian Govenrment’s own invitation of participation in the said conference! Need your comments on this please. (Asghar Ali Mubarak – Daily Mail Islamabad)
We have seen media reports of the incident. The treatment of Ms. Hashmi, daughter of Faiz Ahmad Faiz by India is deeply regrettable and a breach of basic courtesy. The continuing ban on Pakistani artists prohibiting them from performing in India reflects the intolerance and xenophobia, especially against Pakistan rampant in increasingly large sections of the Indian society. This is in sharp contrast to the situation in Pakistan where Indian artists continue to participate in literary festivals and films.
When will Ambassador designate to US, Mr. Ali Jahangir Siddiqui assume charge as Ambassador of Pakistan to US? What will be the policy of caretaker Government regarding politically appointed Ambassadors? Will they continue to serve?
Second, how many Ambassadors are appointed politically? (MateenHaider – Freelance Journalist)
As I had informed earlier, the agre’ment of Mr. Ali Jahangir Siddiqui has already been received. I have no information regarding his travel plans.
On your second question, I will revert after ascertaining details.
Recently, a video of a Pakistani national Ghulam Mustafa, residing in Saudi Arabia has gone viral on social media. He was arrested on charges of drugs dealing and awarded death penalty by Saudi Government. He claimed that Pakistani Embassy in Saudi Arabia did not come for his rescue. Has Foreign Office contacted our Embassy in Saudi Arabia in this regard? (Mona Khan – Geo News)
I will check and get back to you.
An agreement was being negotiate between Pakistan and China regarding the exchange of prisoners? Can you inform about its status? Also, how are Pakistani prisoners being treated in Chinese jails? (ZahidMashwani – ARY News)
I will check the details of the said agreement. Pakistan and China enjoy very cordial relations and all issues of mutual interest are being discussed during our bilateral interaction. We have no reports of any ill treatment of Pakistani prisoners in China.
How will OIC effectively play its role in finding a long lasting solution of Palestine issue? (Tariq Mahmood – Hum TV)
Pakistan strongly condemns Gaza massacre perpetrated by Israel Defence Forces against the unarmed Palestinian civilians in which 60 people lost their lives and 2700 were injured. The protesters were peacefully agitating against the opening of US Embassy in Jerusalem.
Pakistan welcomes the initiative of Turkey to convene an extraordinary Summit in Istanbul to take cognizance of the use of force by the Israeli Defence Forces against protesting civilians. Pakistan believes that this Summit will accord opportunity to the OIC to discuss the grave situation and to come up with a collective response.
OIC represents 57 member states and 1.5 billion Muslims around the world. We are confident that message from the OIC platform will show resolve of the Muslim countries on rejecting Israel’s policies on the treatment of Palestinians.
Given the recent development of Colonel Joseph’s release, we have seen a positive impact on Pak-US relations. In your view, how will the upcoming 7th FATF Session be a reflection of this positive streak in our relations post Col Joseph’s departure from Pakistan? (Mohsin Raza – Asas Group of Publications)
Let me explain it. It is not that way. diplomats have diplomatic immunity while serving in the country of their accreditation. In this context, Col Joseph was allowed to leave the country based on this diplomatic immunity. The US has assured us that it will initiate criminal/administrative action against Col. Joseph in US courts.
My question pertains to your announcement of Gilgit Baltistan Reforms Committee’s recommendations. Yesterday, the Speaker of Gilgit Baltistan Legislative Assembly demanded that before approval of these recommendations the draft should be presented in Gilgit Baltistan’s Assembly. So that it can be amended, if necessary, according to the aspiration of Gilgit Baltistan’s people. (Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)
The committee working on Gilgit-Baltistan is headed by Mr. Sartaj Aziz who would be in a better position to answer this question.
Pakistani authorities were allowing installation of radio communication for surveillance, safe houses and multiple other concessions to the US diplomatic presence in Pakistan. Can you please elaborate under which agreement/law this was conceded? Also, how long did the US diplomatic staff avail these facilities? Did Pakistani Missions in the US enjoy the same concessions?(Essa Naqvi – Dunya News)
There were some concessions given by earlier governments. Details of these concessions were never made public. These are not being given anymore.
US has withdrawn from the Iran Nuclear deal but all other members are willing to continue with the agreement. What is Pakistan’s stance on the issue? (Bahadur – IRNA)
I have already elaborated Pakistan’s stance on the issue.
How will the opening of US Embassy in Jerusalem impact the prospects of peace and stability in the Middle East? (Bahadur – IRNA)
I have already responded to your question.
Reportedly, concessions have not been immediately withdrawn from US diplomats regarding their movement in Pakistan. Who has granted the concessions of issuance of cell phone without any ID card to them and under which law? (ShaukatParacha – Aaj News)
How many other countries have been granted these facilities in Islamabad? (Syed Mohsin Raza – Asas Group of Publications)
In which tenure these facilities have been granted to the US diplomats, military or in democratic setup? (Anwar Abbas – Waqt News)
I have already responded to these questions and have nothing to add.