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Chaman border shooting incident is serious issue: FO

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Nafees Zakaria

Chaudhry Ahsan Premee

Associated Press Service

May 5,2017,Islamabad

Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said in opening remarks during his weekly press briefing that

Indian occupation forces in Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK) in their unabated acts of state terrorism martyred twenty five Kashmiris including six young boys and two women in occupied Kashmir in the month of April. According to data compiled by the Research Section of Kashmir Media Service, hundreds of students were injured due to the use of brute force by Indian occupation forces to stifle students’ uprising in the valley. The killings involved two women and orphaned 11 children. 646 were injured when Indian troops and police personnel resorted to brute force, pellets, PAVA and teargas shelling on defenseless protesters. 427 Kashmiri leaders and activists including (Hurriyat Leaders, Aasiya Andrabi, Fehmeeda Sofi), students and youth were arrested during the period. In a despicable act, Indian paramilitary personnel dishonoured thirty women in April. Due to media blackout, the Indian brutal treatment of defenceless Kashmiris in IOK remains either unreported or under-reported. Such a situation where extremists are suggesting carpet bombing, cordoning off of the entire Valley to kill and brutalize Kashmiris and demonstrating that no mercy be shown, reflect the intention of ethnic cleansing.

Foreign Office spokesman added that In Pakistan, the week marked high level visits from various countries and regions including from Iran and Japan. The Adviser is in Italy since 2nd May for the First Review of Pakistan-Italy Strategic Engagement Plan.

 Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that Pakistan is cognizant of the important role played by US and China in Afghanistan. In this regard, the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) that involved both US and China along with Afghanistan and Pakistan made serious efforts for bringing Afghan Government and Taliban to Afghan-owned and Afghan led peace talks.

 As regards India, we have continued to underline that ‘India is part of the problem and not solution.’ India is also using Afghan soil for its nefarious designs to destabilize Pakistan and spoil Pakistan – Afghan relations.

Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that Pakistan expresses its serious concern over the continued firing from the Afghan forces in the area near Chaman since early hours of this morning, which has unfortunately inflicted a reported fatality and injured several people including women and children. This violation is taking place at a time when the census teams are undertaking population census in that area as part of the national census exercise all over the country. The Afghan government was informed about the census being undertaken on our side of the border and exact coordinates of the areas were also shared with the Afghan government.

The border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is clearly demarcated. All the locations are authenticated by maps available with the two governments. Pakistan is undertaking census in its own areas, which is our sovereign right. The Afghan side should immediately withdraw those elements who are perpetrating these hostilities with a view to ensure peace and tranquility on the border. We would like to urge the Afghan government to immediately stop firing against Pakistani villages. In case, Afghanistan does not take measures to stop its provocations, Pakistan reserves the right to fully respond with a view to protect its sovereignty and citizens.

 Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that Pakistan has continued to emphasize that the problems of Afghanistan are internal. Externalizing Afghanistan’s problems and blaming others for the continued instability in their country does not help. It would be in the interest of everyone that such accusations are avoided as they serve no purpose.

 Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that during the 18th SAARC Summit, India offered to ‘gift’ a Satellite to SAARC Member States, to be named as the so-called “SAARC Satellite”.

Subsequently, however, India made it clear that it would build, launch and operate the satellite solely. However, its registration with International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will be done as a “SAARC Satellite”.

Pakistan, which has its own space programme at an advanced level, was ready to share its expertise and technological know-how and was keen to participate in the project. However, as India was not willing to develop the project on a collaborative basis, it was not possible for Pakistan to support it as a regional project under the umbrella of SAARC.

The Satellite was then renamed as “South Asian Satellite” as the project was taken out of the SAARC ambit.

Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that regarding CPEC, it is currently a bilateral undertaking between Pakistan and China. It is also a project for shared prosperity and common development of the region. Many countries of the region have, therefore, expressed interest in joining the CPEC.

The decision to involve third countries into the CPEC will be taken jointly by Pakistan and China. The decision regarding involvement of Afghanistan or any other country of the region will be taken after the finalization of the guidelines, to be formulated.

 Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that responding to the first question; despite media blackout by the Indian occupation forces in IOK, the International Community, particularly the civil society and Kashmiri Diaspora abroad have been effectively raising the issue of gross human rights violations. All relevant offices and Institutions of the Government of Pakistan, particularly the political leadership, this Ministry and our Missions abroad, constantly raise concern over the grave human rights situation in IoK with countries bilaterally and on multilateral forums and call for implementation of UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir.

Foreign Office spokesman added that the human rights situation in IoK has further deteriorated after the Srinagar by-elections held on 9 April, 2017. The people of IOK boycotted the sham and farcical elections to demonstrate their rejection of Indian occupation. As a result of firing by Indian occupation forces, 9 innocent Kashmiris, including a 12-year old boy were killed and over 200 injured. On 15 April, the Indian forces attacked the Pulwama Girls College killing one youth and injuring over 50 students. During this latest spate of repression, many videos have surfaced showing Indian atrocities. We strongly condemn Indian barbarities in IoK and call upon the international community, including the UN, to take immediate notice of gross human rights violations and stop the bloodshed of Kashmiris in IoK.

Foreign Office spokesman added that despite media blackout, the human right activists, civil society members  and Parliamentarians across the world are cognizant of repressive measures being used by Indian occupation forces in IoK. This is not just one event, I would like to invite your attention to a number of events that are regularly held all over the world, especially UK, across Europe, Nordic States and North America, where there is a large presence of Pakistani and Kashmiri Diasporas, to sensitize the world community about Indian brutalities in IoK.

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Foreign Office spokesman added that the recent video of a Kashmiri youth tied to an Indian army jeep as a ‘human shield’ against the stone pelting young people has put Indian claims of democracy to shame. India needs to stop state terrorism against defenseless Kashmiris, behave as a responsible member of the international community and fulfill its obligations to hold a free, fair plebiscite in Jammu & Kashmir under the UN auspices for the realization of the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people.

On the second question, I would say that incidents of intolerance and violent extremism in India have attracted world attention and there is deep concern in the international community. These incidents of violent extremism are making headlines on the front pages of the Newspapers across the globe. Hindu extremist organizations are carrying out mob attacks and harassment of religious minorities and marginalized segments of the society in India. OIC Observatory Report on Islamophobia has mentioned that Muslims in India are facing systematic and escalating discrimination, persecution and attacks by RSS and its affiliates. The Report regrets that the present government of India is condoning the rise in Islamophobia and fueling communal sentiment leading to repeated cycles of violence. The vigilante attacks on Muslims have increased.

Human Rights Watch, in its report last week has mentioned that Hindu extremists are pursuing  violent vigilante campaigns against beef consumption. They have killed a number of Muslims, including a 12-year old, stripped and tortured Dalit men, and have brutally attacked a nomad family in IOK, including 9-year old girl.

The grave human rights situation in India and, particularly in Indian occupied Kashmir, is matter of deep concern.

Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question responding to query regarding Mr. A.S Daulat’s interview first, let me reiterate that it is not just one person, but many in India itself and also outside India especially in the UK, Europe, Western Democracies, at OIC and the UN that are deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation in IoK. We have said a lot about what is happening over there. The ground reality is that there is an indigenous self-determination movement in IoK, which has entered in its current phase after the extra-judicial killing of Kashmiri youth leader Burhan Muzaffar Wani on July 08, 2016. You may recall that about a million Kashmiris had gathered to offer his funeral prayers at various locations, despite curfew imposed by Indian occupation forces. The peaceful Kashmiri youth were brutally attacked by Indian forces. More than 150 defenceless Kashmiris have been ruthlessly killed and thousands of Kashmiris have been mercilessly blinded either partially or fully by the use of pellet guns.

The current situation in IoK can be regarded as one of the worst episodes of human tragedy in living history. It has attracted attention of the entire international community. What is happening in IoK is making headlines in newspapers across the globe. The reality is extremely harsh; defenceless Kashmiris of IoK are fighting for a genuine cause of self-determination, promised to them in the UN Charter, and relevant UN Security Council Resolutions on Kashmir.

As for your second question, this was an important visit as part of our efforts to strengthen and institutionalize parliamentary exchanges. Our delegation conveyed to the Afghan leadership the importance we attach to relations with Afghanistan. The two sides agreed on the need of constructive engagement. We are looking forward to continued exchanges between the two countries. Pakistan sincerely pursues the policy of strengthening relations and peace and stability in Afghanistan. The relationship between the two peoples is centuries old.

Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question in our view, for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan the politically negotiated settlement is the most viable option. We believe that both the parties i.e. Afghan Government and the Taliban should consider reaching a peaceful settlement through an Afghan-owned Afghan-led peace process.

 Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that on Turkish President’s suggestion for a multilateral dialogue to resolve the issue of Kashmir, we have welcomed it. The Adviser’s statement also reflected on the context and on Indian counter proposal of bilateral dialogue. It is available on the Ministry’s website.

Responding to a question, there was no undertaking of that sort. Please see the Joint Statement, which mentions reforms of UNSC, that it should be representative and democratic. This statement does not imply support to India’s bid for the UNSC membership. I think you are being misled by misinterpretation carried in Indian newspapers.

 Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question we are pursuing this matter vigorously with the Government of Nepal. Our Embassy constantly remains in touch with the relevant authorities in Nepal.

Regarding Essa Naqvi’s question on whether Nepali Government has not committed anything in writing, I have noted your question, and will check with concerned quarters.  There has not been much progress in the case. As I have said earlier, we cannot rule out involvement of hostile agencies in this case. Outcome of the investigations being carried out by the Government of Nepal is awaited.

 Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question as regards your first question, on 3 May, Iranian Foreign Minister Dr. Javad Zarif visited Islamabad and called on the Prime Minister and held meetings with other leaders and officials. The discussions focused on maintaining the momentum of high level exchanges between the two countries. Iran and Pakistan have recently signed a Banking Payment Arrangement (BPA), which would pave the way for increasing bilateral trade. The Joint Economic Commission was also held recently to promote economic cooperation. The Speaker National Assembly Mr. Ayaz Sadiq led a parliamentary delegation to Iran during April. Therefore, in our view the focus of the two sides should be on further strengthening the bilateral interaction.

We have an institutionalized mechanism, namely Joint Border Commission, which reviews all matters pertaining to border issues. The two sides meet regularly to discuss ways of further enhancing border management and cooperation. The relationship between Iran and Pakistan is cordial. We are neighbours and our border is of peace and friendship. The Joint Border Commission is in place to ensure effective border management and address all concerns of both sides that arise from time to time.

As to your second question, when the agreement between Mr. Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami and Afghan government was signed, we had welcomed that and had said that it should be an example for the other warring factions to come to negotiating table.

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