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Foreign Affairs Notebook: Motherland will defend at all costs

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Nafees Zakaria

Chaudhry Ahsan Premee

Associated Press Service

Foreign Office spokesman told a weekly briefing that since we last gathered on 8 September for the briefing, the situation of human rights violations has reached alarming levels and Indian occupying forces’ atrocities have taken toll of over 18 innocent Kashmiris’ lives and inflicted injuries to thousands, including continued use of pellet guns to cause injuries to the eyes. We condemn the continued killing of Kashmiris, including children, and call upon the UN Secretary General, UN Human Rights High Commissioner and International Community, particularly, the civil societies and those spearhead causes of human rights to condemn killing of innocent Kashmiris and take steps to stop Indian bloodshed in IOK.

 He added that the Prime Minister is in New York and addressed the 71st UNGA session yesterday. His address mainly focused on highlighting the plight of Kashmiris at the hands of Indian occupation forces. He underlined that a new generation of Kashmiris has risen indigenously and spontaneously against India’s illegal occupation. He informed the UNGA that a dossier on Indian atrocities in IOK will be shared to UNSG. He reaffirmed Pakistan’s steadfast and unflinching support to the Kashmiris’ demand for self-determination. He demanded an independent inquiry into extra judicial killing and UN’s Fact Finding Mission to investigate HR violations by India in IOK. He urged resolution of Kashmir dispute in accordance with the longstanding unimplemented UNSC Resolutions, which promise the people of Kashmir to exercise their right to self-determination under a UN supervised plebiscite.

 He added that Indian media attributed to the Nepal’s Prime Minister a statement in which he made negative remarks about Pakistan’s alleged involvement in terrorism. Let me share with you Nepali Spokesperson’s Press Release, which reads:

 He added that “The attention of the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers Government of Nepal has been drawn to the reported misinterpretation of the interview of Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Nepal Mr. Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ with the NewsX channel of India taken during his recent State Visit to India.

 He added that during the interview, the Prime Minister talked about the matters relating to the cooperation in security issues between Nepal and India and effective implementation of the policy already derived. The interviewer unnecessarily drew the reference to alleged third country support to terror networks. What the Prime Minister said in reply was only meant to refer to the support of the Government of Nepal in controlling Nepal-India cross-border criminal activities. He did not intend to acknowledge the involvement of any third country whatsoever. The Government of Nepal dissociates itself from any wrong interpretation of the interview.

 He added that Nepal enjoys friendly and cordial relations with its neighbours based on goodwill, friendship and mutual understanding that have grown over the decades to the mutual satisfaction.

 He added that you may recall that after Dhaka Bakery attack also, it was Indian media, which quoted Bangladeshi Minister Prof Gowher Rizvi that he made remarks about Pakistan’s involvement. Prof Rizvi personally refuted Indian media claim as ‘utter nonsense.’ The character of Indian media and the ethics followed by them is also visible in the hype it created after Uri’s reported incident.

 He added that we saw a condemnable terrorist attack, last Friday, on a local Masjid in Mohmand Agency in which more than 35 people were killed and scores were injured. We pray for the victims, extend our heartfelt condolences and sympathize with the bereaved families.

 He added that we are proud of Mr. Haider Ali who won Bronze Medal at Paralympic Games in Rio this year, and shared the new world record of 6.44 meter jump. He had won silver medal in 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing which was the first ever Paralympics medal and created history.

 The Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that you referred to some exercises on Pakistan’s side. Let me tell you that these are routine exercises. With regard to the other part of your question, we have seen all those inflammatory and irresponsible statements emanating from India coupled with hype created by Indian media. Pakistan is a peace loving country, and we pursue our Prime Minister’s vision of peaceful neighborhood. Having said that, let me be clear that our armed forces and the entire nation of Pakistan remain ready to defend our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity at all costs.

 The Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that with regard to the first part of your question, we have been consistently highlighting India’s role in subversive and terrorist activities in Pakistan. You may recall that few months back, our law enforcement agencies apprehended a RAW operative who confessed Indian role in terrorist activities in Pakistan especially in Balochistan and Karachi. The recent statement by the Indian Prime Minister on the Independence Day of India was yet another proof of Indian involvement in perpetrating terrorism and terror financing in Pakistan. We have shared dossiers last year with the UN Secretary General as well as the US Government in this regard. We will keep the international community informed regarding fresh evidences, indicating Indian involvement in subversive and terrorist activities in Pakistan.

 He said that I would like to refer you to Adviser Sartaj Aziz’s recent statement on Uri attack. Minutes after the attack, the Indian authorities blamed Pakistan for the incident without even investigating the matter. It is either a strategy or a matter of habit on their part to blame Pakistan for any incident in India, especially in IOK.

 The Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that  we totally reject these unfounded, baseless and uninvestigated accusations leveled against Pakistan. First of all, Pakistan has nothing to gain from such incidents. Secondly, we must understand the backdrop and context of occurrence of such incidents. Look at the current situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir, where gross violation of human rights have been carried out by Indian occupation forces on innocent Kashmiris with impunity. This has attracted attention of the entire world community. I am not sure if you are aware of dozens of demonstrations, though peaceful, held in UK, across Europe, Canada and many other parts of the world by the civil society members, Kashmiri and Pakistani Diaspora and Member Parliaments, highlighting the grave human rights situation in IOK. The recent statements by UN Secretary General, OIC Secretary General, in particular, and UN Human Rights High Commissioner, condemning and expressing deep concern at the atrocities in Kashmir, are a testimony to this effect. India has been making desperate attempts to divert the world attention from the situation in IOK.

 The Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that also, I would like you to refer to certain incidents in the recent past like Samjhauta Express terrorist attack of 2007, when India was quick in blaming Pakistan for the incident, but had the tables turned on itself when in 2010, leader of their extremist and terrorist organization RSS, Swami Aseemanand, confessed that he was the mastermind behind the terrorist attack. He also publicly stated that Col Parohit, active service Army officer, who heads the terrorist organization, Abhinav Bharat, along with other army personnel were also with him. There are many other such terrorist incidents, which India blamed on others and later it turned out to be their own handiwork, like Chattisinghpura incident of March 2000, Maachil 2010 episode of extra-judicial killing of three young indigenous Kashmiris blamed as infiltrators, Makkah Masjid blast, Malegaon attack and so on. You have to keep all this in mind.

 The Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that let me give you some facts first. The man who has been arrested is an Afghan origin US national. He has been living in the US since 1995. You are aware that hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees reside in Quetta, and everyday scores of them cross into their motherland. Even those Afghans who reside in other countries transit through Pakistan to reach Afghanistan. So, there is nothing unusual about it. It had been reported that his wife is a Pakistani. This information is incorrect. According to the preliminary information gathered, she is also an Afghan national, born in Kabul in 1991.

 These matters are in the domain of Ministry of Interior.

 The Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that with regard to your first question, while we have seen the media reports in this regard, such developments add to the fact that India is deeply involved in stirring up situation in Balochistan through terror financing and perpetrating terrorism in Pakistan.

 As for your second question, Pakistan’s leadership has, time and again, reiterated our resolve not to allow anyone to use Pakistan’s territory for planning or staging terrorist activities against any other country. Through successful operation Zarb-e-Azb, we have been able to clear FATA of all terrorist groups without discrimination. As part of National Action Plan, Pakistan has also carried out intelligence driven law enforcement operations indiscriminately against terrorist elements. There is widespread recognition and appreciation of the world, including the US, on Pakistan’s successes as well as our sacrifices in the counter-terrorism efforts. Where there are numerous friends of Pakistan in the US ranks, there are some odd detractors as well.

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 The Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that rising incidents of intolerance particularly against Muslims in India has attracted the world with serious concerns expressed by number of countries. We have seen numerous reports on incidents of killing of innocent people for slaughtering cows and eating beef.

 World has been watching that BJP led government has used anti-Muslim rhetoric to isolate Muslims not only politically but also socio-economically. A number of well known academicians, scholars, artists and civil society members have returned their awards to the Indian government due to state-sponsored phenomenon of intolerance and terrorizing of Muslims.

 The Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that the plight of Kashmiri people, who have lost over 100,000 precious lives in the course of their struggle to achieve the right of self-determination, is an open book for the world community to witness. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has expressed full support to the cause of Kashmir, and we are committed to highlight this issue at every regional and international forum and take up the issue of human rights violations and Indian occupation forces’ atrocities in IOK in every bilateral interaction.

 With regard to your question, a large number of countries have supported Pakistan on Kashmir. OIC alone is a conglomerate of 57 countries, which has supported Kashmiris’ indigenous struggle in unequivocal terms. Pakistan leads the issue of Kashmir because we are party to the dispute and are committed to see a peaceful resolution of the issue under the ambit of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and wishes of the Kashmiri people.

 I would also refer to Premier Li Keqiang’s statement of yesterday, in which he has reassured Pakistan of China’s full support on our stance on Kashmir, and has called on the international community to recognize the severity of the issue. Italian Defense Minister, on her recent visit to Pakistan, condemned atrocities in IOK. She stressed that her country would not tolerate such incidents of gross human rights violations, and would take steps to sensitize people around the world about the grave situation in IOK. PM’s Special Envoys on Kashmir are making strident efforts to apprise the world community of India’s massive and tragic atrocities in IOK. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has sensitized the world gathered at this year’s UN General Assembly session about the plight of hapless Kashmiris and why the world cannot leave their calls of help unattended anymore.

 This is an encouraging account of where we stand on raising the issue of Kashmir at the global level. Let me remind you that Kashmir is an international dispute and the only viable solution to this dispute can be through implementation of UN Security Council resolutions on this issue.

 The Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that the action of Mr. Tariq Hameed Karra speaks for itself. He was one of the founding members of Peoples Democratic Party, the ruling party in IOK, and a member of the Indian Parliament from IOK. On September 15, 2016 he resigned from his Lok Sabha seat as well as from the Party in protest of the Indian atrocities in IOK, describing situation as “much worse than Nazi forces”. Besides, international community’s condemnation over the atrocities unleashed on defenceless Kashmiris, a number of politicians, academicians, journalists and human rights activists in India have also condemned Indian brutalities in IoK.

 The Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that I have repeatedly replied to this question. These kinds of matters take their own time to be completed. Once the propitious time has arrived, and the investigation is ready to be shared, it will be done. But dossier or no dossier, this is public information that India has repeatedly been caught in terror financing, and instigating subversive activities in Pakistan. A recent example is Indian intelligence agency RAW’s officer, Kulbhushan Yadav’s public confession. It is only a matter of time when the evidence will be shared with the UN Secretary General.

 The Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that about participation in SAARC, what you are referring to are media reports, on which I would not comment. We have not received any official intimation in this regard. Pakistan is preparing for the Summit. With regard to the Uri attack, it is highly irresponsible on the part of India to accuse Pakistan without any proof, which has been happening now for quite some time as I mentioned earlier.

As for the dossier, it is not about waiting. We have already taken up the issue of Indian involvement in perpetrating terrorist activities and terror financing in Pakistan last year with the UN, where we submitted three dossiers to this effect. India has mere words but we have irrefutable proof of India’s involvement in perpetrating terrorist activities in Pakistan.

 The Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that first of all, I have responded to your first question number of times. Pakistani workers were facing financial difficulties in Saudi Arabia not because of the Saudi Government but due to the fact that some private companies are facing a financial crunch and are unable to pay remunerations to their employees. These workers are not only from Pakistan but from various other countries too. Saudi Arabia is providing employment to people from across the world; from Pakistan alone there are 2.8 million people employed in that country. Now as for the assurances, I have already mentioned that Saudi government came out to assist and extend their cooperation to those people who were facing problems. I am aware that they initially announced assistance of 100 million Riyal for these people, besides instructing those companies to provide medical facilities, food and financial assistance to their workers as long as their problems were not resolved. Saudi government also extended cooperation by not saying anything to those workers whose contracts had been expired. They also said that Saudi Government will give NOC to those who can find employment in other companies. Moreover, their Labor Ministry established desks in all those camps where these people were residing to help them file their claims and also prepare attorneys. So while you are talking about the assurances, this is their assurance. Now the attorneys will be pursuing their cases. The attorney could be their colleagues, own kith and kin, embassy of Pakistan or their friends. On top of that, all those who wanted to return to Pakistan are being facilitated by the Saudi government. They have borne the expenditures of their transportation to Pakistan.

 The Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that we have not issued any traveler advisory and I have also not seen any travel advisory, which has been issued by the Indian side. I don’t have the statistics you are seeking.

With regard to the second question, you will have to ask Ministry of Interior for specific information. It is Ministry of Interior which monitors all the entry points to and from Pakistan, so you can check with them about the number of visitors crossing between the two countries. It also depends on the tendency to issue visas to nationals of each other’s countries by the respective High Commissions.

 The Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that as regard the last question I am not aware of it. If you wish to know, then please ask Ministry of Interior about it. We have millions of Afghan refugees who are here for a very long time and an equal number of people without any residence permit or refugee status.

 The Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that  you mentioned about the Bill in the US. I have responded about Pakistan’s commitment to deal with the menace of terrorism. We do not discriminate between terrorists. The success of Zarb e Azab has been mentioned time and again and the acknowledgment which we have received from all across the world including the US. Secretary of State John Kerry, who called on Prime Minister in New York, has appreciated our efforts. Japanese Prime Minister in his meeting with our Prime Minister acknowledged this too. And so did all those who met the Prime Minister. Senator John McCain was here with other Congressmen; they took turns to register their appreciation of Pakistan’s success and commitment in eliminating terrorism especially from those areas which have never been under control even by the world’s most powerful empires. So I think that I need not go into the details of that.

He said that with regard to your first question, you have seen our spirit of cooperation. When the Indians approached us with the formal requests in the case of Mumbai attacks, we extended full cooperation despite the fact that it was India, which was lacking in terms of responding to Pakistan’s requirements. In case of Pathankot attack we also sent our team over there. Thus, we have extended cooperation in the two instances. Regarding the currently reported incident, your question is speculative.

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