Chaudhry Ahsan Premee
Associated Press Service, March 24, 2017,Islamabad
Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said in opening remarks during the weekly press briefing that yesterday, the entire country and Pakistanis abroad celebrated Pakistan Day with zeal and fervor. We were joined by our friends from across the world on this joyous occasion. I extend my heartiest felicitations to you all and pray that Allah Almighty bestow us with His choicest blessings. I would also like to congratulate the organizers of the Pakistan Day Parade for an excellent presentation.
He added that Pakistan Day was also celebrated across the length and breadth of Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir and Azad Jammu & Kashmir. Pakistani flags were fluttering there and entire Jammu & Kashmir region was echoing with Pakistan’s National Anthem, which was a clear verdict by the Kashmiris, who they want to be with. And this happens every year and every day. And Kashmiris have their eyes on the UN, its members and Security Council, demanding implementation of UNSC Resolutions. International Community is urged to pay attention.
He added that last week, reportedly, Indian police physically assaulted and ruthlessly beat up seven journalists including senior photo-journalists Tauseef Mustafa, Mubashir Khan, Farooq Javed Khan, Umar Sheikh and Shauib Masoodi at Hyderpora in Srinagar, who were trying to carry out their professional duties.
He added that during last week, over 30 Hurriyet leaders including Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik, Shabbir Ahmed Shah, Syeda Aasiya Andrabi, and Nayeem Ahmed Khan were placed under house arrest and stopped from attending the 23rd March function at Pakistan Embassy in New Delhi. APHC leader, Masarrat Aalam Butt, immediately after his release from Baramulla district jail was re-arrested. He has been under continued illegal detention since 2010, barring forty days during 2015. Over 161 youth in Srinagar, Pulwama, Shopian, and Bandipore districts have been arrested in last one week. India state activities to change the demography in Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir is continuing in violation of UNSC Resolutions. The situation of blatant human rights violations is a matter of deep concern.
He added that last but not the least, two of Foreign Service Officers, Shahbaz Hussain and Liaquat Ali Warriach decorated with Tamgha-i-Imtiaz on 23 March for their extraordinary performance of evacuation of Pakistanis from Libya during 2014, made us proud.
Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that the decision on the level of Pakistan’s participation will be taken in due course. You may confirm from Russians regarding Afghan Taliban’s participation in this meeting. Regarding Afghan Government’s participation or any reaction, you may approach them directly. However, Pakistan firmly believes in an Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process, aimed at bringing all warring factions, including the Taliban, to the negotiating table. As regards the outcome, I would like to reiterate that Pakistan constructively participates in these meetings for pursuing lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. We hope the deliberations in this meeting would be focused on this objective.
Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that we do not comment on media reports. In my response to the first question, I have already remarked regarding Pakistan’s commitment to peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that we have seen the media reports. However, we have not received any such request from the Indian government.
Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that you have seen the press release issued by PM Office in this regard. The Prime Minister decided to open the border as a goodwill gesture. It is expected that the Afghan Government will take measures to address the reasons that led to the closure of the border. The meeting in London also focused on the need for an institutional mechanism for counter-terrorism cooperation, to which Afghan side was agreeable. We hope that the two countries will work through the agreed mechanism for cooperation for preventing cross-border terrorism and enhancing bilateral interaction in different areas.
Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that I am not aware of a telephone call. I have seen reports of Prime Minister Modi’s message sent to the Prime Minister’s Office. I am not privy to the contents of the letter. However, these are normal courtesies between leadership of various countries to congratulate each other on occasions of national importance. I will not get into any speculations in this regard.
Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that regarding your second question, please approach Ministry of Water and Power for clarification in the matter, as it is the relevant Ministry in matters related to Indus Water talks. I have seen all media reports, as well as counter reports in this regard.
He added that on your first question, we have seen the State Dept’s so-called Country Reports on HR Practices for 2016. As a matter of principle, we do not recognize validity of unilateral approaches including reports sitting in judgment of other states. As such, these reports are invariably inherently flawed and lack objectivity. It comes as no surprise that as regard Pakistan, the Report is far removed from facts and depicts a grossly inaccurate and misrepresented picture.
He added that Pakistan remains deeply committed to the promotion and protection of human rights of all its citizens. The Government accords high priority to advancing the mutually reinforcing objectives of development, human rights and democracy for the people of Pakistan. Many international obligations have been undertaken by Pakistan besides a number of important domestic initiatives for the promotion and protection of human rights.
While we strive to achieve an ideal state of human rights, we are cognizant that all countries are confronted with challenges. International cooperation and constructive dialogue coupled with adherence to international conventions are the best ways of promoting the common objective of universal human rights. Countries that are not even party to some of the core human rights conventions have no standing to question others.
Pakistan is fully conscious of its international and national obligations with regard to promotion and protection of human rights, and the Government remains committed in its resolve to ensure fundamental rights, prosperity and well-being of all the people of Pakistan.
He added that as for your observation on references to the grave human rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir, the country Report on Indian HR record for 2016 is a big question mark on the credibility and fairness of such accounts. During the assessment year, extra-judicial killing of a Kashmiri young man, Burhan Muzaffar Wani, led to the resurrection of a widespread peaceful movement for self-determination, which the Indian occupation forces tried to suppress brutally. They martyred over 150 defenceless Kashmiris, use of pellet guns damaged eye-sights of several hundreds of Kashmiri youth, more than 20,000 are injured with many in critical condition, thousands have been arbitrarily arrested with no reports of their welfare, house raids during the night continue, Kashmiris constantly denied freedom to offer prayers and Kashmiri Leaders remain either detained or are under house arrest, continuously.
Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that our Mission in Addis Ababa, which is accredited to South Sudan, has informed that:
Ayaz Hussain Jamali was kidnapped from South Sudan Gummry Oil field area block no. 3/7.
He is an employee of China Petroleum Engineering Construction Corporation’s (CPECC) joint venture with South Sudan’s Dar Petroleum Operating Company (DPOC).
He was working in South Sudan Gummry oil field along with one local Sudanese operator and South Sudan army security personnel when the incident happened.
The South Sudan army security person was killed on spot and remaining 3 persons including Mr. Jamali, local FSF operator and local driver were kidnapped.
We have approached the Government of South Sudan and are pressing the matter.
Moreover, our Ambassador in Addis Ababa is in contact with Mr. Babar Jamali, the brother of Mr. Ayaz Jamali, who is also working in Sudan, on a daily basis.
Till now the government of South Sudan has not received any claims from any rebel group.
Let me assure you that Government of Pakistan is resolved to get the Pakistani freed from his kidnappers, and will leave no stone unturned in this regard.
Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that as to your third question, I have already responded to it.
On your second question regarding Prime Minister’s discretion, the matter that you are pointing to falls within the domain of Ministry of Interior, as they devise policies related to issuance of visas. You may refer your question to them.
On your first question, India’s relentless arms-buying spree is driven by its desire for regional hegemony and global power status. Pakistan has never wanted to engage in any kind of arms race. We have long maintained that the two countries need to devote their resources to their socio-economic development and must engage in a meaningful dialogue for mutual restraint measures and conflict resolution for lasting peace and stability in South Asia. The international community has a role to play in prodding India to positively respond to Pakistan’s proposal for a Strategic Restraint Regime in South Asia.
Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that the situation in IoK has increasingly aggravated since July 2016. The gross violation of the basic human rights of innocent Kashmiris by Indian occupation forces is deplorable. Pakistan has repeatedly urged the international community to call upon India to stop the bloodshed and ensure resolution of the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UNSC resolution. India also continues to indulge in the targeting of innocent Kashmiri civilians in AJK and heighten tension at the LOC, which threatens peace and stability in the region.
Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that with regard to your first question, Mr. Tillerson has expressed his apprehension and concern regarding ISIS’s efforts to recruit people, and has identified some countries. In the context of Pakistan, we have undertaken great efforts to eliminate terrorism from its roots in Pakistan and have made significant successes. This is manifested in Pakistan’s improving economic indicators and reduction in terrorist incidents in the country. Our efforts have been recognized by the world leadership, including that of United States. Many international leaders and experts have witnessed first-hand the successes achieved in Pakistan as a result of counter-terrorism operations. They have also recorded their sentiments and what they saw, in media columns. Various newspapers carried a number of articles in this regard. Pakistan draws no distinction between terrorist elements and will succeed in its endeavors to root out their menace from its soil. A number of economy- monitoring entities have also given their favourable assessments on Pakistan.
Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that there is no presence of ISIS in Pakistan. What Mr. Tillerson expressed his concern about was ISIS efforts to recruit people from different countries. The recruitment could be done from any country from amongst the vulnerable people. On our part, we are determined to thwart any such attempt by any terrorist organization.
Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that as to your second question, we have already responded to such queries in a very comprehensive manner. It is imperative to note that blame game only benefits those who do not want to see peace and stability in Afghanistan. It is too simplistic to pin blame on someone else. We have seen a number of independent reports in the recent past, which have identified factors responsible for instability in that country. The factors identified remain internal to Afghanistan.
Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that you asked about the way forward. I have already referred to this in my response. When Adviser Sartaj Aziz met Afghan NSA on the occasion afforded by the CMAG meeting in UK recently, both sides understood the need to engage constructively and tackle issues of mutual concern, particularly that of cross-border terrorism, and agreed on the need to mutually cooperate in countering the menace of terrorism. An institutionalized mechanism will be instrumental in this fruitful cooperation.
Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that we do not comment on the internal matters of any country. However, the treatment of minorities and the systemic violations of human rights in India especially Muslims, Dalits and Christians is a matter of serious concern, which has also been raised by various human rights organizations and governments all over the world. We hope effective measures are taken to curtail this worrying trend.
Foreign Office spokesman said in response to a question that I need to get more information regarding this specific issue. The principled position in this regard is that Pakistan Missions abroad always protect Pakistan’s national interest and that of our citizens. Individual countries have their own visa regimes that we don’t call into question raising the issue unless they are discriminatory in nature. Let me check the specific details in this regard, and then would be able to respond.