Friday, 6 February 2015

Press Briefing on Kashmir & Stranded Pakistanis in Iraq

Record of the Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 6 February 2015


News Edited By:          KANWAL ABIDI
                    *Journalist & Political Analyst
                     Online Editor of 063 News

Opening Remarks

BY: Tasneem Aslam - Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

I was asked yesterday about a group of Pakistani Zaireen stranded in Iraq. We have checked with our Mission. There are around 300 Pakistani Zaireen/visitors who went to Baghdad to participate in annual Urs of Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani and are stranded due to suspension of Etihad Airlines, Emirates Airlines, Air Dubai, Air Jordan and other airlines. Most of these Pakistanis were passengers of Etihad Airline. Qatar Airways and Turkish Airline, however, are operating their flights to Baghdad.

These Pakistanis are currently staying at a complex of the shrine and are being provided reasonable accommodation and food.

Community Welfare Attache (CWA) of our Mission in Baghdad Aamir Rehman, visited these Pakistanis on 3 February 2015 and addressed most of their immediate needs. He, along with group leaders, visited Etihad Airline’s office in Baghdad to discuss their early return to Pakistan. The airline management assured that these people would be sent back to Pakistan on priority basis.

The Ministry has directed Pakistan Mission in the UAE to liaise with Etihad Airline authorities in Abu Dhabi for operating a bigger aircraft so that these stranded Pakistanis could be accommodated in one flight.

The floor is now open for Questions

Question:

 Kashmir dispute is still ongoing but no ultimate solution is seeing in near future. Do you think that the time has come for Pakistan to change its policy on Kashmir to pressurize international community to implement UN resolution on Kashmir?(Awais Kiani_World TV)

Yesterday Pakistani nation expressed its solidarity with Kashmiris; the Indian External Affairs Ministry Spokesman said many things for example he said that Pakistan is involved in a futile quest for territorial aggrandizement, coveting for something it will never get and in the process self-destructing.  Your response on his statement please. (Shaukat Paracha_Aaj TV)

Answer:

Jammu and Kashmir is an issue of right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people, enshrined in numerous UN resolutions. India continues to usurp this right with impunity, in violation of the UN Security Council Resolutions and the UN Charter.

Unlike India, Pakistan’s position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions and underpinned by moral and political principles.

Pakistan commemorates Kashmir Solidarity Day on 5 February every year since 1990, to express its unwavering political, moral and diplomatic support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

The reality is that it is India not Pakistan, which, with its illusions of grandeur, is obsessed with aggrandizement. In its efforts to write a mythical history, India has forgotten the acknowledgement and commitments by its first Prime Minister on Jammu and Kashmir dispute. I would like to remind them of these commitments:

On 27 October 1947, in a message to the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and UK, Mr. Nehru said and I quote  “I should like to make it clear that the question of aiding Kashmir in this emergency is not designed in any way to influence the State to accede to India. Our view which we have repeatedly made public is that the question of accession in any disputed territory or state must be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people and we adhere to the view.”


On 2 November 1947, in a broadcast to his nation on the All India Radio, the Indian Prime Minister said and I quote “We have decided that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. The pledge we have given and the Maharaja has supported not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world. We will not and cannot back out of it. We are prepared when peace and law and order have been established to have a referendum held under international auspices like the UN. We want it to be a fair and just reference to the people and we shall accept their verdict”.  

Again on August 1, 1952, the Indian Prime Minister stated in the Indian Parliament

“I should like to say that the ultimate decision will be made in the minds and hearts of the men of Kashmir and not in this Parliament or in the UN…. First of all, let me say clearly that we accept the basic proposition that the future of Kashmir is going to be decided finally by the goodwill and pleasure of its people. The goodwill and the pleasure of this Parliament is of no importance in this matter, not because this Parliament does not have the strength to decide the question of Kashmir but because any kind of imposition would be against the principle that this Parliament holds…..If, however, the people of Kashmir do not wish to remain with us, let them go by all means; we will not keep them against their will, however, painful it may be to us. We want no forced marriages, no forced unions”.

I may add here that the elections in Indian Occupied Kashmir that India holds under the shadow of gun are not a substitute for exercise of the right to self determination. This has been made amply clear by the United Nations as well. And we see that Kashmiris have, by sacrificing their youth and lives of more than 100 thousands, over the decades, have made it clear that they do not accept this forced union.


Question:

 There are reports that Chinese Foreign Minister would be visiting Pakistan in this month. Is this so? Would you like to tell us when he will be visiting and what would be purpose of his visit?  (Mateen Haider_Dawn News)

                                  
Answer:

Yes, the Chinese Foreign Minister is likely to visit Pakistan. The exact dates would be announced once firmed up. The detailed agenda of the Chinese Foreign Minister’s visit to Pakistan is still being worked out. The two sides will cover the entire spectrum of bilateral relations and will discuss regional issues of common interest as per our tradition and practice.

Question:

Some Afghan officials are concerned at what being termed as massive crackdown on Afghan refugees both registered and unregistered in the aftermath of the Peshawar School Attack.  The concern is that they are not linked in any way to the attack and this may impact on bilateral relationship with Afghanistan. Why it is happening? (Ayesha Tanzeem _Voice of America)

Answer:

You are aware that there are 1.6 million registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan. We have a trilateral agreement with Afghan Government and the UNHCR that Afghan refugees would return to Afghanistan by December 2015. We are already in February in 2015. We would like to see the UNHCR work with the Afghan Government to create a pull factor for Afghan refugees to go back. We have been encouraged by President Ghani’s statement that he attaches the highest priority to the return of Afghan refugees and we hope that the ground is being prepared for their early return.

 Apart from 1.6 million Afghan registered refugees, there is an estimated equal number of Afghans who have not registered as refugees. As they are not registered as refugees, it means that they are illegal aliens in Pakistan. Their situation makes them vulnerable to exploitation by terrorists who may find hideouts in their midst.  Naturally we discuss these matters with the Afghan Government and we do not think that this issue is going to create any friction with the Afghan Government.

Question:

As you told that Chinese Foreign Minister is likely to visit Pakistan. There are also reports that Chinese President could attend 23rd March parade in Pakistan. Can you confirm please? (Riaz Burki _PTV) 

 Answer:

 These are speculative reports. We have repeatedly said that the Chinese President is expected to visit Pakistan in 2015. The exact dates of the visit are being worked out. Once we have the confirmed dates, we will make an announcement as is the standard practice, in Islamabad and Beijing simultaneously. 

Question:

Bangladesh has expelled a Pakistani diplomat, whether Pakistan is also going to expel any Bangladeshi diplomat in its reaction? (Fida Hussain -Radion FM 99)

Answer:

Yes, we have already confirmed that an official who had already completed his term and was asked to leave Bangladesh. He has arrived back in Pakistan. We have already said that in our view this is an unfortunate development.

Question:

I understand that there is an agreement that Afghan refugees have to leave by the end of 2015. But UNCHR has expressed concerns about what they call harassment by police, arrests of children and women. (Ayesha Tanzeem-VOA)

Answer:

Well, that is not factually correct. Afghans are our brothers and sisters. They have lived over here for more than three decades. We would like to see them return to their country with dignity and on voluntarily basis. I am sure that you are aware that Pakistan has been carrying the disproportionate burden of looking after these refugees. We would like to hold UNHCR to its responsibility to look after the refugees.  We expect the UNHCR, along with the Afghan Government, to create the conditions and the pull factor in Afghanistan for their return. We are engaged with the Afghan Government. We are closely working together.

Question:

This is a follow up of Pakistan’s reaction to India’s efforts to get a permanent seat in the United Nation Security Council. We have seen the Foreign Office reaction. My question is that what diplomatic measures Pakistan is engaged to block India’s efforts to reach into the Security Council? As Pakistan has already expressed concerns, would you like to update us on this issue? (Mateen Haider- Dawn News)

Answer:

Our position on the Security Council reforms is not specifically linked to India. It is based on principles. The issue of Security Council Reform is of vital national importance for all the United Nations Member States. It is in the interest of everyone that premier organ of the United Nations, responsible for maintenance of international peace and security is more democratic, effective and credible through a comprehensive reform of the Security Council.
 Pakistan, as part of a large grouping in the UN known as Uniting for Consensus, advocates an effective and feasible reform of the Security Council based on consensus among the UN membership, reforms of its working methods, greater transparency and better representation of all members, not just creation of more power centers.  A reformed Security Council should reflect interests of the wider UN membership. In our view, the idea of new permanent members creates new centers of power and privileges.
Question:

A batch of Afghan cadets has arrived in Pakistan. How Pakistan sees this development in the context of bilateral ties? (Ishtiaq Ahmed-VOA)

Answer:

It is a very positive development. This is one more manifestation of the very constructive and expanding engagement between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Following the visit of President Ashraf Ghani, the two countries agreed on a number of steps to enhance our cooperation, enhance people to people contacts, expand economic ties, and increase political engagement which has been in place since then. We have also seen greater cooperation and understanding between security agencies.

Question:

In the last few days Pakistan has arrested few terrorists which have links with ISIS, whether Pakistan is in contact with those countries from where these terrorists come or with those countries where these organizations are based? (Faisal Ramzan- Almasyra Tv- Yaman)

Answer:

This question should be addressed to the Ministry of Interior. We have many mechanisms through which we cooperate with other countries, including intelligence sharing. About the specific cases you mentioned and details of those arrested, their nationality etc, you may like to ask the Ministry of Interior. 
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