Pakistan has strongly condemned use of force by Israeli authorities against the civilian in Gaza; Mumtaz Zahra

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Transcript of the Weekly Media Briefing by Spokesperson
Thursday 12 October 2023

[This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated]

Assalam-o-Alaikum & Good Morning,

Thanks for joining us for the Weekly Briefing.

Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani participated in the 27th Meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) on 9-10 October 2023. The meeting, which was chaired by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Jeyhun Bayramov, focused on the theme of “Green Transition and Interconnectivity”.

In his statement, the Foreign Minister reiterated Pakistan’s steadfast support for ECO’s mission of fostering economic growth and regional prosperity. He emphasized the vital role of integrated regional cooperation among member states in areas such as trade, investment, tourism, and infrastructure development. Foreign Minister also highlighted the untapped economic potential of the region and called for increased cooperation in alignment with ECO Vision 2025. He highlighted the urgency of resolving the long-standing Jammu and Kashmir dispute for peace and economic prosperity of the entire region.

On the sidelines, Foreign Minister Jilani held bilateral meetings with Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan, Türkiye and Uzbekistan. He also met with the Secretary-General of ECO, Khusrav Noziri. The focus of these meetings was to further expand trade and connectivity in the ECO region.

Assistant Secretary General (Political) and the Special Envoy for Jammu and Kashmir of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Yousef Aldobeay, is on an official visit to Pakistan. Yesterday he called on Foreign Secretary Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi and held detailed discussions with Additional Foreign Secretary (United Nations) Ambassador Syed Haider Shah. He also met with the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs. Today he will call on the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of Pakistan. He will also be undertaking a visit to Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

This visit is in line with the March 2022 Action Plan adopted by the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir which accorded a mandate to the Special Envoy on Jammu and Kashmir to “organize annual visits to the region to obtain first-hand information about the situation on ground, and report upon his observations to the Council of Foreign Ministers”.

Meanwhile, in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the curbs on the genuine voices of the Kashmiri people remain persistent. On 5th of October 2023, the Indian occupation authorities banned the Jammu & Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP) for a period of five years. The JKDFP is the fourth Kashmiri party banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) after the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front, ‘Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir’, and ‘Dukhtaraan-e-Millat.’ The party is led by Mr. Shabir Shah, who remains imprisoned since 2017. Mr. Shah has spent more than half of his 70-year-life under detention.

India should immediately reverse restrictive measures against political parties in IIOJK and release all political prisoners; so that the Kashmiri people can exercise their inalienable right to self-determination in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions.

Pakistan strongly condemns the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force by Israeli authorities against civilian population in Gaza and calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

We are deeply concerned about the fast-deteriorating and dire humanitarian situation in Gaza due to the inhumane blockade and collective punishment by Israeli forces. The decision to cut off electricity, fuel and water supplies is unjust and should be reversed, as it would severely impact the lives of the Palestinians residing in the enclave.

Israel must also bring an immediate end to its campaign of indiscriminate bombing against the people of Gaza. It should fulfill its obligations as an occupying power under international law, lift the blockade and allow unhindered access to humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people.

The current cycle of aggression and violence is a sad reminder and a direct consequence of over seven decades of illegal foreign occupation, aggression, and disrespect for international law, including UNSC resolutions that recognize the inalienable right to self-determination of the Palestinian people. Pakistan has been constantly warning against serious consequences of Israel’s escalatory and provocative actions in recent months.

The unprecedented gravity of the situation demands urgent intervention by the international community. We urge the United Nations to play a proactive role in facilitating a ceasefire to alleviate the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza. The international community must work in concert for a just, comprehensive and lasting two-state solution with a viable, sovereign and contiguous State of Palestine on the basis of pre-1967 borders, with Al Quds Al-Sharif as its capital. Peace in the Middle East will remain elusive in the absence of such a solution.

I have an announcement to make.

At the invitation of President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar will undertake a visit to China to participate in the ‘Third Belt and Road Forum (BRF) for International Cooperation’, being held in Beijing from 17-18 October 2023.

The Prime Minister will attend the Opening Ceremony of the BRF and address the High-Level Forum entitled ‘Connectivity in an Open Global Economy’ to be held on 18 October 2023. He will hold bilateral meetings with President Xi Jinping and senior Chinese leaders and with a number of leaders attending the Forum.

While in China, the Prime Minister will also meet with leading Chinese entrepreneurs to expand bilateral trade and investment. He will also visit Urumqi, Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China to meet with local leaders and businesspersons, aiming to enhance trade, investment and people-to-people relations.

The visit of the Prime Minister comes in the backdrop of the ongoing celebrations marking the ten years of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. In his engagements, the Prime Minister will highlight the key achievements and the future priorities of CPEC, and reaffirm Pakistan’s strong commitment to jointly promote its high-quality development.

I thank you!


Question: So, you already spoke about the Gaza situation and its condemnation by Pakistan. OIC Secretary General also issued a statement and there was also a statement by the United Nations human rights body. Despite all these condemnations, Israeli bombardment of Gaza is continuing, followed by the complete blockade of Gaza by cutting off water, electricity and all other food supplies. What is the strategy beyond condemnation in the Muslim world? Is there any consultation at the highest level among some of the mainstream Muslim states about some practical strategy to end the blockade and prevent Israel from bombing the civilians? (Mateen Haider, GNN)

Answer: As I said in my opening remarks, Pakistan has called on the international community to work together to respond to this situation by facilitating a ceasefire to alleviate the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza. We have also urged that the inhumane blockade and collective punishment against the people of Palestine must end. Israel must also bring an end to its campaign of indiscriminate bombing against the people of Gaza. In this context, Pakistan has been in contact with other members of the OIC. These consultations are taking place at the OIC Headquarters in Jeddah where the participating countries are discussing various options for an international demand to end the hostilities. We have also noted the meeting which has been held by the Arab League, and we hope that the demands made by the Arab League are heeded to by the Israeli authorities.

Question: The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, India has leveled a threat against Pakistan’s Sindh province whereas there are already many ongoing movements of independence in India including Khalistan. Would you like to comment on this? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal, Media Today)

Answer: You may have seen a statement, which was issued by this office about the unacceptable remarks, made by the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, India. We have strongly condemned these remarks. We consider them irresponsible and believe that these remarks are inspired by the vision of Akhand Bharat that manifests a revisionist and expansionist mindset of the ruling regime in India. It is a mindset that seeks to subjugate the identity and culture of minorities in India and India’s neighbouring countries.

Question: When Prime Minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar went to the United Nations, he was asked a question during a press conference on 22nd September in New York. It was about a resolution presented by congresswoman Sheila Jackson in the American congress on 23rd March 2021. This resolution, based on alleged events from 1971, baselessly claimed that Pakistan Army had participated in a massacre. According to the Foreign Minister, to his knowledge, there was no such resolution. However, I have obtained a copy of that resolution. Can you comment?
Regarding the Israel-Palestine crisis, there are reports of collateral damage, and more than 23 lakh people have reached the border of Egypt. Egypt has subsequently closed its borders. Does Pakistan condemn this collateral damage? Furthermore, how can Pakistan contribute to improving these circumstances? (Mazhar Iqbal, PNN News)

Answer: Regarding your first question, I would like to share with you that a proposal made in any parliament, including the US Congress, only moves forward after a series of legislative steps have been taken. Any proposal which may have been made by any individual congressman or congresswoman also expires at the end of the term of the Congress. I would advise you to discuss further with the US authorities for details on their legislative process.

Regarding the question on collateral damage and on civilian casualties in occupied Palestinian territories. Pakistan has strongly condemned the cycle of aggression and the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force by Israeli authorities against the civilian population in Gaza. We have called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and an immediate lifting of the blockade, which we believe is inhumane, so that there is unhindered access of humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people.

Question: Can you please comment on the issue of Zainab Abbas, who went to India from Pakistan to cover the World Cup and was forced by Indian authorities to leave the country?
Secondly, Pakistan’s Cricket Team is also facing security issues in India. The Chairman of PCB also discussed security risk issues. Yesterday, the standing committee of the Senate for Foreign Affairs passed a resolution of condemnation and demanded that the Pakistan Cricket Team should be called back to Pakistan immediately. How do you comment? (Ghazala Noreen, Suno Tv)

Supplementary Question: There is a match between Pakistan and India on Saturday, and as Ms. Ghazala said, the PCB Chairman met the Foreign Secretary, and the Indian High Commission has also contacted some journalists. Has the issue of the non-issuance of visas been taken up? Or is it in your notice that Pakistani journalists and spectators have been issued visas? (Naveed Siddiqui, Dateline Islamabad)

Answer: As I have said in the past. We believe that India as the host of the World Cup has the responsibility to provide seamless security for Pakistan’s cricket team and our officials who are in India for the World Cup. We also believe that it is their responsibility to offer a conducive environment for all cricketing teams including the Pakistan cricket team and other individuals who are visiting India in connection with this tournament. Regrettably, Pakistani sports presenter Ms. Zainab was intimidated through the registration of an FIR against her on the basis of some attributed tweets made several years ago. Such developments reflect the growing level of intolerance in Indian society and set a wrong precedent in the ICC sports tournaments. With regards to visas, Pakistan has remained in contact with the Indian authorities and we have impressed on them to issue visas to all Pakistani journalists who have been accredited by the ICC and to Pakistani spectators who are in possession of valid tickets for these cricket matches. We hope that India will fulfil its responsibilities as the host nation.

Question: In the past, Pakistan has consistently supported the Palestinian cause. However, the current situation is exceptionally critical, given the ongoing crisis between Gaza and Israel following the Hamas attack. Can you confirm if Pakistan is actively addressing this matter at the OIC level? Additionally, are there any initiatives to convene an extraordinary meeting of the OIC specifically to discuss this issue? Could you please provide further details? (Muhammad Jaleel, VOA Urdu)

Answer: Pakistan, as you said has always remained a strong proponent and advocate of the Palestinian cause. We have highlighted the atrocities that continue to take place in the occupied territories. Yesterday, the Federal Cabinet issued a strong statement outlining our position. Pakistan’s Permanent Mission to the OIC in Jeddah is in consultation with other member countries of the OIC and discussions are ongoing with respect to a special meeting of the OIC with regards to the current situation in occupied Palestinian territories.

Question: The trial of the Cypher case is scheduled for next week, and it reportedly involves some former Foreign Secretaries. Will officers from the Foreign Office be participating in the court proceedings? (Khalid Mehmood, Express News TV)

Answer: Firstly, it’s our policy not to comment on cases that are currently sub-judice. Secondly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has consistently cooperated with inquiries pertaining to national security issues.

Question: Yesterday, we saw a series of tweets from the Afghan Taliban Spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid on the aid that has been sent from different countries with regards to the earthquake. Has Pakistan sent anything, because there were reports that a couple of visas were denied to Pakistani authorities? Would you want to comment on that?
Second question, with regards to the return of Afghan illegal aliens, can you give us a stipulated timeline on the progress with regards to what happens after the first of November, especially to those who do not wish to return?
Third question, we’ve seen that over a series of weeks, some assassinations have taken place in Afghanistan with regards to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. As a state policy, are they orchestrated by the Pakistani state or are they really happening on their own due to internal fighting as it’s being depicted? Would you want to comment on that? (Anas Mallick, Capital TV)

Answer: First question regarding the earthquake in Afghanistan, Pakistan expresses deep sympathy with its Afghan brothers and sisters, as they face a very difficult situation following the earthquake that took place a few days ago. Pakistan also stands in solidarity with its Afghan brothers and sisters and remain in contact with the Interim Afghan Government to meet any needs that they may have during the relief and recovery efforts.

With regards to the timeline and what happens on the first of November, I think you asked this question last time as well. Government of Pakistan has announced that there is a grace period until the first of November for individuals who are currently staying illegally in Pakistan, whether they are overstaying their visas, or they process no documentation. They have been asked to voluntarily leave for their home country before the first of November. As we have said in the past, this requirement pertains to all nationalities and is not specific to any nationality. Furthermore, after the first of November, the Government of Pakistan has announced that we will take measures in implementation of own laws with regards to the violation of Pakistan’s immigration laws. There are different prescriptions within these laws including deportation. This process will be completed in a phased and orderly manner.
With respect to your third question, we have also seen such reports. Any actions that may have been taken or are being taken by the Afghan authorities against the terror groups that threaten Pakistan are welcomed.

Question: There are so many people of different countries who came with business visas but they are involved in missionary activities in Pakistan. What is your policy about these people? (Mazhar Iqbal, PNN News)

Answer: Policy of Pakistan with respect to treatment of foreigners is in conformity our laws. Those who come here on valid visas and continue to live here peacefully and undertake activities according to their visa applications will continue to be welcomed so long as they follow Pakistani laws. Anyone who’s in violation of Pakistani laws and violation of our immigration laws, including falsifying visa application documents, will be dealt with according to the law of the land.

Question:​ Would you like to say something on the western world’s double standard vis-a-vis Israeli aggression on innocent Palestinian people? Almost all of western world is standing behind Israel. On the other hand, we heard in the past that there is a military alliance of 41 Muslim countries; does that alliance even exist? Secondly, the British Government has outlawed waving of the Palestinian flag. What are your comments on this? (Ali Hussain, Business Recorder)

Answer: First of all, I would like to speak about how Pakistan sees the situation in the Middle East and how we are playing our role in the context of OIC. Pakistan has joined the international community in calling for upholding international law, which assigns special responsibilities to occupying authorities vis-a-vis the occupied territories. We believe that resolutions of the United Nations and the provisions of international law must be upheld. Several Resolutions on the Palestine question have been adopted by the United Nations and we hope therefore that all members of the international community will uphold these resolutions and support supremacy of international law, including international humanitarian law. With regards to your second question and any decision which may have been taken by the UK, I need more details before I am able to comment on it.

Question: Much has been talked about the Palestinian crisis but my question is why there is a wide gap between the aspirations of the people of Pakistan and the policy adopted by the Government of Pakistan? Secondly, who will be representing Pakistan in the OIC ministerial meeting next week, which has been convened by Saudi Arabia in Jeddah? Thirdly, much is being talked about the repatriation of illegal Afghans. Why suddenly after 40 years did we realize that millions are staying in Pakistan in violation of visas and other laws? Is it a bargain or a pressure on the Afghan Taliban to seek concessions on certain issues? (Shaukat Piracha, AAJ News)

Answer: Regarding your last question, Pakistan’s position on the repatriation of illegal foreigners is not specific to any nationality. The decision has been taken in view of Pakistan’s own interests to curb the terrorist elements, which often have links with illegal foreigners who are also sometimes involved in smuggling and other illegal activities. Secondly, Pakistan’s position on the situation in the Middle East has been very clear and consistent. Yesterday, the cabinet of Pakistan issued a strong statement of condemnation of Israeli actions, its concerns about the situation in Gaza and the concerns that people of Pakistan have for their Palestinian brothers and sisters. We remain in contact with our partners in OIC in this regard. Pakistan has always maintained that the only solution to the situation in the Middle East is a two-state solution and creation of a viable, sovereign and contiguous state of Palestine established on the basis of pre-1967 borders, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital. We believe that this policy is in alignment with the wishes of the people of Pakistan.

Question: The Prime Minister is visiting China and attending BRF. Are there any chances of signing big projects concerning CPEC? Secondly, regarding Afghanistan, the Ministry of SAFRON has issued a notification in which all the Chief Secretaries, Home Secretaries and the Commissioner of Islamabad have been asked not to harass the people residing legally in Pakistan. Have such cases been reported? (Muhammad Awais, INP)

Answer: On your second question you may like to seek details from the Ministry of SAFRON. Pakistan has said that this policy will not apply to those who are here legally and individuals who possess legal documents for their status as refugees. With regards to the visit of the Prime Minister to China, the Prime Minister is visiting China in the context of a multilateral conference, the Belt and Road Forum, where a large number of international leaders will be participating. This is not a bilateral visit. In Prime Minister’s meetings including with the leadership of China, important bilateral projects will be discussed.