Pakistan reaffirms support to the Kashmiri people in their legitimate struggle: FO

Pakistan expresses commitment to reinvigorate relations with major partners

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Islamabad: We are having this briefing after a gap during which a peaceful, democratic political transition has taken place in accordance with the Constitution of Pakistan. Having been elected by the National Assembly, Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has assumed Office as the 23rd Prime Minister of Pakistan on 11 April.

The Prime Minister has received messages of felicitation from leaders of a large number of countries, including Turkey, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Germany, UAE, Iran, Bahrain, United Kingdom, India, Malaysia, Jordan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and others. The Prime Minster also received a felicitation call from President of the European Union Ursula von der Leyen.

In his inaugural address, the Prime Minister laid particular emphasis on stabilizing the economy, and noted the positive trend in economic indicators in the wake of his assumption of Office.

Highlighting the foreign policy priorities of the new Government, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed commitment to reinvigorate relations with major partners. He underscored determination to speed up CPEC projects, terming China as Pakistan’s most reliable friend. The Prime Minister thanked the Saudi leadership for always standing by Pakistan, and appreciated Turkey’s steadfast support on Kashmir. He underscored the special importance attached to Pakistan’s ties with UAE and other Gulf countries, Iran, European Union, and the UK. He stated that Pakistan’s relations with the US should be on the basis of equality. On Afghanistan, the Prime Minister stressed the imperative of peace and increased humanitarian assistance. He reiterated Pakistan’s consistent support for the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

While noting the desire for good relations with India, the Prime Minister underlined that durable peace cannot be achieved without a just resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. He reaffirmed Pakistan’s support to the Kashmiri people in their legitimate struggle and the commitment to raise the Kashmir issue at all forums. Prime Minister Sharif counseled the Indian Prime Minister to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UNSC resolutions and wishes of the Kashmiri people. This, he said, would enable the two countries to focus on the development challenges.

As guided by the Prime Minister, Pakistan will continue to proactively advance our diplomacy and partnerships in all bilateral and multilateral domains to effectively safeguard our national interests and play our role in promoting peace and development in the region and beyond.

Let me inform here that the Prime Minister, accompanied by a high level delegation, will be undertaking an official visit to Saudi Arabia later during the week. More details will be shared subsequently. The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar has assumed charge from 19 April 2022.

On 20th April, US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar called on the MOS. Importance of Pak-US relations, developments in Afghanistan and deteriorating human rights situation in IIOJK came under discussion.

The Congresswoman was on a 4-day visit to Pakistan. During her visit, the US Congresswoman held meetings in Islamabad with the President, Prime Minister and Speaker of the National Assembly. She also visited AJK where she met the President AJK. She also visited Lahore where she undertook a visit to the walled city. She expressed her gratitude for the hospitality extended to her during the visit. She also hoped that her visit will further solidify Pak-US bilateral ties.” She offered to forcefully raise the Kashmir issue in the Congress.

Minister of State Hina Rabbani Khar received calls from Emirati Foreign Minister HH Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Bahraini FM HE Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani and Turkish FM Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. The Minister of State thanked them for felicitation calls and for their historic and consistent support to Pakistan. Issues of common interest came under discussion. The Ministers agreed to work closely to strengthen fraternal bilateral relations.

On 23 April, British High Commissioner Christian Turner called on the MOS and congratulated her on assuming office. Besides bilateral relations, evolving geopolitical situation & ways to mitigate humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan were discussed.

Minister of State Hina Rabbani Khar also held an interaction with the officers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood on behalf of all officers accorded a warm welcome to the MOS. The MOS expressed her full confidence in their professional conduct and motivated them to continue working with professional ethos.

You would have seen our statement containing strong condemnation of the recent abhorrent act of desecration of the Holy Quran during rallies in Sweden, and the offensive remarks made by a Dutch politician, attacking Islam and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Pakistan’s concerns have also been conveyed to the authorities in Sweden and The Netherlands.

We call on the international community to come together to counter Islamophobia and to demonstrate solidarity and commitment to the ideals of building peaceful and harmonious societies.

On the eve of Baisakhi celebrations, the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi issued over 2200 visas to Sikh pilgrims from India to participate in the annual festival held in Pakistan from 12-21 April 2022. The visas issued from New Delhi were in addition to the visas granted to Sikh pilgrims participating in these events from other countries.

The pilgrims visited revered sites like Panja Sahib, Nankana Sahib and Kartarpur Sahib. Pakistan takes immense pride in preserving sacred religious places and providing necessary facilitation to the visitors. Marking the occasion, the Prime Minister accorded a warm welcome to the Sikh pilgrims and a spiritually fulfilling yatra.

Pakistan has welcomed the establishment of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council, upon the successful conclusion of the GCC hosted intra-Yemeni dialogue in Riyadh, and the UN Special Envoy’s announcement of a truce in Yemen. Pakistan considers this an important step in the right direction that will help promote comprehensive political solution to the Yemeni crisis.

Pakistan expresses deep concern over the recent spate of terrorist attacks in various parts of Afghanistan over the last few days. The heinous attacks include bomb blasts at mosques in Mazar-e-Sharif and IED blasts in Kabul, Jalalabad, Kunduz and other places. The Government and the people of Pakistan extend deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of those who have lost lives in these terrorist attacks and pray for speedy recovery of those injured. The people of Pakistan stand in strong solidarity with their Afghan brethren in this time of grief.

The situation in the occupied Palestinian territories is of grave concern. Pakistan strongly condemns the raid on Al-Aqsa Mosque and the assault on worshippers, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. This is an egregious violation of all humanitarian norms and human rights laws. In recent weeks, Israeli forces have killed dozens and injured countless Palestinians in the occupied East Jerusalem and other areas. We pray for the earliest recovery of those injured. Pakistan also calls upon the international community to take urgent steps to protect innocent Palestinian lives, and uphold international law and principles of the UN Charter. The Extra-ordinary Meeting of the OIC Executive Committee is being held in Jeddah today to discuss the ongoing Israeli aggression. Pakistan is participating in the meeting as current chair of OIC-CFM. From one situation of occupation to another, we are also keeping a close watch on the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. You have seen our statement rejecting Indian Prime Minister’s staged visit to IIOJK on 24 April that was yet another ploy to project fake ‘normalcy’ in the occupied territory.

Since 5 August 2019, the international community has witnessed many such desperate attempts by India to divert attention from the actual underlying issues in IIOJK including Indian state-sponsored terrorism as well as widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. It is not surprising, therefore, that while the Indian Prime Minister was on his brief visit to Jammu under a heavy security cover, the people of IIOJK were observing a ‘black day’ as an expression of their rejection of India’s mischief and illegal policies.  You have also seen protests and demonstrations in AJK and other places. Pakistan has also strongly condemned the laying of foundation stones for the construction of the Rattle and Kwar Hydroelectric Projects (HEP) on Chenab River in IIOJK, and has called upon India to fulfill its obligations under the Indus Waters Treaty and refrain from taking any such steps which are detrimental to the IWT framework. Pakistan will continue to extend all possible support to the Kashmiris in their just struggle for the right to self-determination as pledged to them by the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Pakistan salutes the Kashmiris as they remain undaunted in their determination to stand against India’s oppressive occupation. Extra-judicial killings continue unabated in IIOJK. During last week, in staged cordon and search operations, seven (7) more Kashmiri youth embraced martyrdom in Shopian and Baramullah districts. Regretfully, 3 more innocent Kashmiri lives have been taken in Pulwama just yesterday. For the international community, it is extremely alarming that more than 580 innocent Kashmiris have been martyred by the Indian occupation forces since August 2019.

This streak of armed Hindutva majoritarianism is also spreading fast inside India, particularly during the Holy month of Ramadan. Pakistan calls upon the international community to take immediate notice of the worrying level of Islamophobia in India and impress upon India to prevent systematic human rights violations against minorities particularly Muslims.

Pakistan also categorically rejects the malicious Indian propaganda regarding the alleged use of the Kartarpur Corridor for business meetings. It is obvious that this concoction is part of India’s deliberate smear campaign seeking to undermine Pakistan’s historic initiative of opening the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor for Sikh pilgrims from India and around the world.

In conclusion, let me note that in keeping with Pakistan’s robust and proactive engagement at the multilateral fora, Pakistan has been re-elected earlier during the month to the United Nations’ Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) for the 7th time in New York.

I thank you and am ready to take questions on these or other foreign policy matters.

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