The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has agreed to release 572 of Pakistani prisoners, as the Foreign Office reports. Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal, speaking at the weekly briefing said Pakistan’s mission in Dubai is in touch with the UAE government and is making every possible effort to speed up the process of their freedom.
He added that 50 Pakistanis have been deported from the United States (US) a day earlier through a chartered flight. Dr Faisal said Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will go for a two-day visit to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan from 21st of this month to participate in the SCO meeting of Council of Foreign Ministers.
Prime Minister Imran Khan is also expected to attend the SCO Heads of State Meeting being held on 13th and 14th of next month in Bishkek. Commenting on the return of Afghan refugees, the spokesperson added that the repatriation pace ha slowed down due to multiple reasons and they are making every effort to make the returning process dignified and voluntary.
Office of the Spokesperson
Transcript of the Weekly Press Briefing by Spokesperson on 16th May 2019
Bismillah Ir Rehman Nir Rahim,
Firstly, let me give a brief round-up of the activities on the foreign policy front.
In the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, Indian occupation forces in their fresh acts of state terrorism today, martyred 5 youth in Pulwama and Baramula districts during so-called Cordon and Search Operations. Of those martyred, four have been identified as Naseer, Umar Mir, Khalid Ahmad, Rayees Ahmad Dar.
Another 23-year-old Arshad Ahmad Dar, who was injured in Indian occupation Forces’ violent actions on 13 May at Chanabal area of Pattan in Baramula district, succumbed to his bullet and pellet injuries at Soura Medical Institute of Sciences in Srinagar.
The Indian authorities suspended internet services in Srinagar, Pulwama, Budgam, Sopore, Pattan and other areas and also cancelled all classes in colleges and schools in the Indian occupied Kashmir valley for the second day, today, to prevent anti-India protests.
Earlier, three Kashmiris including a 21-year -old graduate student Adil Bashir Wani, Javid Ahmad Bhat and Ishfaq Ahmad Sofi embraced Shahadat in Shopian district of the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir during so-called search and cordon operations conducted by the Indian occupation forces.
We strongly condemn the horrific and inhuman act of rape of a 3-year-old girl in north Kashmir’s Sumbal area of Bandipora district and a 16-year-old girl in Ganderbal district.
The Indian occupied Jammu & Kashmir, now under Presidential rule, has been turned into a military camp where people are under siege in this most militarized zone of the world, facing occupation, political injustice, harassment, brutalities and barbarism.
India should stop misleading the international community and accept the ground realities and aspirations of the people of Jammu & Kashmir, instead of continuing with its policy of obduracy in the territory.
We again express serious concern over the continued illegal detention under draconian laws, of senior Hurriyat leaders and demand their immediate release as well as the immediate release of all Kashmiri political detainees languishing in jails of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir and jails in India.
India attempts to crush the legitimate struggle for self-determination of the Kashmiris through draconian laws and military offensive are condemnable.
Subsequent to the order of the President of the UAE to pardon 3005 prisoners, serving sentences in different jails of the UAE under various categories, the Government of the UAE has decided to release 572 Pakistani prisoners.
In order to expedite their release and deportation to Pakistan, our Mission is constantly in touch with the local authorities and is extending all necessary assistance, including the issuance of outpasses/passports and air tickets, where required.
At present, the Mission is waiting for the details of Pakistani prisoners to be released under the facility, from the local authorities. The Emirates-wise, numbers of Pakistani prisoners to be released, is as follows:
Abu Dhabi / Al Ain – 262
Dubai – 177
Sharjah – 52
Ajman – 65
Fujairah – 16
Total – 572
Moving forward, Pakistan strongly condemns the drone attacks on oil pumping stations in Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
Pakistan expresses its solidarity with Saudi Arabia and reiterates its full support against any threat to the stability and security of the Kingdom.
Pakistan condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and reaffirms its commitment for continued efforts and cooperation with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the International community for its elimination.
Now the floor is open for questions:
Question: The NATO Forces led by the US attacked Afghanistan and then decided to stay on in the region. Do you think the recent possible aggression against Iran will have similar results? (Mr. Zahid Farooq Malik – Daily Metro Watch)
Answer: Recent developments in the Persian Gulf region are disturbing. US decision to deploy aircraft carrier and bombers has added to the tensions and the existing precarious security situation in Middle East. We expect all sides to show restraint as a miscalculated move can transmute into a large-scale conflict.
Question: The Indian Prime Minister recently commented that he ordered his Air Force to strike under the cover of clouds so that they are not detected by the Pakistani radars. How do you see this statement? (Khawaja Nayyar Iqbal – Media Today)
Answer: The Foreign Minister has already commented on this statement.
Question: Is there any contact between Pakistan and Iran regarding the recent tensions in the region? (Mr. Afzal Raza – IRNA)
Answer: There has been no such contact so far, to the best of my knowledge.
Question: What are your comments on the sexual assault on the three year old girl in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir?
Secondly, has there been any development on the management of the Line of Control with the Indian side? (Mr. Raziq Mehmood Bhatti – Daily Kashmir Express)
Answer: In response to your first question, I have already remarked upon that in my opening remarks. Such horrific acts are condemnable. India cannot suppress the legitimate right to self determination of the Kashmiris.
Regarding your second question, ISPR has already issued a statement on that.
Question: What will be the agenda of SCO Foreign Ministers’ Summit which is scheduled for this month?
Secondly, who will participate from Pakistan in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Head of Government level meeting which will take place on 14th and 15th of June at Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan? (Mr. Naveed Siddiqui – Dawn News)
Answer: The Foreign Minister is scheduled to pay an official visit to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan from 21-22 May 2019 to participate in the SCO Meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers. The Foreign Ministers Meeting is taking place in pursuance of a statutory provision of SCO that requires the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs to be convened one month prior to the Meeting of the Council of Heads of State. The Council of Foreign Ministers shall prepare for the CHS in Bishkek on 13-14 June 2019.
The Foreign Minister’s participation in the SCO CFM will highlight Pakistan’s interest in regional, peace, stability and development and will give us an opportunity to project our perspective on foreign policy issues.
SCO is an important regional forum which allows us to explore greater economic linkages and cooperation with the region in the areas of energy and transport and would help us in promoting Pakistan as a regional trade corridor. Council of Foreign Ministers also offers an opportunity to meet leaders of Member States of SCO on the sidelines.
Regarding your second question,Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to participate in the SCO Heads of State meeting being held on 13-14 June in Bishkek.
Question: United States is planning to attack Iran. How will Pakistan respond to such an eventuality? (Mr. Shakeel Ahmed Kilyana – Dunya Numa)
Answer: I have already commented on this. Pakistan desires that all issues should be settled through peaceful dialogue and engagement by all sides.
Question: Has Pakistan raised the issue of acquittal of those accused in the Samjhauta Express bombing case? (Mr. Asghar Ali Mubarak – Daily Mail)
Answer: As I have already informed you earlier and I reiterate that the Foreign Office is actively pursuing this matter as it holds great significance for Pakistan. More than 42 Pakistanis were martyred in this attack. Swami Aseemanand, the mastermind who confessed to this heinous act of terrorism before a magistrate was acquitted. Such a decision castes aspersions on the credibility of the Indian judicial system.
Pakistan has been regularly raising this issue with India, especially since 2014 when systemic efforts were initiated in India to exonerate the accused. We have continued to raise it over the years, especially after the acquittal to which India has no reply. Presently, we are considering different options to take up this case with the relevant international forums.
Question: What is Pakistan’s official policy vis-à-vis the issue of Catalonian Independence Movement because Pakistan Consul General has reportedly participated in the events organized by the people associated with the Movement? (Mr. Adeel Warraich – Dunya News)
Answer: I do not have any such information and will check and revert.
Question: Firstly, yesterday Islamic State announced Wilayat-e-Pakistan, as previously the area constituting Pakistan was under the domain of IS Khurasan province. This is a significant development as this announcement came 24 hours after they announced Wilaya-e-Hind. Will Pakistan engage India in order to counter the menace of terrorism in the region?
Secondly, Abdul Rehman Makki was arrested recently. This is significant as reportedly his name was also included in the Mumbai Dossier. Is his arrest linked with India in any manner?
Thirdly, reportedly, 33 Pakistanis fighting in the ranks of Taliban were killed in Ghazni province. Can you please provide details on this? (Mr. Anas Malick – WION TV)
Answer: Pakistan is ready and fully equipped to defend itself against all forms of threat. In line with Pakistan’s policy of constructive engagement, the Prime Minister of Pakistan wrote to Prime Minister Modi on 14 September 2018 in which he reiterated our principled position of resolving all outstanding issues, including the Jammu & Kashmir dispute, through peaceful dialogue.
Pakistan is also ready to discuss terrorism which is also a primary concern for Pakistan. You would recall that Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, a serving Indian naval officer, arrested in Pakistan has confessed to his involvement in espionage, terrorism, and subversive activities against Pakistan. However, India has been reluctant to cooperate.
Regarding your second question, as per my information, his name is not included in those under trial in the Mumbai case. However, this matter pertains to the Ministry of Interior and you may seek details from them.
Moving to your third question, I have seen the news reports and have sought details on the matter.
Question: After the adverse decision in the Reko Diq case, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are also engaged in arbitration in which an award of USD 110 million can be given against us. Why is Pakistan not able to defend its case in the International Court of Justice?(Ms. Kausar Lodhi – Prime News)
Answer: This matter pertains to the Office of the Attorney General for Pakistan and the Ministry of Law & Justice.
Question: What is the status of Pakistanis languishing in Saudi jails? Is there any update on the announcement of the Saudi Crown Prince to release Pakistani prisoners? (Mr. Zargoon Shah – Geo News)
Answer: We will update you on this matter.
Question: Reportedly, the Time Magazine is linking Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Divider-in-Chief. Your comments please? (Mr. Asad Yar – WION TV)
Answer: I would not like to comment on the internal matters of India.
Question: Pakistan and India have banned the use of their airspaces respectively. Has there been any development to remove the ban? (Mr. Haider Sherazi – G-News)
Answer: There is no change so far.
Question: On 17 January 2019, a Review Petition was filed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan regarding its decision on Gilgit-Baltistan. Was Ministry of Foreign Affairs was a party to that petition or not? Was the decision taken on the behest of India? (Mr. Fida Hussain – Radio News Network)
Answer: India has nothing to do in this regard. Secondly, as per my information, Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not a party to the Petition. However, I will check again and update you.
Question: Would you please update us on the ongoing visa row between US and Pakistan. It has been reported that a chartered flight full of Pakistanis is arriving in Islamabad. Would you please share the number of Pakistanis being deported and whether they have arrived in Pakistan?
Secondly, it has been reported that a Pakistani national Mr. Habib Chishti was arrested in Spain on the charges of terrorism and was handed over to the US. Later, he was deported to Pakistan yesterday. Would you please confirm this news? (Mr. Mateen Haider – G-News)
Answer: The issue of deportation of Pakistani nationals from US has been part of the bilateral agenda between the two countries for quite some time. Pakistan’s position has been consistent and clear that only those individuals can be deported to Pakistan who have exhausted all legal remedies to stay in the US and have also been duly verified by the Government of Pakistan as Pakistani nationals.
Yesterday, around 50 Pakistani arrived in Islamabad through a chartered flight. Further details can be obtained from the Ministry of Interior and FIA, which are the relevant authorities.
Regarding your second question, I do not have any details on this. However, I will check and revert.
Question: The United States has withdrawn its staff from Iraq in the wake of tensions between the United States and Iran. Will Pakistan mediate in this situation?
Secondly, is there any new development regarding the repatriation of Afghan refugees? (Sardar Aamir – Royal News)
Answer: Regarding your first question, I have already responded that the issue should be resolved through negotiations and talks. War is not an option.
Regarding your second question, the pace of repatriation of Afghan refugees has slowed down in recent years. There are a host of reasons that are external to Pakistan. We remain engaged with Afghanistan, UNHCR and other relevant countries to inter alia work towards creating pull factors in Afghanistan. Pakistan has demonstrated exemplary hospitality for Afghan refugees.
2019 marks the 40th anniversary of Afghan refugee presence in Pakistan. We will continue to work with Afghanistan for voluntary and dignified repatriation.
Question: Pakistan is negotiating an Extradition Treaty with the United Kingdom. There are reports that Pakistan has guaranteed the United Kingdom that Pakistanis who will be extradited will not be hanged or awarded life imprisonment. Your comments, please? (Mr. Shahid Maitla – BOL News)
Answer: This question pertains to the Ministry of Interior.
Question: Reportedly, a number of Chinese living in Pakistan have been involved in various crimes. Has Pakistan raised this issue at the official level with the Chinese government or not? Please provide details. (Hum News – Tariq Mehmood)
Answer: It is clarified that the Ministry of Interior and Chinese Embassy are jointly working towards streamlining the procedures for marriages involving Chinese and Pakistani nationals.
Governments of Pakistan and China have launched actions in their respective jurisdictions and information is being shared about illegal/ fake marriage bureaus and personnel involved, actions are already underway. China has taken action against illegal marriage Bureaus and the Government of Pakistan has also launched similar actions to protect Pakistani nationals from such criminal agents and gangs.
Any person, if found involved in such criminal activities, shall be effectively dealt with under the law. It is confirmed that there are no reports regarding the trafficking of women for organ harvesting. However, FIA has been directed to further investigate the cases and present its comprehensive report on the matter.
Any Chinese or Pakistani nationals affected by these fake marriages can approach the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistan’s diplomatic Missions in China and the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad.
KSA promised earlier to free Pakistani prisoners as well:
After a glorious welcome to Prince MBS, Imran Khan made a special request to him to consider the hardship of Pakistani prisoners and labourers working in the kingdom and to ”look upon them as your own people”.
Khan said that there are 3,000 Pakistani prisoners stuck in Saudi jails, who have left behind their families in search of a livelihood.
”There are some 3,000 [Pakistani] prisoners there and we just would like you to bear in mind that they are poor people who have left their families behind” – said PM Imran Khan.
Reassuring that immediate measures will be taken, Prince said that Pakistan should consider him as its ambassador in KSA.
”We cannot say no to Pakistan … whatever we can do, we will deliver that” – Prince MBS stated.
Following the announcement, Imran Khan said that Prince has won the hearts of Pakistani people, and promised to assure rights and protection to 2.5 million Pakistani workers residing in KSA.
Condition of Pakistani workers in the Middle-east:
As the relationships between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are improving, it was said to be the ideal time for Pakistan to speak to the kingdom on behalf of its struggling working community.
Approximately 2 million Pakistani workers are currently working there and contribute to the economy. They make up the second largest immigrant population in the kingdom. In the year 2016, their remittances amounted to $5.8 billion.
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Pakistan is heavily dependent on the labour migration to fight poverty crisis and support the economy. In the year 2017, Pakistan received remittances of $19.3 billion from its nationals worldwide making us the fifth highest recipient of remittances globally.
But unfortunately, they were left there without any support or aid. With prolonged non-payment of salaries, inadequate living conditions and unfair trials for Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia, our people have suffered majorly.
Pakistani prisoners stuck in Kingdom’s choked justice system:
There are approximately 11,000 Pakistanis imprisoned abroad. Among them, 3309 are in Saudi Arabia, which also executes the highest number of Pakistanis imprisoned. Majority of them are facing drug charges and belong to financially weaker backgrounds and have fallen prey to recruiting firms and agents.
Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, Sarah Leah Watson said that Saudi Arab has made absolutely no effort to improve life for Pakistani immigrants.
‘’Despite years of promising reforms, Saudi authorities blatantly disregard the rights of both Saudis and Non-Saudis in criminal cases. Its treatment of Pakistani defendants shows just how far Saudi Arabia has to go improve the rule of Law’’ – she said.
However, Pakistan had maintained a deaf ear towards them – until today. In a report by Justice Project Pakistan on Pakistani prisoners in Saudi Criminal Justice System, these detainees didn’t even seek consular services from Pakistani embassy or consulate because they feel no help or assistance will be provided to them.
Detainees also said that Pakistani officials hardly visit them unlike representatives of other countries. They said that the only help provided to them is with deportation procedures.
Senator Sehar Kamran, who has previously spent time in KSA, said that the representatives are not interested in supporting the Pakistani community abroad and rather act like “viceroys”.
With terrible prison conditions and ill-treatment, Pakistani prisoners also face violations in the form of lack of access to legal assistance, pressure on detainees to sign confessions, long period of detention without charge or trial, accepting pre-determined prison sentences and ineffective translation services.
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