FO Weekly briefing

FO Weekly briefing

Pakistan urges int’l community to support Afghanistan in avoiding humanitarian crisis

Islamabad : The launch of ‘Automation of Power of Attorney’ by Prime Minister Imran Khan last week, corresponding to a long-held demand of overseas Pakistanis. This is in continuation of Prime Minister’s ‘Digital Pakistan’ initiative, which is aligned with the Government’s policy of maximum facilitation for overseas Pakistanis.
An Agreement has been signed between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), under which 24/7 uninterrupted online services will be provided for attestation of Power of Attorney – from the Embassy to the comfort of an applicant’s home.
This automation has been initially launched as a pilot project in ten Pakistan Missions in the United States and the United Kingdom, and will shortly be replicated across all Pak Missions abroad.
While on Digital diplomacy, the Secretary General of the Digital Cooperation Organization (DCO), Deemah Al Yahya, called on Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi last week. The Foreign Minister while commending the formation of this new organization, affirmed Pakistan’s commitment to its strategic partnership with the DCO and called for enhanced efforts to achieve the shared goal of digital transformation and promoting joint initiatives to leverage ICT potential for socio-economic development.

There has been a flurry of diplomatic activity at MOFA.

Let me first inform you that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will be representing Pakistan today at the 20th Anniversary Meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government being chaired by Kazakhstan. The Foreign Minister is also representing Pakistan today at the 13th ASEM (Asia Europe Meeting) Summit being chaired by Cambodia. Both the meetings are being held virtually.
During the last week, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood separately received Japan’s Ambassador-designate Wada Mitsuhiro and Cambodia’s non-resident Ambassador, Ung Sean. He also received Nigel Casey, UK’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

9th meeting of Russia-Pakistan Joint Working Group on Combatting International Terrorism and Other Challenges to Security was held in Moscow on 22 November signifying continuing and deepening cooperation between the two countries on wide range of issues of mutual interest.

Later in the week, a United States Congressional Delegation comprising Congressman Gregory Meeks, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representative (HFAC), accompanied by Congressman Ami Bera, Chairman of the Asia Subcommittee called on the Foreign Minister. The Foreign Minister underscored the longstanding bilateral relationship with the United States and the desire to further broaden it.

On the public diplomacy front, we celebrated last week, 70 years of establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Spain in a colourful cultural gala reception at the Pakistan Monument.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On 20 November, Foreign Office turned to hues of blue in commemoration of World Children’s Day. On the occasion, the leadership in their messages highlighted the need for necessary protections and the conducive conditions in which children can realize their dreams and full potential.

Let me also note that Pakistan and Republic of Palau established diplomatic relations on 22 November in a ceremony held in New York.

Pakistan continues to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan in foodstuff and medicines. We have provided 4 C-130 plane-loads and 101 truck-loads containing 1658 MT of food stuffs and medicines in recent weeks to Afghanistan. Recently, the Prime Minister has also pledged an additional 5 Billion Rupees for in-kind assistance to Afghanistan to be given in three categories: foodstuffs (wheat and rice), medicines and shelter (tents and tarpaulins). Under this, Pakistan will be providing 50,000 MT of wheat to Afghan brethren.

And as you would have followed, as a goodwill gesture towards the brotherly Afghan people, the Government of Pakistan has decided to allow the transportation of 50000 Metric Tonnes of wheat and lifesaving medicines from India to Afghanistan via Wagah Border on an exceptional basis for humanitarian purposes. Decision to this effect was conveyed to India’s Charge d’Affaires at the Foreign Office yesterday.

It is highly unfortunate and a matter of deep concern to see India continuing with its ill-advised hostile approach that is vitiating the environment in the region.

I do not want to repeat, but am sure you would have seen our responses to the Indian Defence Minister’s irresponsible, provocative and gratuitous remarks recently, as well as India’s farcical and fabricated claim of downing a Pakistani F-16 aircraft, and on top of that making that the basis for awarding the Indian pilot who was shot down and captured by Pakistan as the entire world witnessed. While all this fantasizing by India would have appeased, and rather amused many, it obviously had no credibility whatsoever in the eyes of the international community.

In the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), Indian occupation forces are committing grave crimes against the Kashmiri people including enforced disappearances, targeted and extra-judicial killings, and collective punishment of the population. Pakistan strongly condemns Indian state-terrorism and extra-judicial killings of innocent Kashmiris in fake encounters and so-called “cordon and search operations”. 35 innocent Kashmiris have been martyred by the Indian occupation forces in less than two months in IIOJK. Three more Kashmiris have been martyred in a fake encounter on 24 November in Srinagar.

Nothing can obfuscate Indian state-terrorism perpetuated with shameless impunity in IIOJK. Nor could use of brutal force ever succeed in breaking the will of the Kashmiri people struggling for their inalienable right to self-determination.

The UN human rights machinery, independent NGOs and global media have consistently expressed concerns over increasing intimidation, harassment and reprisal attacks by Indian occupation forces against Kashmiri human rights defenders, journalists and civil society actors over the last two years. The detention of Mr. Khurram Parvez is the most recent example that has been widely condemned by the international community.

Pakistan calls upon the international community to hold India accountable for the egregious human rights violations of the innocent Kashmiri people in IIOJK. We also urge the international community to play its role for peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions and wishes of the Kashmiri people for durable peace and stability in the region.
I thank you and am ready to take questions on these or other foreign policy matters.