Pakistan

Pakistan briefs P-5, EU on RAW agent issue

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has briefed the P-5 and the European Union about the arrest of an on-duty officer of Indian covert agency RAW from Balochistan and his involvement in subversive activities inside Pakistan, said the Foreign Office (FO) on Thursday.

Speaking at the weekly press briefing, FO spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said that following the arrest of Kulbhushan Yadav and his confession of involvement in subversive activities, the Indian High Commissioner was summoned to the FO and we conveyed our protest and deep concern.

“We have also brought this to the attention of P-5 (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States) and EU members,” he said.

“The international community is being briefed through our missions abroad as the investigation progresses and more evidence becomes available.”

Asked if the FO preparing a case to give to Iranian government after the foreign spy categorically stated that he remained in Iranian city of Chabhar and used Iranian soil to plan activities against Pakistan, the spokesman said: “The Government of Iran is aware of our concern over RAW’s activities against Pakistan and they have assured us that nobody will be allowed to use Iranian land against Pakistan.”

While denying any connection between the coinciding of RAW agent issue with the visit of the Iranian president, Zakaria said the issue taken up with the Iranian side was in the context of RAW’s activities against Pakistan, adding that during high-level visits, important issues of concern are raised with the leadership of friendly countries.

Below is the full text of weekly media briefing:

Opening Remarks

Assalaam Alaikum Distinguished friends!

All of you are well aware that a very important development took place last week. An active service Commander rank officer of Indian Navy, Kulbashan Yadav, working for the Indian intelligence agency RAW, was arrested by Pakistani authorities. I am sure most of you would have attended the press briefing by the Information Minister, assisted by DG ISPR, on 29 March. Entire world also watched the RAW officer’s voluntary confession about RAW’s involvement in terrorist and subversive activities in Pakistan. Pakistan has been inviting the international community’s attention to the Indian state institutions’ involvement in conducting and supporting terrorist and separatist activities in Pakistan. Pakistan had also last year submitted dossiers to the UN and the US Government, containing information and evidence about Indian state sponsored terrorism in Pakistan. Revelations of Indian designs by Kulbashan Yadav has vindicated Pakistan’s position on the issue and also exposed Indian designs against Pakistan and involvement in terrorism.

Sadly, last week also marred by the cowardly act of terrorism in Lahore’s Public Park last Sunday, which has been condemned across Pakistan and by the International Community. More than 70 innocent people lost their lives, many of them children, and scores were injured. I avail of this opportunity to reiterate Government of Pakistan’s strongest condemnation and resolve to not only bring the perpetrators to justice but also continue counter-terrorism efforts to completely eradicate the menace from the country. Our prayers for those innocent, who lost their precious lives and our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families. Government of Pakistan and its people profoundly appreciate the expression of solidarity by the leadership of a large number of countries and Heads of International Organizations. Their support in the hour of our national grief is a source of strength, especially for the affected families.

I have seen some media reports labelling it as an attack to target Christians, buying what the terrorists are selling for a reason. Let me tell you that these terrorists have no religion and no faith. Those who lost their lives were all Pakistanis. And, I think the International Community should see it as an attack on humanity. The victims belonged to various faiths, mostly Muslims. Sadly, there were many children. The objective of these terrorists is to exploit the situation, be it religious divide, sectarian divide or ethnic. Terrorism has no justification. Those who subscribe to the terrorist elements’ notion are actually, unfortunately, though unwittingly helping them in their nefarious designs. All Pakistani citizens, regardless of their faith, are united against the scourge of terrorism. It was also reflected in the long queues of donors of blood in hospitals who were there to save lives irrespective of the religion of victims.

The entire Pakistani nation is united behind the Government in the valiant efforts against terrorism. No incident can ever deter our resolve. Every attack rather emboldens it. As a result of successful military operation Zarb-e-Azb the terrorists are on the run. It will be ensured that those behind these heinous crimes will be brought to justice.

Question

Shortly after the arrest of the Indian  agent, there were reports that Pakistan had taken up the matter with the P-5 and EU. What was their reaction? Is there any plan to raise this issue with UN Security Council?

Supplementary Questions

As Indian High Commissioner was summoned over this arrest, Pakistan lodged strong protest and a number of things were discussed. As a follow up, Pakistan National Security Advisor spoke to his Indian counterpart. My question is since India sought consular access to its naval officer, has Pakistan sought consular access to Indian top officials with whom this agent had contacts and was getting directives so that more information is gained for his secret activities in Pakistan?

Since China is also part of the CPEC and Iran is also involved, will Pakistan jointly with these countries raise this issue in the UN?  

Answer

Coming to the first question, we have briefed P-5 and EU on the issue. Following the arrest of Kulbushan Yadav and his confession of involvement in subversive activities, the Indian High Commissioner was summoned to the Foreign Office and we conveyed our protest and deep concern. We have also brought this to the attention of P-5 and EU Members. The International Community is being briefed through our Missions abroad as the investigation progresses and more evidence becomes available.

As to the question regarding consular access, the request is under consideration.

I am not aware of, at this point in time, about Pakistan’s request for access to Indian officials with whom Mr. Kulbushan Yadev had contacts. The investigations are still on and future course of action will depend on the outcome.

Question

We are told that Commander Kulbushan Yadev is serving officer in the Indian navy but the Indian government has accepted him as its citizen disowning him as part of the Government machinery over there. There is talk of huge money, if Indian government is not in contact with him where from the huge money is coming? His revelation also confirmed what Mr. Chuck Hagel had said in 2013 that India finances troubles in Pakistan from Afghanistan! Your comments.

Answer

I would like to the draw your attention to the confessional statement by the apprehended RAW officer. His statement has clearly vindicated Pakistan’s longstanding position that the Indian intelligence agencies are involved in subversive activities in Pakistan.  The confession has proved that the finances were provided by Yadav’s handler in Indian Agency, RAW.

Question

My question is also related to Mr. Yadav and his confessional statement. He categorically stated that he remained in Iranian city of Chabhar and used Iranian soil to plan activities against Pakistan. Ministry of Interior is preparing a case to take up the matter with the Iranian Government. Is Foreign Office preparing any case to give to the Iranian Government that the Iranian soil is being used against Pakistan?

Answer

I would like to draw your attention to what DG ISPR had said in his briefing on 29 March 2016. I have nothing to add to what he had already stated in his briefing except that the Government of Iran is aware of our concern over RAW’s activities against Pakistan and they have assured us that nobody will be allowed to use Iranian land against Pakistan.

Question

Recently, MQM members had joined former Mayor Mustafa Kamal’s party in droves. Almost all of them publicly testified against MQM chief’s crimes and his links with RAW. My question is: has Government of Pakistan taken up the matter with the UK Government?

Answer

This question was raised last time also and I responded to that that the Ministry of Interior is dealing with this particular aspect and they are directly in contact with the UK Government in this regard.  As I mentioned earlier, the investigations are under way and future course of action shall be determined on the basis of its outcome.

As to your remark about involvement of diplomatic channels while communicating foreign countries, yes Foreign Office works as the diplomatic channel to facilitate contacts between the two sides but in some situations, once the contact has been established then two sides directly deal with each other. Of course, Foreign Office remains in picture.

Question

Pakistan Joint Investigating Team (JIT) is in India for Pathankot incident investigations. Has any evidence surfaced linking the leader of JEM with this terrorist attack in Pathankot?

Answer

As agreed between the two countries, the JIT reached India on March 27, 2016 and started its work. Based on the information shared with the JIT, we will be able to comment on the level of cooperation from the Indian side after the team presents its report and findings.

As to your remarks regarding Indian cooperation, I have seen some other reports in that context but I think let’s not jump to the conclusions and in such matters I would refrain from commenting on the basis of media reports. As of now, the JIT is already there and I am sure they are coming back soon. Once they are back they will submit their findings and only then we will be in a position to draw any conclusions in this regard.

Question

Indian Investigation Team is expected to arrive in Pakistan. Would you provide them access to various militant leaders in Pakistan like Hafiz Saeed and others?

Secondly, how many Indians have been issued visas to Pakistan since the past two years? Can you please provide us the numbers?

Answer

As to your second question, I don’t have information. It is not just one mission or one country from where Indians come to Pakistan. They come from all over the world. They undertake visit for a variety of reasons such as business purposes, religious tourism, and may be for some other purposes. People have relatives in both the countries and it is not just Pakistan High Commission in Delhi, which issues visas. It will be very difficult to give you any figure as to how many Indians have obtained visas and how many visited Pakistan? However, Interior may be in a position to give the statistics.

As to your first question, you may direct your question to the Ministry of Interior. These are the matters which are to be assessed on the basis of legal frameworks. There has to be a legal basis as to whether somebody could have access or could even ask for access.

Question

Indian Prime Minister has publicly stated Indian Government’s role in Pakistan’s breakup in 1971. Had Pakistan taken up the issue with the international community, RAW would not have been encouraged to engage in subversive activities to do the same to Balochistan and Karachi. Your comments.

Answer

Indian Prime Minister’s statement during his visit to Bangladesh about Indian state’s involvement in the events of 1971 was taken seriously by the Government of Pakistan. In a Press Release, issued on June 9, 2015, the statement of the Prime Minister of India was strongly condemned, adding that it confirmed Pakistan’s stance on India’s negative role. International Community was urged to take note of Indian acknowledgement of its interference in East Pakistan. On June 11, 2015, a Resolution was also adopted by the National Assembly of Pakistan on the issue.

Question

Indian RAW agent gave a statement that he was directly reporting to the Indian National Security Advisor, while on the other hand, we are talking with the same person in India for cooperation against the terrorism. How do you see the Indian seriousness in elimination of terrorism in the region? 

Answer

I have already responded that matter is still under investigations and whatever comes out of the investigations and interrogation will form the basis for the future action. On the basis of interrogation so far we have made some more arrests.

Question

As you clearly mentioned that you are in touch with Iran regarding this RAW’s activities and you said that investigations are still going on regarding their agent. So what were the reasons that issue was released to Pakistani media the very same day of the President Rouhani’s visit to Pakistan even though it was still under investigation?

Answer

I can’t comment about the timings. There are many things which happen in isolation and it so happens that they just coincide with an important event or happening in that time. I don’t think that there is any connection. The issue taken up with the Iranian side was in the context of RAW’s activities against Pakistan. During high-level visits, important issues of concern are raised with the leadership of friendly countries.

Question

There are reports that in context of the Pathankot attack India has requested access to Maulana Masood Azhar. Is there any such request sent from India on diplomatic level?

Secondly, Foreign Office has been saying that Foreign Secretary level talks are not linked with the Pathankot attack, if so, why these talks have not taken place yet?

Answer

First of all, let me first set the record straight, this statement was not given by me or the Foreign Office. It was the statement of the Indian High Commissioner that Foreign Secretary level talks are not linked with the Pathankot incident.

Both sides are in touch with each other. And whenever both sides consider that it is an appropriate time for the meeting then it will take place.

As regard your first question, I have already said that you should contact Ministry of Interior in this regard, because the basis of such requests like consular access have also legal angles. I am not aware of any such request.

Question        

What is the status of the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline after the visit of the Iranian President to Pakistan?

Supplementary Question

 In this regard we have also signed an agreement with Turkmenistan. What is its status?

Answer

Iran Pakistan pipeline is a project in which Pakistan is definitely interested because of the acute shortage of energy that we are facing. The negotiations have been going on for a long time. Since its initial inception in early 90’s it has seen many developments such as inclusion of a 3rd country which wanted to be part of it and later its opting out. The progress on it was slow because of the obvious reasons which you are aware of. There are many details to it. I would suggest that you contact Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources because they would be in a better position to update you about where it is now.

You talked about TAPI, its groundbreaking has taken place. You know that four countries are involved in it. It is also an old project.

All energy projects to which Pakistan is a party are meant to overcome the shortage of energy in the country. There are also many other projects like CASA–1000 and LNG agreement with the Qatar. You should look into this in context that Pakistan is serious about overcoming its energy deficiency. Right now, we have deficiency of 7000 MW; with every passing day as the demand is increasing the gap will also keep on increasing. So, we ought to explore more sources to bridge that gap and we will have to also cater to the requirement for the future demand. Under CPEC there are energy projects to the tune of 33.8 billion dollars.

Question  

India has been accusing Pakistan that its intelligence agency is promoting terrorism. After the arrest of Kulbashan Yadav, the serving officer of the Indian Navy, RAW’s involvement in promoting terrorism in Pakistan has been proven. Will Pakistan take up this issue with the International Community to ban it and declare RAW as a terrorist organization?

Answer    

Already there have been questions related to this issue and I have responded that we have raised our concern with the UN and P-5 countries, who were briefed appropriately. We had raised this issue with the UN and the United States last year and presented them the dossiers. As I said earlier, Mr. Yadav is under investigation and further course of action will be determined on that basis.

Question

In his briefing here in Islamabad President of Iran H.E. Dr. Hassan Rouhani said that Iran was invited by Pakistan to join QCG. What is the fate of QCG? Whether Pakistan has invited Iran and what about other countries and the demand of Afghanistan for India, Russia and Iran to join QCG?

Answer

Your question has many aspects. I will give you an encompassing response; we have been saying all along that the QCG countries are making serious efforts for early direct talks between Afghan government and Taliban. Pakistan will continue to play a positive role in this regard. We have seen the media reports on the remarks made by Mr. Hekmat Karzai. In the larger interest of Afghanistan, we believe that the focus should be on efforts to convene early peace talks and no one should doubt Pakistan’s sincerity. Peace and stability in Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s interest. Our stakes in peace in Afghanistan are higher than any other country.

Regional cooperation is crucial to a sustainable solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. We support any effort aimed at bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan. Efforts for Afghan peace and stability can be discussed at Afghanistan-Pakistan-Iran trilateral.

You must have heard about Heart of Asia Process. This process has about 14 countries; Iran is also part of it. The basic aim and purpose of establishing Heart of Asia is towards bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Question

What are the prospects of India-Pakistan Foreign Secretary level talks after the arrest of Indian intelligence officer? Would this arrest have any impact on Pakistan-India relations? And do we see in near future the talks between the two Foreign Secretaries?

Supplementary Question

India has been saying that terrorism and talks cannot move together. Now when Indian RAW agent has been arrested here and it is proved that India is sponsoring terrorism, whether we are still interested in dialogue? 

 Answer

 Both of your questions are related to each other. The Foreign Secretary level talks have been comprehensive dialogue. It has various segments, which in keeping with the nature and variety of issues between the two countries. As for Pakistan, dialogue is the best way to resolve issues between India and Pakistan.

Question

Afghan NDS chief in a briefing to Parliamentarians accused Pakistan of supporting Lashkar-e-Taiba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi against Afghanistan. Your comments please. 

Supplementary Question

Afghan Intelligence Chief also blamed that Pakistani Intelligence agency is supporting Taliban and the recent insurgency is because of the support of ISI. Your comments please.  

Answer

We have seen media reports about the statements that you referred. It is unfortunate. Such assertions are baseless and contrary to the facts. Pakistan is fighting terrorism and extremism with full resolve and determination. We are engaged in operations against the terrorists without any discrimination. Terrorism is a common enemy and we need cooperation and collaboration to fight this menace. Accusations and blame game will strengthen the hands of terrorist and miscreants.

Question

Last week Pakistanis were deported from Russia in spite of having all the required documents. Any reasons given by Russian authorities for this?

Answer

In the last briefing, I gave a very detailed answer to this question. Our Ambassador over there took up this issue with the Russian Government and we took it up with the Russian Ambassador here in Islamabad. The reasons given to us were that when the immigration officer asked them questions their replies were not matching with the visas, which were issued to them. There were also some other deficiencies like they did not have booking of hotels which is an essential requirement under their immigration rules. We are still working on it, as inconvenience was caused to so many people. The details of the episode that what really happened and how to ensure recurrence such incidents in future.

In this regard, we will also engage the Russian Government so that both sides do not face again any such difficult situation because our friendship is very important.

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