ISLAMABAD - Pakistan yesterday warned India against any misadventure making it clear that Pakistan was fully capable to respond.

Speaking at a weekly news briefing here, Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said Pakistan had no aggressive designs against any country, “but is fully capable and ready to respond to any misadventure.” He said Pakistan’s armed forces remained prepared misadventure and are fully capable of defending countries geographical boundaries. 

The spokesperson said Pakistan wanted resolution of all outstanding disputes, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, with India through dialogue, but that must be meaningful and result oriented. “The onus is on India to create an enabling environment for talks,” he added. Coming over to the region, he said, “I wish to reiterate our expression of solidarity with the people of India in the wake of the current wave of COVID-19 that has hit our region hard.”

As a gesture of solidarity, he said, Pakistan had also offered relief support to India. “We are ready to immediately provide ventilators, Bi PAP, digital X-ray machines, PPEs and related items. The concerned authorities of Pakistan and India may also explore possible ways of further cooperation to mitigate the challenge posed by the pandemic. We wish the Indian people early relief and recovery,” he added.

As the COVID situation in India deteriorates, the spokesperson said, “We also remain deeply concerned over the health and safety of the incarcerated Kashmiri leaders as well as other innocent Kashmiris, languishing in jails across India on trumped up charges.”

Most of these jails are overcrowded and don’t have any provision for precautions against the COVID-19, he pointed out.

Chaudhri said that the incarcerated Kashmiri leaders include, Aasiya Andrabi, Muhammad Yasin Malik, Shabir Ahmed Shah, Ashraf Sehrai, Advocate Shahid-ul-Islam, Altaf Ahmed Shah, Nayeem Ahmed Khan, Ayaz Akbar, Peer Saifullah, Raja Merajuddin Kalwal, Syed Shahid Yousuf, Shakeel Ahmed, Farooq Ahmed Dar, Fehmeeda Sofi, Nahida Nasreen, Zahoor Ahmed and others.

“Reportedly, some of the Kashmiri leaders in Indian jails have already contracted Corona virus. Unfortunately, they are not even provided any medical treatment. Given the worst pandemic situation in India, the Indian government must immediately release the incarcerated Kashmiri leadership and all innocent Kashmiris,” he said.

The spokesperson said Pakistan “once again call upon the international community, particularly the United Nations, International Committee of the Red Cross and human rights organizations to take cognizance of this dire humanitarian situation.”

To a question on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom report, he said Pakistan believes that the report’s findings on Pakistan lack objectivity besides making unsubstantiated assertions.

In his response to Saudi Arabia’s initiative for peace with Iran, he welcomed the move and said Pakistan has always stressed for avoiding any conflict and resolving differences and disputes through political and diplomatic means.

The spokesperson said Pakistan’s Missions, all across the world, have standing instructions to extend maximum facilitation to the Pakistani community in their respective jurisdictions.

To a question, the spokesperson said, “we have seen the annual report issued by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. We believe that the report’s findings on Pakistan lack objectivity besides making unsubstantiated assertions.”

The report, he said, does not acknowledge the government of Pakistan’s efforts in promoting religious freedom and protecting the rights of religious minorities through legislative, policy and administrative measures.

“Pakistani is a multi-religious and pluralistic society with a rich tradition of inter-faith harmony. Religious freedom and the protection of the rights of minorities are guaranteed by our Constitution and ensured through a range of legislative, policy and administrative measures,” he added.

Pakistan, he said, “remains committed to protecting the rights of religious minorities. We will continue to remain constructively engaged on the subject with the US Government.”

On complaints by Pakistani community regarding Pakistan Embassy Riyadh, he said, the government of Pakistan attached high importance to the welfare of overseas Pakistanis.

“Overseas Pakistanis are our greatest asset. Their role in national development is indispensable. There is zero tolerance, whatsoever, for any lapse in the public service delivery,” he added.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, he said, was overseeing the working of all diplomatic missions, particularly with regards to the services being provided to the Pakistani community.

“In this regard, Pakistan’s Missions, all across the world, have standing instructions to extend maximum facilitation to the Pakistani community in their respective jurisdictions. As for this particular case regarding the Embassy of Pakistan in Riyadh, the Prime Minister has directed to conduct an inquiry. The Prime Minister’s directions are being fully implemented. A high powered inquiry committee will look into the matter,” he said.

The Ambassador of Pakistan to Saudi Arabia, he said, had already returned and orders have been issued for the recall of six more officers of the diplomatic, community welfare and consular wings of the Embassy.

Chaudhri also said that the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington DC and the Consulate-General in Houston remained in contact with Aafia Siddiqui and her Attorney.

“The Mission has once again contacted the concerned US authorities. We have not received any such confirmation as reported in the media. We will keep you updated on any further developments in this regard. I would like to add that Under the Vienna Convention, the host authorities must share the news in case of death of an inmate with the accredited diplomatic/consular Mission immediately,” he added.

Recently, he said, a trilateral meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Pakistan, Turkey and Afghanistan was held.

The three sides exchanged views on achieving the shared objectives of a ‘peaceful’ and ‘stable’ Afghanistan through an ‘Afghan-led and Afghan-owned’ political process, he said.

The Foreign Minister underlined the need for effectively utilizing Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity to further strengthen institutional engagement between the two countries. “We support all peace efforts in Afghanistan,” he said.

Chaudhri said Pakistan viewed the recent developments in the Occupied Palestinian Territories with serious concern. “These include harassment of people coming for prayers, arrests of innocent Palestinians and other arbitrary restrictions in violation of fundamental human rights. These illegal measures have seen an upsurge since the onset of the holy month of Ramazan,” he said.

Pakistan, the spokesperson said, “condemns these violent acts carried out by the Israeli Occupation forces and urges the international community for prompt action to protect the Palestinians. We also reiterate our steadfast support to the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination.”

He added: “We believe that for a just and lasting peace, it is imperative to have a two-state solution in accordance with the relevant United Nations and OIC resolutions, with the pre-1967 borders, and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as the capital of a viable, independent and contiguous Palestinian State.”