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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (October 06, 2016)

October 07, 2016

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: Good evening friends and welcome to weekly press briefing. I do not have any opening announcements to make so we can delve straight into the Q & A session.

Question: We have been seeing Tareekh pe Tareekh kind of situation related with Maulana Masood Azhar where China has once again put a technical hold on his being designated as a terrorist. How long can this go on?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: You will recall that the principal argument we made in our submission to the 1267 Committee in March this year, was that the Committee has proscribed the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed, but has ignored the need to take action against this organization’s main leader, financier and motivator who continues his terrorist actions, unhindered.

On the further extension, all I will say is that the Committee has already pondered our submission for the last six months. It will get a further three months to ponder, but that will in no way change the strange situation we have of the Committee designating the terrorist organization but failing to or ignoring the need to designate the organization’s most active and dangerous terrorist!

We conveyed to the Committee that it is expected to proscribe Masood Azhar under the 1267 Sanctions Regime on the basis of our submission. Such a designation would help send a strong signal to all terror groups across the world that the international community is no longer going to pursue, or tolerate, selective approaches to terrorism. Distinction between good and bad terrorists is fallacious and counterproductive.

Concomitantly, it will also be sending a dangerous message if it fails to act upon India’s submission.

I understand this issue is also being taken up with the Chinese Government.

Question: I know you won’t comment on media reports as such but there has been quite an explosive story in Dawn in Pakistan where they are talking about unprecedented confrontation between the civilians and military on support to terror groups. If that were true, how do you see that from here?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: The first part of your statement is very true, we do not respond to speculative media reports.

Sir ab se kuchh din pehle reports aayi thi ki dono countries ke, India aur Pakistan ke NSAs ne aapas mein baat ki hai, kya aap isko confirm kar sakte hain? Aur ky de-escalation ko lekar koi sahmati ban paayi hai?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: Main sirf ye kahunga ki is varsh 5 January ko Bharat aur Pakistan ke Pradhan Mantriyon ne is baat par sahmati jatayi thi ki unke Rashtriya Suraksha Salaahkaar ek doosare ke saath sampark mein rah sakte hain. Unhone is baat par bhi sahmati jatayi thi ki Rashtriya Suraksha Salaahkaaron ki jo baatcheet ho woh public na ki jaye. Jahan tak Bharat ka prashn hai, hum lagatar is commitment ko barkarar rakhe hue hain.

I can say that in English as well. On 5th January 2016, the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan had agreed that their NSAs should remain in touch. They also agreed that we should not go public about it. As far as India is concerned we have maintained that commitment.

Question: Pakistan has been denying India’s claims of surgical strikes on the Line of Control. Can MEA confirm the evidence, the video footage, has been shared with the Government by the Indian army? Secondly, would the Government in near future plans to share that in the public domain?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: What the Government puts out or not is determined solely by national security and will continue to be so. I have nothing more to say.

As we all know, it is usual to see Pakistan's reaction of denial of terrorism sponsored from its soil against its neighbours. Elimination of Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Mansoor were met with similar denials. But we all know the truth.

Our counter terrorism operation on the 29th of September was to neutralize an imminent threat of terrorists ready to be launched from across the Line of Control. The Indian Army was given a task which it carried out with surgical precision. The desired result has been obtained. The intended message has been conveyed.

Question: For the first time ever, a high ranking Pakistani Police Official in PoK has confirmed to us that surgical strikes did happen, he thought he was talking to one of his superiors but has confirmed that surgical strikes did happen and jihadis as well as army men were killed in that. Do you think that this report will now in a way strengthen India’s case and help force Pakistan to stop in being denial mode of the attack?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup:
Well, all I can say is that the truth comes out no matter how hard one tries to conceal it.

Question: Has India taken any decision regarding the MFN status of Pakistan?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: Promoting shared prosperity with all our neighbors has been government’s priority but terrorism cannot be the commodity exported. We will undertake a review based on our security and trade interests.

Niyantran rekha par lagataar Pakistan ki taraf ullanghan bhi ho raha hai, bambaari aur golibaari bhi ho rahi hai aur unke aatankwaadi bhi aa rahe hain. Aaj bhi teen aatankwaadi sena ke mutabik maare gaye to kya is par kewal DGMO ke star par baat hogi ya Videsh Mantralaya bhi ismein ab dakhal dega?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: As you know, 20 successful interdictions have been carried out by our Security Forces on or along the LoC, stopping infiltration attacks by dozens of terrorists and neutralizing them.

Since July 8 only, close to a dozen major terrorist attacks have taken place in J&K, supported and launched from across LOC or the international border, including, as you said, today in Handwara.

Captured terrorists have told us of large number of terrorists trained and ready to be launched in terrorist’s camps in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

I would also remind you of what the DGMO said on September 29 that it is India’s intention to maintain peace and tranquility in the region, but we can certainly not allow the terrorists to operate across the Line of Control with impunity and attack the citizens of our country.

On the diplomatic side, when Pakistan High Commissioner was called in on August 9 and later on September 21 & 27, he was clearly conveyed that we expect Pakistan to fulfill its assurances of 2004, reiterated at the highest levels, not to allow territory under its control for terrorism against any country.

You have already seen the pressure that we have brought to bear internationally on Pakistan to cease support to cross border terrorism. You have all seen the results at the United Nations General Assembly. You have all seen the result at SAARC. You have all seen the statements by major countries like the United States and Russia. I do not think I need to say anything further.

Question: Parliament ke joint session mein Pakistan mein humne dekha ki Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ne dobara se ek tarah se provoke kiya India ko, baar-baar wahi baatein karna, Burhan Waani ko fir se unhone hero bataya, surgical strikes ko deny kiya saath mein ye kaha ki tab tak masala nahi suljhenge jab tak Kashmir ko hum sulajhaa nahi lete. Hamari kya pratikriya hai is vishay par?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: Dekhiye main to yahi kahunga ki ek tarah se Pakistan ne fir se apne ko implicate kar liya hai. Burhan Waani jo ki ek known aatankwaadi hai, self-confessed commander hai internationally banned Hizbul Mujahidin ke. Uske commander ko agar aap youth leader maanenge to ye to apne aap ko aap implicate hi kar rahe hain.

Jahan tak Bharat Sarkar ki pratikriya hai woh pratikriya to Videsh Mantri Ji ne hi de di thi jab unhone ne United Nations ki General Assembly ke manch par apna bhashan diya tha aur jab hamne Geneva aur New York mein Right of Reply exercise kiye they.

Mere khayaal se ye kahna bilkul uchit hoga ki jo vishwa samuday hai woh Pakistan ke baseless aur misleading propaganda mein nahin pada hai, unhone satya ko samjha hai. Ek asatya ko aap kitni hi baar dohrayen woh satya mein parivartit nahin ho jayega.

Question: My question is about China blocking India’s bid at UNSC. We have just spoken with the New Zealand Government and in their statement they have said that they support the strengthening of the role of the committee and in fact to make changes if there is a non-compliance. They have said that these changes do also include providing the Chair with greater flexibility or discretion. Does India support this New Zealand Government statement and also as the question is on China, there had been a recent move on the Brahmaputra, the blocking of the tributary. Could you bring some clarity on that? Is in response to the Indus Water Treaty?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: Look, as far as the first part of your question is concerned, we would welcome any move which enables the 1267 Committee to function in a manner in which political considerations do not hold hostage designation of known terrorists.

In the present case, it is our understanding that 14 countries are one side and one country was on the other side and that led to this extension by three months. So any moves to change the rules of procedure whereby known terrorists are not let off the hook due to the manner in which 1267 decisions are taken, as you know there is complete non-transparency, there is complete anonymity, I think, it will be important.

As far as your question on Brahmaputra is concerned, we have a bilateral agreement with China to share information on cross-border rivers which includes Brahmaputra and Sutlej.

We also have an expert level mechanism which meets regularly to discuss issues concerning cross border rivers. We have a data sharing agreement under which the Chinese side provides us data during flood season on the Brahmaputra and the Sutlej. This arrangement has been useful in preventing damage during the flood season especially during landslides which create temporary dams.

We have conveyed to the Chinese side that they should be mindful of the interests of the lower riparian while undertaking any projects on these rivers. The Chinese side has conveyed to us on several occasions that they are only undertaking run-of-the-river hydro power projects which do not involve diversion of the waters of the Brahmaputra.

All relevant issues which occurred after the last meeting of expert level are always taken up at the next meeting and we do expect to take up this matter in the next meeting.

Question: Vikas, do the BRICS leaders and BIMSTEC leaders, are any of them likely to visit Delhi to attend this exhibition at Pragati Maidan?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: As of now there is no proposal for the BRICS leaders or the BIMSTEC leaders to come to Delhi. All the summits, apart from the BRICS Summit and BIMSTEC Outreach Summit, a couple of bilateral summits are also happening, which I am not at liberty to announce the dates as yet, but they are all happening in Goa.

Question: This is not the first time that China is doing this type of thing and India has always been telling that there should be reforms in UN Security Council. So do you have any proposal that the whole mechanism of Security Council should be changed so that majority minority should work and not the veto of any other country because it is becoming a chessboard game for all the issues in the world?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: Well, when we speak of Security Council reform it is a comprehensive reform, it is not just the expansion in the permanent and the non-permanent category, but also improvement in the working methods of the Security Council, greater accountability, closer coordination with the United Nations General Assembly, which really reflects the voice of all the 193 member states because every state has one vote there. So these are all part of the comprehensive package and we hope that sooner rather than later the reforms of United Nations and in particular of the Security Council will happen.

Question: ……(Inaudible)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: As I said that is why we are calling for reforms. If the Security Council was working perfectly why would there be need for us to reform it? There is a broad acknowledgment that the Security Council is still mired in the geo-politics of 1945, it does not reflect the realities of the 21st century and its working methods are completely non-transparent, it is not seen as a representative body, some people are even questioning the legitimacy of its decisions and that is why we have been campaigning as part of the G-4, as part of the L.69 for reform and expansion of UN Security Council.

Of course we won’t ask you to comment on the Dawn article because you said you wouldn’t, but in the context of the Dawn article could you give response to the Pakistani Chief of Army Staff’s comments today which were quite strong. I am sure you know them all, but he said he expect international community to condemn Indian insinuation and fabrications about a nation that has made unparalleled contributions in the global fight against terrorism. In simple terms, your response. In deeper terms, with a bit of context would be nice.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup:
Nice try, but I have already said I am not going to respond to speculative media articles. Our position is very well known, I mean, who stands isolated today? Internationally, which country stands isolated? In the SAARC context, what is the message that all countries of SAARC have given regarding the holding of the Summit in Islamabad? I think the answer is there for all to see.

Question: Yesterday, we heard Sri Lankan Prime Minster talk about SAARC should be focused on fighting terrorism. Before that we heard the Afghan Ambassador talk about the same that SAARC should fight terrorism, combat terrorism. Do you think in the context of all these comments that SAARC should be re-oriented? Afghan Ambassador talked about revising the charter even. Are we moving towards a phase where there could be an anti-terror force within the SAARC framework involving various SAARC member states?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: Anti-terrorism cooperation is very much part of the SAARC agenda. If you have seen the kind of meetings that have been held in the past also, whether it is combating drugs or money laundering, fake currency and terrorism. All this is very much part of the SAARC agenda. It is very much part of the program of action also.

It is just that sometimes we only give lip-service to it and not really move on it to the extent that we should and this time when all member countries wrote to the Chair i.e. Nepal saying that the present environment in which one country is supporting cross-border terrorism, interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, is not the right environment in which to have the SAARC Summit, I think, is very very significant. It certainly marks an inflection point for SAARC.

As far as the remarks regarding the SAARC Charter etc. are concerned, we remain steadfast in our commitment to work with likeminded countries for regional development. I would not like to say anything further at this point in time.

Question: You spoke a little bit about the SAARC nations but I am curious what you think in this scenario the role of third party nations like the United States, Russia and China, Europe in defusing the tensions and whether you think that there is international pressure on dissuading Pakistan from a military retaliation?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: If there are tensions then you know the root cause of those tensions. The root cause of tension is Pakistan’s support to cross-border terrorism. So to the extent, the international community also speaks in one voice on a firm rejection of cross border terrorism as an instrument of state policy, to that extent, I think, Pakistan can be nudged towards giving up support to such pernicious activities and I think that would be in the interest of the larger region and it would be in the interest of the bilateral relationship between India and Pakistan.

Question: Do you think the US has a role in this……..(Inaudible)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: Well, you come from a country which has already issued a statement and I think that statement speaks for itself.

Question: The International Court of Justice has dismissed a case filed by the Marshall Islands against India, Pakistan and Britain for violating NPT norms. Can you please give some details?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup:
I don’t know if you have read the judgment or not. I believe it vindicates our responsible and principled approach to Nuclear Disarmament. By appearing in the ICJ and engaging in the application brought forward by the Marshall Islands, India has underlined its respect for International Law and for the sentiment in the international community for taking forward nuclear disarmament.

However, this is not an issue to be adjudicated legally between two states; it is a subject for inter-governmental negotiations involving all essential parties. As a responsible nuclear weapon state, we remain strongly committed to negotiations on global, verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament at the Conference of Disarmament in Geneva.

Question: India has been maintaining that Hafiz Saeed is a terrorist and should be brought to book and despite that we have visuals of Hafiz Saeed sharing space with Parliamentarians such as Sheikh Rasheed and also former ISI Chief Hamid Gul. What are your comments and how is India looking at the fact the Hafiz Saeed continues to get the kind of space he does in Pakistan?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: I believe you are referring to the Defence of Pakistan Committee. Well, yes, the Defence of Pakistan Committee (Difa-e-Pakistan) involves internationally banned terrorists such as Hafiz Saeed. We have always voiced our concerns at the freedom available to such internationally designated terrorists in Pakistan to conduct and promote anti-India activities openly. It is up to the Government of Pakistan to abide by its assurances that it will deny the use of its territory for such purposes.

Question: Kya aaj Videsh Mantri se Iraq me jo aprahat Bhartiya hain unke parijanon ne mulakat ki thi? Aur kya koi nayi jankari hai jo aap humse saajha karna chahenge?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup: Ji haan, Videsh Mantri ne aaj un parijanon se mulakat ki. Ye Videsh Mantri ki un parijanon ke saath dasvin mulakat thi pichhale 2 varshon mein.

Videsh Mantri ne unse kaha ki is samay hamare pass koi nayi soochna nahin aayi hai. Jaisa ki unhone kaha ki unke mrut hone ki hamare pass na toh koi khabar hai na hi koi saboot hai. Unke jeevit hone ki hamare pass soochna hai lekin koi saboot nahin hai isliye hum ye kaise maan le ki woh ab nahin rahe.

Humein to third parties ke maadhyam se abhi bhi yahi khabar aa rahi hai ki ve jeevit hain aur unhen wahan kaam par laga diya gaya hai. Abhi haal hi mein hamare Rajya Mantri Shri M J Akbar, Venezuela gaye thay, wahan par NAM Summit ki sidelines pe unki kuchh mulakatein hui, jo us region ke Rashtradhyaksh wagairah they, unse bhi hamein yahi soochna mili hai ki jo 39 aprahat Bhartiya workers hain woh abhi bhi jeevit hain, unko nikaalne ki hum poori cheshta kar rahe hain.

Question: Following the surgical strikes, has there been any diplomatic contact between the two countries apart from summoning the High Commissioner? They had summoned our High Commissioner earlier, but Foreign Secretary has written to them suggesting some measures for fast tracking of the Mumbai case. So any response from the Pakistani side?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Vikas Swarup:
No, we have been verbally told that they are considering it and we expect a reply, but so far we have not received a reply.

I see no other questions. This press briefing comes to a close.

Thank you all.


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