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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (January 11, 2019)

January 12, 2019

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Namaskar, good afternoon and welcome once again. I again wish, people who joined late, a very happy New Year 2019. I do not have any announcements to make so we can straightaway move to the question and answer round.

Question: My question is on US Special Envoy on Afghanistan who is here in New Delhi and met the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, so what were the talks all about and on Taliban also, we have seen the comments by the Army Chief, your reaction.

Question: During our conversation with US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad, did we also convey our views on one particular country which has been backing the Taliban for a long time, has been giving them safe havens and is now trying to play a very big role in trying to push the Taliban to the talks?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Any other question on this issue?

Question: On this related question, yesterday at the Raisina Dialogue the Assistant Secretary General of NATO said that Pakistan will have to be part of this Taliban talks, does that concern India?

Question:
Kal Army Chief ne bhi kaha hai ki Taliban ke saath baat karne mei Afghanistan mein hamara kya hit hai ya nahi hai, to is par MEA ka kya reaction hoga?

(Yesterday the Army Chief said that we need to see the interest that we have in talking with Taliban about Afghanistan, so what is the reaction of MEA on this?)

Question: Yesterday former Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that India has to be involved in the peace process though New Delhi’s policy is to work only in development aid and not in peace process, so where does Government stand on that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Let me start off with the visit of Zalmay Khalilzad who is the US Special Representative of Afghan reconciliation. As you know he came to attend the Raisina Dialogue, he had a meeting with the External Affairm Ministes yesterday, he met the Foreign Secretary today morning.

Essentially we both sides shared perspectives on peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. Mr. Khalilzad briefed EAM and FS on their aspect as to how US is trying to achieve peace and reconciliation in the country. We, from our perspective, again made it very clear that peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan should be Afghan owned, Afghan led and Afghan controlled.

On the specific question whether Pakistan’s role was discussed, you know there is something which I have articulated time and again about the destabilizing role, in a way, which Pakistan plays. I am not actually at liberty to disclose the details of the discussion more than what I have shared but yes, the situation in Afghanistan was discussed and we did reiterate our policy on Afghanistan.

And again this is connected to the other question on comments made by the Army Chief, our position on Afghanistan has been very clear and very consistent. I think we have said in the past that we, and we continue to do so that India supports the peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. We also have said that we support the process which is inclusive towards achieving this goal and there has been no change in this position.

Question: There are reports that Iran has claimed that it has means and ways to continue oil supply to India notwithstanding the sanctions. Is it a welcome gesture?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
This is something which has been going on. We are engaged with all the stakeholders on this matter especially since the imposition of the US sanctions on Iran. We have had several rounds of meeting with Iran, we also had several meetings with other stakeholders.

I can tell you that India continues to import oil from Iran. WE have got a waiver in this regard and we will continue to engage with all the stakeholders. You know as far as the matters related to India’s energy security is concerned.

Question: Was the issue of extradition of Zakir Naik discussed when Malaysian leader Mr. Anwar Ibrahim met the PM and EAM. And also it has been reported that Malaysia has said that they need more evidence to follow up on that extradition request, so what is your reaction on that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
I am not aware of any specific discussion on this matter. On the extradition you know that our High Commission is in touch with the Malaysian authorities to expedite the extradition. You see there is a process which a country has to follow and we continue to be in close touch Malaysian authorities in this regard.

Question:
Abhi haal hi mein Pakistan ke Pradhanmantri Imran Khan ne ek TV interview mein kaha hai ki unke baatcheet ke prastaav ko Bharat ne chunaav ke chalte thukra diya. Is par aap kya kahna chaahenge?

(Recently Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in a TV interview said that his proposal for talks was turned down by India due to the upcoming elections. What would you like to say regarding that?)

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Dekhiye is maamle mein frankly mujhe samajh nahi aata ki unka jo ye statement hai wo kahan se aa raha hai. Jyada time nahi hua, in fact unke Pradhanmantri banana ke pahle hi, hamare Pradhanmantri ne unko telephone kar ke badhaai bhi dii thii chunaav mein jeet ke liye. Jab wo Pradhanmantri bane uske baad hamare Pradhanmantri ne aur hamari External Affairs Minister ne apne counterparts ko chitthi likh kar badhaai bhii dii thii.

Kuch sawal hain jo main directly Pakistan ko pose karna chaahunga.

Sabse pahla ye ki jab wo bolte hain ki wo baatcheet ke liye taiyaar hain to unke Mantri wahan ke international terrorists ke saath platform kyon share kar rahe hain? Aur aapko pata hai ki pichhale 6 mahine mein kitne aise instances hue hain jab unke mantriyon ne aise logon ke saath platform share kiya hai. Jaise abhi haal hi mein 30 September ko unke Religious Affairs and Inter-Faith Harmony Minister ne Hafiz Saeed ke saath stage share kiya tha aur dono ne bahut hi vitriolic anti-India statements us stage se diye they.

Use baad unke Interior Minister ki mulakat Jamat-ud-Dawa, jo ek international terrorist organization, ke representative se hui December mein aur unhone bilkul khule tareeke se Hafiz Saeed aur unki organization ke liye Sarkar ka support vyakt kiya.

This is between the representative of JuD leaders and Pakistani Interior Minister of State.

Sawal number do, agar Pakistan baat cheet ke liye taiyaar hai to unki taraf se Mumbai aur Pathankot terror attack ke jo terrorists hain unke khilaaf abhi tak koi action kyon nahi liya gaya? Hamesha baatcheet karke baat ko idhar-udhar kar diya jaata hai.

Sawal number teen, agar wo baatcheet ke liye serious hain to unhone apni territory ko kyon terror groups, terrorists organizations aur terrorists ke liye allow kiya hai jo abhi tak chal raha hai. Aur aise terrorists groups jo India mein hi nahi baaki aur jagah target kar rahe hain. JuD ne inaugurate kiya Pakistan Occupied Kashmir mein, PTI ke ek prominent leader hain unke saath centers khole. JuD aur unka jo NGO hai Fala-e-Insaniyat Foundation wo jo hai, they are no longer in the list of Pakistan’s banned organizations after the Pakistan ordinance which proscribed them has lapsed.

Isase kaafi zaahir hai ki Pakistan ki taraf se jo banned organization ko jo explicit support milti thi wo abhi tak mil rahi hai, usmein koi badlaav nahi aaya hai. Iske alawa jo aur bhi serious baat hai ki ek dekha ja raha hai ki jo terrorists organizations hain unko wo kis tarah se mainstream karne ki koshish kar rahe hain. Iska kaaran sirf ek hi hai jo unka apna problem, jo financial woes hain unke, usase wo apna attention deflect karna chaahte hain aur kaise karein ye? Ye doosare country ke baare mein bayaan de-de kar. To mujhe lagta hai ki ye jo unka statement hai ki hum baat karna chaahte hain, ismein koi seriousness nahi hai aur isko kisi action se backup karna padega.

Yahan par main ye bhi batana chahata hoon ki aap logon ne ek statement suna hoga ki unhone kaha ki India mein minorities ki treatment achhi nahi hoti hai. Mujhe lagta hai ki Pakistan should be the last country in the world to lecture us on the topic of plularity and inclusive society. We and the world are fully aware about how the minorities are treated in their country.

(See, I frankly don’t know the origins of this statement which he is making in this regard. It’s not been long when our Prime Minister called him and congratulated him on his winning the elections even before he became the prime minister. And after that when he became the Prime Minister then both our Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister wrote a letter to their counterparts and congratulated them.

There are few questions which I would like to pose directly to Pakistan.

First, when he says that he is ready for dialogue then why are his ministers sharing platform with the international terrorists present in Pakistan? And you know how many such instanced have occurred in the last six months when their ministers have shared platform with such people. For example recently on 30thSeptember, their Religious Affairs and Inter-faith Minister had shared a platform with Hafiz Saeed and both of them made extremely vitriolic anti-India statement from that shared platform.

After that in December their Interior Minister had a meeting with the representatives of Jamat-ud-Dawa, which is an international terrorist organization and we openly expressed the support of government to Hafiz Saeed and his organization.

This is between the representative of JuD leaders and Pakistani Interior Minister of State.

Second question, if Pakistan is ready for talks then why hasn’t it taken any action against the perpetrators of Mumbai and Pathankot terror attacks till now? The issue is always squandered here and there by diverting the attention.

Third question, if they are serious about talks then why are they still allowing their territory to be used by terror groups, terrorist organizations and terrorists, which is still on going. And such terror groups which are not only targeting India but other places also. Recently JuD opened centers in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir in collaboration with a prominent leader of PTI. JuD and his NGO named Fala-e-Insaniyat they are no longer in the list of Pakistan’s banned organizations after the Pakistan ordinance which proscribed them has lapsed.

It clearly demonstrates that the explicit support which was being provided to banned organizations is still ongoing and there is no change in that. There is one another thing which is even more dangerous, it can be seen how they are trying to mainstream the terrorists organizations.

The only reason for it is that they have their internal problems, i.e. their financial woes, they want to deflect attention from that. Now how to do it? By making statements about another country. So I believe that their statement that they are willing to discuss things does not hold any seriousness and it must be backed up with some serious action.

Here I would like to say one more thing, you all must have heard about another statement of his where he said that minorities are not treated well in India. I think that Pakistan should be the last country in the world to lecture us on the topic of plurality and inclusive society. We and the world are fully aware about how the minorities are treated in their country.)

Question: What is MEA’s stand on the Citizenship Amendment Bill that was discussed in Parliament particularly there is clear discrimination on the lines of religion?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Its not MEA’s matter. It is a matter for the Ministry of Home Affairs so I have no comments on that.

Question: Yesterday the Nepal Foreign Minister admitted that post the ban on cattle slaughter in UP, they are facing a lot of issues because stray cattle are being dumped in their country by our villagers, has that been raised officially with our government?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: This matter did not come up for discussion when the Nepal Foreign Minister met the EAM.

Question Contd.:
What about currency?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I can only share that the Nepal Rashtra Bank have actually sent a communication to the Reserve Bank of India, which happened earlier this month. I understand that the matter is being examined by the concerned authorities in the RBI.

Question:
It has been long since demonetization has taken place and Nepal has been raising the issue of how to resolve with those who are having the old currency in Nepal, so could you get any conclusive reply to them?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
It is not a very simple issue. I can only tell you that we are in touch with them.

Question Contd.:
Does that mean the issue is not dead?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
It is not dead, it has been raised by them and we continue to be in touch with them and working on this matter.

Question:
I believe Christian Michel was granted consular access this morning. Can we have more details, moreover Christian Michel has put a plea in Delhi High Court saying that he wants to make more international calls to his family, friends and lawyers and he will bear the cost for it. Now we were given to believe that he was already allowed to speak to his family, why is he making a fresh attempt and putting it through a legal test in India?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
Frankly speaking I really cannot answer why he is again making this fresh plea but I can confirm what you just mentioned that he has just been granted consular access, a Second Secretary level officer from British High Commission, he has met Christian Michel based on the request which we had received last month from the UK High Commission.

Question Contd.: Was it this morning?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I think it was yesterday.

Question Contd.: Also on the phone calls, was he able to make them?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: We have perhaps shared in the past that he has been allowed to communicate with his family members. Frankly I have not seen the plea which he has entered on this matter again.

Question:
This is regarding the clarification that UN High Commission for Refugees has sought from India regarding the deportation of the second batch Rohingya refugees to Myanmar, they have said that they have sought clarification from Indian government but did not receive any response. It included a family that was registered with UNHCR which was under arrest for illegal entry, but has the government responded to that?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
I am not aware of this specific instance. I will have to check with the concerned division and I will get back to you later on.

As I don’t see any other hand, this concludes the weekly press briefing. Thank you very much.

(Concludes)

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