The Foreign Office on Thursday clarified that it is doing what it can in order to highlight the atrocities being committed by the Indian armed forces in occupied Kashmir. At a weekly news briefing, the Foreign Office spokesperson rejected the criticism, insisting that the “vision of Pakistan’s foreign policy is given at the leadership level by the government.”
Earlier Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari claimed that the Foreign Minister had little to highlight the Kashmir cause at the international forum. She questioned the performance of the foreign office during a National Assembly session, wherein she endorsed the view expressed by some opposition MPs that the Foreign Office has ‘narrow vision.’ She also said the same in a TV talk-show.
کشمیر کے معاملے پر فارن آفس کو جو کرنا چاہئے وہ نہیں کررہا ، ڈاکٹر شیریں مزاری @NasimZehra @24NewsHD @ShireenMazari1 @PTIofficial @farooq_pm #Ashrafjehangirqazi #24NewsHD #Kashmir #KashmirSolidarityDay pic.twitter.com/UAIKvSgg9F
— NasimZehra@Pakistan (@NasimZehra_at8) February 5, 2020
Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said that “the steering of this vision is carried out under the direction of the foreign minister [Shah Mahmood Qureshi] by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs”.
“We take the cause of Jammu & Kashmir very seriously. It is the core issue of Pakistan’s foreign policy. The observation that the Foreign Office is not taking it seriously is not accurate,” she said.
Listing the steps the Foreign Office took after the illegal annexation of Occupied Kashmir [IOK] by India in August 2019, she said a Kashmir cell was also established in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“It is a multi-agency unit dedicated to monitor the evolving situation in Jammu & Kashmir and to take forward the strategy articulated by the government; steered by the foreign minister and executed by over 100 missions of Pakistan all over the world,” she elaborated.
Ms. Farooqui explained that “as I said earlier, taking forward the strategy on the Kashmir cause is not an event, it is a process. All aspects of Jammu & Kashmir dispute including legal, political and humanitarian are taken forward in accordance with the UNSC [United Nations Security Council] resolutions.”
She said Pakistan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have never been shy or negligent towards this core issue of our foreign policy. “We are dedicated in taking it forward,” she added.
Interestingly, Ms. Mazari criticized the media for misquoting the foreign office.
Sad to see Geo distort what Mofa spokesperson said. I checked entire briefing. My name was never mentioned nor any comment made with ref to my statements on Kashmir! I stated facts & I stand by whatever I have said & will say on Kashmir – an issue on which I have worked 4 decades https://t.co/gOzfPzKXeG
— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) February 6, 2020
“I stated facts & I stand by whatever I have said & will say on Kashmir – an issue on which I have worked 4 decades,” she maintained.
However, it is important to note that Prime Minister Imran Khan has publically criticized the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for doing little on Kashmir dispute. But the Foreign Office spokesperson portrayed a positive picture of the contributions of the organization of 57 Islamic countries.
“Historically, the OIC has been one of the strongest proponents of Kashmir cause and several OIC resolutions have been passed on different aspects of Jammu and Kashmir dispute, including human rights violations, legal aspects of the dispute and the peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute as per the UNSC Resolutions,” noted Ms. Farooqui.
Further elaborating, Ms. Farooqui said for decades the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir has played a dynamic role in bringing the issue to the forefront at the international level.
“After August 5, the OIC Contact Group has played an active role. The OIC Contact Group met at the ministerial level on the sidelines of UNGA [United Nations General Assembly] session [last year] The OIC IPHRC [Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission] reported extensively on the human rights situation in IOK. Pakistan remains engaged with the OIC at leadership level on the Kashmir cause and several ideas are discussed regularly in this regard,” she said.
She, however, avoided giving a direct answer to a question whether Saudi Arabia was reluctant to convene a meeting of OIC foreign ministers to exclusively discuss the Kashmir issue.