Solve Kashmir for peace, PM tells world

NEW YORK - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has informed the world community that peace and normalisation between Pakistan and India cannot be achieved unless the right of self-determination is ensured to the Kashmiri people who are rendering unprecedented sacrifices for liberation from oppressive Indian rule.

Speaking for the first time with conviction and commitment on this key issue during his ongoing stint as Premier, he demanded from the United Nations an independent inquiry into the extrajudicial killings in the Occupied Valley.

Addressing the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, he asked for a fact-finding mission to investigate brutalities perpetrated by the Indian occupation forces to punish those who killed innocent Kashmiri men, women and children.

More than 80 per cent of his speech focused on Kashmir, the liberation struggle of its people and Indian atrocities against unarmed civilians there.

Pakistani leader demanded immediate release of all Kashmiri political prisoners in Jammu and Kashmir; end to curfew, which entered into 76th day on Wednesday; provision of urgent medical assistance to the wounded; abrogation of draconian laws; and removal of foreign travel ban on Kashmiri leaders.

The prime minister said that a new generation of Kashmiris has risen spontaneously against India’s illegal occupation - demanding freedom from occupation- and he used the term ‘Kashmiri Intifada’ for the ongoing episode of the indigenous struggle of the people of Occupied Valley.

Calling Burhan Wani ‘the young Kashmiri leader murdered by the Indian forces’, he said Wani has emerged as the symbol of latest Kashmiri Intifada - a popular and peaceful freedom movement.

Prime Minister Sharif said confrontation should not be destiny of the people of South Asia and Pakistan had gone extra mile to achieve this, repeatedly offering dialogue to end all disputes threatening peace in this region.

“How could a dialogue succeed when India would impose preconditions that were not acceptable to Pakistan? If India agrees for negotiations, it would be no favour to Pakistan,” he said stressing the point that talks were as much in interested of India as Pakistan. New Delhi must realise that talks on the table alone would resolve outstanding issues and reduce chances of escalation of hostilities, he added.

He told the world community that offering talks to India was aimed at providing peace to South Asian region by resolving Kashmir. “This is an objective evaluation and not a partisan position,” he said, pointing out that the current uprising in occupied Kashmir was being dealt with brute force by the Indian troops who have, during the past two months alone, killed over a hundred Kashmiris and injured scores of others– many of them blinded by pellets.

Further arguing his point, the prime minister said Indian brutalities were well-documented and Pakistan would hand over a dossier to the UN Secretary General that would unveil evidence of the gross and systematic violation of human rights at the hands of the cruel Indian troops.

This unparalleled use of force by the Indian troops would not be able to eliminate the spirit behind the Kashmiri Intifada; it would rather intensify their anger and strengthen their determination to see India end its occupation of the Valley. “From Srinagar to Sopore, men, women and children were coming out everyday defying curfew,” he said.

He reminded the Security Council of the promise it made in its resolutions to grant right of self-determination to Kashmiris which, he said, was a legitimate demand and Pakistan fully supported this genuine cause.

PM Nawaz Sharif said people of Kashmir had waited for 70 long years for implementation of Security Council’s own resolutions. He said Pakistan has already welcomed the initiative of the Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to mediate between India and Pakistan for implementation of Security Council resolutions.

He also said the United Nations must ensure de-militarisation of Kashmir.

The Premier said the international community ignored the danger of rising tensions in South Asia at its own peril while Pakistan, on its part, was committed to the establishment of strategic stability in the region.

“We are neither willing nor are engaged in an armed race with India. But at the same time how could we ignore India’s unprecedented arms buildup? We are free to take measures to maintain credible and viable deterrence,” the prime minister argued. “From this world forum, we would reiterate offer of dialogue to India on all outstanding issue, particularly Kashmir conflict.”

The prime minister said Pakistan was also willing for entering into negotiations with India on a bilateral nuclear test ban treaty.

“As a responsible nuclear weapons state, Pakistan will continue to cooperate with all international efforts that seek to promote fair and equitable solutions to disarmament and non-proliferation challenges”, he assured the world and asked for giving it NSG membership. “Judged on the basis on objective criteria and without discrimination, Pakistan was fully eligible for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group.”

PM Sharif said fight against terrorism and violent extremism could not be won without addressing their root causes which lied in the poverty, ignorance, political and social injustice and oppression, foreign intervention, occupation, denial of legitimate rights - including the right of self-determination.

He said that Pakistan’s Zarb-e-Azb Operation is the largest, most robust and most successful anti-terrorism campaign anywhere in the world, deploying 200,000 of our security forces.

“Our comprehensive National Action Plan has the complete endorsement of our people and our Parliament as well as our security forces, all of whom have made heroic sacrifices to defeat terrorism” he added.

Talking about the war in Afghanistan, he said the road to peace lied in a dialogue between the Kabul regime and Afghan Taliban and Pakistan has always regarded this as the only option. “On a request from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Pakistan has been facilitating the process of reconciliation in the warn-torn Afghanistan.”

He said there had been setbacks but they were not sufficient reason to abandon the path of peace and rely on military option that has already failed. “Afghanistan is facing conflict and chaos for the past 35 years that has grave security and economic consequences for Pakistan (too)”, he said.

“We have been hosting Afghan refugees as our guests but now we hope that they would return to their homeland voluntarily yet with dignity. Till such time that it happens, international community must shoulder its responsibility to sustain them,” Nawaz said.

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