UNITED NATIONS - There could be no lasting peace in South Asia without a just settlement of Kashmir dispute, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told the world on Saturday.
At the General Debate of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, he said the resolution of Kashmir issue must be based on the UN Security Council resolutions and as per the will of the Kashmiri people.
Delivering his speech in Urdu, the foreign minister also said it was a matter of concern for the international community that India had sponsored terrorism and aggression against all its neighbours.
He said Pakistan desired a relationship with India based on sovereign equality and mutual respect.
“We seek resolution of disputes through a serious and comprehensive dialogue that covers all issues of concern. We were to meet on the sidelines of this UNGA session to talk about all issues with India- [but] India called off dialogue the third time for the Modi’s Government, each time on flimsy grounds.”
Qureshi noted that Indians preferred politics over peace. They used the pretext of stamps of a Kashmiri activist issued [by Pakistan] months ago depicting grave human rights violations in Kashmir, including pellet gun victims, as an excuse to back out of the talks.
“Dialogue is the only way to address long standing issues that have long bedevilled South Asia, and prevented the region from realising its true potential,” he emphasised.
To divert the world’s attention from its brutalities, he said, India frequently violated the ceasefire along the Line of Control in Kashmir.
“Despite numerous violations Pakistan has acted with restraint. But if India does venture across the LoC, or acts upon its doctrine of “limited war” against Pakistan, it will evoke a strong and matching response,” he warned.
The foreign minister said Pakistan continued to face terrorism financed, facilitated and orchestrated by “our eastern neighbour”.
Qureshi added, “We wanted to sit with India to discuss all issues, including terrorism, that have created violence in our cities and towns, and have led to tens of thousands of casualties of innocent Pakistanis.
“Pakistan shall never forget the mass murder of more than 150 children in a Peshawar school, the terrible Mastung attack and many others that have links with terrorists supported by India.”
He said they would never forget the terrorist attack in India on Samjhota Express carrying innocent Pakistanis – and now its confessed perpetrators were being allowed to walk free.
He said Pakistan wanted to share this evidence with India and the international community on who supported these acts of violence and terrorism. Pakistan had already shared this evidence with the UN.
“We have in our custody a serving Indian Naval officer, Commander Kalbhushan Yadav, who has provided us with the most incriminating evidence by accepting that he, on the instructions of his government, financed, planned and executed acts of terrorism and violence in Pakistan.”
The minister said this was but one Indian state sponsored official terrorist, while many more were launched inside Pakistan to create terror and mayhem by its eastern neighbour.
“And it is India, that in plain sight of the international community, perpetrates state sponsored terrorism in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India,” he added.
Qureshi said the unresolved Jammu and Kashmir dispute hindered the realisation of the goal of durable peace between the two countries. For over seventy years now, it had remained on the agenda of the UN Security Council and a blot on the conscience of humanity, he said.
For over seventy years, the people of occupied Jammu & Kashmir had struggled for their rights of self-determination in the face of overwhelming oppression and gross violations of their fundamental human rights by the Indian occupation forces, he added.
He said it was a concern of the United Nations, as Jammu and Kashmir remained on the agenda of the UN Security Council. And it was a matter of concern for the international community as humanity was being crushed and human rights being violated all over India, where people had stood up against oppression, occupation and to demand their fundamental rights.
The minister said Pakistan welcomed the recently released report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The report rightly lifted the veil from decades of obfuscation and chronicles and the massive ongoing violations of human rights in Indian Occupied Kashmir. It vindicated Pakistan’s position.
“No longer, the excuse of terrorism can be used to continue systematically oppressing the Kashmiri people,” he added.
The foreign minister of Pakistan said they endorsed the UN Report and called for early institution of a Commission of Inquiry under UN auspices to investigate and fix responsibility. “We will welcome the Commission to Azad Jammu & Kashmir, and hope that India too, will do the same”.
The minister said strategic stability in the region had been and continued to be undermined. This was evident in different ways as by introduction of destabilising weapon systems, pursuit of discriminatory approaches by certain states to supply advanced military hardware and sensitive technologies, and adoption of offensive force postures and doctrines that imagined conflict beneath a nuclear threshold.
He said under the circumstances, Pakistan had no option but to maintain a minimum credible deterrence. “We have been advocating for many years now, a Strategic Restraint Regime for South Asia. Pakistan is ready to engage with India for meaningful confidence building, risk reduction and avoidance of arms race,” he underlined.
Pak success against terrorism
Qureshi further said for the past 17 years, Pakistan at great cost of life and resources had been combating the fires of terrorism and extremism.
“By the determined operations of our armed forces, and the full support of our people, Pakistan has turned the tide against terrorism. With the deployment of 200,000 troops, Pakistan has conducted the largest and most effective counter terrorism campaign in the world”.
He said peace and security had returned to our cities and towns. In the national interest, and in line with our National Action Plan, we would continue to strengthen the counter terrorism frameworks and regimes, he added.
Pakistan - a changed country
The minister, about recent elections in Pakistan, said two months ago, the people of Pakistan voted for change, for reform and for a fundamental shift in their paradigm of governance. They opted for a Pakistan, confident and compassionate, open and articulate, peaceful and principled.
“A Pakistan that will engage with its neighbourhood and the world on the basis of equality and respect; a country that will seek resolution of conflicts and convergence of interests; and a state that will build upon common understandings, reciprocal commitments and shared ideals,” he added.
He said Pakistan would brook no compromise on the interests of the nation, the sovereignty of the state, or the security of its people.
“Our government is keen to pursue a policy of partnerships for peace, security and prosperity in our immediate neighbourhood and beyond. We seek a peaceful environment to promote our development agenda both at the national level and in our region,” he added.
The foreign minister also spoke at length about Afghan peace process, reforms at the UN, China Pakistan Economic Corridor, social and economic disparities among the member countries and Pakistan’s contributions at the world body for the regional and global peace and the UN peacekeeping forces.
QURESHI MEETS UN CHIEF
Highlighting the grave human rights violations in Indian-occupied Kashmir, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to play his role in resolving the decades-old dispute between Pakistan and India.
The foreign minister met the UN chief on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly taking place in New York.
According to an official statement, the foreign minister voiced Pakistan’s serious concern over the plight of the people in Indian-occupied Kashmir as evidenced in the damning report of the UN Human Rights High Commissioner.
He stressed the need for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
The foreign minister also referred to the jingoistic rhetoric from New Delhi, and asked the secretary general to urge India not to embark on any misadventure, the statement said. Guterres is due to visit India in the first week of next month.
FM Qureshi expressed Pakistan’s desire to engage with India for lasting peace in the region.
On Afghanistan, the foreign minister reiterated that peace and stability was only possible through an inclusive, Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. He said Pakistan’s interest was in a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.
The secretary general, calling Pakistan a privileged partner of the UN, appreciated its lead role at the UN, including as a top troop contributor to peacekeeping.
Qureshi and secretary general agreed on the importance of promoting regional peace through dialogue, the statement said.