MUZAFFARABAD: Stressing Pakistan’s earnest desire for peace, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif invited Indian leaders on Wednesday to resolve the Kashmir issue through peaceful means for the good of entire South Asian region.

“We are ready to consider every proposal aimed at bringing peace… I had practically proved my sincerity in 1998 and today I again invite India with the same spirit to make headway,” he said in his address to a special joint sitting of the AJK Legislative Assembly and AJK Council held here to mark the Kashmir Solidarity Day.

The prime minister said that Pakistan’s desire for peace was also evident from its talks with the Taliban.

“In Afghanistan, we want our Afghan brethren find solutions to their problems by themselves. Same is the right of the people inhabiting Kashmir and we have to defend that right.”

Mr Sharif reminded India that confrontation and uncertainty would continue to prevail in the region in the presence of an unresolved Kashmir issue, thus casting negative impact on stability and development.

“Therefore, I hope India will realise the sensitivity of this matter, respond positively to our peaceful offer and allow the Kashmiris to decide their fate according to their own free accord.”

He said Pakistan remained committed to its stance of settlement of the Kashmir issue in accordance with the UN resolutions as well as aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

“Kashmir issue is an unfinished agenda of the United Nations as well as the core issue in South Asia. There is no denying the fact that unflinching struggle for freedom in occupied Kashmir is a natural reaction of the injustices and atrocities meted out to the Kashmiris,” he said, adding that indigenous and limitless struggle by the Kashmiris bore testimony to the fact that the Kashmir issue could not be left unnoticed.

“Neither can the international community ignore or remain silent at unending human rights violations and other acts of repression in held Kashmir nor can we remain oblivious to our responsibility of assuaging the wounds of Kashmiris.”

He recalled that the subcontinent was partitioned to bring an end to mutual conflicts and to live with friendliness as good neighbours.

The Quaid-i-Azam was clear about it as he wanted to establish USA-Canada like ties between India and Pakistan, he said, adding that Gandhiji also knew that tyranny and pleasant mutual relations could not go hand in hand and that was why he had raised voice for return of the assets of Pakistan.

“Even if today the Indian leadership accepts the right to self-determination of Kashmiri people, there is no reason India and Pakistan do not enjoy good relations.”

The prime minister said that Pakistan had time and again expressed its desire to resolve all issues with India, including Kashmir, through meaningful, purposeful and result-oriented talks.

Pakistan, he said, initiated a number of steps to strengthen mutual trust with India, including the opening of Line of Control to mitigate the sufferings of Kashmiris and grant the divided families opportunities for reunion.

“Similarly, cross-LoC trade and travel that continues notwithstanding problems also reflects our determination to facilitate the Kashmiris on both sides,” he said.

Mr Sharif assured the Kashmiris that Pakistan would continue its efforts at all international forums for their right to self-determination.

“The whole nation considers the pain of Kashmiris as its own pain because Kashmir and Pakistan are linked to each other through religious, cultural and social bonds. Our spiritual relationship is strengthening with each passing day.”

About the development of AJK, he said it was as dear to him as that of any other part of Pakistan.

He assured the AJK government that there would not be any meddling in its (internal) affairs and called upon it to focus attention on welfare of people.

He pointed out that in his previous tenure he had spent 90 per cent of his time in planning developmental activities, but now the same amount of time was being spent on addressing security-related issues.

“Nevertheless, I would love to discuss development of AJK in AJK, instead of Islamabad… I wish to see AJK develop as a model,” he said.

Apart from other development projects, the prime minister expressed his desire to establish a train link between Islamabad and Muzaffarabad in the first phase and towards Chakothi in the second phase for the benefit of the Kashmiris on both sides of LoC as well as Pakistan.

At one point, while referring to occupied Kashmir, he said: “Surely there has been a lot of development there, and the occupied Kashmir governments do have a role in it.”

AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed and leader of the opposition Raja Farooq Haider also spoke on the occasion.

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