ISLAMABAD: Supporting the military’s stance, the government on Friday firmly rejected India’s claim that it had successfully carried out surgical strikes across the Line of Control against alleged militants inside Pakistani territory.
Chairing a meeting of the federal cabinet, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also decided to convene two back-to-back meetings early next week where the national political leadership will be taken into confidence over the sudden spike in tensions between Pakistan and India following the Uri base attack in India-held Kashmir.
On Monday, heads of all parliamentary parties have been invited for a briefing on the Kashmir crisis and to send a message to the outside world. A meeting on the National Action Plan (NAP) has also been scheduled for next week, where provincial chief ministers will be taken into confidence over matters of national security.
Political leaders to be taken on board over recent developments; NAP body meeting next week
According to one participant of the meeting, it seemed the prime minister has lost all hopes of developing a rapport with his Indian counterpart, for which he had gone the extra mile. Despite opposition from various quarters, PM Sharif had attended Narendra Modi’s inauguration and invited him to be a guest at his Raiwind residence on the eve of his granddaughter’s wedding.
The same could be pieced together from the detailed briefing given by Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry, detailing how Indians are using the Uri attack to distract international attention that Pakistan was trying to focus on the plight of the Kashmiri people, the participant said.
In his briefing, the foreign secretary said that since PM Modi was suffering a serious dip in his popularity ratings at the national level, he had resorted to warmongering and aggressive posturing against Pakistan. Moreover, the secretary told the meeting that at the international level, the foreign ministry was keeping the five permanent members of the UN Security Council as well as other important capitals of the world abreast of all developments along the LoC.
The official press statement released after the meeting said: “The cabinet joined [the] prime minister in completely rejecting the Indian claims of carrying out ‘surgical strikes’,” adding: “Indian occupation forces [have] resorted to unprovoked firing on the LoC in complete violation of India’s commitments under bilateral arrangements as well as international law”.
At the very outset of the meeting, the prime minister said: “We wanted to focus our energies for the betterment and welfare of our people and the development of our country. My government is committed to [eliminating] poverty and unemployment and to achieve these goals, peace is essential.”
However, the prime minister continued: “We would defend our homeland against any aggression. The entire nation is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our armed forces.” In the same breath, he reiterated the assertion that Kashmir was an unfinished agenda of partition that couldn’t be wished away. “Indian atrocities cannot suppress the passions of the Kashmiri people.”
PM Sharif said Indian aggression posed a serious threat to regional peace and security, adding that the people and leadership of Pakistan were united in their resolve to counter any aggressive Indian designs.
The sitting unanimously deplored the provocative statements of the Indian leadership, alleging Pakistan was behind the Uri attack without any evidence.
“The cabinet noted that the statements of the Indian prime minister have provided fresh evidence of Indian involvement in subversive and terrorist activities in Pakistan, which is a clear contravention of the UN charter and international law,” said the statement.
The cabinet also reiterated Pakistan’s call for free, fair and impartial investigation into the killings of innocent civilians, under the auspices of the UN.
The cabinet also welcomed the decision of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to send a fact-finding mission to India-held Jammu and Kashmir.
The body also praised the brave and valiant jawaans of the armed forces for giving a befitting response to Indian aggression. Members also offered fatiha for the two armed forces personnel who lost their lives and expressed sympathy for their families over the irreparable loss.
Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2016