Kashmir remains central to meaningful engagement with India: FO

Published April 17, 2021
FO spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri addresses a press conference. — DawnNewsTV/File
FO spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri addresses a press conference. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has said that Kashmir remains central to any meaningful engagement with India.

“We believe durable peace, security and development in the region hinge on peaceful resolution of the long-standing Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” Foreign Office spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhry told a press briefing here on Friday.

“We, therefore, believe that the two sides need to discuss all outstanding issues including Jammu and Kashmir with a view to seeking peaceful resolution of this long outstanding dispute as per international legitimacy.”

He was replying to questions about back-channel contacts between India and Pakistan and chances of a meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.

“We remain concerned over the grave human rights situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). Pakistan has been consistently sensitising the international community about the continuing military siege, extrajudicial killings, incarceration of the Kashmiri leadership and unprecedented restrictions on fundamental freedoms of the Kashmiri people,” the FO spokesman said.

He noted that the international community must use all tools at its disposal to urge India to rescind its illegal and unilateral actions it took since August 5, 2019 and to end its human rights violations in occupied Kashmir.

Spokesman says Pakistan has been consistently supporting efforts for stability in Afghanistan

About back-channel contacts between India and Pakistan, he said states had ways and means to communicate with other which remained available even during wars, indirectly confirming that behind-the-scenes talks were under way between the two countries.

“So, what is important is that whether Pakistan is ready to talk to India; what needs to be discussed between the two sides; and whether a meaningful and result-oriented dialogue can take place under the current environment,” he said.

The FO spokesman said that Pakistan had never shied away from talks with India and it had always underscored the need for a meaningful dialogue and peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

He said that, unfortunately, India had vitiated the environment through its illegal and unilateral actions of Aug 5, 2019. The onus is, therefore, on India to create an enabling and conducive environment for a meaningful and result-oriented dialogue between the two countries.

“As for the role of third parties, we have always maintained that the international community has an important role to play in averting risks to peace and stability in the region and facilitating a just and lasting solution to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people,” he said.

Asked to comment on the US National Intelligence Council’s assessment that Pakistan and India might stumble into a war in the next five years, he said Pakistan is a peace-loving country that continues to promote peace, security and stability in the region for the prosperity of the country and of the South Asian region on the whole.

He recalled that in his inaugural speech, Prime Minister Imran Khan had stated that “if India takes one step forward for peace, Pakistan will take two”.

“Our desire for peace was also manifested when we released the captured Indian pilot as a gesture of peace after the Balakot misadventure by India. We have consistently maintained that durable peace and stability in the region is contingent upon resolution of outstanding disputes and the core issue between India and Pakistan is indeed the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” he stressed.

About Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav, the spokesman urged India to cooperate with the Pakistani courts by inter-alia appointing a lawyer in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case.

About US troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, Mr Chaudhry said that Pakistan had been consistently supporting and facilitating efforts for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.

“We believe there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and a negotiated political solution through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process is important for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan. Towards this end, the US-Taliban Agreement of Feb 29, 2020, laid foundation for a comprehensive intra-Afghan peace agreement including a permanent ceasefire for bringing an end to violence in Afghanistan.”

Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2021

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