Negotiations with India not possible until reversal of ‘illegal action’ on occupied Kashmir, PMO clarifies

Published January 17, 2023
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in an interview with Al Arabiya news channel on Monday. — screengrab
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in an interview with Al Arabiya news channel on Monday. — screengrab

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) clarified on Tuesday that talks with India can only take place after the country reverses its “illegal action of August 5, 2019”, which was aimed at illegally altering the demography of the Muslim-majority state of Indian occupied Kashmir.

“Without India’s revocation of this step, negotiations are not possible,” it said.

The statement comes a day after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif asked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to hold serious and sincere talks to resolve burning issues, including Kashmir, and said the United Arab Emirates leadership could play an important role in bringing India and Pakistan to the table.

In an interview with UAE’s Al Arabiya news channel, the premier said: “My message to the Indian leadership and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is that let us sit down on the table and have serious and sincere talks to resolve our burning issues like Kashmir.

“In Kashmir, flagrant human rights violations are taking place day in and day out.”

The prime minister said India had usurped any semblance of autonomy, given to the Kashmiris according to Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, as the autonomy was revoked in August 2019.

Minorities in India were being persecuted, he said, adding that India must stop this to give a message to the world that the country was ready for meaningful talks.

Referring to PM Shehbaz’s Al Arabiya interview today, the PMO spokesperson said that the prime minister had consistently maintained that Pakistan and India must resolve their bilateral issues through dialogue and peaceful means.

“However, the prime minister has repeatedly stated on record that talks can only take place after India has reversed its illegal action of August 5, 2019. Without India’s revocation of this step, negotiations are not possible.”

The PMO spokesperson said that the settlement of the Kashmir dispute “must be in accordance with the UN resolutions and aspirations of people of Jammu and Kashmir”.

“The prime minister made this position very clear in his interview with Al Arabiya during his recent visit to the UAE,” he added.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah also chimed in, saying the main prerequisite for negotiations with India is the “revocation of its illegal step taken on August 5, 2019, which stripped the valley of its legitimate status. Until the reversal of that unilateral step, there could be no discussions between the two states”.

Al Arabiya interview

During the interview with Al Arabiya yesterday, PM Shehbaz reminded the world that India and Pakistan were neighbours and they had to live with each other.

“It is up to us to live peacefully and make progress or quarrel with each other, and waste time and resources. We have three wars with India and it only brought more misery, poverty and unemployment to the people. We have learnt our lesson and we want to live in peace provided we are able to resolve our genuine problems. We want to alleviate poverty, achieve prosperity, and provide education and health facilities and employment to our people and not waste our resources on bombs and ammunition, that is the message I want to give to PM Modi,” he pointed out.

The premier said, “We are nuclear powers, armed to the teeth and if God forbid a war breaks out who will live to tell what happened.”

He said Saudi Arabia was a friendly and brotherly country, and they had unique brotherly relations for centuries.

Before Pakistan came into being and carved out of India, millions of Muslims had brotherly relations with Saudi Arabia and they were visiting Makkah and Medina, he recalled.

The PM said the UAE was a second home for millions of Pakistanis and as prime minister, he had undertaken a successful visit to the country. He said Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed was an affectionate brother and great supporter of Pakis­tan and wanted the people of Pakistan to progress and become prosperous. Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan was also a great friend of Pakistan and Pakistan was in his soul.

“Leadership of Pakistan and Gulf countries have resolved to cooperate with each other in the realm of trade and culture and project Islam as a religion of peace and shun all forms of terrorism. We are working together as strategic partners,” he added.

The prime minister said Pakistan’s woes and difficulties would not have de­­creased without the tangible and substantial support of the brotherly Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia, who were reliable and trustworthy partners. He said the Pakistani nation was resilient and brave, and it would stand on its own feet by promoting trade and investment.

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