MUZAFFARABAD: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Sardar Tanveer Ilyas has said settlement of Kashmir dispute in line with the wishes and aspirations of Kashmiris was central to improving bilateral relationship between India and Pakistan.

In his response to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s recent dialogue offer to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, the AJK premier made it clear that talks with India, at any level, would be meaningless without [the participation of the] Kashmiris.

While referring to Indian rulers’ track record of backpedaling on their commitments, PM Ilyas pointed out that the UN Security Council resolutions provided a comprehensive roadmap to amicably settle the longstanding Kashmir dispute but India had consistently breached commitments to implement those resolutions, thus causing serious threats to the peace of the region.

The Kashmiris, he said, were not averse to the relationship between Islamabad and New Delhi but revival of ties with India at the cost of Kashmiris’ blood was unacceptable to them.

“The Kashmiri nation has waged a heroic struggle and offered innumerable sacrifices for long for the accomplishment of Pakistan which cannot be ignored,” Mr Ilyas said.

He said the past 75 years’ history bore testimony to the fact that India had always tried to sabotage the sacred struggle of the Kashmiris under the cover of dialogue with Pakistan.

Terming Jammu and Kashmir as the unfinished agenda of the partition of the subcontinent, Mr Ilyas emphatically stated that this issue was a matter of life and death of 15 million people.

The Kashmiris had declared Pakistan as their ultimate destination even before the creation of Pakistan and they have been constantly struggling to achieve this long-cherished goal set by their forefathers, he said.

PM Ilyas pointed out that India had miserably failed to suppress the Kashmiris’ struggle for right to self-determination notwithstanding the use of brute force against them.

“Even after the August 5, 2019 tragedy, India has been unable to establish its foothold in the occupied territory,” he said.

“Let there be no doubt that the Kashmir issue can be resolved only on the basis of the right to self-determination enshrined in the UN Security Council resolutions and repeatedly pledged to the Kashmiris by India itself,” he added.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2023

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