Amid post-Pathankot chill, Sharif seeks UN’s mediation on Kashmir

Sharif on Kashmir

Amid clouds of uncertainty over the course of the dialogue process between India and Pakistan after the January Pathankot terror attacks, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has sought to internationalize the Kashmir issue by renewing the pitch for the UN’s mediation to resolve the decades-old dispute between the two South Asian neighbours.

Playing the Kashmir card once again, Mr Sharif has called for resolving the Kashmir dispute in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions. He said that the credibility of the global organisation will be at stake if it fails to implement its own resolutions.

This tactic by Pakistan will be resented and opposed by India, which has consistently maintained that the Kashmir issue should be resolved through bilateral dialogue.

Celebrating ‘Kashmir Day’, Mr Sharif was speaking to lawmakers in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan occupied Kashmir, on February 5. “Only implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions can amicably resolve the Kashmir issue. Until then peace in the region will remain an elusive dream,” he said.

Expressing hope for an early resumption of bilateral talks between Pakistan and India, he said that “the solution of all issues, including that of disputed Kashmir, lies in dialogue.”

“Difference of opinion between two countries is not unheard of,” Mr Sharif said. He was referring to differences between Pakistan and India over Kashmir during his address to a joint session of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Assembly in Muzaffarabad. “What is unusual is that for 6-7 decades, we have not been able to get rid of these differences,” Mr Sharif said.

Mr Sharif insisted that he had been taking up the issue with the Indian side whenever he met the Indian leadership. “I brought this up with the Indian leadership and would like to reiterate that the solution to our problems lies in dialogue. Unless we sit together and talk about these issues, they won’t be resolved,” he said.

“Government’s priority is to give the people of Kashmir their due rights,” he said. “People of Indian-occupied Kashmir in 2016, are still fighting for freedom, the way they did in 1947,” he added.

Announcing incentives for the disputed region, Mr Sharif said: “The government’s aim is to bring prosperity in the region.” He added that the AJK should be treated like all other South Asian regions and development in this area should be given equal importance. Putting the onus on the UN, Mr Sharif said: “The United Nations too has to answer questions why it has failed to implement its own resolutions in support of the right of self-determination of the Kashmiri people.”

India has rejected time and again any internationalization of the Kashmir issue, and is looking to engage Islamabad in a bilateral dialogue. The timing of Mr Sharif’s remarks is incongruent as Pakistan is under pressure to deliver on its promise to prosecute the perpetrators of the Pathankot terror attacks. India has made it clear that only visible and concrete action by Pakistan on the Pathankot attacks will form the basis for continuing any meaningful dialogue with Pakistan. The foreign secretaries of the two countries are expected to meet later this month to map the modalities for the revived dialogue process.

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