Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday made a fresh offer of peace talks to India even as he called for an independent inquiry and a UN fact-finding mission into “rights violations” in Kashmir.
Against the backdrop of tensions triggered by the terror attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri, Sharif used his speech at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to call for a “serious and sustained dialogue” for the peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes, especially Kashmir.
However, some of his remarks angered New Delhi – such as his description of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani as a “young leader murdered by Indian forces” who has become the “symbol of the latest Kashmiri Intifada”.
Kashmir has been rocked by two months of violent protests in which 86 people have been killed and thousands injured in the aftermath of Wani’s killing in an encounter on July 8.
“Pak PM Sharif at #UNGA glorifies Hizbul terrorist Burhan Wani in UN’s highest forum. Shows continued Pak attachment to terrorism,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.
Sharif dwelt at length on Kashmir during his speech that lasted about 20 minutes, and demanded an “independent inquiry into the extrajudicial killings” and a “UN fact-finding mission to investigate brutalities perpetrated by the Indian occupying forces, so that those guilty of these atrocities are punished”.
He said Pakistan will share with the UN Secretary-General a dossier with “evidence” of rights violations. He also contended that a new generation of Kashmiris had “risen spontaneously against India’s illegal occupation” and said Pakistan supports the Kashmiri people’s demand for self-determination.
Sharif’s remarks went against India’s assertion that the unrest in Kashmir is instigated and backed by Pakistan. India has also rejected repeated attempts by Pakistan to portray Wani as a “Kashmiri leader”.
He also raked up Pakistan’s long-standing demand for a plebiscite under UN auspices in Kashmir and asked the world body to “de-militarise Jammu and Kashmir and undertake consultations with India, Pakistan and the true representatives of the Kashmiri people” to implement Security Council resolutions.
At the same time, Sharif also made a fresh offer of dialogue to settle all issues with India.
“Confrontation should not be our destiny in South Asia. Pakistan wants peace with India. I have gone the extra mile to achieve this, repeatedly offering a dialogue to address all outstanding issues,” he said.
“But India has posed unacceptable preconditions to engage in a dialogue. Let us be clear: talks are no favor to Pakistan. Talks are in the interest of both countries. They are essential to resolve our differences, especially the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, and to avert the danger of any escalation.”
PM Sharif at #UNGA says India poses unacceptable conditions to dialogue. India's only condition is an end to terrorism. This not acceptable?— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) September 21, 2016
Pak PM Sharif at #UNGA in complete denial of Uri terror attack. 19 infiltration attempts stopped at LoC this year. Indigenous??!!— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) September 21, 2016
Sharif said peace and normalisation between the two neighbours could not be achieved without resolving the Kashmir issue.
“Today, from this rostrum, I would also like to reiterate our offer to India to enter into a serious and sustained dialogue for the peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes, especially Jammu and Kashmir,” Sharif said.
Sharif said Pakistan is committed to establishing strategic stability in the region. He also called for bilateral arms control and disarmament measures to prevent conflict and avoid wasteful military expenditures.
“We are open to discussing all measures of restraint and responsibility with India, in any forum or format and without any conditions. We are ready for talks to agree on a bilateral nuclear test ban treaty,” he said.
While Pakistan does not want an arms race with India, it could not “ignore our neighbor’s unprecedented arms build-up and will take whatever measures are necessary to maintain credible deterrence”, he added.
Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj is expected to give her reply to the issues raised by Sharif when she addresses the UNGA on September 26.