Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has assured a leading separatist leader of his full support to the “supreme cause of Kashmir”, a move that could add to tensions with India.
Sharif conveyed his support in a letter sent to Asiya Andrabi, the chief of the Dukhtaran-e-Millat, a women’s separatist group. Sharif also thanked her for her letter lauding Pakistan’s role in working for the “resolution” of the Kashmir issue.
The contents of the letter signed by Sharif on September 30 were published on the website of state-run Radio Pakistan on Monday.
Written in Urdu, the letter thanks Andrabi for reposing faith in Pakistan’s policies on the Kashmir issue and assures her of his full support for the “supreme cause of Kashmir”.
The letter will add to strains between Pakistan and India, which called off talks between the national security advisors in August after Islamabad insisted on adding the Kashmir issue to the agenda.
The National Democratic Alliance government has also expressed its opposition to visiting Pakistani leaders holding meetings with Kashmiri separatists during visits to India.
In the letter, a copy of which was accessed by Hindustan Times, Sharif writes that for him and Pakistan, the Kashmir issue is “not a border dispute or a geographical issue” but an issue based on the principles that led to the Partition in 1947.
“The principles and the formula of Partition was that the Muslim majority state of Kashmir should be given the right to self-determination. This right has been recognised by the entire world on the platform of the United Nations,” the letter states.
“India promised the world community that Kashmir would be given the right to choose its political future through the exercise of self-determination.”
Though a lot of time had passed since the UN passed the resolution on Kashmir, this did not “belittle its importance” in any way. “The fact is that the Kashmiri people...have proved the resolution is as important as it was years ago,” he added.
Sharif said Pakistan will continue its policy of extending diplomatic, political and moral support to Kashmiris. He said Pakistan believes Andrabi’s struggle is “just and right”.
Andrabi was detained last week ahead of a planned telephone address to a rally protesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Britain. She was released on Sunday night.
She was earlier booked for singing the Pakistani anthem and hoisting the Pakistani flag to celebrate the neighbouring country’s independence day on August 14. She was also detained ahead of Modi’s rally in Srinagar on November 7.