Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday reiterated his desire to talk peace with India, saying Pakistan is ready to cooperate on all issues, including terrorism.
Addressing a joint sitting of the legislative assembly and council of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in Muzaffarabad, he said the solution to all outstanding issues with India, including Kashmir, lies in dialogue.
“Time has once again come for the leadership of Pakistan and India to resolve matters,” he told the audience on the occasion of Kashmir Solidarity Day, which is observed every February 5. The differences between the two sides are not unusual “but not being able to resolve issues for decades is a matter of concern”, he said.
Sharif’s remarks came against the backdrop of bilateral relations being strained by the terror attack on the Pathankot airbase, blamed on the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Though reports suggested Sharif’s government has detained some JeM operatives, including the group’s founder Masood Azhar, there have been few other signs of progress in Pakistan’s probe into the attack.
Sharif said Pakistan has taken the initiative for peace but, at the same time, it is his government’s priority is to give the people of Kashmir their due rights. “The people of (Jammu and Kashmir) in 2016, are still fighting for freedom, the way they did in 1947,” he added.
The Kashmir issue, he said, is a test for the leadership of India and Pakistan and the people of both countries cannot prosper till the lingering issue is resolved, he said. He hoped the comprehensive bilateral dialogue process will “move forward in days to come”.
A day earlier, during a meeting with the army chief and other top officials at the ISI headquarters, Sharif had said his government and the nation “is standing behind Pakistan’s armed forces and intelligence agencies to stamp out terrorism from the country”.
In remarks that were widely quoted in the media, Sharif said: “We will collectively defeat all designs of our enemies and make Pakistan a secure and prosperous country.”
The meeting reviewed internal and external threats to Pakistan, including terrorist networks and their links. “The role of hostile intelligence agencies and their collaborators in fomenting instability in Pakistan and undermining Pakistan’s interests was discussed in detail,” said a statement from the military’s media arm. The term “hostile agencies” is perceived as a reference to Indian agencies.