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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

Pak’s ‘Kashmir cell’ will drive global propaganda

Pakistan indicated on Saturday that it would press ahead with efforts to internationalise the issue and hit out at remarks by Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh hinting at a rethink of India’s no first use of nuclear weapons policy.

india Updated: Aug 18, 2019 08:40 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan
Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan(AP file photo)
         

A day after failing to get the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to hold a formal and open meeting on Jammu and Kashmir, and give it a chance to address the multilateral forum, Pakistan indicated on Saturday that it would press ahead with efforts to internationalise the issue and hit out at remarks by Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh hinting at a rethink of India’s no first use of nuclear weapons policy.

Prime Minister Imran Khan put up a brave face on the UNSC’s decision, saying the closed-door consultations were a reaffirmation of the Council’s past resolutions advocating the right to self-determination of the Kashmiris. Commenting on Twitter, Khan said it was the first time in over five decades that the “world’s highest diplomatic forum” had taken up the Kashmir issue.

“There are 11 UNSC resolutions reiterating the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination. And the UNSC meeting was a reaffirmation of these resolutions,” Khan wrote.

 Also Watch | India envoy shakes hand with Pak journalists after UNSC meet on Kashmir

Only its all-weather ally China supported Pakistan at Friday’s meeting, which followed the Indian Parliament’s effective revocation of Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave J&K special status, and Article 35A, under which permanent residents of Kashmir were exclusively entitled to government jobs and property ownership. Parliament also decided to split the state into two Union Territories, J&K and Ladakh.

India’s envoy to the UN, Syed Akbaruddin, said there was a widespread acceptance of New Delhi’s commitment to deal with issues such as Kashmir with Pakistan bilaterally.

China’s permanent envoy to the UN, Zhung Jun, told journalists that members expressed “serious concern” over the situation in Kashmir and urged all parties not to take unilateral actions that could aggravate the situation.

On Saturday, Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters in Islamabad that a Kashmir Cell will be created at Pakistan’s foreign office and Kashmir desks established in Pakistani embassies all over the world “in order to carry out effective communication on the matter”.

Also read: ‘Reduce tension over Kashmir bilaterally’, Donald Trump tells Imran Khan

Qureshi said the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) had both responded positively to Pakistan’s calls to take notice of India’s recent actions in Kashmir. Qureshi stressed that the UNSC should consider itself responsible for helping resolve the Kashmir dispute.

The Pakistani foreign minister addressed a joint press conference along with the director general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the mouthpiece of Pakistan’s external spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, after a meeting of the Special Committee on Kashmir on Saturday.

“The Special Committee on Kashmir has members from all concerned parties, including members of the opposition,” Qureshi noted. “This sends out the message that Pakistan is on the same page when it comes to the issue of occupied Kashmir and India’s actions there.”

In reply to a question on Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, Qureshi said: “Pakistan does not recognise Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. It is not our concern. Our concern is with the forceful change in Kashmir’s demographics and the violation of the rights of the people of Kashmir.”

On the possibility of approaching the International Court of Justice, Qureshi said that the matter had been discussed with the law ministry and the attorney general, and the pros and cons were being weighed before a decision is taken on the matter.

“Today voices are being raised there [in India] and they are saying that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has buried Jawaharlal Nehru’s India. Voices are being raised within India and they are calling for returning the special status to Kashmir,” Qureshi said.

“India is functioning on a dual doctrine. The three people carrying this doctrine out are {Prime Minister Narendra} Modi, Indian interior minister Amit Shah and Indian national security adviser Ajit Doval,” he said.

Separately, in a Twitter post, Qureshi termed Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh’s statement hinting at a possible change in New Delhi’s ‘no first use’ nuclear policy as a “damning reminder of India’s unbridled thirst for violence”.

On Friday, Rajnath Singh wrote on Twitter that while India had remained firmly committed to the doctrine of no first use, what happens “in the future depends on circumstances”.

At the press conference, SPR chief Ghafoor said: “The situation in India and occupied Kashmir can be judged by the kind of statements their commanders have been giving for the past few days.” The army spokesperson said “We believe that Kashmir’s reaction on India’s actions may come out soon and we are prepared for that too.”

Ghafoor said Pakistan would not take any action that may result in international opinion turning against Islamabad.

“With the number of Indian troops present in the Kashmir region at the moment, even if a single person enters there [without them knowing] it would be a huge failure on India’s part,” he said, seemingly in preemption of a future accusation that Pakistan was helping militants infiltrate J&K.

An Indian Army soldier was killed when Pakistani troops violated a ceasefire in place along the Line of Control (LoC) by firing shells in the Nowshera sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district on Saturday. The soldier was identified as 35-year-old Lance Naik Sandeep Thappa of Dehradun. He served in the army for 15 years, defence spokesperson Lt Col Devender Anand said.

“He attained martyrdom today in Nowshera while defending the frontiers. He was a brave soldier and the nation will remain indebted to him for his dedication to duty and supreme sacrifice,” Anand said.

Prime Minister Khan postponed a planned visit to Lahore because of tensions on the LoC, state media reported. Khan was due to visit Lahore on Sunday to meet Punjab chief minister Sardar Usman Khan Buzdar and governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar.

First Published: Aug 17, 2019 23:52 IST