Not putting Kashmir issue on backburner: Pakistan
Pakistan on Thursday said it is not putting the "core issue" of Kashmir on the backburner as it works to normalise ties with India, and any final settlement between the two sides would be linked to realising the "aspirations of the Kashmiri people".
"The Jammu and Kashmir dispute is about the people of Kashmir and their inalienable right to self-determination. Therefore, there is no question of freezing this issue or putting this core dispute on the backburner," foreign office spokesman Abdul Basit said.
"Doubtless, we are taking steps on the path to normalise Pakistan-India relations but reaching the final destination will inevitably be contingent upon realisation of Kashmiris' aspirations," he said during the weekly news briefing in response to a question on whether Pakistan is willing to set aside the Kashmir issue while normalising ties with India.
Basit remarked that the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders had recently urged the Indian government to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act.
Replying to another question on the need for India and Pakistan to work together to settle the Siachen issue in order to minimise damage to the environment, Basit said Islamabad wanted the matter to be "resolved as quickly as possible".
The military standoff on Siachen is one of the subjects being discussed in the resumed dialogue process and Islamabad's effort "continues to be to seek early resolution of this issue, like all other issues between Pakistan and India, particularly the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir", Basit said.
Responding to yet another question, Basit said he was unaware of any Track-II discussions that were part of efforts to resolve issues between India and Pakistan.
"I am not aware of any such discussions as part of Pakistan's policy decisions but these contacts have been made, discussions are being held but perhaps in their private capacity.
"There is no government policy as far as these discussions are concerned," he said.
India and Pakistan last year resumed their peace process after a break of over two years in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
Since then, the two sides have taken several steps to normalise relations in various fields, particularly trade.