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Pak Army chief says 'Kashmir is unfinished agenda of partition'

Pakistan Army chief Raheel Sharif on Wednesday described the Kashmir issue as “an unfinished agenda of partition” and claimed Kashmir and Pakistan are “inseparable”, the latest in a string of comments by the country’s civil and military leadership against India.

world Updated: Jun 03, 2015 15:48 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Pakistan,Pakistan Army,Kashmir

Just a day after New Delhi opposed Islamabad's bid to hold polls in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, Pakistan Army chief Raheel Sharif on Wednesday said the Kashmir issue was "an unfinished agenda of the partition".

Sharif, a hardliner who lost his eldest brother in the 1971 war with India, claimed while addressing a gathering at the National Defence University in Islamabad that Kashmir and Pakistan are "inseparable".

His remarks were the latest in a string of comments by the country's civil and military leadership against India.

"Kashmir is an unfinished agenda of partition and Pakistan and Kashmir are inseparable," Sharif said according to a statement issued by the Pakistan Army's media arm.

"While we wish peace and stability in the region, we want Kashmir's just resolution in the light of UN resolution and as per aspirations of Kashmiris to bring lasting peace in the region," he added.

Sharif further said the "contours of future war are fast changing" and Pakistan will not allow anyone to use "proxies" against it.

"While our enemies are supporting terrorism to stoke sub-conventional conflicts and destabilise our country, we are fully determined and capable of defeating their nefarious designs. Pakistan is opposed to using proxies against other countries and will not allow any other country also to use proxies against Pakistan," he said.

Last month, a meeting of top military commanders chaired by sharif had accused India's external spy agency, RAW, of "whipping up terrorism in Pakistan". The army did not given any evidence to back up its allegation.

During his address, Sharif said the Pakistan Army's achievements in Operation Zarb-e-Azb--a campaign against militants in the country's northwest--had "created a space for a decisive surge against terrorists in urban areas". He said enhanced civil-military coordination had become "even more critical to achieve a successful closure" in the campaign against militants.

On Tuesday, India opposed Pakistan's move to conduct elections in the disputed Gilgit-Baltistan region, describing it as an attempt to cover up its "forcible and illegal occupation" of the area.

The Pakistan government announced last month that elections to the Gilgit-Baltistan assembly will be held on June 8. Pakistan's minister for Kashmir affairs,

Chaudhary Muhammad Barjees Tahir, was recently appointed governor of the region earlier known as the Northern Areas.

"We are concerned at the continued efforts by Pakistan to deny the people of the region their political rights, and the efforts being made to absorb these territories," external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said about the elections.

"India's position is well known. The entire State of Jammu and Kashmir, which includes the regions of Gilgit and Baltistan, is an integral part of India," he said.

Pakistan's Foreign Office reacted to Swarup's comments on Wednesday by saying that "Kashmir is an internationally recognised dispute, pending final settlement through a free and impartial plebiscite under the UN auspices". It further said India's stance amounted to "interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan".

Pakistan granted near provincial status to the Northern Areas in 2009. It was suggested at the time by Pakistani officials that the move was aimed at finding a solution to the Kashmir issue on the basis of existing borders.

First Published: Jun 03, 2015 12:53 IST