July 1999 News

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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's address to the Nation

12 July 1999
The News International, Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: In his address to the nation on Monday, following the de-escalation in tensions between Pakistan and India over the Kargil heights in Indian-occupied Kashmir, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that war between two atomic powers left no victors.

The Prime Minister said the people were yet unaware of the trials and tribulations that prevailed since the past months. It was indeed a fact that there were grave tensions between Pakistan and India and war loomed on the horizons. Indeed the Mujahideen achieved a place in history for their bravery and sacrifices, however such complications arose on the diplomatic front that were very difficult to stabilise. However, if war were imposed it would be responded to forcefully. "But we do not seek war. We do not even pray for it, because war between two atomic powers will find no victors, " he said. Diplomacy would be given another chance.

The Prime Minister said that by war Indian and Pakistan could only increase their problems, not solve them. He had time and again said that the Kashmir issue should be solved through a peaceful process. "I am well aware of those who claim to fight for a thousand years and of their intentions. They have brought nothing for the nation save embarrassment and remorse. "After reviewing the past history and the debacles of the past, I have arrived at the conclusion that making Pakistan economically strong and self-reliant should be among our main priorities."

Sharif invited his Indian counterpart Atal Behari Vajpayee to resume bilateral talks.

"I say to Vajpayee let us begin talks," he said, adding the people of Pakistan and India desired peace after more than half a century of mutual hatred and hostility, marked by three wars. "Let us save our peoples from the dangers of war and give them peace and security," he said, adding further that it was in the interest of both Pakistan and India to settle the Kashmir issue with sincerity and good faith and resolve it through negotiations.

He said he wanted his electoral mandate to give peace and prosperity to Pakistan and protect the nation's future for all times to come. The Indian people, he said, also needed peace and India should come forward in the same spirit.

Nawaz Sharif said that the Mujahideen who gained and then defended the strategic heights in Kargil had fully achieved their aim to focus world attention on the issue. He said that the Mujahideen had opened a new opportunity for bilateral talks and international interest to solve the Kashmir issue peacefully, by agreeing to pull back from the Kargil heights. "I am very grateful to the Mujahideen for heeding our plea and focussing their energies towards negotiations. And I'm very sure that fairness and justice will prevail." He paid rich tributes to the Mujahideen for capturing and holding such key heights in face of the Indian juggernaut. "I salute all those who fulfilled their responsibilities on the Line of Control and offered their lives," he said adding that he wanted to offer his tribute to all parties and the Mujahideen for their bravery.

The Prime Minister also said that while bravery was needed to start a war, much more was required to get out of one.

Regarding Pakistan’s deliberations with world leaders including US President Bill Clinton following the rise in tensions between India and Pakistan, the Prime Minister said that he had told the US President's envoy as well as other world leaders in very clear terms that the crisis could not be eased merely by dousing the flames on snow-clad Kargil. There was need to address the real issue by allowing the Kashmiris their right to self determination.

Defending his July 4 agreement with US President Bill Clinton in Washington, he said he went to United States to emphasise Pakistan's principled position on the issue and President Clinton acceded to the fact that the threat of war would remaining looming over the region unless the Kashmir issue was resolved.

The Prime Minister said the joint US-Pakistan statement was prepared in the light of this fact and clearly stated that Pakistan and India should resume dialogue to resolve all outstanding problems including the core issue of Kashmir. President Clinton, he said, had assured him that with normalcy along the Line of Control, he would not only encourage dialogue on Kashmir but would also take personal interest in seeing the process intensified.

The Prime Minister stressed that such a categorical assurance by a major international power could not to be taken lightly, adding that "we could not have received such an assurance even after fighting three wars."

By President Clinton’s assurance, it was now quite obvious, that world attention was fully focused on the Kashmir issue, the Prime Minister said. He therefore appealed to the Mujahideen to vacate the Kargil heights and give diplomacy and negotiations another chance and fulfill the mission for which they have been rendering invaluable sacrifices. "I am thankful to Mujahideen that they have accepted our appeal," he said.

Nawaz Sharif said that his decisions were always in the best interest of the country and nation as was evident from his policy in the Gulf War. He made it clear that the Kashmiri freedom struggle could not be crushed through brutal force. "They will continue their struggle," he declared.

Prime Minister Sharif said that the Pakistani nation would never abandon the people of Kashmir.

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