June 1999 News

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Nawaz calls on G-8 to help avert conflict

18 June 1999
The Dawn
By: Hasan Akhtar

Sharif Alleges Violation of LoC by Delhi

ISLAMABAD, June 18: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has urged the G-8 leaders, meeting in Cologne this weekend, to play an effective role, collectively and individually, for the resolution of the Kashmir issue and for averting a conflict between India and Pakistan.

Foreign Office spokesman Tariq Altaf, at a news briefing here on Friday, revealed the salient points of the prime minister's letter to the leaders of G-8, sent on Thursday.

Munir Akram, a senior diplomat, posted to the Geneva offices of the UN, had been instructed to project Pakistan's stand at the G-8 summit in Cologne, by meeting various delegations there, the spokesman said.

The Foreign Office had also briefed exhaustively the G- 8 envoys in Islamabad on the current Kargil situation and advised its heads of diplomatic missions in the capitals of G-8 countries to meet their foreign ministry officials and brief them on the impending crisis in South Asia, he added.

The spokesman said that in his letter to leaders, representing the world's most industrialised countries, the prime minister had stressed that the G-8 " should avoid taking a narrow view (of the Kargil crisis) which could encourage India to justify its belligerence".

Writing to the G-8 leaders, in the backdrop of the emphatic advice of major world powers to Pakistan to "withdraw from the Indian zone" in the Kargil-Drass sector and resume bilateral dialogue with India, the prime minister urged the G-8 "to adopt a constructive and solution-oriented approach" in dealing with South Asia's most serious crisis in 28 years, recognising in this context "the centrality" of the unresolved Kashmir dispute.

According to the spokesman, the prime minister stated: "Kargil cannot be viewed in isolation from the larger issue (of Kashmir) nor dissociated from the record of India's past transgressions to alter the LoC to its advantage".

The spokesman said India had repeatedly violated the LoC, and pointed out that the occupation of about 2,500 square miles in Siachen, utterly disregarding the LoC, was "a standing example".

The prime minister asked the G-8 leaders to call upon both India and Pakistan " to restore respect for the sanctity of the LoC in Kashmir," adding that "Pakistan has always respected the LoC."

The prime minister further stated that" while addressing the current situation, the G-8 must support resumption of talks between India and Pakistan for a final settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir issue."

The prime minister expressed the view that the G-8 leaders, " individually and collectively, must play a positive role to resolve the crisis and avert a conflict", stressing that a constructive and solution-oriented approach would contribute to preserving and promoting the cause of peace and stability in South Asia.

Answering questions at the briefing, the spokesman said Indian military movement and threats were being closely monitored and there should be no doubt about the preparedness of Pakistan armed forces to thwart any attempts on the national independence and integrity.

A meeting of OIC foreign ministers and also of its Kashmir contact group, the spokesman said, would consider the J&K and Kargil issues later this month in the African city of Burkin Saso where, he expected, Pakistan's position would be better understood and that the foreign ministers would extend full support to Islamabad.

The spokesman contested the view that the calls by major world powers, the US and the Russian Federation, to Pakistan to pull out its forces from the battle zone in Kargil and Drass (without a similar advice to India) demonstrated "failure" of Pakistan's foreign policy, and argued that such a perception was based on a narrow view of the present situation in the context of the larger issue of Kashmir, on the part of the world powers.

The spokesman asserted that the Kargil-Drass military struggle was being waged by Kashmiri Mujahideen and that Pakistan armed forces were not participating in it . He, however, reiterated that Pakistan extended complete political, moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris struggling for their freedom.

He conceded that groups of supporters from various countries, which shared the validity of the Kashmiris' struggle for freedom from the Indian yoke, had been seen from time to time on Pakistan soil.

However, it was evident that it should be so because of Pakistan's consistent policy and stand in respect of the people of Kashmir and their right to self-determination, he said.

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