January 2017 News

Pakistan Will Continue To Highlight Kashmir Uprising, Says Aziz

4 January 2017
The Dawn

Islamabad: Pakistan will continue to highlight the ongoing uprising in India-held Kashmir and the human rights excesses being committed by Indian security forces there. This was stated by Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz while talking to Dawn, signalling the government's determination to continue the policy of supporting the freedom movement in occupied Kashmir despite certain foreign policy challenges that have arisen because of it. 'What initiative? Why any initiative? We would continue highlighting the Kashmir issue and the human rights violations there,' Mr Aziz said while responding to a question about any new planning for engaging India after 2016 in which perpetually adverse relations with India touched new lows, particularly after the start of the uprising in held Kashmir in the aftermath of Burhan Wani's killing. Analysts say the dysfunctional relationship between Islamabad and New Delhi dipped to levels unprecedented in peace time. Not only did India commit worst ceasefire violations since the 2003 agreement and Indian military claimed to have conducted cross-border 'surgical strikes' against alleged terrorist hideouts in Azad Kashmir, New Delhi also launched an extensive international campaign to malign and isolate Pakistan. The government on Tuesday held a foreign policy review to examine the state of relations with neighbours and to discuss the roadmap for what was described by the Prime Minister's Office as regional stability and maintenance of mutually beneficial relations with all countries in the region and beyond. Speaking at the meeting, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had emphasised that Pakistan wanted peaceful co-existence with its neighbours. Mr Aziz said that Pakis­tan had to prove that the Indian position on Kashmir was wrong. 'It is purely an indigenous movement led by Kashmiri youth and without any external support,' he stressed. He said it was very difficult to stand ground during testing times for protecting vital interests. Pakistan's position, he said, had strengthened the Kashmir cause and the international community was now asking India to discuss the dispute. The government last year launched an extensive international outreach to mobilise support for Kashmir movement sending 22 parliamentarians as special envoys to important international capitals. 'The basic problem is that Prime Minister Modi wants to improve relations on his own terms. One of his basic conditions is that there should be no discussion on Kashmir,' Mr Aziz said while explaining reasons holding back normalisation of relations with India. Mr Modi's condition, he said, was not acceptable to Pakistan. The adviser had told a Senate panel last month that there could be 'no friendship' with India and at best there could only be 'peaceful co-existence'. Pakistani officials are expecting that India could review its Pakistan policy after the upcoming state elections in February and March. Mr Aziz agrees with this assessment. In his view there is a realisation in India that its strategy of not talking with Pakistan and constantly harping on terrorism mantra was not working for it. Speaking about Afghan­is­tan, he said, Pakistan would fulfil its commitment of not allowing terrorists to use its soil against Afghanistan. 'We have to observe our commitment about not allo­wing use of our soil. After Zarb-i-Azb we are now moving in that direction,' the adviser said in a reference to the border management initiative of the government to check unauthorised cross-border movement. Kabul had initially resisted the border management plans and erection of a border gate at Torkham last year led to a bloody clash with casualties on both sides. But, better sense seems to have prevailed and the project is progressing. Additionally, Mr Aziz said, facilities under transit trade agreement were being increased and the development projects in Afghanistan, which were being sponsored by Pakist­­an, were being expedited.