Pakistan on Wednesday raked up the Kashmir issue at the UN General Assembly, with its Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif proposing four “new peace initiatives” with India to resolve the issue and was effusive in praise for China’s “proactive role in promoting peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region”.
Sharif, in his address, appeared to target India obliquely at several places, including on India’s bid for a permanent seat in a reformed UN Security Council.
He also praised China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative, and said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will spur economic development in the region.
India has opposed the multi-billion economic corridor, being financed by China, since it crosses Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
He also praised China’s “proactive role in promoting peace and prosperity in Afghanistan and our region”.
China and Pakistan are all-weather friends, with their engagement perceived at being directed against India’s interests.
On the issue of reform of the UNSC, he said, “Pakistan supports a comprehensive reform of the United Nations, including of the Security Council. We need a Security Council that is more democratic, representative, accountable and transparent. A Council that reflects the interests of all member states, in accordance with the principle of sovereign equality. Not a Council, which is an expanded club of the powerful and privileged,” apparently targeting India.
On combatting terrorism and radicalism, Sharif, said, “extremist ideologies must be opposed. But the narrative of the terrorists also has to be countered through the just resolution of the several instances of oppression and injustice against Muslims in various parts of the world. Unfortunately, some seek to use the global campaign against terrorism to suppress the legitimate right of occupied peoples to self -determination” – in an oblique reference to Kashmir.
Pakistan has witnessed rising cases of violence against the Shia sect as well as other minorities.
In an oblique reference to the India-Pakistan National Security Advisor-level talks that were cancelled due to Islamabad dragging in the Kashmiri separatists, Sharif said, “Our peoples need peace to prosper. Peace can be achieved through dialogue, not disengagement.”
He referred to 1997 when the Composite Dialogue was launched with India, “our two countries agreed that this would encompass two principal items: Kashmir and Peace and Security, along with six other issues, including terrorism. The primacy and urgency of addressing these two issues is even more compelling today. Consultations with Kashmiris, who are an integral part of the dispute, are essential to evolving a peaceful solution”
He said incidents of ceasefire violations are increasing, causing civilian deaths. “Wisdom dictates that our immediate neighbour refrains from fomenting instability in Pakistan,” he added.
He proposed “a new peace initiative with India starting with measures that are the simplest to implement”.
These include: that Pakistan and India formalise and respect the 2003 ceasefire agreement on the Line of Control (LoC) and called for increasing the mandate of the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan to monitor the observance of the ceasefire. India maintains the UNMOGIP, set up in 1949, has outlasted its utility and relevance following the inking of the 1972A Simla accord between the two countries.
Sharif proposed that both countries “reaffirm that they will not resort to the use or the threat of use of force under any circumstances. This is a central element of the UN Charter. Three, steps be taken to demilitarise Kashmir. Four, agree to an unconditional mutual withdrawal from Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battleground.”
He said, “easing of threat perceptions through such peace efforts will make it possible for Pakistan and India to agree on a broad range of measures to address the peril posed by offensive and advanced weapons systems.”