Will consult Kashmiri separatists before talks with India: Sharif

ISLAMABAD (TIP): Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on November 20 that Pakistan will consult Kashmiri leaders before entering into any dialogue with India. Sharif made the remarks in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan occupied Kashmir while speaking at a session of the Kashmir Council, a consultative body headed by the Pakistan prime minister. “Pakistan will speak to Kashmiri leaders before entering into any negotiations with India,” Sharif said.

Following Delhi’s cancellation of talks with Islamabad in August after Pakistan’s high commissioner in India, Abdul Basit, consulted Kashmiri separatist leaders ahead of the talks, PM Sharif has been constantly highlighting thr Kashmir issue at local and international forums. This new tough approach on the Kashmir dispute helps Sharif in garnering support within the country’s powerful military establishment as well as to counter intense political opposition to his rule.

“It is our fundamental belief that the Kashmir issue should be resolved through dialogue. My government initiated dialogue but India cancelled the scheduled foreign secretary talks,” Sharif said while adding, “Now, I have decided to engage the Kashmir leaders before any dialogue with India.” Calling for a peaceful resolution of the dispute, he urged the international community to increase diplomatic pressure on India to resume dialogue process and resolve the Kashmir issue. “Pakistan’s main stance is to peacefully resolve the Kashmir issue through talks. India could be brought to the dialogue table with the help of international institutions,” Sharif said.

He vowed to continue diplomatic and morale support to the people of Kashmir while saying that the nation stands united to support the “just struggle of Kashmiris”. About the recent ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC), Sharif said that Pakistan’s army had “befittingly responded to Indian aggression” and politicians had condemned it unanimously. Shunning Indian accusations about Pakistan harbouring anti-India militants, Sharif said: “Blaming Pakistan’s agencies for involvement in extremism is an utter lie. We ourselves are victims of terrorism and we are doing everything in our power to eliminate terrorism,” the prime minister said.

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