Sharif invites India for Talks on Kashmir

MUZAFFARABD: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Wednesday invited the Indian government for a dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue as per aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

Sharif said his government was ready to consider any proposal for establishment of peace.

"We are ready to discuss and resolve all outstanding issues with India, including the Kashmir dispute", he said addressing the joint session of Pak controlled Kashmir Legislative Assembly held here in connection with the Kashmir Solidarity Day observed on February 5.

"The future of Pakistan and Kashmir is linked with each other. Uncertainty and confrontation will continue in the region till peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue casting negative impacts on regional development and stability," the prime minister added.

He hoped that India would realize the sensitivity of the matter, respond positively to Pakistan's invitation for a peaceful dialogue and let the people of Kashmir decide their own fate.

On his arrival, the prime minister was received by the Pak Kashmir President, Prime Minister and parliamentarians that followed a guard of honour by a smartly turned out contingent of AJK police.

In his address to the joint session, the Prime Minister said the people of Kashmir and Pakistan were tied in integral bond of brotherhood that was getting strengthened with each passing day.

"This day brings pride to thousands of Kashmiris, who have rendered sacrifices for the independence of Kashmir. Today, we also pledge not to squander the sacrifices of those freedom fighters," he resolved.

He said the Kashmir issue demanded enforcement of fundamental human rights and high values of self-determination.

"We cannot evade our responsibility of consoling the innocent Kashmiris. Pakistan has been sticking to its stance of Kashmir resolution according to the wishes of Kashmiri people," he remarked.

He said Kashmiris' struggle was the natural reaction to the atrocities perpetrated by the Indian security agencies that also substantiated the fact that the Kashmir issue could never be ignored.

He said the whole world was aware of the miseries of Kashmiri people.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said international community could neither overlook nor keep mum over the usurpation of Kahsmiris' rights and oppression faced by them.

He said Pakistan would also keep up its struggle for the restoration of Kashmiris' rights at all national and international foras until bloodshed came to end in Kashmir and the people got their due rights.

He said the Jammu and Kashmir dispute was the incomplete agenda of the United Nations that was of key importance for South Asia. Pakistan has repeatedly expressed its desire of resolving all disputes, including that of Kashmir, through a meaningful dialogue, he added.

The Prime Minister said with a view to redress the difficulties faced by Kashmiris, Pakistan took several confidence building measures, including the opening of Line of Control (LoC) to ease reunion of families from both the sides.

He said the continuation of trade across LoC, despite all odds, manifested Pakistan's resolve to facilitate the Kashmiri people.

"These measures endorse the fact that Pakistan desires peace in the region. We had proved our sincerity in 1998 and now again invite India for a dialogue with same sentiments to make any headway," the Prime Minister reiterated.

He said India must realize that oppression and durable peace could not co-exist. The division of Sub-continent was meant to maintain good neighbourly ties with each other.

He said the Quaid-e-Azam was also clear in this regard when he desired Pakistan-Indian ties on the pattern of US-Canadian relations and even Gandhi also supported Pakistan's creation realizing that oppression and good ties could not go side by side.

Nawaz Sharif said if India accepted Kashmiris' right of self- determination, nothing could deter peaceful relations between the two countries.

He said the government wanted peace in the region that was also manifested through its dialogue with Taliban. The people of Afghanistan should resolve their national issues at their own, he added.

"The people of Kashmir also deserve the same. We have to defend their rights," he remarked.

The Pak Prime Minister said, "We will have to work collectively for the prosperity of Kashmiri people." He assured no political intervention from Islamabad into the matters of AJK government as his government pursued politics of tolerance, co-existence and rule of law.

He urged the Muzaffarabd government to execute the development projects affordable for it and assured that the federal government would extend possible support in this regard, besides a special session for threadbare discussion on Kashmir development.

The Prime Minister expressed the desire of establishing a train link between Rawalpindi and Muzaffarabad in first phase and towards Chakothi in the second phase to ensure a cross LoC goods trade.

He said his government was mulling infrastructure projects for the AJK, including linkage of Muzaffarabad and Mirpur with GT Road through a dual carriageway, extension of Muzaffarabad Expressway to Muzaffarabad and connecting Muzaffarabad with Silk Route via Garhi Habibullah and Balakot.

Nawaz Sharif expressed the desire to develop Azad Kashmir as a model of development and prosperity to attract tourists from across the world to witness its natural beauty.

He said the government had also announced the Prime Minister Youth Business Loan Scheme for the AJK youth to help them support their families as well as those of associated with their businesses.

He assured the Kashmiri brethren of all out diplomatic, political and moral support for their cause. He instructed the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs to assist in working out of a comprehensive development package for the AJK.

Earlier, Speaker AJK Assembly welcomed the Prime Minister and lauded the support being extended by his government for the right of self-determination of Kashmiri people.

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