ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday Pakistan was ready for peace with neighboring India under the condition that it lifted its “military siege” of the disputed Kashmir valley.
India last year revoked the special status of Kashmir, the Himalayan region that has long been a flashpoint in ties with neighboring Pakistan, moving to grasp its only Muslim-majority region more tightly.
The Indian government also launched a security crackdown in the region soon after stripping it of its autonomy, arresting local leaders, suspending telephone and Internet services, and restricting public movement. Many of the restrictions still remain.
Pakistan has strongly condemned the Indian actions, which have further strained ties between the nuclear-armed rivals.
“I say it again, we are ready [for peace], but for that you [India] have to end the military siege in Kashmir,” Khan said in a video message on the occasion of “Kashmir Black Day,” observed each year to mark the arrival of Indian forces in the disputed Himalayan region on October 27, 1947. “The second thing, under United Nations resolutions, Kashmiris need to be given their right of self-determination, that whatever they want to decide about their future, they should get that right through a plebiscite that the world community had promised them.”
India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir, where a nearly 30-year armed revolt has killed tens of thousands of people. Hundreds of thousands of Indian troops have been deployed to quell it.
India blames the rebellion on Pakistan, which denies the accusation, saying that it backs the right to self-determination for Kashmir.
The UN Security Council adopted several resolutions in 1948 and in the 1950s on the dispute between India and Pakistan over the region, including one which says a plebiscite should be held to determine the future of mostly Muslim Kashmir. Another resolution also calls upon both sides to “refrain from making any statements and from doing or causing to be done or permitting any acts which might aggravate the situation.”
“The international legitimacy of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute is enshrined in the UNSC resolutions, which are binding,” the PM said in a statement. “It is the collective responsibility of all [UN] member states to ensure compliance by India of its international obligations.”
Reflecting on recent developments in the region, President Dr. Arif Alvi said: “This support and solidarity [from Pakistan] will continue until the Kashmiris achieve their legitimate right to self-determination as enshrined in the international law, United Nations Charter and the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.”
Pakistan’s foreign affairs ministry also summoned the top Indian diplomat in Islamabad on Tuesday to register its protest on the occasion of “Kashmir Black Day.”