NEW YORK: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi says the Kashmir dispute is an important pillar of Pakistan’s foreign policy.
“The Kashmir dispute should be resolved in line with the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council,” Qureshi said to Kashmiri leaders while discussing the gross human rights violations in the Indian Kashmir.
“Peace cannot be restored in the south Asian region without resolving the Kashmir dispute.”
Permanent Representative to UN Munir Akram was also in attendance on the occasion.
Qureshi said Pakistan had serious reservations over human rights violations in Indian Kashmir. He reiterated his country’s resolve to continue to extend moral, political and diplomatic support to the unarmed Kashmiris.
The FM said India intends to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory, as he had earlier disclosed while speaking at the Islamabad-based think-tank Institute of Regional Studies that the Indian government issued over 1.8 million bogus domicile certificates to non-Kashmiris to tilt the population balance in favour of New Delhi.
Expressing the government’s unwavering commitment to the Kashmir cause, Qureshi said Prime Minister Imran Khan was not a mercenary to sell off Kashmir.
“We are not businesspeople and we will never accept any bargain for Kashmir,” he said.
Qureshi likened the situation in Kashmir to that of the currently simmering crisis of Palestine. “There is a similarity between the situations of Palestine and Kashmir,” he said while addressing a ceremony of overseas Pakistanis.
“Like Palestine, the people of Kashmir are demanding the right to self-determination.”
He told the gathering of overseas Pakistanis that he highlighted the resemblance between the circumstances in Kashmir and Palestine during his meeting with the UN secretary-general.
The Palestinians want to live peacefully, he said, adding that similarly, Pakistanis also want to lead a peaceful coexistence with their neighbours.
“But, we have issues which can be talked over and settled,” he pointed out. “So, let’s sit down together and seek solutions to the problems. With our issues amicably tackled, we can live together like good neighbours.”
Referring to the accusation by a CNN host during his interview earlier in the week, the foreign minister stressed it was not anti-Semitism to talk about Israel’s policy and aggression.
During a meeting with UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the United Nations headquarters, the foreign minister briefed him about the serious human rights and humanitarian situation in Indian Kashmir, including the continued illegal incarceration of the Kashmiri political leaders and extra-judicial killings.
Qureshi told him that the re-initiation of the 2003 ceasefire understanding between Pakistan and India along the Line of Control (LOC) was a welcome step. Pakistan desired normal relations with India, he said adding however, the onus was on India to take steps to create an enabling environment for a meaningful engagement.
He urged the UN secretary-general to use his good offices to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in line with the UN Charter and the relevant Security Council Resolutions
The foreign minister is visiting New York to attend the UN General Assembly Session on Palestine as part of Pakistan’s extensive diplomatic outreach to mobilize international support for the Palestinians.
Appreciating the overseas Pakistanis for their services to the country, Qureshi called upon them to play a constructive role in Pakistan’s economic stability.
He asked them to highlight Pakistan’s positive aspects. “Pakistan’s northern areas are as beautiful as Switzerland with a lot of opportunities for tourism.”
He added PM Khan was going to announce a package to boost tourism, adding that the upcoming tourism policy will benefit Gilgit-Baltistan.
Qureshi said the country that had an abundance of water in the 1950s was beset with a critical situation. “We have plenty of water during the summer (Kharif) season and a shortage in the winter (Rabi) season. That is why it is in our interest to store water,” he said.
Qureshi said most water is wasted without being used and that’s why Pakistan had started working on the ground for the construction of dams.
Underlining the importance of building dams, he said Pakistan is faced with high-cost electricity. “Expensive electricity is causing the cost of production to hike,” he said.