Pakistan Revs Up the Kashmir Issue Before Talks
Pakistan's prime minister Nawaz Sharif
NEW DELHI: It could be the usual, or be out of the ordinary depending on how India and Pakistan decide to play it over the coming days. However, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif did follow Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent reference to terrorism by raising the issue of Kashmir in his Independence Day address.
Sharif said that Kashmir was the “main source of tension” in bilateral relations. He said, “we want a peaceful resolution of Kashmir with our full sincerity so that by removing this main source of tension, Pakistan and India could find new ways for promoting their relations.
He, however insisted that Pakistan wanted peaceful relations with its neighbours. “We are a peaceful country. We are striving for peace within the country and also want durable peace on our borders.”
Meanwhile the Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit has invited the Kashmiri separatist leaders for talks to the Pakistan embassy before the foreign secretaries of both countries meet as scheduled so far, on August 25. Reports from Kashmir confirmed that the invitations had been received by the different leaders including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani. These talks will be on August 18 and 19.
The Mirwaiz told the media that Pakistan wanted a feedback from them about the ground situation in Kashmir, before the foreign secretary level talks.
The battlelines are being drawn seem to have been drawn by both India and Pakistan on their ‘core concerns’ of terrorism and Kashmir respectively. This is against the background of a hot exchange of words by the spokespersons of both Foreign Offices following PM Modi’s address to the troops in Ladakh.( See South Asia Page for full story)
Pakistan envoys here have had regular meetings with Kashmiris separatists in the past. They are also invited more often than not to meet with visiting Pakistan leaders who meet them individually, as well as collectively. A departure from the norm was the last visit by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who came here on the invitation of PM Modi to attend his oath taking ceremony. Sharif did not invite the Kashmiri leaders to meet him in a clear signal that he was keen to take relations forward, and not queer the pitch by the meeting that New Delhi allows but with visible angst.