NEW DELHI: Pakistan has decided to ratchet up the stakes on Jammu and Kashmir following New Delhi’s cancellation of foreign policy talks in August. The civilian government under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that had developed some differences with its Army on this, has now moved on to the same page again with the “plebiscite” demand becoming central to its current Indian agenda.

PM Sharif’s remarks at the United Nations General Assembly, that were criticised and rejected by India, made it clear that he and the Pakistan military were in agreement about the need to focus on Jammu and Kashmir. The Pakistan Prime Minister had run foul of the Pakistan Army when he decided to visit New Delhi on the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his oath taking ceremony, a decision that was said to have gone against the expressed wisdom of the Pakistani men in uniform. While in India Sharif did not mention Jammu and Kashmir, an omission for which he was attacked by conservatives at home.

More so after New Delhi suddenly cancelled the foreign secretary level talks, with the Pakistan prime minister making it clear at UNGA that his government remained committed to plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir. To assert that this was not a one off remark, Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam was fielded subsequently to say that , as quoted by the local media, “Kashmir is a legal issue also and its legal position demands that the dispute must be resolved as per the aspirations of Kashmiri people through plebiscite.”

Aslam, at the Pakistan Foreign Office briefing, is also reported to have said that India never responded positively on Pakistan's proposals to resolve the Siachen issue and for declaring Siachen a Peace Park including demilitarization of the territory. She said the Indian position on Siachen was “inflexible.”

Pakistan’s statements on plebiscite were welcomed by Kashmiri separatists.Chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, Mohammad Yasin Malik termed the developments “positive” and hoped that India will accept the offer and hold plebiscite as guaranteed by UN resolutions.

“It was India who took Kashmir issue to UN and even Former Indian Prime Minister Pandit Nehru too told Kashmiris in Srinagar’ historic Lal Chowk that Plebiscite will be held and Kashmiris will be given chance to choose their future” Malik said to The Citizen.

He added that both countries should follow the England –Scotland referendum as an example and let the Kashmiris decide their future.

President of the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party, Shabir Shah said the world governments should put pressure both India and Pakistan to resolve Kashmir issue.

“We welcome the step but there is a need that world bodies should come together to put pressure on India and Pakistan and hold a plebiscite in Kashmir” Shah said.