NEW YORK: Pakistan told the UN General Assembly Wednesday that it stands ready to engage in a dialogue with India on all outstanding issues, while underscoring the urgency of settling the decades-old Kashmir dispute.
“Longstanding disputes have to be addressed boldly and decisively if enduring peace and stability is to be established,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said while discussing the report of the UN Secretary-General on the work of the organisation.
“The urgency of peacefully settling this dispute is even more compelling today,” the Pakistani envoy said. “UN resolutions pledging a plebiscite to allow the Kashmiri people to exercise their right to self-determination have not been implemented,” she said. “Instead the people of Kashmir have suffered brutal oppression.”
In her well-reasoned speech, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said, “consultations with Kashmiris, who are an integral part of the dispute, are essential to evolving such a peaceful solution. Calling for the termination of these consultations, as a precondition for dialogue, is unacceptable as well as counterproductive”.
She also referred to the escalating tensions on the Line of Control in Kashmir and the Working Boundary, saying the matter required Pakistan and India to take all possible measures to avert further escalation.
Referring to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s four-point peace initiative that he outlined in the General Assembly last month, Ambassador Lodhi said, “This should have evoked a positive response from India.
But it has not been forthcoming. On Afghanistan, she said Pakistan remains committed to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan. “We believe a peace process aimed at intra-Afghan reconciliation is the only viable way to bring a political end to the conflict”.
About the stalled peace process, the Pakistani envoy said, “We stand ready to help revive this process when requested to do so, and are encouraged that the international community wants to see a resumption of the peace process in Afghanistan.”
On terrorism, she told delegates of Pakistan’s multi-pronged strategy envisaging a comprehensive National Action Plan and a military-led law enforcement operation, Zarb-e-Azb, to fight against terrorists.
“Zarb-e-Azb, is the largest anti-terrorism campaign against terrorists anywhere and has already made substantial progress in cleansing my country of terrorists,” the Pakistani envoy said. On the Middle East, she spoke of the rise of violent extremism.
“The rise of Daesh has confronted the region with unprecedented security challenges, with an increasing number of countries being sucked into the vortex of conflict and instability.”
Massive human dislocation and a growing refugee crisis threaten the stability of many parts of the world, the ambassador said, adding that collaborative action, at the regional and global levels was needed.
On the situation in Palestine, “the intransigent stance of the occupying power has dimmed any chance of progress towards the widely accepted avenue for peace between Palestine and Israel – a two state solution.”