Kashmir test case for leadership of two countries: PM

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Friday said Kashmir issue was a test for current leadership of Pakistan and India and peoples of both countries could not prosper and progress, until the lingering issue was resolved.

Expressing optimism on initiation of bilateral dialogue process in the days ahead, the Prime Minister said resolution of all issues lies in mutual dialogue and added both India and Pakistan would have to think about the well-being and progress of their peoples.

The Prime Minister was speaking at the joint session of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly and Kashmir Council, in connection with the Kashmir Solidarity Day. AJK Speaker Sardar Ghulam Sadiq Khan chaired proceedings of the joint session that was also attended by AJK President Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan, AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed, Minister for Kashmir Affairs Chaudhry Barjees Tahir.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Pervaiz Rashid, Advisor to the PM on Political Affairs Dr Asif Kirmani and Chairman Special Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir, Maulana Fazlur Rehman were also present in the gallery. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said South Asia required a new vision and thinking and the history was once again calling for resolution of bilateral issues for the future generations. He said Pakistan did try to give a new vision to South Asia in order to ensure peace in the region.

The Prime Minister said Pakistan has assured cooperation to India on all issues including terrorism, adding no one could understand peace better other than Pakistan, which itself had been the target and victim of terrorism. “We want peace, not only for Pakistan but for the entire region and Kashmir is also part of the region,” he said and added peace is also Kashmiris’ right and no one can deny the right of self-determination to people of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Prime Minister said differences among countries were somewhat natural but Kashmir’s resolution was a test case for leadership of both countries. He said Kashmir was a permanent part of national policy and no Pakistani could ignore Kashmir as this relationship was based on their history, geography, region, culture and realisation of relationship among the people. The Prime Minister said the people of occupied Kashmir were just demanding the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolutions on Kashmir issue.

He said the United Nations should be answerable to the world as to why it could not implement its Resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir. “Kashmir issue is not only the issue of UN Charter but also its authority, dignity and trust of the nations,” he added. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that Pakistan and China had initiated a gigantic $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project which would usher in a new era of prosperity in the region.

He said Pakistan wanted peace in the region and conflict had also not been the policy of China, adding that benefits of CPEC would reach to Azad Jammu and Kashmir. He said AJK, Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were the big shareholders of CPEC, adding that under the project, a network of roads would be constructed besides hydro power projects, which would ultimately reduce electricity shortage in the country.

The Prime Minister said several projects of AJK were also part of the CPEC. He said work was in progress with the cooperation of China on several electricity projects and there was a lot of improvement in the situation with less load shedding, adding that it would end by 2018. Lauding Pak-China deep-rooted friendship, the Prime Minister said $46 billion from China under the CPEC was not a loan but investment including $34 billion investment from private sector.

The Prime Minister said the present PML-N government intended to lay a railway line from Islamabad to Muzaffarabad and expressway from Muzaffarabad to Mirpur. He said Murree Expressway also would be extended to Muzaffarabad. He said it was only the PML-N government which focussed on electricity projects and construction of infrastructure in the country and added the Muzaffarabad road was also constructed by his government in 90s.

He said the federal government would provide Rs 2.5 billion for construction of new building of AJK Legislative Assembly. The Prime Minister also announced Rs 150 million for various development projects in AJK. He said it was collective responsibility of both treasury and opposition benches to work for uplift of the area, adding that the opposition had the right of criticism but it should be constructive and not just for the sake of opposition.

The Prime Minister said the government wanted to further strengthen the institutions and public sector organisations but certain elements were just creating hurdles and hampering the process. He said the government has decided to improve management and functioning of PIA, in order to ensure its progress but some political parties were creating hurdles in this regard. He, however, added that the government would not bow to such illegal and illogical moves.

Nawaz Sharif said there should be no compromise on principles and the preference should not be given to personal interests over national interests. He said negative utterances were used against the Prime Minister in the sit-ins last year but we tolerated all these with open heart just for democracy. He added this country will be integrated and remain intact with democracy.

He said, “Our one part – East Pakistan – got separated from us as democracy was not given due importance.” He said negative politics did give a lot of losses to Pakistan and added that positive politics be promoted to resolve all issues with mutual understanding and in a democratic manner.

The Prime Minister urged the entire leadership to come forward and work jointly for the progress and prosperity of the country. He said Pakistan has suffered a lot of sacrifices in the war against terrorism and added the overall security situation in the country had improved after the launching of the ongoing military operation in North Waziristan.

The Prime Minister said the law and order in the port city and Balochistan was better compared to the past. AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed welcomed the Prime Minister in the joint sitting and thanked him for addressing the session to reiterate Pakistan’s moral and political support to the people of occupied Kashmir. He said Kashmir Solidarity Day was marked to revive the commitment for Kashmir cause and Pakistan had been a strong advocate in this effort.

He said people of Kashmir desired to see a stable and strong Pakistan. He urged the international community to play effective role for implementation of the UN Resolutions, calling for plebiscite in on Kashmir issue. Welcoming the Prime Minister, Speaker AJK Legislative Assembly Sardar Ghulam Sadiq said Pakistan was the centre of Kashmiris’ efforts for right to self-determination. He thanked Pakistan’s government for extending all possible support during floods as well as the earthquake. He said during the last 69 years, thousands of people have sacrificed their lives in their freedom struggle and many went missing or got paralysed in occupied Kashmir.

Thanking the Prime Minister, Opposition Leader Sardar Farooq Haider urged the Pakistani government to ensure benefits of China Pakistan Economic Corridor to people of AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan. He called for constitutional reforms on the patterns of the 18th Amendment for the people of this region. He also highlighting the issues like load shedding, Mangla upraising and Sui gas supply to Mirpur. Later, on completion of the order of the day, the Speaker prorogued the session.