ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has said that Pakistan, as a responsible country and nuclear power, aspires to use responsible, diplomatic measures to resolve the long-standing Kashmir dispute.
“Four wars have already been fought over the issue and the region remains a flashpoint. However, in the 21st century, we cannot afford any more wars,” Gilani told a Kashmir Convention at the Prime Minister Secretariat held to mark Kashmir Day. “We want to resolve the matter through dialogue, diplomacy, prudent policy and national consensus.”
Gilani said that Kashmir remains a cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy and the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government has focused on Kashmir policy. “We are committed to continue moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiris. The entire nation, including all political parties, is united over the cause.”
The prime minister, contrasting the success of policies made through consensus and those formulated by dictators, said that the country’s policies should be made by chosen representatives of the people, not by individuals.
Comparing Pakistan’s exemplary relationship with China to bilateral ties with Afghanistan, Gilani said that question marks were hanging over the Afghan policy because it was made by a dictator who wore four hats but could not sustain pressure by the US. On the other hand, he said, following the Nato attack on the Salala checkpost, the PPP government reacted with defiance against the US.
Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo, minister for Kashmir affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan, said in his welcome address that it was to the credit of the democratically-elected PPP government that it forced India to resume the dialogue process.
Maulana Fazlur Rehman, chairman of the parliamentary committee on Kashmir, said that the Kashmiri leadership was not satisfied with the explanation given to them by the commerce ministry on the issue of granting Most-Favoured Nation status to India. “The platform of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation should be used to highlight the Kashmir cause,” he suggested.
Meanwhile, a message from the prime minister was read out in a joint session of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly and the AJK Council held in Muzaffarabad on Sunday to mark the Kashmir Solidarity Day.
“A peaceful settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute that accords fully with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people is essential for peace and prosperity in the region,” the prime minister said in the statement read out by the assembly’s speaker.