ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the prime minister on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, said on Tuesday that meaningful dialogue between Pakistan and India on the crunch question of Kashmir was critical to finding a solution to the problem.
Sartaj Aziz said the Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif visited India for the inauguration of Indian Prime Minister Narindra Modi with the objective to revive the dialogue process and normalise the relations.
He added that the Indian prime minister wanted to normalise ties with Pakistan on India’s terms, which was based on the view that the issue of Kashmir should not be given importance and be put aside as a non-issue. That is why, Sartaj Aziz said, the Indian side cancelled the foreign secretary level meeting on flimsy grounds.
The advisor on foreign affairs said forgetting Kashmir on the pretext that it was not an issue was not acceptable for Pakistan.
“If Kashmir is not an issue, why you have deployed 700,000 troops in Occupied Kashmir, why the troops from the two sides are sitting eye-ball to eye-ball on Line of Control (LoC), and why are Kashmiris still agitating for their rights?” he remarked.
Aziz said this issue could not be wished away. “If meaningful talks are held, we can find a solution which is acceptable to the Kashmiris.”
He said it was not just an issue between India and Pakistan but it was a matter of self-determination by the Kashmiris.
Aziz called for greater unity to effectively tackle the challenges faced by the country, including the situation on the LoC and relations with India.
“The whole nation will have to be united and tell India that we will never accept Indian supremacy or hegemony, will never forget the rights of Kashmiris and will protect our vital interests,” Sartaj Aziz said in a PTV programme Nuqta-e-Nazr.
India has to be told that Pakistan in terms of military or defence has the capability to protect its vital interests and there should not be any doubt in this respect, he said.
The adviser on foreign affairs said parliament would also debate this issue in a couple of days and guide the government and the foreign ministry on how to tackle the current crisis in the light of country’s national interests. He said it would also send a strong signal to India, as well as the whole world.
To a question, Sartaj Aziz said he saw ties with India at a low. However, he added, Pakistan would do its best to keep the relations normalised with no increase in tension, as the two countries could not afford it.
To a question, he said if the tension at LoC escalated, it could affect the economic future of entire South Asia.
Sartaj Aziz, however, hoped that in the coming days, India would realise that this tension would tarnish its image at the international level, as the world was already disappointed over the cancellation of foreign secretaries meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2014.