United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and 
Pakistan's PM Muhammad Nawaz Sharif pose with a handshake as heads of states from around the world gather for the 69th session of the UN General Assembly.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Pakistan's PM Muhammad Nawaz Sharif pose with a handshake as heads of states from around the world gather for the 69th session of the UN General Assembly.

Blames India for cancelling Foreign Secretary talks

United Nations : Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday raked up the Kashmir issue at the UN General Assembly here and blamed India for ‘another missed opportunity’ to address outstanding issues by cancelling the Foreign Secretary-level talks.

Asserting that a ‘veil’ cannot be drawn over the ‘core’ issue of Kashmir, he said Pakistan is ready to work for resolution of this problem through negotiations. “Our support and advocacy of the right to self- determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir is our historic commitment and a duty, as a party to the Kashmir dispute,” he said while addressing the annual UN General Assembly session.

Needling India, Sharif said that more than six decades ago, the UN had passed resolutions to hold a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir. “The people of Jammu and Kashmir are still waiting for the fulfilment of that promise,” he said. “Many generations of Kashmiris have lived their lives under occupation, accompanied by violence and abuse of their fundamental rights. Kashmiri women, in particular, have undergone immense suffering and humiliation,” he said.

For decades, attempts have been made, both under UN auspices and bilaterally in the spirit of the Lahore Declaration, to resolve this dispute, he said. “The core issue of Jammu and Kashmir has to be resolved. This is the responsibility of the international community. We cannot draw a veil on the issue of Kashmir, until it is addressed in accordance with the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” Sharif told the gathering. India had called off the Foreign Secretary-level talks in August after Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit met Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders in New Delhi, ignoring India’s warning not to meet the separatist leaders.

In his address, Sharif said, “We were disappointed at the cancellation of the Foreign Secretary-level talks. The world community, too, rightly saw it as another missed opportunity. Pakistan is convinced that we must remain engaged in the dialogue process for settling disputes and building economic and trade relations. Let us not ignore the dividends of peace.”

Both India and Pakistan have separately stated that there was no planned meeting of Sharif and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the margins of the UN session. Sharif, however, gave enough indications that Pakistan was not averse to resumption of the dialogue process with India.

“Pakistan is ready to work for resolution of this problem through negotiations,” he added. Sharif said that it is his government’s ‘aspiration and effort’ to build a peaceful neighborhood by pursuing a policy of constructive engagement.

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