Srinagar: The war of words between Pakistan and India continued both at the UN and in the region with Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman, Qazi Khalilullah, saying “what the people of Indian Kashmir are facing is also called state terrorism”. He also called on India to stop its ‘conspiracies’ and ‘proxy wars’ aimed at destabilising Pakistan.
Speaking at a news briefing in Islamabad, Khalilullah said that Pakistan has given three dossiers to the UN Secretary-General containing evidence of Indian involvement in Balochistan, Karachi and its support to Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) rebels. He also said that Indian accusations regarding Pakistan’s involvement in terrorism on Indian soil have “always turned out to be fake”.
Reiterating Pakistan’s stance, the spokesman said that Pakistan is ready talk on all issues with India provided there are no pre-conditions and the core issue of Kashmir is included in the agenda. He also confirmed that Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif has invited Hurriyat (G) leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani to Pakistan.
This came even as Pakistan declared, at the UN, that it won’t give up consulting the Kashmiri pro-freedom leadership in order to hold talks with India. On its part, India rejected the ‘condition’ at the General Assembly on Wednesday.
Asserting that consultations with the pro-freedom leaders are “essential for peacefully solving” the Kashmir dispute, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative at the UN, Maleeha Lodhi said, “Calling for the termination of these consultations, as a precondition for dialogue, is unacceptable as well as counterproductive.”
Voicing New Delhi’s rejection of the Pakistani condition, First Secretary in the Indian Mission to the UN, Abhishek Singh, called it “interference in India’s internal affairs”. He also asserted that “Kashmir is, has always been and will remain an integral part of India”.
In one of the Right of Replies exercised by India to respond to Lodhi’s comments, Singh said that Pakistan should “refrain from using the Right of Reply and instead use the right of introspection” to think about the direction in which the country is moving
“It is all the more ironical that these comments come from a country which is persisting with its illegal occupation of part of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir,” Singh said. He also expressed “deep regret” that Pakistan has “violated the ceasefire on a number of occasions in the past several weeks leading to loss of civilian lives on the Indian side”.
Following Lodhi’s speech, India’s envoy to the UN Asoke Mukerji said in his remarks that it was “most unfortunate” that the Pakistani envoy had chosen to refer to issues that are “extraneous to the debate we are having today”.
“We have diplomatic relations with Pakistan and such issues should be addressed in the framework of these relations, instead of being aired elsewhere,” he said.
Alluding to the four-point peace initiative announced by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his address to the UN General Assembly, Lodhi had said the proposal “should have evoked a positive response from India. But this has not been forthcoming. Nevertheless, Pakistan stands ready to engage in a dialogue on all outstanding issues”.