LONDON: Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has rejected the idea of Independent Kashmir, saying that the idea was floated around but has no reality.
The Pak premier answered questions of students at the end of his 35-minute long speech after he addressed a conference on ‘Future of Pakistan-2017’ held at the London School of Economics’ South Asia Centre here on Sunday.
One of the members of the audience questioned the PM regarding Pakistan’s relations with India. On the matter, PM said that the relations between the two countries cannot improve till the Kashmir issue is resolved, Geo TV reported.
“Talks are the only way forward, without talks no quantum change is possible,” he added.
Weighing in on the narrative surrounding ‘independent Kashmir’, Abbasi remarked that “the idea is often floated around but has no reality.”
There is no support for the independent Kashmir demand, he claimed. “The people of Kashmir should be given the right to self-determination.”
He remarked that the civil-military relations in Pakistan are evolving and are moving in the right direction.
“Civil-military relations are evolving, the military has an understanding of the issues and it’s up to both the civilian and military leadership to work out and. These relations are improving and moving in the right direction. It’s a process and there is no short-cut and no miracle can be achieved overnight.”
On the Supreme Court’s disqualification of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Abbasi said that “judiciary recently took a step, it removed the sitting prime minister. We accepted the verdict, the prime minister left office.”
He added, “however we have left it to history to judge whether history accepts the judgment or not.”
However, he said that most of Pakistan does not agree with Nawaz’s disqualification by the apex court on the basis of Iqama.
Abbasi said that energy crisis was Pakistan’s biggest challenge when PML-N came into power in 2013 but the power issue has been resolved.
He said that only four years ago the issue of load-shedding looked unresolvable, but in four years, tremendous strides have been made and this issue has been almost completely dealt with.
Speaking in regards to Pak-US relations, he said should not be defined by Afghanistan alone as it’s a relation between two people and it’s a long military relationship.
The premier added that there is not a single Afghan post on the Pak-Afghan border, which means that the nearly 700km long border has been turned into a safe haven for terrorists, smugglers and mafias. He said this issue needs to be resolved and Pakistan alone shouldn’t be expected to deliver.
Elaborating further, Abbasi said that many people believe that terror emanates from Pakistan and that’s a completely wrong perception.
He explained that Pakistan has sacrificed thousands of its people and members of its armed forces. He said that a quarter of Pakistan army is engaged in the war against terrorism and it has succeeded where the international military coalition failed to deliver.
The Pakistan prime minister also presented a positive picture of Pakistan’s economy and said there has been a marked improvement in every economic area since 2013.
He added that the debt has gone up “but one needs to look at its application, most debt has been taken to fund growth and infrastructure and that resulted in 5.6percent GDP growth this year”.
Pakistan is perhaps the most exciting country in terms of its politics. “We have had many coups, wars, turmoil…. It has been a real challenge to run the country,” he said. “There is never a dull moment in Pakistan’s politics.”
There is a significant level of political instability but “we are trying to counter the challenges.”
Pakistan’s most positive aspect is that its people believe in democracy, he added.