Published in The Express Tribune on July 31st, 2019,
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Wednesday pointed out that the Indian ceasefire violations on the Line of Control negatively affected the country’s efforts for peace in Afghanistan and it had to move forward taking stock of these facts.
“It must be realised that the situation in Afghanistan cannot be viewed in isolation from the situation on the eastern border,” he said at a news conference accompanied by Kashmir Committee Chairman Syed Fakhar Imam. Earlier, a special meeting of the parliamentary committee on Kashmir was held at the Foreign Office.
“We cannot remain oblivious to the fact that our attention is diverted [because of the LoC ceasefire violations]. So obviously the situation in Afghanistan can be impacted and negative elements can play the role of a spoiler,” he added.
“We have to see how to move forward given these facts.”
The minister expressed his concerns over India deploying 10,000 more troops in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and trying to scrap Article 35A and 370 of India’s constitution that gave a special status to the valley and prohibited outsiders from purchasing land and settling there.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling party in India, had pledged to abrogate Article 370 in its second term in power.
“It [IOK] is already most militarised zone in the world”, Qureshi noted. “The parliament of Pakistan is unanimous on the stance that there can be no change in the status of Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.
“Pakistan will oppose any attempt that violates the resolutions of United Nations Security Council on Kashmir.”
The minister observed that several political parties in India were also voicing their concerns over the BJP’s plan to abrogate Articles 35A and 370.
He added that there has been talk in India in the past of a demographic change in IOK and the matter was being considered by the Indian court. “We are aware of the BJP’s stance on the issue. If it goes through with it, what impact would it have on the valley,” he remarked.
Qureshi said Pakistan had a state policy on Kashmir and that remained unaffected with the change of governments.
He said Prime Minister Imran Khan during his visit to the upcoming session of the UN General Assembly in New York in September would interact with world leaders and highlight the issue of Kashmir.
“The Kashmir dispute is a major impediment in attaining peace in South Asia and India is persistently avoiding dialogue with Pakistan,” the minister added.
He recalled that the BJP, during the recently held general elections in India, had used the ‘Pakistan card’ and the incident of Pulwama incident to play with sentiments of the public and gain political mileage.
The foreign minister expressed satisfaction that the international community had started realising the gravity of human rights violations in IOK and endorsed Pakistan’s stance of holding an inquiry into the matter.
Speaking on Afghanistan, Qureshi said Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad would visit Pakistan to discuss the issue with the stakeholders of the peace process.
Kashmir Committee Chairman Syed Fakhar Imam said US President Donald Trump offer to mediate on the Kashmir issue was a ‘silver lining’.