In his maiden address to the UN General Assembly, Premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi renewed Pakistan’s offer for dialogue with India on all thorny issues, especially over the Himalayan region of Kashmir.
However, he added that such a dialogue was possible only if New Delhi called off its overt and covert campaign of arming and bankrolling agents of terrorism and chaos in Pakistan.
“Pakistan remains open to resuming a comprehensive dialogue with India to address all outstanding issues, especially Kashmir, and discuss measures to maintain peace and security,” he told his audience of global leaders.
“This dialogue must be accompanied by an end to India’s campaign of subversion and state-sponsored terrorism against Pakistan, including from across our western border,” he said in his wide-ranging address in which he spoke on an array of issues, including the Middle East situation, UN reforms, climate change, and Pakistan’s economic stability and consolidation of democracy.
Abbasi called for expeditious steps towards the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir with the appointment of a special envoy to promote a just and peaceful settlement of the festering dispute that has led to heightened tensions between India and Pakistan.
“The international community must act decisively to prevent the situation from a dangerous escalation,” he told the General Assembly, while voicing concern over unabated persecution of unarmed Kashmiris struggling for their right to self-determination.
The prime minister said India had responded with massive and indiscriminate force to suppress the Kashmiris, shooting indiscriminately at children, women and youth. Hundreds of innocent Kashmiris had been killed or injured, he added.
“Shotgun pellets have blinded and maimed thousands of Kashmiris, including children. These and other brutalities clearly constitute war crimes and violate the Geneva conventions.”
Today the Kashmiri people are waging a heroic and popular struggle to rid themselves of India’s oppressive rule, he added.
He urged the international community to call on India to a.) halt pellet gun attacks and other violence against demonstrators; b.) stop the use of rape as an instrument of state policy; c.) end media blackouts; d.) rescind its draconian emergency laws; and f.) free all Kashmiri political leaders.
The premier told the assembly of world leaders that India frequently violated the ceasefire along the Line of Control in Kashmir to divert the world’s attention from its brutalities.
Despite over 600 violations since January this year Pakistan has acted with restraint, he said. “But if India does venture across the LoC, or acts upon its doctrine of ‘limited’ war against Pakistan, it will evoke a strong and matching response,” he warned.
“The international community must act decisively to prevent the situation from a dangerous escalation,” the prime minister said. “The Kashmir dispute should be resolved justly, peacefully and expeditiously.”
“As India is unwilling to resume the peace process with Pakistan, we call on the Security Council to fulfill its obligation to secure the implementation of its own resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir.”
“To this end, the UN secretary general should appoint a special envoy on Kashmir. His mandate should flow from the longstanding but unimplemented resolutions of the Security Council.”
Spelling out Pakistan’s stance in clear terms, Prime Minister Abbasi said his country was not prepared to fight the Afghan war on its soil.
“Nor can we endorse any failed strategy that will prolong and intensify the suffering of the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and other regional countries.”
Pakistan, he said, had suffered and sacrificed much due to its role in the global counter-terrorism campaign. “It is especially galling for Pakistan to be blamed for the military or political stalemate in Afghanistan,” he said.
“We are not prepared to be anyone’s scapegoat. Taliban ‘safe havens’ are located not in Pakistan but in the large tracts of territory controlled by the Taliban in Afghanistan.”
He said cross-border attacks did occur, but those were mostly conducted by anti-Pakistan terrorists from the “safe havens” across the border.
“To end all cross-border attacks we ask the Afghan government and the coalition to support and complement Pakistan’s ongoing efforts to strengthen border controls and monitor all movement across it.”
Prime Minister Abbasi said, ”No one desires peace in Afghanistan more than Pakistan.” However, after 16 years of war in Afghanistan, it was clear that peace would not be restored by the continuing resort to military force.
“Neither Kabul and the coalition, nor the Afghan Taliban, can impose a military solution on each other.”
Premier Abbasi said Pakistan believed urgent and realistic goals in Afghanistan should include concerted action to eliminate the presence in Afghanistan of Da’ish, al Qaeda and their affiliates, including the TTP and Jamaatul Ahrar, which was recently declared a terrorist organisation by the Security Council.
He also suggested promotion of negotiations between Kabul and the Afghan Taliban – in the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) or any trilateral format – to evolve a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan.
The two steps, he added, offered the most realistic prospect of restoring peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.