Addressing a joint session of the Parliament, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that he will “back the struggle of Kashmiris”, while discussing the Indian aggression at the Line of Control (LoC).
Sharif further claimed that Pakistan wanted to resolve all issues including Kashmir ‘peacefully’. He was quoted saying by a news agency: “Within hours of Uri attack and without any investigation, India blamed Pakistan for it. We are against war, we want peace and want to resolve all issues including Kashmir peacefully.”
According to a report in Dawn, Sharif opened his speech by talking about the ‘freedom struggle’ upheld by the ‘youth of Kashmir against Indian aggression and atrocities’. He was quoted saying: “World powers need to ensure that UN resolutions on Kashmir should be implemented in letter and spirit. We have done everything to make India come to the dialogue table, but India did not let it happen. Our efforts were thwarted over and over again. I would like to repeat our stance that we are against war. We want peace in the region. We want to resolve all outstanding disputes through dialogue.”
While not mentioning the surgical strike, he claimed that India’s ceasefire violation resulted in the death of two Pakistani soldiers and that the Pak army was fully capable of responding to any aggression. He also looked to counter PM Modi’s ‘war on poverty’ remark by saying that one couldn’t end poverty by ‘driving tanks on farmlands’.
Meanwhile, Opposition leader Khurshid Shah asked why ‘Pakistan felt isolated at the international arena’ and ‘why Pak’s foreign policy was so weak?’. He also claimed that Pakistan should have seen India’s design to boycott SAARC, which led to the conference being derailed.
Earlier, Pakistan said it won’t be cowed down by India’s ‘hollow rhetoric’. At a National Security Committee (NSC) meeting attended by top defence officials including army chief General Raheel Sharif, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan’s “quest for peace must not be mistaken as a sign of weakness”.
“Internal and external security situation of the country with particular reference to the situation on the Line of Control (LoC) and operational preparedness of the armed forces were reviewed in detail during the meeting,” a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said.
The leaders expressed “complete satisfaction over operational preparedness” of the armed forces. They resolved that the entire nation stands shoulder-to-shoulder with its armed forces and will ensure defence of the country at any cost.
“Pakistan cannot be cowed down with hollow rhetoric and aggressive posturing,” they said during the meeting chaired by Nawaz Sharif at the Prime Minister’s House. The Prime Minister said that Pakistan “does not cherish aggressive designs against any country” and believes in “peace and collective betterment”.
“However, our quest for peace must not be mistaken as a sign of weakness; our armed forces are fully capable of thwarting any kind of threat to our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Sharif added. His remarks came two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India has never attacked any country, nor has it been “hungry for any territory” but made supreme sacrifice fighting for others, referring to the two World Wars.
The developments come amid strained ties between New Delhi and Islamabad after the Uri terror attack and India’s retaliatory surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the LoC.
The NSC meeting referred to India’s surgical strikes as “recent propaganda and false claims” of attacking terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir across the LoC and said India “should resolve the long-standing issue of Kashmir for enduring peace in the region, instead of such futile efforts of diverting attention of the world”.
The leaders also said India must stop “atrocities” in Kashmir and recognise the struggle of Kashmiris for their right of self determination guaranteed by the UNSC resolutions. Calling Pakistan and Kashmir as “inseparable”, Sharif said it is “imperative that the UN and other countries fulfil their longstanding commitment to the Kashmiris” and added that Pakistan will continue to extend moral, political and diplomatic support to Kashmiri people at every forum.
The leaders also noted that escalation on LoC and eastern borders will “shift Pakistan’s focus away from its efforts to eliminate terrorism from our soil at a critical stage, and is detrimental” to the successes made by the country in war against terror.