Kashmir an unfinished agenda: Pak Army chief

Kashmir an unfinished agenda: Pak Army chief

With Pakistan Army chief’s reference to Kashmir as “an unfinished agenda of the Partition” evoking strong reactions from India, the latest round of war of words between the two neighbours is likely to narrow the possibility of Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting his counterpart M Nawaz Sharif this year.

Pakistan Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif on Wednesday said that while Islamabad was in favour of peace and stability in the region, it also wanted a “just resolution” of its dispute with India over Kashmir in accordance with United Nations resolutions and as per aspirations of people of Kashmir. “Kashmir is an unfinished agenda of the Partition,” Gen Sharif said, speaking at National Defence University of Pakistan. He also said that Kashmir was an “inseparable” part of Pakistan.

Gen Sharif’s remark came a day after New Delhi strongly reacted to Islamabad’s move to hold elections in Gilgit and Baltistan regions, which are parts of Kashmir that India accuses Pakistan of illegally occupying. New Delhi accused Islamabad of trying to “camouflage its forcible and illegal occupation” of parts of Kashmir.

Pakistan Army chief’s remark triggered sharp reactions from India. “Pakistan is feeling the heat, as it has been hit where it hurts most. I don't want to say anything about what Pakistan feels,” Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said.

In an apparent reference to repeated violations of ceasefire by Pakistan Army along the Line of Control and undisputed stretch of the border and resultant civilian casualties, Minister of State for External Affairs, V K Singh, accused the neighbouring country of violating human rights. He also said that Pakistan Government should apologise for violations of human rights by its army.

The latest round of war of words broke out about three months after Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar’s visit to Islamabad and his meeting with Pakistani counterpart A A Chaudhary in early March. Jaishankar’s visit – albeit as part of his ‘yatra’ to all SAARC countries – raised hope for early resumption of the stalled bilateral dialogue.

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