Pak remains defiant; Sharif to consult Kashmiri separatists before talks with India
Islamabad: Ignoring India's opposition, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today said Pakistan will hold dialogue with Kashmiri separatists to take them into confidence before engaging in peace talks with India.
"It is our fundamental belief that the Kashmir issue should be resolved through dialogue. My government started dialogue with India but it cancelled the scheduled talks between the foreign secretaries," he said addressing the Kashmir Council in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan- occupied Kashmir.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
He said "before starting dialogue with India, I have decided to consult the Kashmiri leaders".Sharif's comments came ahead of SAARC summit next week in Nepal which will be attended by him and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sharif asked the international community to play its role to press India for starting talks for the resolution of Kashmir issue. He said Pakistan army gave a befitting response to Indian troops' recent unprovoked firing across the Line of Control (LoC). He said Indian firing harmed the confidence building measures.
Sharif said his government was pro-actively highlighting the issue of Kashmir at every forum, including at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in September. He expressed concern over the silence of the UN and international community on the issue and urged them to take initiative for resolution of the dispute according to UN Security Council's resolutions and the aspiration of Kashmiri people.
He said India has always exhibited its traditional stubbornness regarding the Kashmir issue. He said declaring the struggle of Kashmiris as terrorism is wrong approach of India, which is a struggle for right to self-determination.
Sharif said Pakistan is rendering great sacrifices in the fight against terrorism. India called off foreign secretary-level talks wit Pakistan scheduled to be held on August 25 after Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit held talks with Kashmiri separatists. India said Pakistan's actions were interfering in its internal affairs and were "unacceptable".