Pakistan says Kashmir a 'legal issue'; demands plebiscite

Islamabad: Needling India, Pakistan today asserted that Kashmir is a "legal issue" and must be resolved through plebiscite as per the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

At the weekly briefing here, Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam also made it clear that Indo-Pak talks were not a substitute to the UN resolutions on Kashmir which envisage plebiscite in the region.

"Kashmir is a legal issue also and its legal position demands that the dispute must be resolved as per the aspirations of Kashmiri people through plebiscite," she said.

Aslam said that Simla Agreement between the two countries does not make UN resolutions ineffective. Her remarks come within days of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raking up the Kashmir issue at the UN General Assembly where he said the UN had passed resolutions to hold a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir more than six decades ago.

"The people of Jammu and Kashmir are still waiting for the fulfillment of that promise," Sharif said. India had strongly rejected the "untenable comments" made by Sharif, asserting that the people of the state have peacefully chosen their destiny in accordance with universally accepted democratic principles.

Speaking at UNGA, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had offered to engage in a serious bilateral dialogue "without the shadow of terrorism" while asking Pakistan to create an "appropriate environment" for that.

At today's briefing, Aslam also claimed that India never responded positively on Pakistan's proposals to resolve the
Siachen issue and for declaring Siachen a Peace Park including demilitarization of the territory.

The Foreign Office spokesperson termed that Indian policy towards resolution of Siachen as "inflexible".

Former President Pervez Musharraf had claimed that Pakistan and India were close to clinching a deal on Siachen during his tenure. Aslam said India and Pakistan would have to resume talks for the sake of sustainable peace in the region.

India had called off Foreign Secretary-level talks in August after Pakistan's High Commissioner in New Delhi Abdul Basit had met Kashmiri separatist leaders ahead of the meeting, ignoring India's warning that the move could derail the parleys.

Aslam saw nothing wrong in Basit's meeting with Hurriyat leaders, saying Pakistan regularly consults with them.

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