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August 11, 2019

Kashmir issue be resolved through Simla, Lahore pacts: Russia

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August 11, 2019

MOSCOW: Expressing serious concern over the deteriorating situation in the Indian Held Kashmir (IHK), Russia has asked Pakistan and India to resolve the issue through political and diplomatic means on a bilateral basis in accordance with the provisions of Simla Agreement of 1972 and the Lahore Declaration of 1999.

The situation in the IHK deteriorated after India revoked Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5 withdrawing the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcating the state into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

“Moscow expects that India and Pakistan will not allow aggravation of the situation in the region due to the change by Delhi in the status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia said in a response to questions on Friday.

“We proceed from fact that the changes associated with the change in the status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and its division into two union territories are carried out within the framework of the Constitution of the Republic of India,” the ministry said.

“We hope that the parties involved will not allow a new aggravation of the situation in the region as a result of the decisions.”

The Indian government decided on Monday to strip Kashmir of its special constitutional status.

A presidential decree revoked Article 370 of India’s constitution, which guaranteed special rights to the Muslim-majority Kashmir region, including the right to its own constitution and autonomy to make laws on all matters, except defense, communications and foreign affairs.

The Indian government scrapped the special autonomy status for Kashmir after imposing lockdown on the disputed region.

India dispatched thousands of additional troops to the region in the wake of the move, declaring a strict curfew, shutting down telecommunications and internet, and arresting political leaders as well as pro-independence campaigners.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri Saturday expressed concern over tensions in the Indian-Held Kashmir, warning that military approaches will further escalate the situation in the Himalayan district.

“It is expected that both sides (Pakistan and India) abstain from any hasty decision about the fate of the region that would not take the people’s will into account,” Baqeri said in a telephone conversation with Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

“We hope that political efforts will restore the basic rights of the region’s Muslims,” he added, emphasizing that Muslim nations were concerned about the developments in the disputed region.

Baqeri also stressed the need for restraint in order to manage Kashmir developments.

The Iranian and Pakistani military officials then exchanged viewpoints on border security, military and security relations between Tehran and Islamabad and latest regional developments, particularly the situation in Kashmir.

Gen Bajwa praised Iran’s concern for Muslims, saying that Pakistan will spare no effort to secure its frontiers with Iran, so the borders will be the boundaries of peace, friendship and serenity for both the Pakistani and Iranian nations. — Agencies

Wajid Ali Syed from Washington adds: Pakistan’s commitment to peace in the region remains unconditional and the situation on the eastern border could not be tied to any development on the western border, said Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States Asad Majeed Khan while talking to reporters here on Friday.

Ambassador Majeed maintained that Islamabad’s efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan through a political settlement were in the interest of the country.

“Stability and peace in Afghanistan serves the interests of Pakistan,” he said, adding that Kashmir and Afghanistan issues were neither linked nor should they be tied together.

However, he added that if the situation on the eastern border of the country escalated, then Pakistan’s attention could divert.

The ambassador said he had approached the US authorities as well as various influential lawmakers to raise the issue of Kashmir.

“The matter is already on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council and the basic responsibility lies in their resolutions,” he said, adding that the UN chief had also highlighted the fact that India could not take unilateral steps on Kashmir.

He said President Donald Trump had offered to mediate the Kashmir issue which signaled that not only was IHK a disputed matter, but also that it could only be resolved when Pakistan and India discussed it.

Majeed Khan urged the Trump administration to do more to help ease tensions between India and Pakistan after the Indian annexation

of IHK inflaming tensions between the two South Asian countries.

“The US could do and the US must do more to help defuse this situation and to perhaps inject some more sanity on the Indian side,” he said.

“We would expect that from all our friends. It really is a question of principle,” the ambassador added.

Asked on Thursday about India’s move, State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said only that the US policy toward Kashmir had not changed and that the US was incredibly engaged in Southeast Asia.

Commenting on the US response, the Pakistani envoy said, “Frankly, the US could have made or should have made a stronger statement.

As a major proponent of human rights, as the world’s leading democracy and also as the preeminent power today in the world, I think the kind of repression that we are seeing is something that warrants a strong response from the United States.”

At the same time, Ambassador Asad Khan pointed out that Prime Minister Imran Khan really hit it off very well with President Donald Trump during his visit to Washington last month during which the US leader offered to mediate on Kashmir.

In response to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s controversial action in Kashmir, Ambassador Asad Khan said Pakistan would review bilateral agreements, take the matter to the UN Security Council and ensure its army remains vigilant.

“We would not look to escalate, but we will respond in a very befitting manner if there is any violation of our territory,” he said.

“I see more violence in the valley. The Indian troops’ actions had the effect of turning the whole valley into perhaps the largest prison in the world,” the Pakistani envoy added. “Pakistan was prepared for aggression from India, but Islamabad was not going to be the one who would resort to any action to endanger peace in the region,” he said.

The Indian government said on Friday that it was time for Pakistan to accept the decision to abolish seven decades of autonomy in the disputed state.

Ambassador Khan, however, warned that the international community will be witnessing the genocide of the Kashmiris once the curfew was lifted. “All this is happening at a time when we have a government and prime minister, who is completely committed to seeking peace,” the ambassador said.

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