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September 4, 2019

Kashmir issue, Afghan peace process: Islamabad becomes hub of diplomatic activity

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September 4, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad has become a hub of diplomatic activity as foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and the UAE will arrive here today (Wednesday), while the ministers of China and Afghanistan will arrive next week to discuss the issue of Kashmir and peace process in Afghanistan.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Sultan Al-Nahyan and State Minister Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir are visiting Islamabad to initiate their efforts to defuse the volatile situation prevailing between Pakistan and India created by Indian action of last month through which India annexed disputed Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) and split it after clamping unprecedented curfew, ceasing all communications links and converted the whole area into virtually a prison. The initiative has come at a time when the lockdown in IHK nears a month after India’s illegal and unilateral August 05 move. Highly-placed diplomatic sources told The News Tuesday that the two countries have taken initiative in the wake of resolution adopted by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the two ministers could also travel to India later with the similar mission after having meetings here with Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa. It is likely that they will have the meetings separately. With this, the OIC is the first international organisation that has jumped into the fray for fire-fighting and ward off the looming threats of nuclear clash between the two countries

Prime Minister Imran Khan,who is in regular contact with the world leaders, had for the third time in two weeks established contact with strongman of Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman known and briefed him about grave situation in IHK. The crown prince reportedly informed the prime minister about dispatching his state minister for foreign affairs. The visiting ministers of the UAE and Saudi Arabia will work on three-prong diplomacy; easing of restrictions imposed in IHK, retreat of the steps taken by India and facilitate Pakistan-India dialogue. The sources said that matters related to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia’s bilateral ties and regional developments will be discussed during the state minister’s visit. The agenda of the wide-ranging meeting included a review of bilateral relations and discussions on matters of common concern. The regional situation in South Asia in the wake of India’s illegal annexation of IHK was also part of the discussions.

Al-Jubeir earlier paid a daylong visit to Islamabad in March as part of Riyadh’s efforts to seek de-escalation in tensions between Pakistan and India. The prime minister, foreign minister and the COAS were also among his interlocutors in that trip since he conveyed an ‘important message’ from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to the authorities here.

According to sources in the federal government, Pakistan is in contact through diplomatic and backdoor channels with a number of Islamic countries as part of its efforts to garner support on the Kashmir crisis and to force the Indian government to lift the curfew and information blockade in the occupied area. The sources have confided that global powers and key regional players are piling pressure on the Narendra Modi government through backdoor channels to immediately lift the almost a month-long curfew in IHK and restore liberties of people there. Islamabad has already snapped trade and diplomatic relations with New Delhi in protest against Modi’s illegal and unconstitutional step. Pakistan has publicly said it would not engage with India unless the draconian actions aren’t withdrawn in IHK and the semi-autonomous status of the region is restored.

“Pakistan has achieved significant diplomatic success as a result of its concerted campaign,” the officials said. “Conversely, India has failed in its diplomatic effort to justify its illegal steps as international and regional players are unwilling to buy its narrative,” they added. The Modi government is said to be under mounting pressure to lift the curfew and take steps to normalise the situation in the disputed territory. The sources hinted that foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and UAE visits would be followed by more tours by officials of regional players and global powers. Turkey Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavu o lu and Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif could be next visitors of Islamabad, the sources hinted.

The foreign ministers of China and Afghanistan will also arrive next week to discuss the issue of Kashmir and peace process in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi contacted his Iranian, Turkish and Bangladeshi counterparts and discussed the situation of Kashmir with them.

Qureshi telephoned his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu and apprised him about grave human rights violations in IHK.

The foreign minister said India has imposed curfew in occupied valley since 5th of August and consequently, lives of thousands of people are under threat. Qureshi said situation is so dire that there is shortage of food and medicines. He said people of IHK are looking towards international community especially the Muslim world.

In another telephonic conversation with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif, Qureshi apprised him about human rights violations in IHK and deteriorated regional situation.

Qureshi said India imposed curfew in IHK which has entered into fourth week and resorting severe torture to innocent people. The minister said international media and human rights organisations are exposing India’s atrocities.

Qureshi also telephoned his Bangladeshi counterpart Dr AK Abdul Momen and discussed the current situation in IHK.

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