Islamabad, August 27 (PTI/The New Indian Express) : Further needling India on the Kashmir issue, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday nominated 22 parliamentarians as “special envoys” to be sent to world capitals to highlight the issue.
“We will remind the United Nations its long-held promise of giving self-determination to the Kashmiri people,” Sharif said.
Sharif’s move came in the backdrop of an escalating war of words between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of the continuing unrest in the Kashmir Valley that broke out on July 8 after Hizbul commander Burhan Wani was killed by the Security Forces.
The Prime Minister urged the special envoys to shake the collective conscience of the international community when he addresses the UN this September.
“We will also make it clear to India that it was India that approached the UN several decades back on the Kashmir dispute but now it is not fulfilling its promise,” Sharif said.
The Kashmir problem represents the most persistent failure of the UN.
Mehbooba holds Pakistan Responsible for Unrest
Meanwhile in New Delhi, Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti slammed Pakistan and Kashmiri separatist leaders for fuelling unrest in Kashmir and hoped that a “very concerned” Prime Minister Narendra Modi would get the troubled state out of the deadly turmoil that has left over 70 dead and crippled life in the valley for 50 days.
Mehbooba met Modi at his 7, Race Course residence during which the two discussed the Kashmir situation and the way out of the turmoil.
The violence has caused a “deep pain” to the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister told reporters outside Modi’s residence.
“The Prime Minister is very concerned and is as hurt as we are with the deaths in Kashmir,” she said.
She directly blamed Pakistan for inciting the violence and said Kashmiri youth are attacking security forces and police stations after being provoked to do so.
“I want to tell Pakistan, if it has any sympathy for Kashmiris, it should stop provoking them to attack police stations — and save youth from being killed.”
This is the first time that Mehbooba, previously known for her soft corner for Pakistan and separatists when in opposition, has directly blamed Islamabad for the Kashmir trouble.
Mehbooba ,who leads the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said Pakistan lost a “golden chance” to resolve the Kashmir problem when Modi went to Lahore in December last and later Home Minister Rajnath Singh early this month visited Islamabad for a SAARC conference.
“It is time for Pakistan to respond (to India) if it wants peace in Kashmir,” she said.
Mehbooba favoured talks “with all stakeholders” to solve the Kashmir issue but asked separatist leaders to shun violence.
“They (the separatists) have to decide if they want to talk. On one side, you tell youth to attack security forces and army camps.Talks should be held with those who want a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue. For others, it is a business. Those who provoke people and cause bloodshed don’t want talks,” she said.
She rejected a separatist notion that the United Nations can solve the Kashmir problem.
The PDP leader reminded separatist leaders how Pakistan’s former military dictator Pervez Musharraf had said the dispute would be solved by taking into consideration the aspirations of the people of India, Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir.
When not in office, Mehbooba and her PDP were vocal about Musharraf’s four-point formula for Kashmir. That included no change in borders, phased demilitarization, self-governance and joint supervision by Islamabad and New Delhi. The PDP’s much touted self-rule formula is in line with the Musharraf plan floated in 2006.
The Chief Minister said “Indian democracy has enough space to accommodate the dreams of Kashmiris”.
“If Modi wants, and he of course wants, the Kashmir issue will be solved… Modi ji has a majority and if during his time, the situation doesn’t change then it will never change. I have high hopes from the Prime Minister.”
She made a passionate appeal to Kashmiri protesters to be calm and sought “one chance” to get the Kashmir issue solved.
“These are the same youth and kids who would join my public rallies. Give me a chance I will get it (Kashmir issue) solved. It has not been only two months since I have taken over the government and ‘itna bada sawaal aagaya’ (such a big problem erupted),” the first woman Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister said, referring to the turmoil.
Her remarks came as protesters on Saturday blocked the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway squatting on the road with the body of a youth who drowned after jumping into the Jhelum river to escape chasing security forces Friday evening. The body of Shahnawaz Khan, 24, was retrieved from the river near Sangam village in south Kashmir’s Bijbehara area – the home town of Mehbooba Mufti.
Mehbooba Appeals to Geelani to Give Her A Chance
Hours after Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and discussed the prevailing unrest in Kashmir with him on Saturday, her party PDP appealed hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani to give her a chance.
Senior PDP leader and former parliament member, Dr Mehboob Beg in a statement issued here appealed Geelani, who along with other separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, is spearheading the ongoing agitation, to cooperate in this regard and give Mehbooba the opportunity that she deserves.
“Geelani Sahab must think of Mehbooba as his daughter, who also happens to be the first Kashmiri Muslim woman to lead J&K,” he said.
Mehbooba has drawn flak in Kashmir for her recent statement of justifying the civilian killings at the hands of security forces.
While addressing a joint press conference with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Srinagar few days back, Mehbooba had said, “ “Had a kid gone to buy a toffee from an army camp and had a 15-year-old boy gone to buy milk from the police station in south Kashmir.”
“I appeal Geelani Sahab to give her (Mehbooba) a chance as she understands the pain and pulse of the people as she has risen from the grass roots”, Beg said.