Talks possible, include Kashmir as third party, says advisor to PM Imran

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s top security advisor says that Pakistan is ready to hold talks with India, provided Kashmir is included as a third party of proposed talks.

In an interview with Indian media, Special Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf revealed that India had already expressed an interest in talks. However, he said that Pakistan’s agreement to talks would be conditional. These conditions include the immediate release of occupied Kashmir’s political prisoners, lifting of the heavy military siege from the territory, reversal of New Delhi’s decision to strip the region of its special status, ending human rights violations in the valley and a stop to India’s state-sponsored terrorism against Pakistan.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on National Security Dr Moeed Yusuf on Tuesday revealed that New Delhi has sent a message expressing a desire for talks on Kashmir issue.

This is the first time a Pakistani government official has given an interview to an Indian news outlet since India repealed occupied Kashmir’s special status last year. Indian journalist Karan Thapar interviewed the premier’s special assistant virtually. Moeed quoted prominent Kashmiri leader and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah who had once said in an interview that Kashmiris living in the occupied territory would much rather be ruled by Chinese than India. He also said that two countries “need to sit down like adults” and talk about the two fundamental issues affecting their ties — Kashmir and terrorism.

Moeed quoted prominent Kashmiri leader and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah who had once said in an interview that Kashmiris living in the occupied territory would much rather be ruled by Chinese than India.

Yusuf further said that the world was “calling India out” over its actions in occupied Kashmir”. “That’s the reality. Kashmiris can’t bear the thought of being Indian. Kashmiris hate Hindustan,” he told Thapar. He further said that while India had “never obeyed” the UN charter and resolutions, it had now “formally stated [that] you’re going to violate them”. He regretted that India had chosen to take a “unilateral” decision bypassing the United Nations Security Council resolutions, as well as the bilateral Simla Agreement, signed between New Delhi and Islamabad.

“When you did something unilateral you had to bring in a 180,000 troops, lie to the world that there was a terrorist threat and then Indian government perpetrated terrorism on August 5. And a year later, you had to impose curfew. “When you say that the wishes of the people don’t matter, that’s where you go wrong.” “The day India recognises that only the wishes of people of Kashmir matter, this issue can be resolved,” Yusuf told Thapar.

two countries “need to sit down like adults” and talk about the two fundamental issues affecting their ties — Kashmir and terrorism.

The premier’s aide explained that while Pakistan had never recognised the now scraped Article 370 of the Indian constitution, adding that Islamabad was “raising the issue [of the Article being repealed] because you (India) have formally gone outside the UN charter and resolutions by making a permanent change to a territory I rightfully claim as mine”. In response to a question, Yusuf said “no decision has been made” regarding granting Gilgit Baltistan a provincial status but added that the matter was the subject of “public debate”. He further said that India had left Pakistan with no choice but to speak out on the Kashmir issue on a global stage as the former had repeatedly rejected Islamabad’s offers for talks.

“If it was so confirmed and so done, where is the act?” Yusuf said when asked if Pakistan had granted provincial status to GB and if such a step would be a contradiction to Islamabad’s opposition to New Delhi’s decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Indian constitution. “One: no decision has been made. Two: there is a public debate. The public debate has not been generated by the government of Pakistan. It’s been generated by the people of Gilgit Baltistan. They have been saying this for two or three years now. What are they saying? ‘We want to be fully integrated with Pakistan.’ “Now you tell me Karan, if a people is not treated well, would they ever want that? I’ve never heard the Kashmiri Muslims talk about this in the occupied territory,” Yusuf said. He further said that Pakistan’s decision would be in line with the resolutions passed by the UNSC. “If the resolutions bar permanent change of territorial status, there will be no permanent change,” Yusuf stated, adding that the matter was being debated in Pakistan since “this is how democratic societies” work.

Referring to heavy Indian military deployment in Indian occupied Kashmir since August 2019, Yusuf said “democratic societies, by the way, do not bring in 180,000 troops to change the status of a territory. That’s the difference between Pakistan and India right now,” he agreed with Thapar that GB was a disputed territory, saying that the region would be included in the plebiscite “the day [it] happens”. “There has to be an enabling environment to talk. Create that and you will find us willing the next day. Take that one step [and] you will see my prime minister take two,” he said, addressing the Indian leadership.

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