Foreign Minister Shah Mahmmod Qureshi — after a meeting of a Prime Minister Imran Khan-led Pakistani delegation with US President Donald Trump on Monday — briefed the media that Trump’s attention had been drawn “to the other side of the story” (that of India-occupied Kashmir).
Talking to reporters in New York, the foreign minister said that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been showing only one side of the story to the world, while the Pakistani side showed Trump the other side.
“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to portray that the matter of occupied Kashmir is not an issue and that the situation will become normal in a few days. We are trying to convince them [the US government] that the issue is complicated and has been becoming more complicated with each passing day.”
“We told President Trump not to take the matter of Kashmir lightly. If the US remains unconcerned, if the global community remains unconcerned, two nuclear armed states are facing off and the situation can take an ugly turn,” he said, adding that the Pakistani side “sensitised US President Trump completely” over the issue.
Talking about the issue of human rights abuses in occupied Kashmir, he said that he himself told Trump that all fundamental rights of the people are being violated in occupied Kashmir.
“There is no freedom of speech, there is no religious freedom, people even can’t pray [in mosques] there, they can’t go to school, they can’t go to hospitals, causalities are happening, there is no internet and the [curfew] has entered into the 49th day,” he added.
“US President Donald Trump expressed his concern over the issue of rights violations,” he said.
The minister further said that the global community should know that India is the biggest obstacle in bringing in peace to the region. He said, “There are three stakeholders of the issue of occupied Kashmir; Pakistan, India and the Kashmiri people. The people of occupied Kashmir and Pakistan have rejected the Indian decision, while there is confusion over the annexation within India as almost 14 constitutional petitions had been filed in the country against the move.”
FM Qureshi strongly rejected the impression that Pakistan is going to defend only Azad Jammu and Kashmir and not the India-occupied part of Kashmir. “We have the same relationship with the people of occupied Kashmir as we have with the people of Azad Kashmir.”
Talking about tensions in the Gulf, “Pakistan is already engaged on its western as well as eastern borders. We don’t want unrest in Iran,” he said, adding that PM Imran offered Trump that Islamabad is ready to play its role for mediation between Washington and Tehran.
He said the US president mandated PM Imran to initiate talks with Iran under certain parameters. “The US president told PM Imran ‘we trust you, if you can take dialogue forward, please proceed’,” he said.
The minister said that the prime minister believes that there was no military solution to any conflict. He added that the premier will meet with the Iranian president and foreign minister to sort out a way forward.
“The prime minister had expressed the same viewpoint in Saudi Arabia and suggested to Mohammad Bin Suleman that he act wisely,” he said.
Talking about the situation in neighbouring Afghanistan, he said that the prime minister was very clear over the issue. He said that the prime minister reiterated that there was no military solution to Afghanistan unrest. He said that a mechanism for peace is needed and the dialogue between the Taliban and the US should resume.
FM Qureshi highlights Kashmir issue in meetings with Chinese counterpart, ICG president
Earlier in the day, FM Qureshi called on his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and International Crisis Group (ICG) President and CEO Robert Malley in the United States on the sidelines of the 74th session of United Nations General Assembly.
The two ministers discussed the regional and international scenario, as well as matters pertaining to personal interests.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi talking to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Monday Sept 23, 2019. — Photo provided by author
FM Qureshi thanked Yi, saying that the Chinese cooperation over the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir and pertaining to the unilateral move taken by India, was commendable.
The minister regretted that India, under the cover of continued curfew, has been gravely violating human rights.
The two sides also vowed to continue cooperation for peace and stability of the region.
Meanwhile, ICG President and CEO Robert Malley called on Qureshi. Expressing his deep concern at the prevailing grave human rights and humanitarian situation in India occupied Kashmir, the foreign minister underscored the need for the international community to step in to fulfill its moral and political responsibility towards the Kashmiri people.
He said that the non-resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute posed a serious threat to peace and security of South Asia. He added that the Indian political leadership was resorting to jingoistic and irresponsible statements that could escalate tensions in the region.
The minister emphasized that there could be no peace in South Asia as along as the Jammu and Kashmir dispute remained unresolved. The minister encouraged the International Crisis Group (ICG) to work towards conflict prevention and restraint in South Asia.
FM Qureshi and other high-ups, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, are in the US in connection with the UN General Assembly session.
On August 2, tensions between India and Pakistan reached a feverish pitch when New Delhi unilaterally annexed occupied Kashmir, revoking a constitutional guarantee that gave a special status to the disputed territory.
A strict lockdown and communications blackout was imposed in the region that has snapped off ordinary people’s internet and mobile telephone service across much of occupied Kashmir. It has now entered its 50th day.