Sharif Rakes Up Kashmir In UN, Offers Four-point Peace Initiative

30 September 2015
The Hindustan Times
Yashwant Raj

Washington DC: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday offered peace talks to India built around ceasefire along the border in Jammu and Kashmir and demilitaristion of the state. Addressing the UN general assembly, Sharif said he was proposing a new four-point peace initiative with India 'starting with measures that are the simplest to implement'. One, he said, Pakistan and India must 'formalise and respect' the 2003 understanding for a ceasefire on the Line of Control in Kashmir. Sharif called for expanding the UN military observer group in India and Pakistan to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire. Two, Pakistan and India should reaffirm not to resort to force or use the threat of force under any circumstances, which, was a 'central element of the UN charter'. Three, the Pakistani Prime Minister continued, the two countries must take steps to demilitarise Kashmir. As the fourth step, the two countries must agree to an 'unconditional mutual withdrawal' from Siachen, which has been called the world's highest battleground. 'An easing of threat perception through such peace efforts will make it possible for Pakistan and India to agree on a broad range of measures to address the peril posed by offensive and advanced weapons systems,' he said. There was no response from India till the filing of this report. External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is to address the general assembly on Thursday. Ties between the two countries nosedived after national security adviser-level talks that Delhi was to host in August were called off. India and Pakistan blamed each other for the fiasco that followed a breakthrough meeting between the two PMs in the Russian city of Ufa in July. Differing interpretations of the joint statement led to a bitter build-up and an ugly war of words that eventually sank the much-awaited talks. The acrimony that followed and volatile borders only added to the bitterness. The exchange of fire along the border had been the heaviest in recent memory, with both sides reporting deaths of civilians as well as security personnel.