Using the podium of the UN, Pakistan Prime Nawaz Sharif today raked up the Kashmir issue, terming its non-resolution as a failure of the world body, and proposed a 4-point "peace initiative" with India which includes demilitarisation of Kashmir.
He also proposed "unconditional and mutual withdrawal" of forces from Siachen, restraint by both countries from "use or the threat of use of force under any circumstances" and formalisation of the 2003 border ceasefire as part of the formula to ensure peaceful ties between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
Addressing the 193-member UN General Assembly, Sharif equated Kashmir with Palestine while talking about "suffering of Muslims across the world", saying "Palestinians and Kashmiris (are) oppressed by foreign occupation."
He underlined the "primacy and urgency" of addressing the issues of Kashmir and peace and security between India and Pakistan while saying "Cooperation, not confrontation, should define our relationship."
At the same time, he insisted that "consultations with Kashmiris, who are an integral part of the dispute, are essential to evolving a peaceful solution."
India has already ruled out any role for Kashmiris.
Contending that normalisation of relations with India has been his priority since he came to office, Sharif said the two countries "should address and resolve the causes of tension" and take all possible measures to avert further escalation.
"That is why I want to use the opportunity today to propose a new peace initiative with India, starting with measures that are the simplest to implement:
"One, we propose that Pakistan and India formalise and respect the 2003 understanding for a complete ceasefire on the Line of Control in Kashmir. For this purpose, we call for UNMOGIP's (UN Military Observation Group in India and Pakistan) expansion to monitor the observance of the ceasefire.
"Two, we propose, that Pakistan and India reaffirm that they will not resort to the use or the threat of use of force under any circumstances. This is a central element of the UN Charter.
"Three, steps be taken to demilitarise Kashmir.
"Four, agree to an unconditional mutual withdrawal from Siachen Glacier, the world's highest battleground," he said.
While proposing the formula, he said, "an easing of threat perceptions through such peace efforts will make it possible for Pakistan and India to agree on a broad range of measures to address the perilposed by offensive and advanced weapons systems."
Sharif also talked about terrorism and claimed that his government would fight it "in all its forms and manifestations irrespective of who their sponsors are" as Pakistan was the "primary victim".
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