Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif used the United Nations General Assembly platform to propose a four-step peace plan with India on Wednesday.
In a 15-minute address that made several references to Kashmir as a land under “foreign occupation”, Mr. Sharif said he had tried to “reach out” to India to resolve the issue. He then proposed that India and Pakistan begin with ending the firing at the Line of Control, “formalise and respect” the 2003 ceasefire and ask the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan to verify it. Mr. Sharif proposed a “no use of force” agreement. Finally, he proposed steps to “demilitarise Kashmir” and “mutually withdraw troops from the Siachen.”
The External Affairs Ministry did not respond to Mr. Sharif’s peace proposal that was peppered with swipes at India for alleged rights violations, for firing at the LoC, and for rejecting the composite dialogue process agreed to in 1997. But External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will make a statement at the General Assembly on Thursday, where she will respond to the speech, officials said.Aziz charge at OIC
Mr. Sharif’s peace plan, which bears resemblance to the one proposed by former Pakistan President, Parvez Musharraf, came close on the heels of a fiery intervention by Pakistan National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) contact group meeting at the U.N., where he accused India of trying “to quell the Kashmiri struggle by use of brute force”. “The Kashmiri leaders continue to remain in detention or have been put under house arrest. India is attempting to change the demographic make-up of ‘Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir’ by settling non-State, non-Muslim subjects in occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” Mr. Aziz alleged.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup told presspersons in New York that India had consistently rejected the relevance of the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir.
The Pakistan Prime Minister’s speech at the U.N. was unusual, as his four-point pitch for peace was made to India on the world platform, where other countries are normally not addressed directly. However, it indicates the Pakistan government’s desire to show the international community that it is keen on resuming dialogue.
Mr. Sharif’s speech came at the end of a week when he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi stayed at the same hotel in New York, and even attended the same conference on peacekeeping.
Yet despite speculation that there would be some contact in order to pick up dialogue threads, there were no talks between them. On Monday, the leaders did manage a wave at each other across the U.N. meeting hall at the peacekeeping conference chaired by U.S. President Barack Obama.