Statement follows Prime Minister Imran Khan telling Kashmiris that Islamabad will allow them right to choose between becoming part of Pakistan or remaining independent
Pakistan’s Foreign Office on Friday released a statement clarifying Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks to a demonstration marking Kashmir Solidarity Day, stressing that it did not change the country’s principled position in the ongoing dispute.
On Friday, while addressing a demonstration in Kotli, Khan said that Islamabad would grant the people of Kashmir the right to decide whether or not they wished to be part of Pakistan or remain an independent nation—provided they opted for Pakistan over India in a plebiscite conducted in accordance with relevant U.N. resolutions.
To media queries on whether this reflected a change in Pakistan’s position, Foreign Office spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said the country’s principled stance on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute remained unchanged in accordance with relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. He said the prime minister had merely reiterated Pakistan’s long-held position and support for Kashmiris’ right to self-determination.
Highlighting that the prime minister had repeatedly underscored the need to implement UNSC resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir, he said Pakistan was committed to resolving the dispute between Pakistan and India through a free and impartial plebiscite under the U.N. auspices.
During his speech, Khan vowed to continue representing the Kashmiri people until they “get freedom.” He assured them that the entire Muslim world supported their cause, adding that India could not in its effort to “enslave” the Kashmiri population.
“I tell India this today: they can never win now. Not when a people do not even accept you,” he said, and highlighted recent human rights abuses as “proof” that the “fascist ideology” of the Hindutva-led BJP government was “destroying the fabric of [Indian] society.”
The prime minister offered dialogue on Kashmir to his Indian counterpart, provided that Delhi first retracted its decision to abrogate Article 370 of its Constitution, which grants a special status to the disputed territory. “Then speak to us. And then, as per the United Nations resolution, give the Kashmiris their due right,” he said.
“We are ready to speak to you. But I say this again: Do not mistake our hand of friendship for weakness. This country, Pakistan, belongs to those who bow to no one but God. We do not fear anyone but Him. So do not think we say this with fear,” he added.