On Thursday, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Pakistan should have cooperated within the region to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, but because of the Kashmir problem, there was a ‘bottleneck’ on regional trade and development.
In order to show unity with the people of Indian-occupied Kashmir, the foreign minister addressed a photographic and cultural exhibition in Islamabad attended by foreign diplomats and dignitaries (IoK).
“We could have cooperated in the region to [better] combat Covid-19 but we didn’t […] collectively [and] regionally we could’ve done a better job,” Qureshi said.
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He said there was no regional trade due to the Kashmir conflict and the South Asian Regional Cooperation Alliance (Saarc) was not working though “we’ve seen regional trade grow everywhere [such as the] European Union (EU) and Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations]”
The foreign minister said, “What’s the bottleneck? We have to understand that and we need the international community to understand what the present regime in India has done is unsustainable,”
He asked where India’s pledged investments in the occupied area is, adding that the thriving tourism in IoK was “destroyed” due to “devastating” steps taken on August 5, 2019, responding to the revocation of Article 370. by India.
“We want to live in peace with India and we want good neighbourly relations with India but south Asia has suffered because of this [Kashmir] dispute,” Qureshi said, adding that because of “optimally used” scarce resources were not “tension on both sides” on development projects.
“The time has come to reflect, how do we move on. What is going on is unsustainable.”
Qureshi said opting not to speak about the Kashmir issue and denying it would not “change reality” and by “dialogue and peaceful means” the issue should be resolved.
He told the crowd, which included foreign dignitaries and diplomats, “Who will create that enabling environment that is required to reengage […] so please write to your capitals [and] inform them about what the real situation is [in IoK],”
Qureshi also urged the audience to visit and examine both Azad Kashmir and the occupied Indian territories and to pressure the Indian government after meeting citizens there to allow a diplomatic centre to make a “independent assessment” on IoK.
Based on his consistent stand on human rights, the foreign minister said he wanted US President Joe Biden’s administration to “stop ignoring the ground realities over there”
He also claimed that he wanted the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the EU to play their role in the matter and thanked the representatives of the European and British parliaments for “contributing and highlighting the misery and brutality that is taking place
On Wednesday, the United States State Department explained that there had been no improvement in America’s Kashmir policy, and both Jammu and Kashmir were still perceived by Washington as a contested region between India and Pakistan. The clarification on the Kashmir issue revealed that Pakistan’s issues were not disrespectful to the Biden administration.
The State Department commented, “We look forward to continuing political & economic progress to restore normalcy in J&K.”