KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has called for a third-party intervention to resolve the lingering Kashmir dispute with archrival India, urging the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to play a role.
In an interview with Al Arabiya news channel aired on Tuesday, Sharif said the oil-rich Gulf state, which has close diplomatic and economic ties with New Delhi and Islamabad, can play an “important” role in bringing the two nuclear-armed neighbors to the table.
“My message to the Indian leadership and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is that let us sit down . . . and have serious and sincere talks to resolve our burning issues, such as Kashmir,” said Sharif, who came to power in April last year after a successful no-confidence vote against his predecessor Imran Khan.
“It is up to us whether to live peacefully and make progress or fight with each other, and waste time and resources. We have (had) three wars with India, and they have only brought more misery, poverty, and unemployment to the people,” he said, citing three full-fledged wars between the two countries (1948, 1965, and 1971), two of which were over Kashmir.
“We want to alleviate poverty, achieve prosperity, and provide education, healthcare, and employment to our people, and not waste our resources on bombs and ammunition … that is the message, I want to give to PM Modi,” he added.
Criticizing the “worst human rights” violations in Indian-occupied Kashmir, Sharif warned that “we are nuclear powers, armed to the teeth, and if God forbid a war breaks out, who will live to tell what happened.”
Pakistan and India have long been embroiled in various disputes, particularly over the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Their frosty relations reached a new low following India’s repeal of Jammu and Kashmir’s long-standing special status in August 2019.
However, the two neighbors agreed in 2021 to uphold the 2003 cease-fire along the Line of Control (LoC), a 724-kilometer (450-mile) military control line that divides the disputed Indian and Pakistani-governed parts of Kashmir.
The UAE had a role in brokering the cease-fire, which was followed by a letter exchange between the two premiers, as well as unconfirmed reports of “backdoor” contacts to defuse the escalating tensions.
Nonetheless, Islamabad reiterates that normalizing relation with New Delhi is contingent on the review of the Aug. 5, 2019 decision and the ultimate resolution of the Kashmir dispute.