Pakistan on Wednesday said there is no change in its stance on the longstanding Kashmir dispute, despite recent positive developments with arch-rival India.
“Our position is anchored on the UN resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri told a parliamentary briefing chaired by Shehryar Khan Afridi, the head of the Kashmir committee, in the capital Islamabad.
The statement came hours after Pakistan lifted a nearly two-year ban on sugar and cotton imports from India. Islamabad banned imports of goods from India after New Delhi revoked the special of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019.
The region is held by India and Pakistan in parts but claimed both in full. Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars, two of them over Kashmir.
Some Kashmiri groups have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or unification with neighboring Pakistan.
According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have been killed and tortured in the conflict since 1989.
It comes amid a warmth in ties between the two neighbors. In February, the militaries of both countries announced a cease-fire along a disputed border in Kashmir.
Referring to a statement by Prime Minister Imran Khan on the Feb. 5 Kashmir Solidarity Day that Islamabad would give Kashmiris the right if they want to be part of Pakistan or remain independent, Chaudhri said the statement “was consistent with Pakistan’s longstanding policy on Jammu and Kashmir dispute and Pakistan would continue its support of Kashmiris at all forums.”
He said the recent understanding to honor the 2003 cease-fire agreement is aimed at saving the lives of Kashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control, a de facto border that divides the picturesque Himalayan valley between the two nuclear neighbors.
He said the agreement is an understanding on a military level as Pakistan believes that any violation of the cease-fire could jeopardize regional peace.
“There is absolutely no change in Pakistan’s stance on resolving the Kashmir dispute through dialogue and under the relevant UN resolutions,” the spokesman said.
The committee also passed a resolution to welcome the commitment shown by Premier Khan on linking the resolution of the Kashmir dispute with regional peace and stability.
It demanded the United Nations Human Rights Council and other international human rights organizations to ensure the immediate release of all Kashmiri political prisoners, especially senior leaders of the pro-freedom Hurriyat Conference.