Muzaffarabad (AJK): Pakistan Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif on Friday said that the Kashmir issue was a test for the current leadership of Pakistan and India, and peoples of both countries could not prosper and progress until the lingering issue was resolved.
Expressing optimism on the initiation of the bilateral dialogue process in the days ahead, the prime minister said that the resolution of all issues lies in mutual dialogue and added that both India and Pakistan would have to think about the well-being and progress of their peoples.
The prime minister was speaking at the joint session of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly and Kashmir Council, in connection with the Kashmir Solidarity Day.
AJK Speaker Sardar Ghulam Sadiq Khan chaired proceedings of the joint session that was also attended by AJK President Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan, AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed, Minister for Kashmir Affairs Chaudhry Barjees Tahir, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Pervaiz Rashid, Advisor to the PM on Political Affairs Dr Asif Kirmani and Chairman Special Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir, Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that South Asia required a new vision and thinking, and that history was once again calling for the resolution of bilateral issues for the future generation.
He said that Pakistan did try to give a new vision to South Asia in order to ensure peace in the region.
The prime minister said Pakistan has assured cooperation to India on all issues including terrorism, adding that no one could understand peace better than Pakistan, which itself had been the target and victim of terrorism.
“We want peace, not only for Pakistan but for the entire region and Kashmir is also part of the region,” he said and added peace is also Kashmiris’ right and no one can deny the right of self-determination to people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The prime minister said differences among countries were somewhat natural but Kashmir’s resolution was a test case for leadership of both countries.
He said Kashmir was a permanent part of Pakistan’s national policy and no Pakistani could ignore Kashmir, as this relationship was part of their history, geography, region, culture and realisation of relationship among the people.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that Pakistan and China had initiated a gigantic $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, which would usher in a new era of prosperity in the region.
He said Pakistan wanted peace in the region and conflict had not been the policy of China, adding that benefits of CPEC would reach to Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
He said the AJK, Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were the big shareholders of CPEC, adding that under the project, a network of roads would be constructed besides hydropower projects, which would ultimately reduce electricity shortage in the country.
The prime minister said several projects of AJK were also part of the CPEC.
He said work was in progress with the cooperation of China on several electricity projects and there was a lot of improvement in the situation as load shedding had reduced, adding that it would end by 2018.
Lauding Pak-China’s deep-rooted friendship, the prime minister said $46 billion from China under the CPEC was not a loan but investment, including over $34 billion in investment from the private sector.
The prime minister said that the present PML-N government intended to lay a railway line from Islamabad to Muzaffarabad and an expressway from Muzaffarabad to Mirpur.
He said Murree Expressway also would be extended to Muzaffarabad.
He said it was only the PML-N government, which focussed on electricity projects and construction of infrastructure in the country and added the Muzaffarabad road was also constructed by his government in 90s.
“I love AJK and I will complete these projects since it is your right,” he added.
He said the federal government would provide Rs 2.5 billion for the construction of a new building for the AJK Legislative Assembly.
The prime minister also announced Rs 150 million for various development projects in AJK.
He said it was the collective responsibility of both treasury and opposition benches to work to uplift the area, adding that the opposition had the right to criticise but it should be constructive and not just criticise for the sake of opposition.
The prime minister said that the government wanted to further strengthen the institutions and public sector organisations but certain elements were just creating hurdles and hampering the process.
He said the government has decided for improve management and functioning of PIA, in order to ensure its progress but some political parties were creating hurdles in this regard. He, however, added that the government would not bow to such illegal and illogical moves.
Nawaz Sharif said there should be no compromise on principles, and preference should not be given to personal interests over national interests.
He said negative rhetoric was used against the prime minister in the sit-ins last year but “we tolerated all these with open heart just for democracy” he said, and added that the country would be integrated and will remain intact through democracy.
He said “our one part – East Pakistan – got separated from us as democracy was not given due importance.”
He said negative politics did give many losses to Pakistan and added that positive politics is promoted to resolve all issues with mutual understanding and in a democratic manner.
The prime minister urged the entire leadership to come forward and work together for the progress and prosperity of the country.