New Delhi: The people of “India-occupied Kashmir" have “stood firm and are fighting bravely", Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa was quoted as saying at a function in Rawalpindi on Thursday to mark Defence Day, which commemorates the end of the 1965 war with India.
“I salute the people of India-occupied Kashmir who have stood firm and are fighting bravely: Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa," a Twitter post by ANI news agency said.
The comment is not going to go down well in India which considers the whole of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) as part of India. India also contests Pakistan’s claim that the part of Kashmir administered by India is witnessing a “freedom movement". It says the unrest in Kashmir is fuelled by Pakistan, which arms, trains and sends in terrorists.
Bajwa reaffirmed Islamabad’s support for “self-determination" in J&K, according to PTI news agency.
Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan, too, mentioned Kashmir in his speech at the same event and urged world powers to play their role in stopping what he called “Indian cruelty" in Kashmir. “The resolution of (the) Kashmir issue according to the United Nations resolutions is indispensable," Khan was quoted as saying.
Khan had offered talks and had spoken of improving trade ties with India on 26 July, a day after the national polls in Pakistan. However, he almost immediately went back to Pakistan’s familiar position of Kashmir being the “core issue" between the neighbours.
“Kashmir is the core issue between the two countries and it should be resolved through talks," he said.
The presence of the Indian Army in civilian areas of Kashmir led to human rights violations, said the Pakistan prime minister.
New Delhi rejects Pakistan’s characterization of J&K as the “core issue", emphasizing instead Islamabad’s role in supporting, arming and training anti-India terrorists.
In a telephone conversation with Khan on 30 July, Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared his vision of peace in South Asia, the Indian foreign ministry said. In a congratulatory message sent on 18 August, Modi had spoken of “constructive engagement with Pakistan", that was widely construed as a move to resume peace overtures with Pakistan stalled since 2013, though Indian officials denied any such plan.
Khan also said Pakistan would “not become part of a war of any other country (in future)... Our foreign policy will be in the best interest of the nation," apparently referring to the country’s involvement in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Pakistan was the ally of the US during the Cold War as it fought the American war with the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Khan also praised the Pakistani armed forces for combating terrorism. “No other nation has fought the war on terror like the Pakistan Army," he said.