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Peace between Pakistan, India not possible without resolving Kashmir issue, says FM Bilawal

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said durable peace between Pakistan and India was not possible without resolving the Kashmir issue.

The United Nations Security Council had adopted a resolution that the people of Jammu and Kashmir must be able to exercise the right of self-determination through an UN-sponsored plebiscite, he said while delivering his opening statement as Chairman of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) at the two-day 49th Session of the CFM in Nouakchott, Mauritania. However, India moved away from its commitment to implement the decision, and resorted to fraud and force.

Three years after India’s unilateral and illegal measures of August 5, 2019, he said, it was evident that its campaign of colonial expansion had failed. It would never succeed and the people of Kashmir would win in their struggle for freedom and self-determination, the foreign minister added.

He said Kashmir and Pakistan were bound by geography, faith, history and culture, and Pakistan would continue to extend its full political, diplomatic and moral support for the Kashmiris’ freedom struggle.

He said the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir and the OIC Secretary General and his special envoy had made valuable contributions in projecting and advocating the just cause of the Kashmiri people. “I am confident that the OIC Contact Group, when it will meet later here will adopt an effective plan to promote the just cause of Kashmir.”

He also proposed to establish a special task force of experts at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) forum to develop a strategy to secure equal treatment in the rules and structure of international finance, trade and taxation.

“We must also demand a speedy debt restructuring for 60 financially vulnerable countries, the redistribution of unutilized SDRs (Special Drawing Rights) to developing countries, large lending by multilateral development banks, massive public-private partnership investments, sustainable infrastructure and the mobilization of the promised climate financing of US$100 billion,” he said.

He said Pakistan had been hit hard by the devastating floods last summer after facing the negative impacts of COVID, inflation, economic collapse in Afghanistan, and consequences of the Ukraine war.

He thanked the brotherly Islamic countries for their generous support for Pakistan in the hour of need.

As regards the Palestine issue, the foreign minister said the OIC member states must continue to condemn Israel’s repeated aggression against the Al Aqsa Mosque and in the occupied Palestinian territory. The people of Palestine must have their own state within the 1967 borders with Al Quds Alsharif as its capital. “This may seem a daunting task today, yet I am convinced that the arc of history in the hand of Almighty tends towards justice.”

On Afghanistan, the foreign minister said Pakistan had done everything possible to prevent a major humanitarian crisis and economic collapse in that country.

The OIC, he said, should contribute to drawing up a clear pathway for peace in Afghanistan to encourage the Afghan interim government to fulfil the earlier promises; to fully respect human rights, particularly women’s rights; promote political inclusivity; and eliminate the terrorist threat of the Daesh, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other terrorist groups in the country.

The minister also called for addressing conflicts and disputes within the Islamic world, saying those conflicts “erode our unity and solidarity, fuel terrorism and extremism and deflect our attention from development”.

Pakistan, he said, warmly welcomed the agreement reached by Saudi Arabia and Iran to restore diplomatic relations and the constructive role played by the Chinese leadership.

“It is time to join together to restore peace in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya, and to this end, the OIC must strengthen its security mechanism to promote solutions through dialogues,” he said.

Talking about Islamophobia, FB Bilawal said he had urged the UN secretary-general to formulate an action plan to halt Islamophobia.

He informed that Pakistan would host the 18th OIC trade fare in June this year and would also look forward to hosting the OIC ministerial conference on women empowerment later this year.

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