Onus on India for peace with Pakistan: Imran Khan

Islamabad, Mar 17 (efe-epa).- Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said Wednesday that India had to take the first step for regional peace by solving the Kashmir dispute between the two nuclear-powered neighbors.

“We will try too but India will have to take the first step,” Khan said in his inaugural address to the first edition of the Islamabad Security Dialog.

The conditional peace overture to India came three weeks after the two countries committed to respecting the 2003 ceasefire on their tense borders in the disputed Kashmir region.

It was a departure from Khan’s previous speeches when he compared Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

Khan said the two countries could increase their trade ties in an atmosphere of peace that, in turn, would help reduce poverty in the region.

He said that peace between Islamabad and New Delhi would also strengthen trade ties with Afghanistan and the Central Asian countries.

He said nothing stopped the two neighbors from making peace, noting that he had attempted to settle all disputed with India after coming to power in 2018.

Khan recalled the ties between the two countries suffered a total broke down after India took a unilateral decision on Aug 5, 2019, when Modi’s government revoked the semi-autonomous status of the disputed Kashmir region.

He insisted that Pakistan still hoped that India would give the Kashmiris their rights to self-determination promised by the United Nations “Security Council to decide their own lives.”

“It will be as beneficial for India as for Pakistan,” he said.

India and Pakistan have contested the divided region of Kashmir since their independence from the British ruler in 1947.

They have fought two wars and several minor conflicts over the Muslim-majority territory. The two countries claim the region in full but rule only parts of Kashmir.

In 2003, they signed a ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control, the de facto border that divides Kashmir between the two.

However, the truce, which remains in effect on papers, has fallen apart due to frequent border clashes that have killed or maimed hundreds of civilians living near the boundaries in recent years.

Both countries accuse each other of initiating the attacks and only using violence as a defensive response.

According to Pakistan, in 2020, India committed 3,182 ceasefire violations, attacks that killed 28 people and injured more than 250.

India alleges that Pakistan violated the truce more than 5,000 times, resulting in 22 civilian and 24 soldier deaths last year. EFE-EPA


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