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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif consults army chief Raheel Sharif ahead of UN address

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has held a telephonic conversation with Pakistan's powerful army chief General Raheel Sharif ahead of his speech at the United Nations(UN) in which he is expected to raise the Kashmir issue , amid signs he may tone down his rhetoric to reduce tensions with India.
An official from the Prime Minister's Office said the two on Tuesday night discussed the situation in Kashmir and tense relations with India after the terrorist attack on an Indian army camp in Uri on Sunday in which 18 soldiers were killed. Sharif had a plan to forcefully highlight the Kashmir violence, but the scenario changed after Uri terrorist attack which spotlighted the issue of cross-border militancy. 

"The prime minister might strike a balance in his speech. He would talk about the Indian atrocities in Kashmir+ but also would be conciliatory to end tension," said the official. Sharif may also offer proposals to address the Kashmir issue, including emphasis on implementing UN resolutions and the mediatory role of the international community. 

No statement was issued after the talks between the two Sharifs, which was their first contact since the Uri attack. Geo TV reported that the conversation between the two leaders shows that the situation after Uri attack was serious. 

The Uri incident was one of the deadliest attacks on Indian Army in recent years, as heavily-armed terrorists stormed a battalion headquarters of the force. India's DGMO Lt Gen Ranbir Singh has said the four killed were foreign terrorists and had carried with them items which had Pakistani markings and that initial reports indicated that they belonged to Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed group . Sharif is poised to address the 71st UNGA session in New York later on Wednesday. 

Nawaz Sharif has raised the Kashmir issue with almost every world leader he has held talks with on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, but his efforts to internationalize the dispute with India appeared to have gained no traction. Sharif raised the issue with the leaders of the US, the UK, Japan and Turkey and sought their intervention to resolve the matter. He met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in New York on Tuesday. "PM Sharif briefed Japanese PM about the grave turn that the situation in occupied Kashmir is taking. Reminded him about UNSC resolutions," Pakistan's envoy to the UN Maleeha Lodhi tweeted. 

"PM Nawaz Sharif also apprised his Japanese counterpart of the human rights violations being committed by Indian occupation forces in Kashmir," Lodhi said in another tweet. Erdogan and Sharif "agreed that OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) Commission on Human Rights should send a fact-finding mission" to Kashmir, Lodhi said. 

On Monday, Sharif held bilateral talks with US secretary of state John Kerry and UK Prime Minister Theresa May. According to a readout of his meeting with Kerry by the Pakistan mission, Sharif told him that more than 107 people have been "assassinated" in Kashmir, thousands injured and "worst human rights violations are being committed at the state level." 

"I still remember President (Bill) Clinton's promise that US will play its role to help out in resolving bilateral disputes and issues between Pakistan and India," Sharif said, according to the release. "I expect US administration and Secretary Kerry to use his good offices to help in resolving bilateral issues between Pakistan and India," he added. In his meeting with May, Sharif urged her to play her role in convincing India to stop the use of force against the people in the region. 

He said Pakistan's support for Kashmiri people "in their legitimate struggle for self determination and its commitment to the Kashmir cause are non-negotiable." However, Sharif's repeated calls to the UN to help resolve the Kashmir dispute appeared to be gaining no traction as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon+ made no reference to Kashmir in his final speech to the UNGA as the UN chief.

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