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India's proposal for bilateral dialogue on Kashmir has no credibility: Aziz

India's proposal for bilateral dialogue on Kashmir has no credibility: Aziz

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Tuesday dismissed India's proposal to resolve the Kashmir dispute bilaterally with Pakistan, saying that New Delhi had "scuttled all opportunities for meaningful dialogue" over the past two decades, according to a statement issued by the Foreign Office (FO).

Aziz's statements come on the back of Delhi's rejection of an offer extended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for multilateral resolution of the Kashmir dispute. India refused the proposition, insisting the matter must be resolved bilaterally through talks between Islamabad and New Delhi.

"The Indian counter-proposal that it is ready for bilateral dialogue with Pakistan is no longer credible because in the past two decades, India has scuttled all opportunities for a meaningful dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue in accordance with the UN Security Council’s relevant Resolutions on Kashmir," the FO quoted Aziz as saying.

The adviser said Erdogan's move to "strengthen the dialogue process among the stakeholders for resolving the Kashmir issue, and his call for a multilateral approach to settle the Jammu and Kashmir dispute... must be welcomed".

Aziz asserted that Pakistan welcomes statements and endeavours aimed at addressing human rights issues in India-held Kashmir (IHK) and resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

Shortly before Erdogan's two-day visit to India, the Turkish president had suggested that Pakistan and India need to 'strengthen multilateral dialogue' in an attempt to find a solution to the Kashmir issue.

Indian Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Gopal Baglay had said, in a veiled reference to Pakistan that the Kashmir issue has a "prominent dimension of cross-border terrorism" that needs to be stopped by "those who are perpetuating it, while pushing for a bilateral solution to the issue.

Aziz slammed Baglay's statement, saying: "India’s contention that Kashmir issue is, primarily, an issue of cross-border terrorism, is a claim that no one in the world is prepared to accept today."

He added that an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation's declaration adopted in April "out-rightly rejected Indian attempts of equating the Kashmiris’ freedom struggle with terrorism."

Highlighting atrocities committed by Indian forces in IHK, the FO statement quoted Aziz as saying, "Nobody believes that thousands of young boys and girls, who have been agitating ceaselessly since July 2016, are terrorists."

"The Indian government has broken its own record of brutality in Indian Occupied Kashmir," the statement said, adding that over 100 Kashmiri protesters have been killed in IHK.

"Indian forces have blinded hundreds of Kashmiris, including children, and injured over 16,000 protesters with live ammunition, pellet guns and gas shells," the FO claimed,

The statement pointed out that the people of IHK are "losing faith in Indian democracy", citing low voter turn-out during the recently held by-polls in Srinagar as evidence.

Tensions have simmered between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir issue since the end of 2016. Cross-border exchanges of fire have been reported sporadically since the new year began.

Following the Uri army base attack in September 2016, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stepped up a drive to isolate Pakistan diplomatically.

In the days following the attack, India claimed to have conducted a cross-border 'surgical strike' against 'launch pads of terror' in Azad Jammu and Kashmir — a claim Pakistan strongly rejected.

Pakistan maintains that India is attempting to divert the world's attention away from 'atrocities' committed by government forces in India-held Kashmir.

The two countries have locked horns over the Kashmir issue after Indian forces stepped up a crackdown against protesters after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed by government forces in July.

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