ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia and the UAE have an “important role” to play in urging New Delhi to halt and reverse its “illegal actions” in Indian-administered Kashmir, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Wednesday.
His remarks came during a meeting in Islamabad with Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir, and the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan.
The ministers committed to help defuse tensions between Pakistan and arch-rival India over the disputed Kashmir region.
Tensions have once again flared since New Delhi on Aug. 5 revoked the constitutional autonomy of the part of Kashmir that it administers, and moved to quell objections by shutting down communications and clamping down on local leaders. Pakistan reacted with fury, cutting trade and transport ties and expelling India’s ambassador.
It has also reached out to world powers to apprise them of the situation in Kashmir, and to ask for help in safeguarding the rights of the region’s Muslim-majority population. Pakistan and India both govern parts of Kashmir but claim the territory in full. “The international community has the responsibility to urge India to halt and reverse its illegal actions and aggressive policies and postures,” Khan’s office said in a statement.
It added that the Saudi and Emirati ministers “fully understood the anguish of the people of Pakistan over the recent developments and were concerned over the worsening humanitarian situation” in Indian-administered Kashmir.
“Both countries would remain engaged to help address the current challenges, defuse tensions, and promote an environment of peace and security,” the statement said.
Khan highlighted Pakistan’s deep concern over the worsening human rights situation in Kashmir “because of the month-long complete lockdown and communications blackout in the occupied territory,” the statement said.
“The prime minister stressed the importance of immediate lifting of the curfew, removal of restrictions on movement and communications, and respect for the fundamental rights of the Kashmiri people.”
The visit by the Saudi and Emirati ministers follows a number of phone conversations between their respective crown princes and Khan since Aug. 5. The ministers also met with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, whose office said developments in Kashmir and the regional security situation were discussed.
Qureshi said India’s actions violate UN Security Council resolutions and international law, and pose a serious threat to peace and security.
“India has made hostage millions of Kashmiris for the last one month,” his office said in a statement. Qureshi welcomed the visiting ministers’ stance on human rights violations in Kashmir.
The ministers are scheduled to meet Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa to discuss bilateral relations, regional developments and Kashmir.
Former Pakistani diplomat Javed Hafeez said it is significant that the ministers came together. “Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have brotherly relations with Pakistan and friendly relations with India, so they can have a lot of influence on India,” he added.
The ministers “will listen to what Pakistan says, then … they may go to India and talk to them in order to bring the temperature of Indo-Pakistani relations down,” Hafeez said.
“They’ll try to resolve the matter through some kind of arrangement in which Pakistan and India can talk to each other.”