Let Kashmiris choose sides, Sharif urges Ban

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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Sunday urged UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to call a plebiscite in Indian-held Kashmir, stressing on the need for implementation of the United Nation’s Security Council resolution in this regard.

The premier also raised the issue of tensions between Pakistan and India, including ceasefire violations on the Line of Control and the Working Boundary during the meeting held on the sidelines of the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Sharif urged the UN chief to play a role in putting to halt ceasefire violations along the LoC. He also called for the strengthening of United Nations Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP).

Ban expressed concern on tensions between Pakistan and India and offered his good offices for dialogue between the two arch rivals.

The UN chief appreciated Pakistan’s active role in the United Nations and its various bodies, particularly in peacekeeping. He lauded Pakistan’s role in the fight against terrorism.

The prime minister briefed the secretary general about his domestic priorities and Pakistan’s fight against terrorism.

Sharif said Pakistan seeks to build a new relationship with Afghanistan and hopes that the reconciliation process in Afghanistan resumes soon. He said Pakistan will be ready to assist in the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

The UN secretary general also commended the premier for choosing a female ambassador to the UN.

TRAINING AND TECHNICAL SUPPORT:

Separately, addressing a high-level roundtable on South-South Cooperation at the United Nations (UN) on Saturday, prime minister announced that Pakistan is extending training and technical support to developing countries in a number of diverse fields.

Sharif informed UN secretary-general and Chinese President Xi Jinping that Pakistan’s Foreign Service Academy in Islamabad had been offering training facilities to African, Central Asian and other countries.

“Our Specialized Technical Assistance Programme for Africa dates back to 1986. It is an institutionalised and fully-funded programme,” he said.

“Pakistan’s Programme for Reconstruction and Rehabilitation in Afghanistan was started in 2002 with a financial commitment of $385 million. It was scaled up to $500m in 2013,” Sharif told the audience.

Sharif said Pakistan was actively engaged with regional organisations including Saarc, Eco, ACD, and the D-8 “based on our vision to strengthen regional and economic integration”.

He also said that as a consequence of trade liberalisation and enhanced connectivity, intra-south trade was now estimated to be over US $4 trillion.

“Investment flows to developing countries are on the rise. They account for over 50 per cent of the global Foreign Direct Investment. Almost a third originated from the South. This dynamism has vastly increased the scope for cooperation among our countries,” he said.

CPEC:

Addressing Xi Jinping, PM Sharif said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) “will bring huge economic and development benefits not just to our two countries, but the entire region and beyond”.

He called it “an inspiring model of South-South cooperation”, adding, “We greatly admire the vision underlying this initiative. This development strategy and framework offers new opportunities for Asia’s transformation and prosperity.”

“Enhanced South-South cooperation in trade, investment, human resource development, technology and financial resource generation is in our interest. This will ensure a prosperous future for our people,” Sharif told Jinping.

He highlighted the role of the private sector in bolstering the economy, saying, “Business and private sectors also have an important role in promoting economic opportunities, innovation and high impact solutions.”

“We support integration of South-South and triangular cooperation in the policies and strategic framework of UN Funds and Programmes,” he said, adding that further strengthening of institutional support from the UN System would help maximise the impact of South-South cooperation.

“Such an approach will help sustain our development efforts and ensure enhanced participation of developing countries in the global economy, in conformity with the new agenda,” he said.

While meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Sharif urged German backers to invest in the development of Thar coal, particularly through the use of German technology and technical expertise.

The two leaders discussed a wide range of bilateral issues including trade, energy, health, education, agriculture and automobile industry.

Merkel appreciated the progress made by Pakistan in its efforts to counter terrorism and acknowledged its contribution towards regional peace and stability, primarily with regards to Afghanistan.