Hold referendum in Kashmir, Qureshi challenges Modi


ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Sunday challenged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to hold a referendum in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) if he really wants to end the disputed territory’s autonomous status.

Talking to the media in Multan, the foreign minister challenged the Indian premier to lift the curfew in the occupied valley and to invite the entire Kashmiri leadership, including former chief ministers and Hurriyat leaders, to see what the opinion of the Kashmiri people is.

“You have not fulfilled the United Nations (UN) promise but today if you wish to check the popularity of your decision, hold the referendum and all will be crystal clear,” he said.

The foreign minister said that the international community has declared Kashmir a disputed territory and despite India’s preventive efforts, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) discussed the issue on the global high stage. “This is a major diplomatic victory for Pakistan,” he added.

He said that India’s unilateral action on IOK’s globally-accepted status has put the peace of region at stake. “The people of IOK are facing severe hardships due to continued blockade and curfew for the past 14 days,” he added.

The foreign minister said that the Modi government has buried Nehru and Gandhi’s India by revoking the special status of occupied Kashmir. “Pakistan will continue to support Kashmiris in their just struggle for right to self-determination,” he added.

Talking about the world’s insistence that Pakistan and India talk out their issues, Qureshi said that Pakistan was never opposed to bilateral dialogue and it wishes to sort out issues through dialogue.

He further said that there are three parties to the Kashmir dispute: Pakistan, India and China. “Two of them are completely uninvolved and the third [Kashmiris] are under arrest and a curfew has been imposed on them,” he added.