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Sharif Rakes Up Kashmir Issue in I-Day Address

Sajjad Hussain/Islamabad
File-AP Photo/Sang Tan

Raking up the Kashmir issue, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today said it is the "main source of tension" in Indo-Pak relations and sought its peaceful resolution to explore new ways to bolster bilateral ties.

"We want peaceful resolution of Kashmir with our full sincerity so that by removing this main source of tension, Pakistan and India could find new ways for promoting their relations," he said while addressing the Independence Day parade after midnight here.

It was the first time that wee hours parade at the start of the Independence day has been held in the capital.

Sharif's remarks come close on the heels of a spat between the two countries over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech accusing Pakistan of continuing to engage in a proxy war of terrorism against India.

Pakistan and India have been involved in a war of words, with New Delhi saying terrorism was a "core concern" in bilateral ties and its "tool kit" is not restricted in any manner to combat it effectively.

Pakistan had dubbed Modi's comments as "baseless rhetoric" and "unfortunate".

India has also voiced serious concerns over ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the Line of Control in recent weeks.

In his address, Sharif said promotion of peaceful relations with neighbours is the cardinal principle of his foreign policy.

"We are a peaceful country. We are striving for peace within the country and also want durable peace on our borders," he said.

Sharif also called for durable and permanent peace in Afghanistan so that the entire region could touch heights of progress of development.

The three services chiefs, ministers, diplomats, senior officials and business leaders were present at the ceremony held in the Parliament premises.

Sharif has stated that he wants better ties with all neighbours and recently regretted not having good relations with India.

Traditional military parade are held on March 23 but it was discontinued some years ago due to deteriorating law and order situation in the country.

Later, the then army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani introduced a separate parade event which he held every year after midnight at the start of August 14 at Pakistan Military Academy Kakul near Abbotabad in Khyber Pakhtunhwa province.

This year Prime Minister Sharif decided that the civilian and military leadership will jointly organise the event in front of Parliament, effectively putting an end to Kakul parade.

Sharif said the people "must first reclaim our country from the forces of darkness and obscurantism", underlining that military operation Zarb-e-Azb against militants in North Waziristan tribal region was a step in that direction.

"It was a step taken with great caution, even reluctance, and only after every other option had been exhausted."

The Prime Minister said the operation was not simply a campaign to restore the state's writ to North Waziristan, which had become a breeding ground for terrorism and extremism, it was a battle for the soul of Pakistan.

He said it was the duty of every Pakistani to stand behind the armed forces and warned that this was not the time to sow doubt and confusion as the stakes were simply too high.

"I have no doubt that the people and armed forces of Pakistan will prevail in this struggle. And our victory would bring Pakistan the peace and stability which is a precondition for growth and development," he added.

"Pakistan is a peaceful country, we are struggling to achieve peace with in our country as well as on our borders. We wish for the cordial relations with other countries based on mutual respect, especially with our neighbours," he said.

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PEOPLE: Nawaz Sharif
PLACES: Pakistan
SECTION: International
OUTLOOK 14 August, 2014
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