ISLAMABAD: Amidst media reports on Arab countries’ stand on Kashmir terming it ‘not a Umma’s issue’, Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal on Thursday refuted these reports. The reports that claimed that the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministers, on their recent trip to Pakistan, had told the government that Kashmir was “not a Muslim ummah related issue” and insisted that both officials had “expressed solidarity with Pakistan and support for the Kashmir cause”.

Dr Faisal made the remarks in response to a question at the weekly media briefing at the Foreign Office. He termed media reports regarding alleged statements by the ministers of UAE and Saudi Arabia as “speculation”.

The UAE foreign minister and Saudi state minister for foreign affairs had visited Pakistan last week and held meetings with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. The ongoing tensions in occupied Kashmir — following New Delhi’s decision to revoke the region’s special status — was one of the major issues discussed in all meetings.

The Foreign Office spokesperson said that the lockdown in occupied Kashmir imposed by the Indian government had entered its 40th day and reiterated Pakistan’s position that the matter should be resolved according to the resolutions passed by the United Nations.

When asked about United States President Donald Trump’s recent reiteration of the offer to mediate between Islamabad and New Delhi, Dr Faisal said that India was “not ready”.

“We have always been ready for bilateral dialogue as well [as mediation] and we made many attempts [to hold talks].

“We have always maintained that every issue can be solved through dialogue. Now let’s see what happens.”

He further said: “Jammu and Kashmir’s struggle is a […] process. It is not an event. This process is ongoing and is moving forward.

“Tomorrow, the prime minister is going to Azad Kashmir and has a policy statement for the people there. There are many [other] steps under consideration and we will inform you as they unfold. Right now, nothing is final.”

He also clarified that “no background dialogue between India and Pakistan” was underway.

It is pertinent to mention here that UAE Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan had said that Pakistan and India should not make the Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) an issue of the Muslim Ummah as it was a dispute between the two countries.

Geo News anchorperson of ‘Capital Talk’ on Wednesday said that some officials of the federal government informed that UAE minister for foreign affairs is visiting Pakistan apparently to express solidarity with Pakistan on the IHK issuebut his interaction with Pakistani leadership previously suggested that he had conveyed that Kashmir issue should not be made an issue of the Muslim Ummah rather, according to him, it is a bilateral issue and should be resolved through talks between Pakistan and India.

Hamid Mir said that Pakistan leadership must convey to the world in general and the Muslim countries in particular that Nerendra Modi’s atrocities are not limited to the IHK only rather he wants to unleash reign of terror across India to forcibly convert the Muslims into Hindus. In this context, Kashmir issue is not a dispute between India and Pakistan but it is an issue of the whole Muslim world.

Accidental war

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has warned that the situation in India-held Kashmir risks sparking an “accidental war”, and urged UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet to visit the troubled region.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the UN Human Rights Council session here on Wednesday, Mr Qureshi said he believed both Pakistan and India “understand the consequences of a conflict”. But with tensions soaring since New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy last month, he warned that “you cannot rule out an accidental war”. “If the situation persists … then anything is possible,” he said.

India had imposed a military clampdown on held Kashmir on Aug 5 to prevent unrest as New Delhi revoked the disputed region’s autonomy. Mobile phone networks and internet are still cut off in all but a few pockets.

Mr Qureshi, who on Tuesday appealed to the Human Rights Council to launch an international investigation into the situation in India-held Kashmir, told reporters that he had spoken with Ms Bachelet and invited her to visit both the Indian and Pakistani parts of the region.

US spokesman

The US State Department has urged India to resume political engagement with Kashmiri leaders and schedule promised elections in their occupied region as soon as possible.

On Monday, US President Donald Trump reiterated his offer to help India and Pakistan in resolving the Kashmir dispute, although he also noted that tension over occupied Kashmir was “a little less heated” now in comparison to two weeks ago.

And a day before the 9/11 anniversary, Mr Trump issued an executive order that added Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief, along with 10 others, to a new list of global terrorists. The order enhanced the administration’s ability to go after suspected terrorists and their financiers and supporters.

In a statement to the media, US State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus urged India to take some key steps to bring normalcy to occupied Kashmir, which has been suffering under relentless curfew imposed on Aug 5, when New Delhi unilaterally annexed the disputed territory.

“We look forward to the Indian government’s resumption of political engagement with local leaders and the scheduling of promised elections at the earliest opportunity,” she said.

Ms Ortagus said the United States “continue(s) to be very concerned by widespread detentions, including of local political and business leaders, and the restrictions on the residents” of occupied Kashmir.

“We are also concerned about reports that internet and mobile phone access continues to be blocked in certain regions,” she added. “We urge authorities to respect human rights and restore access to services such as the internet and mobile networks.”

The demand for political reforms — although unlikely to fully redress the grievances of the people of occupied Kashmir who want an end to India’s illegal occupation — shows Washington’s continued concern about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. It also indicates that the US is not buying India’s claim that the occupied region is calm.