India asks Pakistan to vacate 'occupied Kashmir' as Nawaz Sharif raises issue at UN

A day after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif accused India of fomenting trouble in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, New Delhi hit back demanding that Pakistan vacate Kashmir forthwith and end its nefarious activities of breeding terrorists in Kashmir's soil.

Sharif, in his address to the UN General Assembly, also complained that cease-fire violations in Kashmir were intensifying, causing civilian deaths, including of women and children.

India was quick to retort and slam Pakistan after Nawaz Sharif raked up the Kashmir issue in the UN General Assembly and said it was "oppressed by foreign occupation."

''Pak PM gets foreign occupation right, occupier wrong. We urge early vacation of Pak-occupied Kashmir,'' a spokesperson of India's external affairs ministry tweeted.

Replying to Shariff's allegations during the general debate of 70th session of UN General Assembly late on Wednesday, first secretary in India's permanent mission to the UN Abhishek Singh termed as "regrettable" Pakistan once again choosing to "misuse" the high level segment of the UN General Assembly session to "distort reality and portray a false picture of the challenges in our region".

To Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's statement in the General Assembly earlier in the day that his country was the "primary victim" of terrorism, Singh retorted: "In truth, it is actually a victim of its own policies of breeding and sponsoring terrorists. The heart of the matter is a state that regards the use of terrorism as a legitimate instrument of statecraft. The world watches with concern as its consequences have spread beyond its immediate neighbourhood.

"All of us stand prepared to help, if only the creators of this monster wake up to the dangers of what they have done to themselves," Singh said, adding that Pakistan was seeking to mask its activities as though an outcome of domestic discontent in Jammu and Kashmir carries no credibility with the world.

On Sharif's remarks that Jammu and Kashmir is under foreign occupation, Singh said the "occupier in question is Pakistan."

On Sharif's reference to ceasefire violations and exchanges of fire along the Line of Control and the International Boundary, Singh said the world knows that the "primary reason for firing is to provide cover to terrorists crossing the border.

"It needs no imagination to figure out which side initiates this exchange," he said, adding that it is not uncommon for states, when confronted with serious challenges, to shift responsibility on others.

"That is the case with Pakistan and terrorism, reflecting the inability to recognise that this is a home grown problem that has begun to bite the hand that fed it. We agree that terrorism has underlying causes – in this case, poverty of wisdom and ignorance of consequences," he said.

He also pointed out that India's reservations about the proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor stem from the fact that it passes through Indian territory "illegally occupied" by Pakistan for many years.

On Sharif saying that the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir remains unresolved and that dialogue has not progressed, Singh said "this is because Pakistan has chosen to disregard its commitments, whether it was under the 1972 Simla Agreement, the 2004 Joint Declaration forswearing terrorism, or more recently, the understanding between our two Prime Ministers at Ufa".

Singh asserted that on each occasion, it is India that has extended the hand of friendship.

"India remains open even today to engage Pakistan on outstanding issues in an atmosphere free of terrorism and violence," he said.

Sharif said Muslims are suffering across the world – from Palestine to Kashmir - oppressed by foreign occupation. He also wanted both countries to respect a 2003 cease-fire on the de facto frontier where there has been an increase in cross-border firing.

"To de-militarise Kashmir is not the answer, to de-terrorise Pakistan is,'' India said on the external affairs ministry website.

MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said Pakistan is the prime sponsor of terrorism. "Pakistan's instability arises from its breeding of terrorists. Blaming neighbours is not a solution," he said.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj will be speaking at the UN today and is expected to deliver a solid rebuttal to Pakistan.