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NEW DELHI: Stepping up its rhetoric to needle India, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday said he would raise the Kashmir issue at the 71st United Nations General Assembly next month. He also deputed 22 special envoys to garner support for Pakistan’s stand on the issue.

Pakistan expressed its ‘disappointment’ at the rejection of talks on Jammu and Kashmir by India. “I am standing behind these special envoys to ensure their toil for highlighting the Kashmir cause resonates across the world so that I can shake the collective conscience of the international community during my address at the UN this September,” Sharif said.

This would be the second attempt by Pakistan to raise the issue at the UN. Earlier, Pakistan’s efforts to raise the issue at the UN Human Rights Council in July invited a strong riposte from India. New Delhi hit back saying a country that covets territory of others and uses terrorism as a state policy should not lecture on human rights issues.

Pakistan is planning to lobby for the ‘Kashmir cause’ with various countries including Belgium, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, France and South Africa.

“I am sending these parliamentarians to fight for the Kashmir cause in different parts of the world. These special envoys have the strength of people of Pakistan, prayers from the Kashmiri people across the Line of Control, mandate of the parliament and support from the government,” Sharif said.

In India, Pakistan Envoy Abdul Basit contended that Islamabad only wanted peace to prevail in Kashmir, which has been on the boil for nearly two months now with the death toll reaching 69.

“We hope that peace returns soon to Kashmir. We had sent a request for talks but as you know that has been rejected, we will continue to hope that talks are held on Kashmir,” Basit told the media in New Delhi. However, Basit evaded questions on recent validation of India’s claims that Dawood Ibrahim resides in Pakistan by it a ‘stale’ issue.

India and Pakistan have been exchanging verbal volleys since the protests erupted in Kashmir following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. Islamabad had lionized Wani while extending ‘moral support’ to the protestors in Kashmir Valley. India slammed its arch rival for meddling with its internal affairs and stoking further tension in the valley.
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