NEW YORK - Pakistan will continue to support the valiant struggle of Kashmiri people for freedom and self-determination as it has always done, Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told a large gathering of Kashmiri and Pakistani community members on Friday evening.

“Until Kashmir is free, our moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people will continue,” Dr Lodhi, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations, declared at the meeting organised by the Consulate General of Pakistan to mark Kashmir Solidarity Day.

“We will steadfastly support the struggling people of Kashmir... This comes from the heart,” she said. 

The ambassador said Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif had forcefully and clearly reaffirmed Pakistan’s stand on the Kashmir dispute before the international community when he addressed the UN General Assembly in September and again on Thursday when he spoke to the Azad Kashmir Legislative Assembly. The prime minister had called for a just settlement of the decades-old dispute in accordance with relevant UN resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.

At the same time, Dr Lodhi said efforts were being made to resume the comprehensive dialogue with India for resolution of all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir. She said there would be no peace in South Asia without the resolution of the core dispute of Kashmir.

The ambassador said the Pakistani mission continues to highlight the Kashmir issue and the suffering of the Kashmiri people at various fora of the United Nations in an effort to push the world body towards its resolution. The mission was also watchful against sinister attempts from various quarters to reduce the importance of the issue.

Consul General Raja Ali Ejaz urged the audience to step up their efforts to apprise American politicians, lawmakers and common citizens of the situation in Kashmir. Such an approach would build up support for the cause of Kashmir.

Other speakers, including Rohail Dar, president of PML-N, USA, and Sardar Sawar Khan, a former member of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council, thanked Pakistan for its continued support to the Kashmir cause and urged the international community to help resolve the decades-old dispute in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people and protection of their fundamental rights.

Rohail Dar paid tributes to Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif efforts to breathe new life into the Kashmir dispute. “There has never been such clarity on the Kashmir issue,” he said.

Sardar Sawar Khan gave historical background of the Kashmir dispute and said the Kashmir movement was based on two-nation theory that led to the establishment of Pakistan.

Meanwhile, speakers at a large gathering of Pakistani and Kashmiri community members in Chicago on Friday fervently called for a just and equitable settlement of the decades-old Kashmir dispute on the basis of United Nations resolutions that call for a plebiscite for the Kashmiri people to decide their future

The gathering marked the Kashmir Solidarity Day which is held to commemorate the struggle of the Kashmiri people for their right of self-determination and to remember the countless sacrifices of those who had laid down their lives in the quest to attain their inalienable right to freedom.

Speaking on the occasion, Consul General Faisal Niaz Tirmizi reaffirmed Pakistan’s moral, political and diplomatic support for a just and peaceful solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions and aspirations of the Kashmiris.

Tirmizi emphasised the need to end violence and human right abuses in Indian-held Kashmir.

The consul general said that the people of Kashmir will never allow Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attempts to revoke article 370, which gives special status to Held Kashmir.

India, he said, also tried to remove the Kashmir issue from the comprehensive dialogue mechanism but again failed to convince the Pakistani leadership.

He assured the members of the Kashmiri community in Midwest that the government of Pakistan stands united with Kashmiri brothers and sisters in every step of the way in their valiant struggle for self-determination.

The consul general underscored the fact that the peaceful resolution of the dispute is the Sine qua Non for regional stability and that the world must take pragmatic steps towards it resolution.

Dr Tipu Siddiqu, Neurologist and Professor Northwestern University, was the keynote speaker on the occasion. He spoke about the just struggle of Kashmiris for the last 67 years and said that their struggle would not go in vain.

Other speakers, on the occasion, included Rizwan Kadir, president of the Pakistan Club at University of Chicago, Abdullah Khurram, research associate of Middle East Institute Washington and Ms Naila Usmani, a community activist and founder of Voice for Peace, Education and Prosperity.