ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Thursday welcomed the mediation offer of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to resolve the longstanding issue of Kashmir between Pakistan and India in the interest of lasting peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam, in her opening statement at the weekly press briefing, highly appreciated the statement of the UN secretary general to associate people of Jammu and Kashmir with the process.

“Kashmir is an unresolved issue and just settlement of it is of paramount importance for ensuring peace, stability and development in the region,” the spokesperson said.  The spokesperson said India has no ‘choice’ other than implementing the UN resolutions on the Kashmir issue. "In any case, the UN Security Council resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir were accepted by India as well. They are relevant and applicable. Hence it is not a matter of choice," said Tasnim.

She said Pakistan firmly believed the issue should be resolved in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people to be determined through free and impartial plebiscite under the auspices of the UN as enshrined in the relevant resolutions.

The spokesperson said the issue of Jammu and Kashmir is already on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council and the secretary general’s offer to mediate to find a lasting solution to the issue will be very helpful.

The spokesperson said the United Nations, through its military observers, has its presence across the Line of Control, which indicates the UN has already its role and Ban Ki-moon will be able to play his due role in an effective manner.

The spokesperson said Pakistan is committed to sustained, unconditional and result-oriented dialogue with India to discuss all outstanding issues, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

Answering a question, Tasnim said the United Nations remained involved in Jammu and Kashmir as it is on the Security Council’s agenda. She said the relevant UN resolutions which were accepted by India as well are still applicable.

Replying to a question about Indian criticism on development projects in Azad Kashmir, the spokesperson said development projects are for the welfare of the Kashmiris, adding “we will go ahead with these projects”.

She, however, said India is also working on a number of development projects in Occupied Kashmir and Pakistan did not object to any project meant for the betterment and welfare of Kashmiris.

Condemning killing of a Palestinian cabinet minister by Israeli forces on Wednesday, the Foreign Office spokesperson termed it an unprecedented act of barbarism. She said continued killing of the people of Palestine must come to an end.

The Foreign Office spokesperson said Pakistan expects the UN, OIC and international community to play their due role in this regard. She said an independent viable state of Palestine with Al-Quds as its capital is the only way to guarantee lasting peace and stability in the region.

Tasnim Aslam said Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz will head the Pakistan delegation at the heads of governments meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation being held in Asthana, Kazakhstan on 14th and 15th of this month. She said, as an observer, Pakistan has been making contribution towards regional peace and security. She said the matter regarding Pakistan’s full membership to the organisation is under active consideration of the SCO members. She said the adviser will also hold bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the meeting.

Answering a question, she said Pakistan deplores the systematic torture on prisoners by CIA. She said: “The US Senate Committee report reinforced what we have said all along that international humanitarian law must be respected while encountering international terrorism. She emphasised the need for transparency. She also referred to the assurances given by the US administration at the highest level that this behaviour would never be repeated.

Replying to a question regarding award of Nobel Peace Prize to Malala Yousufzai, the Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We are proud of her and that pride has been expressed at every level. As regards threats to her life, she said because of the developments in this region and neighbourhood over the last 30 years, “all of us are facing some threats.” But, she said, the country would overcome the challenges.

Meanwhile, the US Senate has introduced a resolution to recognise Nobel laureates Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi as symbols of peace, in acknowledgement of their efforts to end the financial exploitation of children and ensure the right of all children to education. The resolution introduced by Senator Tom Harkin has been sent to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for necessary action.

While condemning the recent terrorist attack in Afghanistan, the spokesperson said Pakistan always condemned terrorism. She said Pakistan has allocated $500 million for various development projects like construction of roads, schools and hospitals and others.