ISLAMABAD - Lord Nazir Ahmed, member of the British House of Lords, criticising the Kashmir policy of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that the government has virtually put the issue on the backburner.

In a press conference here on Sunday Lord Nazir, who also hails from Azad Kashmir, said that Premier Sharif should have raised the Kashmir issue at international forums but in a move to have friendly relations with India the government of Pakistan was sidelining the issue, he charged.

He said if referendum could be held in Scotland to decide the fate of the region, why the same opportunity could not be provided to the people of Kashmir. Referring to the referendum in Scotland, he said that there could also be a referendum in Kashmir so that the people of Kashmir could decide for themselves about their future.

He made it loud and clear if Premier Sharif wanted to have support of Kashmiri people then he would have to change his policy on Kashmir and hoped that in the upcoming visit to United Nations he would forcefully plead the case of Kashmiri people who are facing worst type of human rights violations at the hands of Indian occupation forces.

Flanked by the former AJK PM Barrister Sultan Mahmood Chaudhry, Lord Nazir made it loud and clear that without resolving the longstanding dispute of Kashmir permanent peace in the region could not be established and relations between the two nuclear weapon carrying states could not be normalised.

He was also critical of the Indian politics where the extremist political parties came into power by playing with the religious sentiments of the people.

Terming the Indian premier's offer for flood victims of Azad Kashmir a mere eyewash Lord Nazir said that actually India was responsible for flood devastations in Azad Kashmir and other parts of the country because it (India) had released water in great quantity which resulted in the devastation of localities along Chanab River.

He advised Premier Sharif to revisit his foreign policy and place Kashmir on the priority list as without resolution of the Kashmir dispute relations with India could not be normalised, what to speak of making it friendly.

On the occasion Barrister Sultan Mahmood said that he would hold a march to raise awareness about the Kashmir issue in Britain and would also raise funds for the flood-affected people of Azad Kashmir.