ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and India are set for further tensions in the coming weeks as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif prepares to internationalise the Kashmir issue amid bloodshed in the held territory.

The nomination of 22 special envoys by PM Sharif received an immediate stern response from India who asked Pakistan to keep the dispute’s bilateral identity instead of making it global.

India’s Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar criticized Pakistan’s bid to internationalise the issue as it was a bilateral dispute.

Akbar added: “If a false statement is being repeated 22 times or 22,000 times by 22 people (special envoys), it doesn't become true. If Pakistan wants to give free tourism to some MPs, then it is its independent right. Pakistan shouldn’t internationalise the Kashmir issue. It is a bilateral issue and it would remain the same.”

Earlier, PM Sharif nominated special envoys to highlight the Kashmir issue at the international level. The special envoys included Ijazul Haq and Malik Uzair for Belgium, Khusro Bakhtiar and Alamdad Laleka for China, Raza Hayat Hiraj, Junaid Anwar Chaudhry and Nawab Ali Wassan for the Russian Federation, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Tahir Iqbal and Muhammad Afzal Khokhar for Saudi Arabia, Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha and Malik Pervez for Turkey, Lt. General Abdul Qayum (retd) and Qaiser Sheikh for the United Kingdom.

Mushahid Hussain Syed and Shazra Mansab Ali Khan would highlight the Kashmir cause in the United States and the United Nations, Ayesha Raza Farooq and Rana Muhammad Afzal in France, Awais Leghari in the United Nations (Geneva) and Abdul Rehman Kanju in South Africa.

Apart from the Kashmir issue, the decision is also aimed at placating the lawmakers who have long been trying to get a berth in the cabinet. Some of them like Raza Hayat Hiraj were part of an unofficial forward bloc within the ruling party and threatening to part ways.

The move comes against the backdrop of escalating war of words between Pakistan and India in the aftermath of the continuing unrest in the Kashmir Valley that broke out on July 8 after Hizbul Commander Burhan Wani was killed by the occupant forces.

A senior official at the Foreign Ministry told The Nation that there were back-channel contacts between the two countries and India had shown displeasure over Pakistan’s latest decision to promote the Kashmir issue at global level.

“They have said it on the record also (referring to M J Akbar’s statement) and there have been contacts behind the scenes also. They allege we are going too far and increasing tensions,” he said.

The official said Islamabad had told New Delhi in clear terms that Pakistan was going to the world after persistent denial by India to hold talks on the issue.

“We cannot remain silent and see the civilians being killed in Kashmir. If India is not ready to talk, we have to find some way out,” he added.

Information Minister Pervez Rashid said India should provide Kashmiris their right of self-determination. He said Pakistan was committed to provide moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people.

He said Prime Minister Sharif was effectively highlighting the Kashmir issue at international fora.

He said the Indian High Commission had refused visas to a Pakistani medical mission wishing to visit the occupied Kashmir for treating the victims of recent violence.

Lt. General Abdul Qayum Khan (retd), a Senator of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and a newly nominated special envoy on Kashmir, said the Indian government was adopting the policy of cruelty in held Kashmir.

“Indian forces are misusing the explosive weapons against unarmed innocent Kashmiris that is a point of concern for the international community. Pellet guns used by Indian forces in the valley have resulted in losing the eye sight of many Kashmiris,” he said.

Senator Khan said Turkey had imposed emergency in the country for thirty days and the international community was raising voice against this act but Kashmiris have been denied rights for many years.

“We are hopeful that Kashmiri freedom fighter will be successful in their mission to get the right to self determination,” he added.

Analyst Pervez Iqbal Cheema regretted India was narrating the efforts and struggle of Kashmiris for the right of self determination as terrorism and blaming Pakistan for it.

“Pakistan always had a clear stance that Kashmir dispute should be resolved in accordance with the UN resolutions. The international human rights organizations are not highlighting the Indian brutalities and violations of human rights in Kashmir,” he said.

Cheema said Pakistan was working hard to turn up diplomatic pressure on India to move towards resolving the Kashmir dispute based on UN resolutions that called for an internationally-supervised plebiscite for Kashmiris to decide their future.