Islamabad: After Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed willingness to consider autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan on Thursday said such measures would not help resolve the vexed issue and harped on "right to self-determination" for the Kashmiris.
"It is important to first acknowledge and summon the courage (to say) that the Jammu and Kashmir issue is there and it can't be addressed unless it is properly diagnosed and a proper prescription is given," Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said at his weekly news briefing.
His comments came in response to a question on Singh's remarks that he was willing to consider autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir within the ambit of the Constitution.
This was the first reaction from Pakistan to Singh's statement made during an all-party meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday.
"We all know that the problem in Jammu and Kashmir relates to their right to self-determination and unless and until India recognizes that and moves ahead in that direction, we doubt very much that the people of Jammu and Kashmir will settle for anything less," Basit said.
To another question on Congress MP and former Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor's reported remarks about Pakistan exporting terror to Jammu and Kashmir and creating the perception of rights abuses in the state, he said the Kashmiris were engaged in a "legitimate indigenous struggle" to get their right to "self-determination."
Describing Tharoor's reported comments as "simplistic", Basit said India should understand that the Kashmir problem is an issue that must be settled according to the wishes of the Kashmiris.
"This is a legitimate indigenous struggle which the people of Jammu and Kashmir are continuing with and we are confident that, sooner or later, they will be able to get their right to self-determination," Basit said.
"I think the crux of the matter is that India needs to realise that Jammu and Kashmir is an issue, (it) is a problem which needs to be resolved and handled in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Kashmir."
Referring to Tharoor's remarks, made in the course of an interview with Al-Jazeera channel, Basit said this was not the first time that such comments and observations had come "from across the border."
"You can keep on accusing anyone, you can apportion blame on anyone. But unless and until you muster the courage to acknowledge what is the crux of the problem, I am afraid it would not be possible for anyone to address this lingering issue to the satisfaction of the people of Jammu and Kashmir," he said.
Pakistan will continue "extending moral and diplomatic support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to help them to realise their legitimate aspirations," he said.
Basit dismissed as "ridiculous" India's stand that Pakistan is exporting terror to Jammu and Kashmir.
"Pakistan is committed not to allow its territory for terrorist actions anywhere in the world. We expect others to respect the same principle and adhere to this commitment as well," he said. PTI