The oil-rich Gulf state can play an "important" role in bringing the two nuclear-armed neighbours to the table, said PM Shehbaz Sharif.

"We want to alleviate poverty, achieve prosperity, and provide education, health care, and employment to our people, and not waste our resources on bombs and ammunition," said Sharif. (AP Archive)

Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has called for a third-party intervention to resolve the lingering Kashmir dispute with archrival India, urging the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to play a role.

In an interview with Al Arabiya news channel aired on Tuesday, Sharif said the UAE, which has close diplomatic and economic ties with New Delhi and Islamabad, can play an "important" role in the conflict.

"My message to the Indian leadership and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is that let us sit down on the table and have serious and sincere talks to resolve our burning issues, such as Kashmir," said Sharif.

Criticizing the "worst human rights" violations in India-administered Kashmir, Sharif warned that "we are nuclear powers, armed to the teeth, and if God forbid a war breaks out, who will live to tell what happened".

"It is up to us whether to live peacefully and make progress or fight with each other, and waste time and resources," Sharif said.

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The 2019 decision

Pakistan and India have long been embroiled in a slew of air and land disputes, primarily over the former state of Jammu and Kashmir, which remains a thorny issue impeding improved relations.

"We have three wars with India, and they have only brought more misery, poverty, and unemployment to the people," he said, citing three full-fledged wars between the two countries (1948, 1965, and 1971), two of which were over Kashmir.

"We want to alleviate poverty, achieve prosperity, and provide education, health care, and employment to our people, and not waste our resources on bombs and ammunition ... that is the message, I want to give to PM Modi,” he added.

Pakistan and India's frosty relations have already reached a new low following India's repeal of Jammu and Kashmir's long-standing special status in August 2019.

However, the two neighbours agreed in 2021 to uphold the 2003 cease-fire along the Line of Control (LoC), a 724-kilometre (450-mile) military control line that divides the disputed Indian and Pakistani-governed parts of Kashmir.

The UAE has had a role in brokering the cease-fire, which was followed by a letter exchange between the two premiers, as well as unconfirmed reports of "backdoor" contacts to defuse the escalating tensions.

Nonetheless, Islamabad reiterates that normalising relation with New Delhi is contingent on the review of the August 5, 2019 decision and the ultimate resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

Abdul Basit, a former Pakistani High Commissioner to New Delhi, backed Sharif's idea, saying that the two neighbours have lost "bilateral space," leaving it up to a "third party" to intervene.

Nonetheless, "the big question is whether India will be willing to accept third-party intervention or not. It's New Delhi whose consent is essential for a third-party backdoor mediation because the (Kashmir) issue has been created by itself," he remarked.

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Source: AA