| Pakistan desires cooperative ties with India, others | Onus on India to take necessary

steps for meaningful dialogue

 

ISLAMABAD    -   Pakistan said yesterday that there was no change in policy on India but Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and the entire nation believe all issues should be resolved through dialogue.

“There is no change in Pakistan’s policy on India on which there is national consensus. Pakistan has always desired cooperative relations with all its neighbours, including India. We have consistently advocated constructive engagement and result-oriented dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues, including the core Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmed. He said remarks made by Foreign Minister Bilawal regarding relations with India in his address at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad were being interpreted out of context and portrayed incorrectly. He said it was India’s unabated hostility and retrogressive steps that have vitiated the environment and impeded the prospects of peace and cooperation. “The onus, therefore, remains on India to take the necessary steps to create an enabling environment conducive for meaningful and result-oriented dialogue,” he added.

The spokesperson said the Foreign Minister clearly articulated this perspective, referring to India’s illegal and unilateral actions in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir since 5 August 2019, describing them as an assault on the rights of the Kashmiri people, as well as rising Islamophobia in India, that created an environment unconducive for meaningful engagement.

“The Foreign Minister’s remarks are better understood in the overall context of his key message of conflict resolution that he emphasized in his address at the think-tank event,” Ahmed maintained.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Bilawal made a strong pitch for re-engaging with India, saying cutting ties with New Delhi would not serve the country’s interests as Islamabad was already internationally isolated and disengaged.

“We have our issues with India. Pakistan and India have a long history of war, conflict. Today, where we have serious disputes, the events of August 2019 cannot be taken lightly,” he said.

The ties between Pakistan and India nose-dived after New Delhi abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019.

India’s decision evoked strong reactions from Pakistan, which downgraded diplomatic ties and expelled the Indian envoy.

On the Kashmir issue, Bilawal said it has formed a cornerstone of any conversation that “I have had since becoming the Foreign Minister.” Bilawal assumed charge as Pakistan’s top diplomat in April.

In May, he said, “we had the delimitation commission and then just recently, the Islamophobic remarks of officials create an environment in which engagement is very difficult for Pakistan, if not impossible.”

Recently, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also said that as part of its shift from geo-strategy to geo-economics, Pakistan is looking to forge partnerships, especially within the region, based on connectivity, which apparently includes New Delhi.

It is to be noted that after coming to power in Pakistan in early April, Shehbaz Sharif has written a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing his desire for peaceful ties with India and the resolution of all the outstanding issues.