Talks only way forward for India and Pakistan: Qureshi - GulfToday

Talks only way forward for India and Pakistan: Qureshi

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Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the only way for Islamabad and New Delhi to move forward was through dialogue. File

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Wednesday said that the only way for Islamabad and New Delhi to move forward was through dialogue.

Addressing a National Conference on Strategic Stability in South Asia, he said Pakistan needs a “willing and constructive partner to tackle the myriad daunting challenges” that the region is facing, Dawn online reported.

“A peaceful neighbourhood is the sine qua non (an essential condition) to build prosperous societies,” Qureshi said.

Simmering tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad triggered in February after a suicide bombing in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama killed 40 CRPF personnel and was claimed by Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed.

Qureshi said that recent events between the two countries were a reminder of the “heavy responsibility” that they have to bear in working towards addressing the “underlying challenges” to strategic stability in the region.

“Pakistan has shown it is prepared to take concrete steps to ease tension and work for friendly relations with India with Kartarpur Corridor like initiatives. Our neighbour (India) also needs to understand that the only way forward is dialogue,” he added.

The Kartarpur corridor will connect Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Narowal district with Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Gurdaspur.

Earlier, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to resolve the Kashmir issue and that the two nuclear-armed neighbours could only settle their differences with dialogue, the BBC reported.

His comments came as India goes to vote in the general election on Thursday. The cricketer-turned-politician told the British broadcaster that peace with India over Kashmir would be “tremendous” for the wider region.

“The number one tasks of the two governments is how are we going to reduce poverty and the way we reduce poverty is by settling our differences through dialogue and there is only one difference - which is Kashmir,” he said.

Asked what message he wanted to send to the Indian Prime Minister and his country, Imran Khan told the BBC that the Kashmir issue “has to be settled” and “cannot keep boiling like it is.”

Imran also spoke about the dangers of confrontation between the two neighbours, saying: “Once you respond, no one can predict where it can go from there.”

“Pakistan is prepared to talk to whoever comes to power in India’s general election to work towards the normalisation

of bilateral relations and to move things forward from where they had stopped, information minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Wednesday.

Diplomatic channels that were used to reduce tensions in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack remain operational, albeit “in the backdrop,” he said in an interview. However, the Pakistani leadership believes there will be no forward movement until India’s election process is completed, The Hindustan Times quoted him as saying.

The remarks by Chaudhry, considered to be close to both Prime Minister Imran Khan and Pakistan’s military leadership, came against the backdrop of Qureshi’s contention over the weekend that India was “hatching a new plan for aggression against Pakistan” during April 16-20.

Asked about Qureshi’s comments, Chaudhry, who spoke in a mix of Urdu and English, replied: “I think the foreign minister referred to the statement of Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi, that he has given the entire authority for all actions to the military. From that, he inferred that if this authority has been given, it could be misused at any time.” He said Islamabad is looking towards engaging with the new dispensation in New Delhi after the completion of the Indian elections.  “Pakistan hopes the election process is completed peacefully and whichever government comes to power, we will sit with them and see how things can moved forward. It is obvious that the atmosphere that developed post-Pulwama and the tensions are not in the interests of the people or the region,” he said.

“It’s important to bring it down and to start the process and take it forward from where it had stopped, but for that we have to wait for the Indian election.”

Chaudhry expressed disappointment at the recent death of Pakistani prisoner Shakirullah during a brawl in Jaipur Central Jail in February. The prisoner’s body had been handed over to Pakistani authorities on March 2.

Agencies