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Islamabad’s overtures are constructive thinking, India told

Updated March 24, 2019

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High commissioner to India says Pakistani government’s overtures should not be seen as “a sign of weakness”.— Reuters/File
High commissioner to India says Pakistani government’s overtures should not be seen as “a sign of weakness”.— Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Sohail Mahmood said on Saturday Pakistan’s peace gestures to India showed his country’s forward looking approach for the future of the region.

Speaking at a flag-hoisting ceremony at the Pakistan High Commission on the occasion of Pakistan Day, the high commissioner, according to a press statement issued from New Delhi, said that Pakistani government’s overtures should not be seen as “a sign of weakness”, rather they should be looked as “constructive thinking of a secure and confident nation”.

Take a look: How Pakistan, India pulled back from brink of war

The high commissioner earlier on Friday hosted a reception on the eve of Pakistan Day in which he emphasised the need for dialogue to address all bilateral issues including that of Kashmir. “Diplomacy and dialogue remain indispensable for enhancing mutual understanding, addressing mutual concerns, and resolving long-standing disputes including Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

Mr Mahmood noted that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to release captured Indian Air Force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan, return of two high commissioners to their respective missions and the initiation of the discussion on developing modalities for the operationalisation of Kartarpur Corridor showed that things in the bilateral relationship were moving in a positive direction.

He recalled the strides Pakistan had made in democracy, economic development, independence of judiciary, promotion of free media and growth of a vibrant civil society since its independence in 1947.

Pakistan Day in other countries

IRAN: Pakistan Ambassador to Iran Riffat Masood, while speaking at a Pakistan Day ceremony in Tehran, hoped that Pakistan and Iran ties would improve. She also said the leadership of both the countries was committed to betterment in their relationship. Amb Masood called upon the Pakistani community to remain committed to serving their country, reiterating the need for forging national unity to overcome challenges faced by the country.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Hassan Rouhani in their conversation earlier this month agreed on the need for closer cooperation among the two intelligence agencies of their countries in combating terrorism. Successful recovery of four kidnapped Iranian border guards by Pakistani law enforcement agencies last week helped improve the atmospherics in the relationship that had become tense since the bombing of an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps bus in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan province in February.

IRAQ: Pakistan Ambassador to Iraq Sajid Bilal hoisted the national flag at a Pakistan Day ceremony at the embassy in Baghdad. Speaking on the occasion, Amb Bilal said Pakistan “successfully confronted extraordinary challenges and made notable gains against extremism and terrorism”. He said Pakistan was, however, still faced with the challenge of socio-economic development.

Prominent members of Pakistani community in Iraq, a wide cross section of Iraqi society including prominent politicians, members of the parliament, officials of various ministries, the academia, philanthropists, journalists, businessmen and members of Baghdad-based diplomatic corps attended a reception hosted by the embassy in the evening.

One-minute silence was also observed at the reception for the victims of the ferry that capsized near Mosul in Ninawa province of Iraq. Over hundred passengers including 12 children lost their lives when an overcrowded ferry capsized in the River Tigris on Thursday.

Amb Bilal later called on Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to convey Pakistani government’s condolences on the tragic loss of precious lives in the ferry accident. Iraq is observing three-day mourning over the incident.

UAE: Ambassador to the UAE Moazzam Ahmad Khan in his speech at a Pakistan Day ceremony in Abu Dhabi recalled the challenges confronted by Pakistan since its inception and how through national resolve, resilience and commitment by the Pakistani nation had overcome them.

“While appreciating the unity and maturity displayed by [the] Pakistani nation during the recent unprovoked Indian aggression against Pakistan, the ambassador reiterated the readiness of Pakistan to play its part in winning lasting peace in the region,” the mission in Emirates said in a statement.

The ambassador thanked friends of Pakistan particularly the UAE who has always stood by it in difficult times and contributed to its development. He said the successive meetings between the leadership of two countries in recent months had transformed these bilateral relations into strategic partnership.

TURKEY: Ambassador to Turkey Syprus Sajjad Qazi, at a ceremony in Ankara, thanked the people and leadership of Turkey for standing beside Pakistan during challenging times. He remarked that Pakistan and Turkey enjoy a relationship that has no parallels.

Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2019