ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday said Pakistan would be happy to talk out differences and resolve outstanding issues through dialogue if India was willing to revisit the unilateral decisions it took on Aug 5, 2019.
“If India is willing to re-visit some of the decisions that it took on August 5, 2019, Pakistan will be more than happy to engage, sit and talk and resolve all outstanding issues,” the foreign minister said in an interview with Anadolu Agency of Turkey during his two-day visit there.
He said Pakistan had outstanding issues with India including Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, water and other minor issues and the only sensible way forward was the dialogue.
“We cannot afford to go to war, you know, it will be mutually suicidal. And no sensible person will advocate a policy of that nature. So, we need to sit and we need to talk,” he remarked.
He pointed out that it was India, not Pakistan, which ran away from talks and suspended the composite and comprehensive dialogue.
He said that Indian government’s unilateral actions of August 5, 2019, were against international law and United Nations Security Council resolutions.
However, he said, one recent development of recommitment to ceasefire during the conversation between directors general of Military Operations of both sides was a positive development.
“So, when they (Indian leaders) expressed an interest in recommitment, we welcomed it. Kashmiris have welcomed it. And that has, in my view, lowered tensions and has gone well on both sides. Sensible elements on this side and on that side have welcomed this new development,” Mr Qureshi said.
The foreign minister also referred to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s messages on Pakistan’s national day and a goodwill message to Prime Minister Imran Khan who also responded positively to it.
“So, there is some thought. It is too early to make a value judgment on that,” he remarked.
Coming to Afghan peace process, Mr Qureshi said that stakes in the process were very high.
“The stakes are high, simply for the reason that God forbid, if there is no agreement, if there is no political settlement, the fear of going back into the 90s, the fear of Afghanistan going into a civil war is looming over our heads. And that is the last thing anyone of us wants. And that is the last thing Pakistan wants,” Mr Qureshi observed.
Regarding the US decision for withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the foreign minister said that this was one of the very important demands of the Taliban during negotiations with the US. So, by withdrawing troops, the Americans had conceded to that demand, he added.
“We will certainly try and urge them (Taliban), you know, we will urge them to remain engaged and continue with the peace process, the process that started in Doha should come to a logical conclusion through the Istanbul conference,” Mr Qureshi remarked.
In reply to another question, the foreign minister said that Pakistan could take advantage of its geopolitical position for generating economic activity and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was providing a huge opportunity to landlocked countries like Afghanistan and Central Asian republics.
Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2021