Shehbaz says ‘absolutely willing’ to talk to India but onus on New Delhi to take steps for ‘meaningful engagement’
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Thursday he was “absolutely willing and ready” to engage with India for the sake of regional peace and prosperity, but the onus was on New Delhi to take the necessary measures “ for meaningful and result-oriented engagement“.
“I am absolutely ready and willing to have a serious dialogue and discussion with our counterparts, Indians, provided that they show sincerity of purpose and they show that they are ready to discuss issues that have really kept us at a distance over decades,” he said while addressing the 6th summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia in Kazakhstan.
The premier regretted issues that have kept the two countries apart had hampered the promotion of bilateral trade and investment.
“This has to come to a stop,” he stressed, adding, “but the onus remains on India to take the necessary steps for meaningful and result oriented-engagement.
“Pakistan desires peaceful relations with all its neighbours, including India. However, until India brings its atrocities in occupied Kashmir to a grinding halt, just and lasting peace will remain elusive”.
The prime minister stressed that the people deserve resources to be diverted to their education and health.
“I want to leave behind a legacy of peace and progress for the prosperity of the coming generations of our region,” he said. “Pakistan’s first priority at the moment is to revive rapid and equitable economy”.
He, however, said, the “onus remains on India to take a necessary step to engage towards the result-oriented solutions”.
PM Sharif highlighted India’s unabated atrocities in Jammu and Kashmir for the last seven decades, where he said, that the Kashmiris faced the continued denial of their right to self-determination.
He urged other countries to take notice of India’s “bullet over ballot” policy as it blatantly quashed the United Nations Security Council’s resolution on holding a plebiscite in Kashmir.
“India has become a threat to its minorities, neighbours and the entire region,” he said.
The prime minister later tweeted that he had “explained how India uses the mantra of democracy to hide its gross human rights abuses.”
PM Shehbaz said the world should recognise the brutal nature of Indian policies in occupied Kashmir, adding that the “terrorised valley” was a “manifestation of bullet being a preferred Indian policy than the ballot”.
He also said he had explained the health and food challenges in the post-flood reconstruction phase which needed international engagement to resolve.
On Afghanistan, he said four decades of conflict took not only heavy toll on the country but also upon Pakistan.
Pakistan, he said, suffered immense damage to its peace and security with serious consequences in the shape of 80,000 casualties and billions of dollars in financial losses.
The prime minister expressed satisfaction that after immense sacrifices, Pakistan was now able to control extremism and terrorism on its soil while managing to host four million Afghan refugees.
“Prosperous and stable Afghanistan is not only in the interest of Pakistan, but also for the international community,” he said.
PM Shehbaz called for pooling resources among the regional countries to address the common challenges in the interest of peace and progress.
“If we team our resources, Asia can stand with pride and achievement,” he said. “Through constructive dialogue, we can build mutual trust”.
He mentioned Pakistan’s location offering a “natural bridge” among various economies of the region. In this regard, he highlighted the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, which had transformed the economic and connectivity landscape of the region.
He also invited CICA member states to consider benefiting from the trade, investment and business opportunities offered by Pakistan.
On recent floods in Pakistan, the prime minister pointed out that the country was bearing the brunt of climate change despite its less than one per cent carbon emissions.
He thanked the countries that stepped forward to extend assistance to Pakistan.
He also termed “encouraging” the enhanced $816 million flash appeal by the United Nations launched to meet the heavy losses incurred by flash floods.
The prime minister expressed confidence that Pakistan was “determined and committed” to emerge stronger after the flood disaster.
“Pakistan, with the support of its people and the friendly countries, will come out of this problem,” he said.
The prime minister in his speech also dilated upon the Palestine dispute, stressing a peaceful resolution would ensure peace in the Middle East and the region.
He also elaborated on the significance of CICA as a unique forum for promoting interaction, understanding, and collaboration among countries across Asia.
Earlier, PM Shehbaz on his arrival at the Palace of Independence — the venue of CICA summit, was warmly welcomed by Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
The prime minister also had a very cordial interaction with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas where the two warmly hugged each other.
The prime minister along with other heads of State and government also had a group photograph before the summit was opened.
Additional input by APP