While the Pakistan-India relationship marked by mutual acrimony and hostility is stuck in a rut, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that dialogue is the only way forward for resolving differences and improving bilateral ties between the two hyphenated neighbours.
“I’m convinced that dialogue is the only way forward for improving relations between Pakistan and India,” he told the Press Trust of India news agency on Sunday in the United Nations. “I’ve urged leaders of both the countries to resolve all differences through talks and have offered my good offices towards that end.”
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Ban said improved relations between Islamabad and New Delhi could create a more conducive environment for the two countries to stem the threat posed by terrorism. He noted that he has publicly called on both the countries to exercise restraint in dealing with any incident.
Given the significant threat terrorism has become to international peace and security, the UN secretary general said an improved environment between the two nuclear-armed countries could help them tackle the threat posed by the scourge. “I believe an improved relationship between India and Pakistan could create a more conducive environment for both the countries to stem the threat posed by terrorism,” he added.
Ban said he was aware of the proposals on resuming talks between the two countries presented by leaders of both nations during the general debate at the United Nations headquarters this September. “Terrorism has become a significant threat to international peace and security and is causing huge losses every day, as evidenced by recent horrific attacks in places such as Lebanon and Paris,” he added.
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Member states, he stressed, must work together towards curbing and eradicating this menace.
The UN chief pointed out that Pakistan has suffered many terrorist attacks for which its people have paid a heavy price and the country’s authorities have been making efforts to combat terrorism on its soil.
The prime ministers of the two countries had last met in the Russian city of Ufa on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in July, this year. In their meeting, they had decided that their national security advisers would meet in August, rekindling hopes for revival of dialogue between the two countries.
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However, New Delhi objected to a scheduled meeting of the then Pakistan national security adviser, Sartaj Aziz, with leaders from Indian-administered Kashmir, and asked him to choose between a meeting with Kashmiri leaders and scheduled talks with his Indian counterpart. Subsequently, the national security advisers’ meeting was called off.
At the UN General Assembly session in October, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif spelled out a four-point peace roadmap between Pakistan and India. However, India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was quick to reject the ‘peace formula’ and instead asked Islamabad to ‘give up terrorism’ to qualify for talks.
At home, India faces opposition from far-right Hindu groups, like Shev Sena, for normalisation with Pakistan. Senaiks have threatened politicians, artistes, sportsmen and singers from Pakistan against visiting India.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th, 2015.
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