Pakistan ready for talks with India: Qureshi

Solicits Bilawal’s input on NAP, vows to take along all stakeholders

Our Correspondent March 24, 2019
Foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. PHOTO: FILE

MULTAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi reiterated on Sunday that Pakistan is ready to resolve all issues with India through dialogue.

Speaking to the media in Multan, the foreign minister said that Pakistan supported peace in the region but it reserved the right to defend itself against any kind of foreign aggression. He said that the armed forces of Pakistan had proved that they are capable of defending the country.

According to the foreign minister, tensions between the two countries have escalated due to the upcoming elections in India. The situation, he said, would improve after the polls.

Consensus on NAP

Emphasising the need to resolve the ongoing political rift in the country, the foreign minister invited Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to give suggestions regarding the National Action Plan (NAP). He said that the suggestions of all stakeholders, including the PPP, would be incorporated into NAP’s framework.

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The foreign minister went on to say that he was willing to give a parliamentary briefing on the issue, as desired by Bilawal. He said he had already written to Asif Ali Zardari, the PPP Co-chairman, and Shehbaz Sharif, the Leader of Opposition in National Assembly and President of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), in this regard.

"Let us meet in the assembly and if you feel that your party members are not all on the same page yet then I am ready to come to you. The chamber of the leader of the opposition is available. I will tell [Sharif to make it available for us]," he stressed.

He underscored the importance of presenting a united stance before the world given that India was actively engaging in efforts to besmirch Pakistan on the international level.

"It [India] is pushing to get Pakistan’s name placed on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) blacklist from the 'grey list' and trying to isolate the country on the diplomatic level,” he said.

He added that New Delhi had enlisted the support of certain countries to move a resolution in the UN Security Council against Islamabad. "Pakistan's united stance is in its best security interests and is in accordance with its national security requirements."

China visit

Qureshi said that China had played a very important role in de-escalating tensions between India and Pakistan. “During my recent visit to China, Beijing showed that it had supported Pakistan in the past and will continue to do so in the future,” Qureshi said.

He also lauded China’s role in the UN Security Council in negating India’s efforts to raise a lot of issues before the sanctions committee and the council. “They [China] have stood by us when things went awry.”

He said that Pakistan and China share a historic relationship that has stayed strong over the years and will continue to do so in the future.

"I want to let the nation know that they have said to us in clear terms that they were with us in the past and will remain with us. They give importance to our needs and will continue to do so," he said.

Forced conversion

Regarding the incident of the alleged forced conversion of two minor girls in Ghotki, he said that the government will make sure that the rights of minorities are protected.

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