Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said Islamabad is ready to resolve differences with New Delhi through dialogue if it revisits unilateral abrogation of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir's (IIOJK) semi-autonomous status.
“If India is willing to re-visit some of the decisions that they took on August 5, 2019, Pakistan will be more than happy to engage, sit and talk out our differences and sit and through a dialogue resolve the outstanding issues,” he said on Sunday in an interview with Anadolu Agency during his two-day visit to Turkey.
He said Pakistan had outstanding issues with India including Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek and others and the only sensible way forward is 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.”
FM Qureshi said it was India, not Pakistan, who ran away from talks and suspended the composite and comprehensive dialogue.
He said the Indian unilateral actions of August 5, 2019 were against international law, United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions thereby putting at risk, stability and peace of South Asia.
However, he said, one recent development of recommitment to ceasefire during the conversation between the directors general of military operations from both sides was a positive development.
“So, when they 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 site and on that side have welcomed this new development.”
Moreover, he also referred to 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, Qureshi said stakes in the process are 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.”
Regarding the US’ decision of troops withdrawal from Afghanistan, the foreign minister said that it was one of the very important demands of the Taliban during the negotiations. “So, by withdrawing, the Americans have 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,” Qureshi remarked.
To another question, the foreign minister said Pakistan could take advantage of its geopolitical position for generating economic activity and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Pakistan is providing a huge opportunity to landlocked countries like Afghanistan and the Central Asian republics.
“And we want to create a win-win situation so that everybody gains from it. You know, China gains from it, Russia gains from it, Central Asian republics gain from it, and the entire region benefits from this, and it’s not confined to just the region,” he said.
Moreover, anyone including the western countries, United States or European Union interested in coming and investing in these areas would be welcomed.
As the questioner asked as what were the obstacles Afghan parties needed to overcome, the foreign minister said the Afghans should seize opportunity for peace and decide via consultation what kind of a constitution they want for their country.
He said being a neighbour, Pakistan could only help and facilitate and not make any decisions.
However, cautioning against the role of spoilers, Qureshi said there were elements that had benefited from the war economy.
“People have made billions and there are elements outside of Afghanistan who would want Afghanistan to remain unstable because of the use of Afghan soil for their national objectives. So, recognising that there are spoilers, we also recognise there is a huge opportunity, which should not be missed.”
Touching the bilateral relations, the foreign minister thanked Turkey for standing up for the cause of the Kashmiris by taking a very clear position.
Moreover, the views of President Erdogan were very close to the views of Prime Minister Imran Khan on the issue of Islamophobia. He said both Turkey and Iran were onboard and would speak to Indonesian foreign minister soon to seek her advice and opinion.
“InshaAllah, in the month of Ramazan, when I accompany the prime minister [Imran Khan] to Saudi Arabia, I intend to take up this issue with the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, so that important Muslim countries, build a consensus within the Ummah and then engage with the West, on how to tackle the issue of Islamophobia,” he added.