Pakistan offers olive branch to Modi 3.0

Islamabad does not believe in ‘perpetual hostility’ with New Delhi, says Ishaq Dar

Kamran Yousaf June 25, 2024


Pakistan on Tuesday said it does not believe in “perpetual hostility” with India, urging the BJP-led government to do a “sober reflection” on the future of ties between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

In a policy statement delivered at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar said Pakistan always sought “good neighbourly relations” with India.

“To our east, the relationship with India has historically remained troubled. Pakistan does not believe in perpetual hostility. We seek good-neighbourly relations with India on the basis of mutual respect, sovereign equality, and a just and peaceful resolution of the long-standing Jammu and Kashmir dispute.” Dar said.

He said while Pakistan had always been receptive to constructive engagement through dialogue that includes all outstanding issues, Pakistan would never agree to unilateral approaches or attempts to impose India’s will or hegemony.

“We will also take every step needed to maintain strategic stability in South Asia and would respond effectively and decisively to any ill-considered military misadventure by the ‘Hindutva’ driven dispensation in New Delhi,” he added.

“In our view, as the BJP-led NDA government starts a new term, it is time for a sober reflection on the future of India-Pakistan relations and the cross-cutting issues affecting the entire region,” the foreign minister further said.

He said India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 had adversely affected the environment of bilateral relations. “The onus remains on India to take necessary steps to create an enabling environment for purposeful engagement and result-oriented dialogue on all issues,” Dar stressed.

“In this context, it is equally important that India eschews its relentless smear campaign against Pakistan, desists from its state-sponsorship of terrorism and extrajudicial killings inside Pakistan, and takes tangible steps to move the relationship in a positive direction.”

Also read: Ishaq Dar says peaceful, stable Afghanistan to benefit both countries

“South Asia is home to more than one-fifth of humanity. The region is beset by daunting challenges including poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, disease, food insecurity, water scarcity, natural disasters, environmental degradation, and effects of climate change,” he further said.

“Rather than fight with each other, it would be prudent for the South Asian nations to combat these challenges. We are not only the least economically integrated region, but also one with the lowest rankings on almost all indices of human development.”

He said the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the only viable platform for regional cooperation and tackling these myriad challenges, remains stymied due to obstinacy of one member state.

“The political leadership in South Asia owes it to its peoples and future generations to act with prudence and turn a new page in regional relations and mutual cooperation,” he maintained.

He said Pakistan’s approach was conceptualised in the “peaceful neighbourhood” policy. In essence, it seeks the creation of a peaceful external environment so that our core national objective of sustainable economic development could be assiduously advanced.

As such, Pakistan remains a strong proponent of the inextricable link between peace and development, he remarked.

Also read: Pakistan expects no ‘change’ in Indian policy after Modi’s bittersweet win

Within this framework, he said Pakistan has consistently strived to have peaceful, cooperative and good-neighbourly relations with all countries in our immediate and extended neighbourhoods. Despite challenges and even setbacks in certain instances, Pakistan’s approach remains steadfast.

“A peaceful, stable, united, and prosperous Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s vital interest. There are no other two countries in the world that share so much as Pakistan and Afghanistan do – from history and geography to faith and culture to language and literature to cuisine and music,” according to Dar.

He said since the Taliban takeover in August 2021, Pakistan has followed a pragmatic approach – focused on practical cooperation aimed at averting any humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and facilitating the well-being of the 40 million Afghan people.

“Pakistan has also prioritised regional cooperation to ensure that our actions remain in sync with the broader international community. Apart from emphasising inclusive governance and respect for the rights of all Afghans, Pakistan stresses the imperative need to ensure that Afghanistan’s soil is not used for terrorism against any state,” he said.

He said Pakistan earnestly hoped the Afghan Interim authorities would see that it is in their own enlightened self-interest to heed this call and take the practical steps needed to address our serious concerns.

“If the vision of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan is realised, the fruits of economic cooperation, regional integration, and connectivity would be enormous. Not only the Afghan people will benefit tremendously but also the dividends of shared prosperity would extend to Central Asia and beyond.”

Within the neighbourhood, he said Pakistan has its most trusted and reliable friend, China. “Our all-weather strategic cooperative partnership with China is the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy.”

“It is also a factor of stability in the region and beyond. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor is a transformational project contributing both to Pakistan’s economic turnaround as well as regional prosperity.”

Dar said the Prime Minister’s recent visit to China and his deep consultations with the Chinese leadership have resulted in reaffirming the strategic importance the two countries attach to this relationship and to the pivotal role of CPEC.

“Upon successful completion of 10 years of CPEC, we have jointly agreed to pursue its upgraded version in the coming years. Essentially, our focus would be on industrialisation, digitalisation, green transition, agriculture, and people-to-people exchanges.”

“We will do everything possible to ensure safety and security of Chinese personnel and projects in Pakistan and to safeguard CPEC against the machinations of inimical forces. The Pakistan-China relationship would continue to stand tall and serve the best interests of our two nations,” he insisted.


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