Foreign minister says Islamabad’s issue is with Delhi’s attempt to alter the demographic makeup of India-held Kashmir, and not abrogation of special constitutional status
Pakistan and India cannot afford to go to war, as it will be “mutually suicidal,” Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has stressed, adding that the door is always open for resolution of all issues through dialogue.
“We cannot afford to go to war … 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,” he told a Turkish journalist of Anadolu Agency during a two-day official visit. “If India is willing to re-visit some of the decisions that it took on Aug. 5, 2019, Pakistan will be more than happy to engage, sit and talk and resolve all outstanding issues,” he said, noting that outstanding issues such as Kashmir, Sir Creek, water and other minor issues were best resolved through dialogue.
Noting that India, and not Pakistan, had abandoned talks and suspended a composite and comprehensive dialogue, Qureshi reiterated Islamabad’s stance that Delhi’s unilateral actions of Aug. 5, 2019, had been against international law and the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. However, offering a note of optimism, he said the recommitment to ceasefire during a conversation between the directors-general of military operations of both sides had been a positive development.
“When they [India] 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 side and on that side have welcomed this new development,” he added.
The foreign minister said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s messages of support to Pakistan on its National Day and to Prime Minister Imran Khan while he was recovering from COVID-19 had also been received positively.
Separately, talking to Pakistani broadcaster Geo News, Qureshi stressed that Pakistan’s core issue was not the revocation of Article 370—as earlier claimed by him as well as the prime minister—but rather the decision to allow Indian nations to secure Kashmiri domiciles. “It [Article 370] is an internal matter … they had done so to revive the confidence of Kashmiris living in occupied Kashmir. Our interest lies in 35-A, because a demographic change affects our stance of the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination,” he said.
Afghanistan peace process
Admitting the stakes were “very high,” the foreign minister stressed that if the Taliban and the Kabul government failed to achieve any comprehensive political settlement, there was great fear of Afghanistan reverting to its 90s status. “This is the last thing Pakistan wants,” he claimed.
“We will certainly try and urge them [Taliban] 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,” he said, of the talks planned in Turkey.