India has changed its attitude towards Pakistan, FM Qureshi

KARACHI: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that he has observed a positive development in the Indian attitude towards Pakistan and the two countries are heading towards a positive trajectory of ties.

The foreign minister made the remark in Dushanbe in an interview after attending the 9th Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process.

Qureshi said significant developments in bilateral ties started with the letter from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi felicitating his counterpart on Pakistan Day, which PM Imran Khan responded to.

While responding to a question, FM Qureshi said the revival of Pakistan-India 2013 understanding on the ceasefire at the LoC, Indian PM’s letter of felicitation on Pakistan Day and the fact that Indian Foreign Minister Shiv Shankar Menon did not opt to criticise Pakistan at the Heart of Asia Conference, like on previous occasions, are positive and productive developments.

He said the revival of the ceasefire at the LoC will benefit Kashmiris, who have also praised the development.

Qureshi said PM Khan, while thanking the Indian prime minister, has reiterated Islamabad’s earnest desire to have peaceful ties with all neighbouring countries, including India. However, this requires the resolution of all outstanding issues between the two countries, including the most important dispute over the Indian illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir.

He said PM Khan, in his letter to his counterpart, said, “If India desires peaceful relations with Pakistan, New Delhi will have to create a conducive and enabling atmosphere.”

Reacting to media reports regarding his meeting with his Indian counterpart, Qureshi said neither was such a meeting scheduled, nor has he received any such request.

“We both were busy in our meetings.”

Referring to the August 5, 2019 changes in the status of IoK, Qureshi said today a large segment in India feels those actions have proved to be counterproductive and have served to further alienate the Kashmiris.

He said if India considers providing an enabling environment, PM Khan had even earlier expressed his readiness to take more steps in that direction.

“Islamabad would never shy away from dialogue as we fully believe that it will be suicidal for the two nuclear neighbours to engage in any confrontation.”

To a question about the Afghan peace process, Qureshi told that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani discussed “a new proposal” with him in Dushanbe, which needs to be studied and explored. He added that It needs to be seen how the Afghans, the Taliban and the regional countries respond to that proposal after which Islamabad would be able to give its viewpoint.

He said Pakistan’s critical role for facilitating the Afghan peace leading to Doha Peace Agreement and the intra-Afghan dialogue has been widely acknowledged globally.

In meetings during the Heart of Asia conference, all the countries were appreciative of Pakistan’s approach and direction.

“We will undoubtedly continue to play that role but it is now time for the Afghans’ to show flexibility to determine their country’s future. We are strictly observing non-interference in their affairs. Islamabad’s only desire is for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, which primarily would help Kabul and consequently Pakistan and the wider region. We want investments to flow into the regional economy and are looking forward to regional connectivity to help boost Pakistan’s economy, which is only dependent on peaceful and stable Afghanistan.”

He added: “We will play whatever role Islamabad can to help achieve those objectives.”