India shying away from talks on Kashmir: Pakistan


ISLAMABAD: A day after former foreign minister of Pakistan Hina Rabbani Khar said Pakistan cannot “conquer Kashmir through war” and that the issue can only be handled in an environment of mutual trust with India, adviser to the prime minister, Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan wanted to have peaceful relations with India, but it would not back down from its principled stance over Kashmir.

“If there has to be an improvement in relations between the two countries, there has to be a dialogue on all issues, including the core issue of Kashmir,” Aziz said.

India is “shying away” from peace talks with Pakistan to avoid discussions on Kashmir and other issues, Aziz added. The foreign policy adviser, flanked by other important Pakistan ministers — information minister Pervaiz Rashid, PM’s special assistant on foreign affairs Tariq Fatemi and foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry — spoke on Afghanistan, Pakistan’s relations with India, the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Gulf Cooperation Council and listed the achievements of a ‘successful foreign policy of the government’.

In a statement on Pakistan’s foreign policy, Aziz said that India stalled bi-lateral talks and used the 2 January attack on Pathankot as an excuse to do so. “There was some positive progress in December 2015, when during the Heart of Asia Conference, Foreign Minister of India and I agreed to resume the Comprehensive Dialogue on all issues covered under eight segments. But before the Foreign Secretaries could meet and finalise a schedule for resuming the Comprehensive Dialogue, the Pathankot incident of 2 January 2016 gave India an excuse to postpone the resumption of the dialogue.”

Aziz said Pakistan was not shying away from talks.

“It is actually India which is shying away as it knows that it has to discuss Kashmir and other issues on the dialogue table,” Aziz said, commenting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks during his interview with Times Now earlier this week.

“Prime Minister Modi’s logic is beyond perception,” he said. “We have a format of comprehensive and composite dialogue with India that includes issues like people-to-people contact, visa and fishermen issue, trade and economic cooperation, Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek,” Aziz was quoted as saying by Radio Pakistan.

He said that the Indian Army had stakes in Siachen and when the last time both the governments reached an agreement, the Indian Army rejected it.

In an interview with Times Now, PM Modi had said that due to his diplomatic efforts, the world had seen that India was not reluctant to engage with Pakistan. “Our approach has created difficulties for Pakistan, and they find it hard to respond on the matter in the international community,” said Modi.

Blaming India for not changing “their narrative”, Aziz said, “They do not want to give us credit (for our actions against terrorism) and keep an excuse for not starting dialogue.” The problem, he said, was that India wanted normalisation on its terms, which was not acceptable for Pakistan.

Sartaj Aziz’s comments follows a day after reports quoted the adviser as saying that Pakistan’s intensive diplomatic lobbying, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif personally writing to 17 prime ministers, prevented India from gaining entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

In an exclusive interview with DawnNews, Aziz said Pakistan has diplomatically engaged numerous countries over the criteria-based approach for non-NPT countries. “If the group forms such a uniform criteria, then Pakistan has stronger credentials for NSG membership than India.”

“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif personally wrote letters to 17 prime ministers of different countries on the matter, which is on record,” Aziz told senior journalists at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad and added that Pakistan will continue their diplomatic offensive in this regard.

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