Onus On Pak To Create Environment For Engagement: India

Representational Photo

New Delhi- India on Thursday said it desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan while asserting that the onus is on Islamabad to create an environment free of terror and hostility for such engagement.

Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said this in Rajya Sabha when asked about media reports stating that the adviser to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan backed the resumption of bilateral trade ties with India.

"The government's consistent position has been that India desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan and is committed to addressing issues, if any, bilaterally and peacefully in an atmosphere free of terror, hostility and violence," Muraleedharan said.

"The onus is on Pakistan to create such a conducive atmosphere," he added.

The ties between India and Pakistan came under severe strain after India's airstrike in Balakot in Pakistan in February 2019 in response to the Pulwama suicide attack.

The relations further deteriorated after India in August 2019 announced withdrawing special powers of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the state into two union territories.

"In August 2019, Pakistan announced the suspension of bilateral trade with India. Pakistan partially relaxed its ban on trade with India in September 2019 by permitting trade in certain pharmaceutical products," Muraleedharan said.

To a separate question, Minister of State for External Affairs Meenakshi Lekhi said the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism is promoting Indian culture worldwide through its cultural centres and missions abroad.

She said the government has received a proposal to organise events with the theme 'Spirit of Gujarat' in select countries abroad.

"The concept is to connect the diaspora of Gujarat to represent the cultural and historical perspective of Gujarat. A week-long programme would start with a short film on Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav and the role of Gujaratis living abroad in the development and preservation of culture," she said.

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