Monday Aug 20, 2018
ISLAMABAD: Newly-appointed Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Monday said Indian Prime Minister Narendar Modi called for dialogue in a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan.
"Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has written a letter to PM Imran Khan in which he indicated the beginning of talks between the two countries," Qureshi said while speaking at the Foreign Office shortly after being sworn-in as a member of Prime Minister Imran Khan's cabinet.
"India and Pakistan have to move forward keeping realities before them," he asserted.
The foreign minister stressed, "There is a need for continued and uninterrupted dialogue with India."
Qureshi also directly addressed his Indian counterpart, Sushma Swaraj, and said, "I want to tell the Indian foreign minister that we are not just neighbours; we are atomic powers. We have a lot of common resources. We have long-standing issues, both of us know these problems. But we have no other option but to engage in dialogue. We cannot afford adventurism."
"These issues are complicated and we may face hurdles in resolving them, but we must engage. We will have to admit that we are facing problems, we must admit that Kashmir is a reality. The Islamabad declaration is a part of our history," he added.
"We may have a different approach and line of thinking, but I want to see a change in how we behave," the newly-appointed foreign minister said.
Qureshi also said he intends to contact his Afghan counterpart and pay a visit to Kabul. "I want to go with a solid message for the people of Afghanistan. The two countries share a future and geography, and we have to work together and begin our long journey."
Further, the foreign minister said his party "supports the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)".
"CPEC is a long-term project, a game changer and our party supports it," he maintained.
Regarding the US, Qureshi said, "I have worked with the US in the past and I have worked with Richard Holbrooke, Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice."
"I know about their concerns and their priorities. I will speak to them in a straight forward manner, I will tell them that we too have our priorities, our nation has some aspirations. I will tell them that bilateral relations will operate on the basis of equality," he said.
"We know that there will be obstructions and hurdles in our way, but we are determined," the foreign minister continued.
The foreign minister also shared, "An important event is coming up; the UN assembly where I will be representing Pakistan and where we have to present Pakistan’s case to the world."
Qureshi further stressed, "We have to bridge the trust deficit and put forward Pakistan’s trust deficit. We will do all of this with full consultation with PM Imran."
"The west has some pre-concerned ideas of where the foreign policy of Pakistan is made. Let me make it very clear it will be made at the FO," he clarified.
The newly-appointed foreign minister also said, "We need to change the direction of our foreign policy,"
Stating that Pakistan’s foreign policy will be reviewed afresh, the foreign minister said, "We want peace and stability in the region."
"Our foreign policy will begin and end at Pakistan," he asserted and added that they are determined to resolve the challenges faced by the country.
"We will make sure that Pakistan is respected worldwide and for that we will have to set our priorities and move forward," Qureshi added.
The newly-appointed foreign minister reveled, "Some forces have been trying to run Pakistan into isolation and marginalisation. And why wouldn’t they do it? Your country didn’t have a foreign minister, who is meant to be your chief diplomat. This gives your opponents open playing fields."
However, Qureshi vowed to not allow Pakistan to be isolated.
Further, Qureshi said, "I realise that very competent officers are working in the FO and I will consult them.
"I will also approach former officials and others for guidance, including former foreign ministers Hina Rabbani Khar and Khawaja Asif," he said.
Responding to a question regarding austerity measures announced by PM Imran, he said they would keep in line with the government's policies. "There will be no unnecessary expenditures on foreign missions and appointments will be made on the basis of merit."