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Saturday Feb 16 2019

Violence 'never been, nor is our way': Qureshi on India's reaction to Kashmir attack

MUNICH: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Friday India "should have acted more responsibly", referring to accusations pertaining to the attack in Pulwama, Indian occupied Kashmir, and asked if New Delhi "desired peace and stability in the region or political point-scoring with attention on the upcoming elections?"

Speaking at the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, Qureshi said the "first news I received was that this incident [the attack in Pulwama, Indian occupied Kashmir] had occurred.

"I was sad and sorrowful about the loss of life, that people had been affected by it, that they were troopers of the Central Reserve Police [Force (CRPF)], and that many died and were wounded.

However, responding to the allegations levelled by India, he noted: "Accusing Pakistan is very easy, you pass the buck.”

"Pakistan has been very clear, our viewpoint is clear, and, specifically, the stance of this government has been plain and simple: we desire peace," he said, adding: "We desire good relations with our neighbours, we neither wish to opt for the path of violence nor has this ever been part of our intentions.

"I condemn the incident that took place. I believe violence has never been, nor is our way; that is not the policy of our government."

The foreign minister commented that India should have acted more responsibly and engaged themselves with Pakistan by sharing evidence.

"Now, I'm a bit sad that India did not even complete a probe into the incident, there was no investigation, yet there was a knee-jerk — an immediate — reaction, wherein they levelled accusations against Pakistan.

Islamabad's focus, at present, was on the western front, he added, and "we are engaged in pushing the peace process forward in Afghanistan.

"Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to shift focus from the western border to the eastern border," he stressed, urging the Indian government and its ministers to take a breather and look inwards.

"There are many voices, even within India, who want the government to oversee their counterproductive actions, that is, the atrocities [and] human rights violations.

"Due to the excessive use of force, the reaction is coming in Indian occupied Kashmir," he added.

Regarding the newly-elected government of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its regional strategy, the minister said the leadership's policy was peace in the region and good relations with India due to the internal challenges and domestic agenda of Pakistan.

The "PTI government has different priorities", he added. Nevertheless, Qureshi, towards the end, said Pakistan was "willing to cooperate for peace, stability, and engagement in the region".

Prime Minister Imran Khan "is very clear about the policy that we do not support militants [and] non-state actors working against the thinking of the government," the foreign minister underscored.