Tuesday May 11, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan would not make any U-turns when it comes to the Kashmir issue, said Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday, adding that Kashmir is not an internal matter of India.
Speaking during a press conference in Islamabad, the foreign minister said: “Pakistan has not made any U-turn and will never do so. The dispute, which is at the agenda of United Nations Security Council, with several resolutions on it, cannot be an internal matter of India."
“There is no ambiguity and Pakistan will continue highlighting the plight of Kashmiris at all international fora,” he added.
By revoking Article 35-A, he said, India has been distorting the demography of the Valley and denying the Kashmiris their identity.
The foreign minister confirmed that there were “no formal talks” at the moment with India, however, he said if India wants it to make it happen, it “must take the first step forward”.
“If India wants a meaningful dialogue with Pakistan, it has to review its policy on Kashmir and undo the revocation of its special status,” he said.
He called upon India to give relief to the Kashmiri people, who have been suffering a 19-month-long military siege and the search and cordon operations, and thus “pave way for a conducive environment for talks”.
The FM said that Pakistan welcomes third-party facilitation by Saudi Arabia or any other country for resumption of talks with India.
“Pakistan is ready for third-party facilitation. It is India that has always shied away from it."
Qureshi maintained Saudi Arabia is the friend of Pakistan and also has business ties with India, which is a big importer of Saudi oil.
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“If Saudi Arabia wants to play a role (in facilitating talks), we will welcome it,” he added.
He recalled that the ceasefire agreement between Pakistan and India was welcomed by the world, including Saudi Arabia.
On Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, he said it led to the development of a “positive understanding” at both sides that promoting their mutual relationship was a need of the hour.
He said besides agreement on investments, bilateral trade, and creation of job opportunities, the extraordinary development was putting in place for the first time an institutionalised mechanism with three pillars – security, economic and cultural and soft image, and chalking out who would be leading the respective areas.
“This Saudi visit was different in the sense that it defeated the designs of the elements that were trying to create a wedge between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Now, it is win-win cooperation,” he said.
Qureshi said under the Vision 2030 of the Crown Prince, around 10 million workforces were required in the next few years and the leadership wanted to allocate a big chunk for Pakistanis.
“In addition to blue-collar jobs, we have to prepare our workforce for the white-collar jobs through their capacity-building at professional sides,” he said.
He said the $500 million Saudi funds would help Pakistan meet its energy needs through the development of hydropower projects.
Qureshi said Saudi Arabia has a special place in the Muslim community which looked towards it for a leadership role, saying that Pakistan welcomed the initiation of talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran to ease tension.
Asked if the Saudi assistance to Pakistan would lead to favours in return, he said, “Pakistan is not paying a price. It knows its own interests”.