Qureshi reiterates talks offer to India

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi addresses a press conference at Serena Hotel in Kabul on January 7, 2009. Qureshi said the new Pakistan government wanted good relations with its neighbours, including Afghanistan and India. A declaration signed after talks Tuesday between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari was a "watershed in bilateral relations," he said. AFP PHOTO/Massoud HOSSAINI

BEIJING: Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday urged the Indian leadership to change the obsolete mindset, adopt a realistic approach and come to the negotiating table for peoples’ well-being as well as the peace and stability in South Asia.

“Pakistan and India have no other option but to hold dialogue as both the countries are nuclear powers and they cannot afford war,” he said while talking to Pakistani journalists at the end of his three-day visit to China.

He observed that millions of people in the two countries were living below the poverty line and asked the Indian leaders to change their old mindset as the world was changing at a very fast pace.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said that India was shy of sitting across the negotiating table with Pakistan in view of the forthcoming general elections, but Pakistan could wait and was prepared to engage with the new government after Indian elections.

Pakistan, he however said, wanted peace but would not compromise on its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

About opening of Kartarpur corridor, he said the world community had acknowledged and appreciated Pakistan’s initiative and now this step was being termed as “Kartarpur spirit”.

He hoped that all the modalities would be finalized during the next meeting of the officials of Pakistan and India on April 2 and the Sikh pilgrims from across the globe, would be able to participate in the 550th birth anniversary of their religious leader.

The Foreign Minister criticized Indian leadership for excluding words Muslim or mosque in their condemnation against terror attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand where more than 50 Muslims were martyred.

He also lamented the way the Kashmiri students were attacked and expelled from the Indian universities after Pulwama incident and said the minorities were living with complete harmony and without any hatred in Pakistan and Hindu brethren were celebrating Holi festival with complete religious freedom and enthusiasm.

Acknowledging role of China during recent escalations of tension with India and the listing issue at UN Security Council, he said that China had once again proved that it was all-weather and time-tested friend of Pakistan, adding, “Our confidence into our strategic partner, has increased manifold.”

On the first China-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue held in Beijing, he opined that it was decided to upgrade the consultation process between the two countries at foreign ministers level. However, this meeting was held in the backdrop of escalating tension as a result of Indian violation of Pakistan’s airspace and its importance had further increased as the situation in the region had changed.

Qureshi informed that he shared Pakistan stance, discussed Afghan reconciliation process and role of Pakistan as a facilitator and

took China into confidence over these issues.

About meeting of all political parties of Pakistan in the Chinese capital, he said the parliamentary leaders of all political parties assembled to demonstrate their support for the CPEC and some elements were trying to create hurdles through negative propaganda.

“All the political parties unanimously endorsed this project and there is a complete national consensus on it. All the projects including the projects, prioritized for the second phase, will be completed,” he added.

He said the two sides discussed the forthcoming visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China for participation in the Belt and Road Forum to be held in next month.

He said the prime minister will have a bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart on April 25 and other top leaders.