BISHKEK, June 15: Pakistan will hold talks with India on the “basis of equality” and in a “dignified manner”, and it is up to New Delhi whether to engage with Islamabad to resolve all outstanding issues, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said.
Qureshi, who was in Bishkek to attend the 19th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation or SCO Summit, said this while confirming the exchange of pleasantries between Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in Bishkek on Friday on the sidelines of the multilateral meeting.
“Yes, the meeting did take place, there was a handshake and exchange of pleasantries,” Mr Qureshi told Pakistan’s Geo News. He accused the Indian government of being in the “election mindset”.
“Pakistan has said what it had to,” Qureshi said.
“So India has to make this decision, we are neither in haste, nor troubled. When India prepares itself, it would find us prepared, but we will hold talks on the basis of equality, and in a dignified manner,” he said.
“Neither we need to run after anyone, nor we need to demonstrate stubbornness. Pakistan’s approach is very realistic and well thought-out,” Qureshi claimed.
He said India had to make a decision whether to hold bilateral talks with Pakistan to resolve all outstanding issues or not.
“India has not come out of its election mindset and the extreme position they had taken to influence their constituency and to keep their vote bank intact. It is still confined in that,” Mr Qureshi alleged.
The exchange of pleasantries between Imran Khan and Narendra Modi came over two weeks after Mr Khan and Mr Qureshi wrote separate letters to their Indian counterparts seeking to restart talks between the two nations.
However, India has reiterated that “talks and terror” cannot go together, and that Pakistan must take concrete and permanent action against terrorists and terror groups which carry our cross-border terror against India.
India has not been engaging with Pakistan since an attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January of 2016 by a Pakistan-based terror group. Since then, India has maintained that “talks and terror cannot go together.”
At the SCO summit PM Modi has emphasised that creating trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism was essential for fostering peace and prosperity in the region.
Early this year, tensions flared up between India and Pakistan after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group killed more than 40 CRPF soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
The Indian Air Force or IAF later carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting the biggest JeM terror camp in Balakot, Pakistan on February 26. (PTI)