ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Friday, reiterating the unchanged position, said Pakistan could not engage in any meaningful dialogue with India till the latter reviewed its unilateral and illegal actions of August 5, 2019, revoking the special status of Kashmir.
“Unless India reviews the action it took on August 5, 2019 (abrogation of Article 370), Pakistan is not in a position to engage bilaterally with India… As far as Pakistan’s position on bilateral relations with India or any meaningful engagement or dialogue with my Indian counterpart, our position remains unchanged,” the foreign minister said in an interview with India Today.
Bilawal, who was in India on a two-day visit to attend the meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s Council of Foreign Ministers held in Goa, said Pakistan wanted to combat the menace of terrorism because it had caused the largest number of casualties among any other SCO countries.
“Pakistan wants to quell terrorism not because India said it or the Indian government said so, but because we want to end this menace. “Pakistan has suffered the most. I myself am a victim of terrorism, so Pakistan and myself are wholly committed to combating this menace,” he reiterated.
To a question, the foreign minister said Pakistan was willing to engage any Indian concerns but India would also have to address Pakistan’s concerns.
“India will have to explain what Kulbhushan Jadhav - a state actor, a navy commander - was doing in Pakistan, carrying out terrorist attacks on Pakistani soil. Does that not come under cross-border terrorism,” he asked.
He said the victims of the 2007 Samjhauta Express bombing, which had killed around 70 people, mostly Pakistanis, had yet to see any justice.
To a question, he said the trial on the Mumbai attacks was facing delay because India had not been producing witnesses as a legal requirement.–APP
Reuters adds: India and Pakistan each blamed the other for their frosty relations on Friday and reiterated entrenched diplomatic positions on issues such as Kashmir and terrorism, suggesting no thaw in ties is likely anytime soon. The foreign ministers of the nuclear-armed rivals spoke bitterly at separate press conferences after a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) regional bloc in the Indian coastal state of Goa. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari told reporters that India’s decision to scrap the special status of the disputed region of Kashmir in 2019 had undermined the environment for holding talks between the neighbours.
“The onus is on India to create a conducive environment for talks,” Bhutto-Zardari said.
India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar responded by saying Kashmir’s special status was “history” and suggesting that Pakistan backed terrorists in Kashmir.
In comments in an interview to India Today TV channel broadcast later, Bhutto-Zardari said Islamabad was willing to engage and address any concerns New Delhi might have but New Delhi will also have to address Islamabad’s concerns.
The Pakistani foreign minister said that, despite his rare visit to India, there was no change in the status of diplomatic relations.
Responding to Bhutto-Zardari, India’s Jaishankar said the article of the Indian constitution that had given special status to Jammu and Kashmir “is history” and the “sooner people realise it, the better”. He also described Pakistan’s position on Kashmir as effectively backing terrorism.
“Victims of terrorism do not sit together with perpetrators of terrorism to discuss terrorism,” Jaishankar told reporters.
“Victims of terrorism defend themselves, counter acts of terrorism, they call it out, they delegitimise it, and that is exactly what is happening,” he said.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023