War with In­dia is not an op­tion: FM

In an in­ter­view, Qureshi says there is no mil­i­tary so­lu­tion to con­flict, di­a­logue only so­lu­tion, re­jects the sug­ges­tion that pre­vi­ous Pak­istani gov­ern­ments had aided the Tal­iban

The Gulf Today - - ASIA - BY TARIQ BUTT / AGEN­CIES

IS­LAM­ABAD: War with In­dia is not an op­tion, says For­eign Min­is­ter Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

In an in­ter­view to a for­eign tele­vi­sion, he said the new Pak­istan gov­ern­ment had in­her­ited strained re­la­tions with two key coun­tries — In­dia and the United States — and was work­ing to im­prove ties with both. Qureshi, who is cur­rently in the United States, said that seek­ing a con­struc­tive di­a­logue with In­dia was a key com­po­nent of the new gov­ern­ment’s poli­cies.

“What we did, we thought made sense. Two neigh­bours with out­stand­ing is­sues, atomic pow­ers. How do you ix things? War is no op­tion. There is no mil­i­tary so­lu­tion: the only so­lu­tion is a di­a­logue.”

He re­jected the sug­ges­tion that pre­vi­ous Pak­istani gov­ern­ments had aided the Tal­iban. “They were help­ing their own coun­try (and were try­ing to) over­come a sit­u­a­tion which was not of their own mak­ing,” he said. Qureshi re­ferred to Amer­ica’s links with Afghan free­dom ighters dur­ing the 1980s, when Wash­ing­ton backed a Mu­jahideen in­sur­gency against the Soviet oc­cu­pa­tion forces.

“Who were these peo­ple? Who sup­ported them? Who trained them? We for­get his­tory and at times we over­look that friends change,” he com­plained.

“Peo­ple that you sup­ported, some of the peo­ple, were called ex­trem­ists. Weren’t they in­vited to the US? Weren’t they en­ter­tained in the White House? So, friends change. Cir­cum­stances change. We were just de­fend­ing and pro­tect­ing our­selves,” he said.

Qureshi said Pak­istan wanted friendly re­la­tions with the US, while ex­er­cis­ing its op­tion to cul­ti­vate re­la­tions with China and oth­ers.

“We want the US to be friends with Pak­istan. We recog­nise that the US is an im­por­tant global power, and they will con­tinue to be a mil­i­tary, tech­no­log­i­cal and eco­nomic power in the fore­see­able fu­ture,” he said. “They are look­ing at dif­fer­ent op­tions; they are look­ing at new friends in the re­gion. We do have friends who have been con­sis­tent and very valu­able. China is one of them.”

Qureshi said that some other na­tions also recog­nised Pak­istan’s strate­gic lo­ca­tion and un­der­stood its im­por­tance, “so, we are not alone, ev­ery­one has op­tions.”

MEET­INGS

Qureshi at a meet­ing with UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral An­tónio Guter­res in New York has urged him to play his role in re­solv­ing the lin­ger­ing Kash­mir is­sue ac­cord­ing to the wishes of Kash­miri peo­ple un­der the UN res­o­lu­tions.

The for­eign min­is­ter ex­pressed grave con­cern over the suf­fer­ings of the Kash­miri peo­ple at the hands of In­dian forces in Oc­cu­pied Kash­mir.

Qureshi also dis­cussed with Guter­res the irst-ever re­port on Kash­mir by the UN High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights and called for an in­ter­na­tional probe into the vi­o­la­tions of hu­man rights in the held ter­ri­tory.

Guter­res call­ing Pak­istan a priv­i­leged part­ner of the United Na­tions, ap­pre­ci­ated its lead role as top troop con­trib­u­tor in peace­keep­ing mis­sions across the world.

Qureshi met For­eign Min­is­ter of the UAE Sheikh Ab­dul­lah Bin Ziyad Al Nahyan on the mar­gins of the United Na­tions Gen­eral As­sem­bly. Both sides agreed to hold the Joint Min­is­te­rial Com­mis­sion meet­ing in near fu­ture.

Qureshi raised with his coun­ter­part the need to pro­vide more op­por­tu­ni­ties to Pak­ista­nis in the UAE econ­omy and to beneit from skilled and pro­fes­sional hu­man re­source.

He high­lighted the in­vest­ment and eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties in Pak­istan and in­vited UAE cor­po­rate sec­tor to beneit from them.

The for­eign min­is­ter also raised the is­sue of Pak­ista­nis who have been sen­tenced on petty of­fenses for their re­mis­sion and repa­tri­a­tion to Pak­istan.

Pak­istani fish­er­men, who were re­leased by the In­dian gov­ern­ment, are greeted by their fam­ily mem­bers as they ar­rive in the port city of Karachi on Satur­day. The In­dian gov­ern­ment has re­leased 14 Pak­istani fish­er­men held for vi­o­lat­ing its ter­ri­to­rial waters as a good­will ges­ture.

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