Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Saturday said that Pakistan was ready to hold dialogue with India on all outstanding issues provided that New Delhi agreed to ease tensions in Indian-Occupied Kashmir (IoK).
Qureshi made the offer while talking to United Kingdom-based news outlet British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and stressed that Pakistan had always welcomed dialogue with India.
“Pakistan has never refused to negotiate, but India has never created the right atmosphere needed for dialogue,” said the foreign minister. He also added that Pakistan had no objection to bilateral talks.
“Pakistan has no objection to bilateral talks, and any third-party support or mediation will also be welcomed,” remarked Qureshi. The statement from Qureshi follows a similar comment made by PM Imran Khan in an opinion piece for The New York Times on Friday.
In a shift from official policy on bilateral talks with India so far, PM Imran had on Friday said that talks would India could go ahead only if New Delhi agreed to reverse the illegal annexation of Kashmir.
FM Qureshi appeared to elaborate on the statement made by the premier, outlining that bilateral talks with India hinged on Delhi ending curfew in IoK, restoring human rights, and releasing detained Kashmiri leaders.
“In an environment where curfew is enforced, people are suffering from life and death, gang rapes are taking place, people are being held in captivity, I don’t see any negotiating environment,” said the minister.
Earlier in August, India had revoked the special constitutional autonomy of the occupied valley and imposed a military curfew in the area following the decision.
Thousands of Kashmiris have been detained since, and nearly 700,000 troops deployed to quash dissent. Allegations of torture and abuse of those detained by Indian security forces have been pouring in.
FM Qureshi ruled out war with India in his interview to the UK-based news outlet, saying that Pakistan had never adopted an aggressive foreign policy and always called for peaceful resolution of disputes.
“The two neighboring countries with nuclear weapons cannot afford the risk of war. People will be destroyed by war and the world will be affected by this as well,” elaborated Qureshi.
The foreign minister also talked about Pakistan’s relations with the Gulf countries, other Muslim nations, and the United States in his interview, praising the role Pakistani allies have played to highlight the Kashmir cause on the international stage.