ISLAMABAD: The Kashmir issue is the “main stumbling block” to peace in South Asia, Pakistan’s Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar said on Saturday, underlining that it is the responsibility of the global community to work on the “flash issue” of the region.
“I think for regional peace, the global community has a responsibility to work on the flash issue of the region. It is outstanding for decades. And I would not go into details…but each one of you are privy to what has been happening in the last few months,” Dar told a Washington audience that primarily comprised of Pakistani Americans, officials and diplomats at top US think-tank Heritage Foundation.
“If we can resolve the (Kashmir) issue, the region can really see a lot of peace, it can save a lot of defence spending which can be diverted to social sector investment and it could be the real connectivity, which the region deserves,” said Dar, who is here to attend the annual Spring Meeting of the IMF and the World Bank.
Noting that half of the world population lives in the region, the Pakistan Finance Minister said Kashmir issue is the “main stumbling block” to peace in the region.
“We hope that peaceful solution to the problem is there,” he said.
Underlining that the Nawaz Sharif Government has “turned around” the country’s economy, Dar said Pakistan has set an ambitious target of becoming a member of G-20 by 2030. Speaking on Afghanistan, Dar regretted that some countries are questioning Pakistan’s intentions on the peace process in the war-torn country.
“Gone are the days that there could be any second thoughts. Pakistan has been very consistent and is making serious efforts to resolve the issue. We are happy to be a partner with the global community to resolve the issue,” he said.
Pakistan, he said, is still suffering from the remnants of the Afghan war. Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, he said, is necessary for the regional peace.
“The equilibrium in power, because of the few wars between the two countries of the region. Our government believes in peace and have the best relationship with the neighbours,” he said. Responding to a question, Dar said Pakistan’s nuclear command and control system is very robust and is absolutely safe.
International agencies are satisfied with the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear installations. “There has not been a single incident in the history of Pakistan,” he said.
“Pakistan’s nukes are safe and secure as it could be anywhere in the world…I can easily say as safe as the United States of America,” he said.
Dar claimed that US President Donald Trump in his conversation with the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Shari was “positively inclined or encouraged rather” the two countries to sort out the Kashmir issue.
“Pakistan welcomes any friend to resolve the issue…there is a common sense to the idea (of US mediation in Kashmir). The solution to the problem is going to help over half of the population of the world which lives in the region,” he reiterated.
The Finance Minister said that Pakistan would not give consular access to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has been given death sentence by a Pakistani Court on charges of spying.
“Whatever has happened is in accordance with the law and the constitution of Pakistan,” he said