Islamabad: Pakistan’s new Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday extended the hand of friendship to India soon after taking oath by offering “uninterrupted” dialogue to resolve all the outstanding issues, saying it is the “only wise course” as the two countries cannot afford any “adventurism”. He also said Kashmir is an issue and both countries know about it.
After the swearing-in ceremony at the President House, Qureshi went to Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and addressed media.
Qureshi was the foreign minister from 2008 to 2011 under the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government. The new foreign minister said Pakistan wants to rebuild ties with eastern and western neighbours and create peace in the region.
He said Pakistan wants to resolve all issues with India through talks. “We need a continued uninterrupted dialogue. It is the only wise course for us,” he said.
The India-Pakistan ties nose-dived in recent years with no bilateral talks taking place.
Qureshi, the vice-president of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, on Monday said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj sent a letter on Sunday to congratulate Prime Minister Imran Khan and mentioned about talks to resolve issues.
“I welcome her letter,” he said. “I want to say to Indian Foreign Minister that we are not only neighbours but also nuclear powers. We have old issues and we both know what these issues are. We need to address these issues. The two countries cannot afford any adventurism due to close proximity.”
We cannot afford any adventurism as response time is so short. The only option is to engage with each other. We cannot live in enmity and we have to accept that there are outstanding issues, he said.
He said Kashmir is an issue and both countries know about it.
He said former prime minsiter Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Lahore and Islamabad and recognised the reality of Pakistan and the issue of Kashmir. “Whether we wish or not, Kashmir is an issue and both countries have recognised it. In my opinion there is no option other than talks to resolve it,” he said.
Qureshi said that the foreign policy of the new government will be based on interests of Pakistan and it can be fine-tuned according to the needs of the nation.
He said that priority of Pakistan’s foreign policy will be how we can change lives of common people through economic diplomacy.
We will try to change lives of people through socio-economic development, he said.
He said there are enormous local and regional challenges but we want to make progress on these issues.
Some forces have been trying to isolate the country but it will not happen now, he said.
He said his government will build national consensus on foreign affairs. I will follow bipartisan approach on the issues of foreign policy.
He announced that he will invite Opposition leaders for consultations before the next month’s UN General Assembly session.