New York: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that his country’s relationship with India has been “particularly complicated” by New Delhi’s decision to abrogate Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and the recent recommendation by a delimitation commission, underlining that at this moment the “practical space” for economic activity, dialogue and diplomacy is “very limited.”
Foreign Minister Bilawal, who is on a maiden visit to the US, made the remarks while responding to questions during a press conference here on Thursday.
“As far as the question of our relationship with India is concerned, it is particularly complicated” by their recent actions in Kashmir – firstly the August 5, 2019 decision to abrogate Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir as well as the recent decision by the delimitation commission on Jammu and Kashmir, he said.
Bilawal said that these actions “have complicated this matter.” He alleged that these actions are an “assault” on the United Nations, on the UN Security Council resolutions and the Geneva Convention.
He said “such actions make it very difficult for us to hold a dialogue” with India.
“Having said that, we are very cognizant of the fact that economic activity, dialogue, diplomacy are ultimately the ways and means for countries to engage with each other and resolve disputes. I just note that particularly at the moment given this aggressive, hostile behaviour, the practical space for that happening is very limited,” he said.
The delimitation panel, formed in March 2020, earlier this month notified its final report giving six additional assembly seats to the Jammu region and one to the Kashmir Valley and bringing areas of Rajouri and Poonch under the Anantnag parliamentary seat. Jammu division will now have 43 assembly seats and Kashmir 47 in the 90-member House.
Tensions between India and Pakistan have spiked since New Delhi abrogated the Article 370 of the Constitution to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019. India’s decision evoked strong reactions from Pakistan, which downgraded diplomatic ties and expelled the Indian envoy.
India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of the Article 370 was its internal matter. India has repeatedly told Pakistan that Jammu and Kashmir “was, is and shall forever” remain an integral part of the country. It also advised Pakistan to accept the reality and stop all anti-India propaganda.
India has told Pakistan that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Islamabad in an environment free of terror, hostility and violence.
On a question on India’s decision to ban wheat exports, he said, “it is obviously the decision of the Indian government to decide what it wishes to do” and added that such restrictive and protective actions are being discouraged through multilateral forums like the UN Security Council meeting on conflict and food security called by the US.
“We all must work together to meet the needs of those who can’t meet their food security targets,” he said.
To a question on the domestic political situation, Bilawal said “on the international front, we have a foreign policy vacuum. On the economic front, we have an economic catastrophe staring at us in the face, and we have a highly polarized political society.
“We need to now do the work of the government, work together to take the difficult decisions and implement the necessary reforms so we can move forward. And I believe, as long as we do that, and as long as we conduct ourselves in that way, then there is very little to challenge the new government and this extensive coalition. But if we fail to do our own job, then we will face many challenges.” PTI