India denies Pak claim that PM Modi willing to resume dialogue

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi interpreted engagement on terror as comprehensive dialogue, something the India side denied PM Modi’s letter had offered.


New Delhi: Newly elected Pakistan foreign affairs minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has claimed that PM Narendra Modi has written to his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan expressing interest in resuming the peace process.

However, sources have told News 18 that PM Modi’s letter to the newly sworn-in Pakistan prime Minister was a congratulatory note. There was no offer of dialogue.

The letter said, according to sources, that India was committed to peaceful neighborly relations and a terror-free region. It went on to say that India is willing to constructively engage with Pakistan on that count.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had in her annual press conference this year asserted that ‘terror and talks’ cannot go together but ‘talks on terror’ can take place referring to the engagement between the NSAs of the two countries

But Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has interpreted engagement on terror as comprehensive dialogue, something the India side denied PM Modi’s letter had offered.

Addressing a press conference after taking charge of his country’s foreign affairs department, Qureshi said, “India and Pakistan have to move forward keeping realities before them.”

In his press conference, which he held just an hour after swearing in as the Foreign Affairs Minister, Qureshi claimed, “The Indian Prime Minister issued a letter yesterday in which he has congratulated Imran Khan and has sent a message of dialogue [between the two countries].”

He also stressed the need for dialogue between the two countries, saying that Pakistan has no option but to talk to India. “We cannot afford adventurism,” Qureshi said during his press conference. Underlining a different approach in dealing with India.

Qureshi said that Pakistan was looking “to change how we behave”.

Directly addressing the Indian Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Qureshi said, “We are neighbors and both of us are aware of our mutual issues. We have no option but to talk to each other, to engage.” He also added, perhaps referring to ‘surgical strikes’, “We cannot afford any adventurism.”

Everyone knows that the problems are complex as are their solutions, Qureshi said, and knowing this we cannot turn our faces away.

“We have to acknowledge that there are some outstanding issues between us. Whether we want it or not Kashmir is a reality, a problem, which the now deceased former Prime Minister of India, AB Vajpayee, had also acknowledged in his trip to Pakistan,” Qureshi said.

He called for a “continued, uninterrupted” dialogue between the two countries.

Qureshi is one of the most seasoned Pakistani political leaders with previous experience in dealing Pakistan’s foreign affairs. He served as Pakistani foreign minister between 2008-13 under then president Asif Zardari and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. He also once served as provincial finance minister in the cabinet of Nawaz Sharif when he was the chief minister of the Punjab during the military rule of Gen Zia-ul Haq.

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