Thursday September 28, 2023

Khar rules out backchannel diplomacy with India

Ties between Pakistan and India have been marred by number of provocative steps by neighbouring country, says minister

By Web Desk
January 26, 2023
Minister of State on Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar speaking during Senate session. — Radio Pakistan/File
Minister of State on Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar speaking during Senate session. — Radio Pakistan/File

Minister of State on Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar on Thursday said that no backchannel diplomacy is presently taking place between Pakistan and India.

While speaking during a question hour session in the Senate, Khar said that backchannel diplomacy must take place if it is fruitful but "no backdoor diplomacy is currently taking place with India" as the hostility from New Delhi is of "unique nature".

The statement came in response to PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan's question about Pakistan's decision regarding normalisation of ties with India until the revocation of the August 5 move. On August 5, 2019, the Indian government abolished Article 370 of the Constitution which grants special status to Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

"It had been decided on the August 5 move that no talks with India will take place. Has the incumbent government stepped back from the position?" he asked, adding that the Kashmir issue hasn't been highlighted since the formation of this government.

At this, Khar stated that the decision Javed referred to was taken by the PTI-led regime in 2021.

The state minister told the house that ties between Pakistan and India have been marred by a number of provocative steps by the neighbouring country.

"What would you do if the prime minister on the other side of the border says that their nuclear arms are not to be used on Diwali," Khar said.

She said that the world asks Pakistan why doesn't it walk on the path of peace with India. She said that this was the job of the country's political leadership.

Ban on the BBC documentary by the Modi government has vindicated Pakistan’s viewpoint on the Gujarat massacre, she added.

Khar stressed Pakistan's keenness towards the establishment of peace on both its eastern and western borders. She described the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor as a positive precedent saying such processes must move forward.

"Pakistan wouldn't want bloodshed anywhere," she said, adding that incidents of hostility on the Line of Control have reduced.

The minister further stated that no talks have taken place with India on trade either.

'No talks sans restoration of IIOJK's special status'

Last week, PM Shehbaz Sharif, in an effort to resolve the burning issues with New Delhi, including the IIOJK, asked his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to hold serious and sincere talks.

Speaking during an interview with Al Arabiya news channel, the prime minister said: "My message to the Indian leadership and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is that let us sit down on the table and have serious and sincere talks to resolve our burning issues like Kashmir.”

However later, the Prime Minister's Office spokesperson issued a clarification on the PM’s statement, saying that the premier has "repeatedly stated on record that talks can only take place after India has reversed its illegal action of August 5, 2019".

"Without India's revocation of this step, negotiations are not possible," the PMO spokesperson said in a statement issued on Twitter, adding that the premier had made his position very clear in his interview.

The PMO spokesperson stated that PM Shehbaz Sharif has always highlighted the resolution of Kashmir issue between Pakistan and India via "dialogue and peaceful means".

It further stated that the Kashmir dispute must be settled as per the United Nations resolutions and "aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir".