December 02, 2016Print : Top Story
Says Pakistan attending Heart of Asia Conference despite Indian negativity
ISLAMABAD: Even before he has stepped into the Oval Office, US President-elect Donald Trump continues to make waves inside Pakistan, with Islamabad saying on Thursday that it welcomed Trump’s willingness to play a role in resolving the outstanding issues between Pakistan and India, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
No other world leader has ever been brave or confident enough to publicly offer such a role in the past, as most admitted that they would step in to help if both India and Pakistan were willing. New Delhi has never hid its “allergy” to third party assistance.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had earlier sent a message of felicitation to the president-elect and on Wednesday made a courtesy call to Trump in which the American leader remarked, “I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems. It will be an honour and I will personally do it,” after telling Nawaz Sharif that he was a “terrific guy…doing amazing work”.
Some in the American media had their knives out for Nawaz Sharif’s office, saying that Trump’s remarks should not have been made public. This was Nawaz Sharif’s first telephonic conversation with Trump.
“We attach high importance to our relationship with the US and would like to see it strengthen further. We look forward to closely working with the new administration. The president-elect’s intention to visit Pakistan would be warmly welcomed,” the Spokesman at the Foreign Office said during the weekly media briefing.
Meanwhile, Pakistan, despite India’s negativity in scuttling the Saarc process, has decided to attend the Heart of Asia Conference due to its commitment to Afghanistan’s peace and stability.
Spokesman Nafees Zakaria said that Pakistan believed in a peaceful neighbourhood and regarded dialogue as the best option for resolution of issues. He, however, categorically said that Pakistan would not accept any pre-conditions for holding a dialogue with India.
As Adviser on Foreign Policy Sartaj Aziz packs his bag to attend the Heart of Asia Conference in Amritsar, the spokesman to a query said that Sartaj met with the prime minister as was the norm to seek guidance and direction.
“Pakistan is participating in the Heart of Asia Conference as we are committed to contributing towards all efforts and initiatives that are aimed at bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan. Despite all negativity, our participation in Heart of Asia Conference is quite significant and should be seen as such,” explained the spokesman.
While till Thursday New Delhi was still shying away from holding a bilateral meeting with Sartaj Aziz, the spokesman continued to stress the need for “a meaningful dialogue as this was the only viable solution to lasting peace”.
On Wednesday, an Indian official commented that they had not received as yet a formal request for a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the conference.
However, even in the past despite the chill in relations, a breakthrough did take place when important allies nudged the two neighbours to the table. Sometime back Nawaz Sharif and Modi had a ‘chance encounter in Paris when the Indian leader walked into the room where his counterpart was present.
That peace was a high priority could be gauged from the opening remarks of the spokesman who recalled that the current phase of indigenous self-determination movement in Indian Held Kashmir (IHK) has entered into the fifth month and is continuing in the face of worst violations of human rights of defenceless Kashmiris at the hands of Indian occupation forces.
“The world has before it the unending sufferings and misery of those over a thousand Kashmiris, including children, who have been deliberately blinded. I am reminded of a British daily ‘The Guardian’s touching report of Nov 8 which said: ‘There is no recorded instance of a modern democracy systematically and wilfully shooting at people to blind them,’” added the spokesman.
He pointed out that the Amritsar conference was an opportunity for a bilateral meeting and in order to have a peaceful neighbourhood, it was all the more important for the need of a meaningful dialogue.
He pointed out that Pakistan has always asked for talks without pre-conditions with India for resolving all the outstanding contentious issues.
“It was India that has imposed conditionality, and picks and chooses issues to be discussed. Our stance remains the same that we must make efforts towards a sustainable and result oriented dialogue that can’t be derailed on flimsy pretexts,” he added.