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April 17, 2021

Pak-India backdoor talks: Shah Mehmood Qureshi leaves for UAE today

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April 17, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi leaves for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) today (Saturday).

This would be Qureshi’s first official visit to the Emirates in the backdrop of confirmation by the Emirati Ambassador to the US Yousef al-Otaiba, who said Pakistani and Indian officials had travelled to Dubai for backdoor negotiations.

Sources told The News that Qureshi was also expected to travel to Tehran and Turkey. Meanwhile, earlier when the Foreign Office spokesman Zahid Hafiz Chaudhry was asked at the weekly media briefing about Ambassador Otaiba’s statement, "We wish to get their bilateral ties back to a healthy, functional relationship,” he responded positively.

So far, India has made no official comment on Otaiba’s statement. It is expected that apart from focusing on follow-up of the last meeting between Pakistani and Indian officials in Dubai, Qureshi will also raise the issue of visas for Pakistanis, which have been stopped by the UAE.

The issue was also raised when the foreign minister had earlier visited the UAE and he was assured that the ban would be lifted soon. “As for the contacts between India and Pakistan, states have ways and means to communicate with other states, which remain available even during wars. As for the role of third parties, we have always maintained that the international community has an important role to play in averting risks to peace and stability in the region and facilitating a just and lasting solution to the Jammu & Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people,” he said.

Pointing to future discussions, the spokesman said the two sides need to discuss all outstanding issues including Jammu and Kashmir with a view to seeking peaceful resolution of this long outstanding dispute as per international legitimacy. Therefore, he said, Kashmir remains central to any meaningful engagement between India and Pakistan.

In this context, the spokesman reiterated that for Pakistan it was important whether Pakistan was ready to talk to India; what needs to be discussed between the two sides; and whether a meaningful and result-oriented dialogue can take place under the current environment.

“Pakistan has never shied away from talks with India and has always underscored the need for a ‘meaningful dialogue’ and peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir,” added the spokesman.

He stressed once again that after vitiating the environment through its illegal and unilateral action of August 5, 2019, the onus was now on India to create an enabling and conducive environment for a meaningful and result-oriented dialogue between the two countries.

In this regard, the spokesman pointed to multiple resolutions passed by the OIC condemning India for its human rights violations in IIOJ&K and calling for just and peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.

As the foreign minister reaches Turkey to participate in the conference on Afghanistan, the spokesman said Pakistan hoped that the US will continue to urge the Afghan leaders to seize this historic opportunity for achieving a political settlement in Afghanistan.

“We hope that the forthcoming meeting of Afghan leadership in Turkey would be an important opportunity for Afghans to make progress towards a negotiated political settlement. In this regard, we support the principle of responsible troop withdrawal in coordination with Afghan stake-holders”, said the spokesman.

To a query about the Turkey meeting, he pointed out that Pakistan attached valued Turkey’s efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan. “We hope that the Afghan parties will not miss the opportunity to work out an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement”, he said.

Asked whether the issue of FATF was taken up by the foreign minister during his recent visit to Germany, the spokesman responded, “During the foreign minister’s visit to Germany, the entire gamut of bilateral relations was reviewed and areas of mutual interest, including FATF, came under discussion. Foreign Minister Qureshi shared Pakistan’s perspective on the issue which was appreciated by the German side”.