ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Pakistan would willingness to talk out differences and resolve outstanding issues through dialogue if India was willing to revisit the unilateral decisions taken on August 5, 2019.
“If India is willing to revisit some of the decisions that they took on August 5, 2019, Pakistan will be more than happy to engage, sit and talk out our differences and sit and through a dialogue resolve the outstanding issues,” PM Imran said in an interview with Reuters at his official residence in Islamabad on Friday.
“It is common sense that if you want to reduce poverty in the subcontinent, the best way is to trade with each other,” the PM said, referring to the example of the European Union. India had crossed a “red line” by revoking the autonomy of occupied Kashmir, he said, adding that “they have to come back for us to restart dialogue.
Kashmir has been a flashpoint since India and Pakistan gained independence from British rule in 1947, and they have fought two wars over the region. India has repeatedly committed rights violations in Kashmir. In 2019, a suicide bombing of an Indian military convoy in Kashmir led to India sending warplanes to Pakistan. PM Imran Khan said he has always wanted a “civilized” and “open” relationship with India.
On the Afghanistan issue, PM Imran Khan said Pakistan would suffer the most, after Afghanistan itself, if there was a civil war and a refugee crisis. “And then there would be pressure on us to jump in and become a part of it,” he said.
He said his government had changed Pakistan’s decades-long policy of pushing for “strategic depth” in Afghanistan to ensure that there was a friendly government there.
“Any Afghan government chosen by the people is who Pakistan should deal with,” Khan said, adding that Pakistan “should not try to do any manipulation in Afghanistan”. PM Imran said a lot depended on US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, with Pakistan’s and Afghanistan’s help, to carve out a settlement to avoid more bloodshed.
“Pakistan is pushing for a political settlement in Afghanistan before foreign troops leave later this year, to reduce the risk of civil war in its western neighbor,” he said. The United States has said it will withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan on September 11 after a two-decade presence.
“There is a lot of fear right now in Pakistan and I assure you that we are trying our level best that there is some sort of political settlement before the Americans leave,” Imran Khan said.