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Peace in South Asia linked with resolution of Kashmir dispute: FM Qureshi

The foreign minister was addressing a seminar at National Defence University. Source: APP.

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday said the sustainable peace in South Asia was contingent upon the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

Addressing a seminar at National Defence University, the foreign minister said the onus remains on India to create a conducive environment for meaningful and result-oriented engagement with Pakistan. The foreign minister’s lecture was attended by the civil and military officers of the country besides the course participants from several friendly countries.

Qureshi said following India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5th August 2019 under Prime Minister Imran Khan’s instructions, the government took up the Kashmir cause worldwide with renewed vigour and determination, and highlighted the dire humanitarian and human rights situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir.

He mentioned that the government also exposed the threat posed to international peace and security by Indian belligerence at all available forums. Despite provocations from India, he said, Pakistan opened up the Kartarpur Corridor in November 2019 giving Sikhs from India and all over the world visa-free access to one of their holiest sites.

“Our gesture is a manifestation of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision for the region and for Pakistan-India relations, which consists of peaceful co-existence, inter-faith harmony, and peaceful resolution of disputes,” he said.

The foreign minister said Pakistan lies at the crossroads of South Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, and China. Better connectivity is therefore essential to promoting the country’s economic interests and reinvigorating our cultural and historical ties.

Terming China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a flagship undertaking in regard to connectivity, he said Pakistan sees this framework as a game-changer not only for itself but for the region as well.

He said Gwadar Port was one of the vital components of the CPEC framework, including being the world’s only natural deep-sea port, linking the BRI and the Silk Road projects, and being the shortest route to Central Asia and Afghanistan.

“We see Gwadar as the harbinger of immense possibilities for regional cooperation and common economic benefits,” he said, adding Pakistan was open to third countries investing in the Special Economic Zones being developed along CPEC.

This would bring to fruition our vision of regional connectivity and common development, he added. Qureshi said Pakistan’s foreign policy must respond adequately to these shifting trends.

“Keeping our interests supreme, we must navigate through this external environment to ensure that Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence are secured and its development agenda is advanced,” he said. “We have tried to reinvigorate existing partnerships and establish new ones on the premise of mutuality of interest, transparency and respect for sovereignty,” he said.

On Afghanistan, he said Pakistan believes that the biggest opportunity right now was the convergence of the international community on the need for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Speaking of spoilers in the region, he said that the greatest threat to our region and global security emanates from the Hindutva ideology that drives Indian officialdom.

He said Pakistan was pursuing a proactive foreign policy sensitive to national aspirations and global dynamics. “We have the resilience and experience to deal with the challenges posed by the unpredictable and rapidly changing international scenario,” he said.