Pakistan

Prime Minister Khan, Foreign Minister Qureshi call for peace and engagement with India

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Newly Appointed Foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi speaking at the Foreign Office / Image Source: AFP

Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan and newly appointed Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi have called for peace and active engagement with India.

 

In his tweet this afternoon, PM Khan thanked Novjot Singh Sidhu, the former Indian cricketer and Khan’s friend, for attending his oath taking ceremony. Khan further said that Sidhu came to Pakistan as ‘an ambassador of peace’, and those targeting him in India are doing a great disservice to peace in the subcontinent.

On the other hand, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, while talking to media yesterday, elaborated his government’s priority towards peace and engagement in the region, especially with India and Afghanistan. He further said that the country’s foreign policy will be made in the Foreign Office, in consultation with all stakeholder institutions.

While giving his first press talk on Monday, Qureshi also outlined that Pakistan’s new foreign policy under PM Imran Khan would revolve around the principle of ‘Pakistan First’.

He further said that the foreign policy, under him, would “begin and end at Pakistan”, implying that national interest would reign supreme, and that Pakistan would aim for relations on the basis of equality and mutual respect. Qureshi also insisted that some foreign ‘forces’ had made all efforts to force Pakistan into isolation on the global arena.

While discussing the previous government’s lack of focus and not appoint a full-time foreign minister, Qureshi said, “The chief diplomat, the foreign minister, the face of the country, wasn’t appointed for four and a half years. I would give priority to national consensus with a bipartisan approach.” Qureshi also intended to get in touch with former foreign ministers and diplomats to see their advice and input towards putting the foreign policy in the right direction.

Qureshi also maintained that only dialogue with India was the only way forward for both the nuclear armed neighbours.  “My second message is for India, we are (an) atomic power. We are aware of our issues. In my opinion, we have no solution other than dialogue. There is no other immediate solution. We have to accept realities. Kashmir is an issue, it is a reality. Both countries have acknowledged this. Unfortunately, former Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee is no more, but we need to hold uninterrupted dialogue,” said Qureshi.

On China, Qureshi said, “The Chinese ambassador has been in touch with me. There has been stress on infrastructure, I would like to discuss the next phase and how to enter into the socioeconomic phase.”

Qureshi also vowed to actively engage with Afghanistan. “I want to bring a solid message to the people of Afghanistan. The two countries share a future and geography, and we have to work together and begin our long journey. I want to tell the people of Afghanistan we need to become each other’s support base. And we have the capability to become a good support mechanism for each other. I have heard that we have a bilateral agreement in place which has five tracks and we want to move forward with those,” Qureshi announced.

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