Pakistan on Sunday said it would not stop promoting peace in the region despite India’s reluctance, reported Dawn. “India is reluctant, we will not close our doors,” the newspaper quoted Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi as saying. “Hiding away from issues will not make them disappear. It will not improve the situation in Kashmir.”
Qureshi, who was speaking at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington in the United States, claimed India had cited incidents that occurred in July to reject Pakistan’s request for peace talks.
Last week, India called off a meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Qureshi that was to be held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. The Ministry of External Affairs cited the killing of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir as well as the release of postal stamps “glorifying” Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani, who was killed in 2016, for cancelling the meeting. The stamps were released in July before Imran Khan became prime minister.
Rejecting India’s concerns about the stamps, Qureshi said: “Hundreds of thousands of people are fighting in Kashmir, not all of them are terrorists.”
Qureshi said he was unable to comprehend India’s refusal to participate in peace talks. “Engagement, no-engagement. Coming, not coming,” he added. “We desired talks as we believe the sensible way is to meet and talk. They agreed, and then disagreed.”
Pakistan’s desire for peace should not be construed as a sign of weakness, the minister pointed out. “We want peace,” he said. “It does not mean we cannot defend ourselves against aggression.”
Swaraj’s “language and tone was unbecoming of a foreign minister”, Qureshi said. “Our response was matured and measured,” he said. “They adopted a new approach, and moved back.”
Dismissing the possibility of a war, the minister said: “Who is talking of war? Not us. We want peace, stability, employment and improving lives.”
After India called off the meeting, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was disappointed by India’s “arrogant and negative response” to his call for resumption of peace talks. Qureshi had earlier called India’s decision unfortunate and blamed “internal pressure” in the country for the decision.