Pakistan: Kashmir Front and Center in Any Future Talks with India

Pakistan: Kashmir Front and Center in Any Future Talks with India

The Pakistan Foreign Office has played down PM Narendra Modi’s greeting message to Pakistan’s new PM Shehbaz Sharif while reiterating that Kashmir will be the priority if and when talks resume between the two sides. The Foreign Office also said it welcomed mediation by friendly countries between India and Pakistan but would respond appropriately when such a proposal is made formally.

It also commented adversely on PM Modi’s visit to Srinagar after several years by stating that it seemed to be part of India’s efforts to portray normalcy in J&K.

“We believe that these efforts to project normalcy are a facade and tourism cannot be promoted in a situation where local people are being intimidated and their rights and freedoms are being denied,” said Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Zahra Baloch at the weekly media briefing in Islamabad.

On the greeting message from PM Modi, Baloch said, “It is one of the several messages of felicitations that we have received, or the PM of Pakistan has received, since his assumption in office and his election as the PM.”

Baloch said it was not possible to comment further because Cabinet formation was yet to take place. “Once the Cabinet is in place, we will have a direction with regard to the foreign policy and Pakistan’s relations with other countries, including its neighbours. We would then be in a better position to respond to queries on how this will impact Pakistan’s interaction with India in coming days,’’ she added.

“We have always said Pakistan would like to have good relations with all its neighbours, including India. However, these relations must be based on respect and equality. It is also important that issues of concern to Pakistan, including the support for terrorism, and extrajudicial and extraterritorial killings by India in Pakistan. Kashmir will always be a priority when such engagement takes place,” she said.

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