Pakistan says ‘more than willing’ to talk to India but not without Kashmir

Islamabad, Jan 17 (EFE).- Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said he was “more than willing” to talk with arch-rival India but not without resolving the core territorial dispute over Kashmir.

In an interview with the Al Arabiya news channel telecast by Pakistan state-run TV on Tuesday, Sharif said he was ready to discuss all outstanding issues with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but “it takes two tango.”

He asked New Delhi to reverse its controversial decision of unilaterally revoking the autonomous status of Kashmir in 2019 to show the world that India was for peace between the two nuclear-power neighbors.

The Pakistan prime minister’s office elaborated that it was Islamabad’s consistent position to resolve bilateral issues, “especially the core issue of Kashmir, through dialogue and peaceful means.”

“The prime minister has repeatedly stated on record that talks can only take place after India had reversed its illegal action of August 2019,” a prime minister’s spokesperson said.

“Without India’s revocation of this step, negotiations are not possible.”

The spokesperson said the settlement of the Kashmir dispute must be per the United Nations resolutions and the aspirations of the people of the region.

Sharif told the Al Arabiya news channel that Pakistan had “learnt its lessons.”

“We had three wars with India. Three. And the consequences of those wars, as a result, had only brought miseries, unemployment, poverty,” Sharif said.

He said his country wanted to live in peace with India and “resolve our general problems.”

“My message to the Indian leadership and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is that let us sit down and have serious and sincere talks to resolve our burning issues, like Kashmir where flagrant violations of human rights are taking place day in and day out.”

Sharif alleged that India “usurped whatever semblance of autonomy” was given to the Kashmiris in the constitution of India.

“They revoked that in August 2019 and minorities there are being grossly mishandled. This must stop so that a message can go around the globe that India is ready to have talks. And we are more than ready.”

He said the United Arab Emirates (UAE) could facilitate talks between India and Pakistan.

The Pakistani prime minister noted that he had requested UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed to broker peace with India.

“He can play a very important role to bring the two countries on a table. I give my word of honor that we will be talking with Indians with a sincerity of purpose.”

India has long accused Pakistan of sponsoring terror activities in Kashmir and the rest of the country.

Islamabad has always denied the allegations, saying Kashmiris were fighting an indigenous battle for freedom and exercising their right to self-determination.

“We want to alleviate poverty, achieve prosperity and provide education, health facilities and employment to our people, and not waste our resources on bombs and ammunition, that’s the message I want to give to PM Modi,” the Pakistani prime minister said. EFE


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