• Saturday, April 20, 2024


Pakistan defence minister hopeful about better ties with India after upcoming elections

The diplomat, who took office last month, made the remarks days after Indian external affairs minister Subrahmanyan Jaishankar said in Singapore that Islamabad is sponsoring terrorism almost at an ‘industry level’.

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By: Shubham Ghosh

PAKISTANI defence minister Khawaja Asif has said that ties with neighbour India could become better after the conclusion of the general elections kicking off on April 19.

The diplomat, who took office last month after a new government took charge in Pakistan under the premiership of Shehbaz Sharif, made the remarks days after Indian external affairs minister Subrahmanyan Jaishankar said in Singapore that Islamabad is sponsoring terrorism almost at an “industry level” and the mood prevalent in India now is not to overlook terrorists and it “will not skirt this problem anymore”.

“Our relations with India could be improved after elections there,” Asif said while speaking to reporters outside the Parliament House in Islamabad on Monday (1), adding that the bilateral ties between the two countries have their “own background”.

Read: Pakistani sailors chant ‘Long Live India’ after rescue by neighbour’s navy from pirates; WATCH

Asif’s remarks also come days after his country’s foreign minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar said last month that Islamabad is contemplating the revival of trade relations with India, which have been inactive since August 2019.

Voting for 543 seats in India’s Lok Sabha or Lower House in the parliament will take place in seven phases till June 1, and the results will be announced on June 4.

Islamabad and New Delhi have a long history of strained relations, primarily due to the Kashmir issue as well as the cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

In 2019, Pakistan downgraded its diplomatic ties with New Delhi after the Indian government abrogated Article 370 of the country’s Constitution, revoking the special status of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcating it into two Union Territories (UTs), ruled directly from New Delhi.

Read: Pakistan mulling revival of India trade ties, says its foreign minister Dar

The decision, Islamabad said, undermined the environment for holding talks between the neighbours.

Pakistan has been insisting that the onus of improving the ties was on India and urging it to undo its “unilateral” steps in Kashmir as a sort of pre-condition to start the talks.

India has dismissed the suggestion and made it clear to Pakistan that the entire UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh were integral and inalienable parts of the country.

New Delhi has also asserted that the constitutional measures taken by the Indian government to ensure socio-economic development and good governance in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir are matters internal to India.

It has been maintaining that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan while insisting that the onus is on Islamabad to create an environment that is free of terror and hostility for such an engagement.

Pakistan, which borders China, India, Afghanistan, and Iran has witnessed tensions with other neighbours of late, except for China, following cross-border attacks from Iran and Afghanistan.

(With PTI inputs)

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