Pakistan does not believe in perpetual hostility with India, says Deputy PM Dar

Islamabad, June 26 (UNI) “Pakistan does not believe in perpetual hostility” with India, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar has said, adding that Islamabad is open to dialogue.

Speaking at the 51st founding anniversary of the government-run think tank Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), Dar, who also holds the portfolio of foreign minister, said: “Pakistan does not believe in perpetual hostility. We seek good-neighbourly relations with India on the basis of mutual respect, sovereign equality, and a just and peaceful resolution of the long-standing Jammu and Kashmir dispute”, Dawn reported.

Urging a break from the debilitating cycle of conflict, Dar emphasised that India and Pakistan owe it to the people of South Asia to prioritise cooperation over discord.

With the region lagging far behind on human development indices, beset by poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, disease, food and water scarcity, natural disasters, environmental degradation, and climate change, he stressed that collective action was imperative to address these pressing challenges, rather than perpetuating a cycle of hostility.

Dar’s comments marked Pakistan’s first formal articulation of its policy towards India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s third term.

He said: “In our view, as the BJP-led NDA government starts a new term, it is time for a sober reflection on the future of India-Pakistan relations and the cross-cutting issues affecting the entire region.”

Dar warned that while Islamabad remains open to comprehensive dialogue on all outstanding issues, it will “not acquiesce to unilateral dictates or permit any attempts at hegemony by India”.

“We will also take every step needed to maintain strategic stability in South Asia and would respond effectively and decisively to any ill-considered military misadventure by the ‘Hindutva’ driven dispensation in New Delhi,” he stated.

Following India’s abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019, Pakistan had downgraded ties with India.

India has repeatedly stated that Pakistan will have to “wind down its terrorism industry” to be treated like a normal neighbour.

India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said that India has “struggled continuously with the fact that Pakistan has unrelentingly practiced terrorism, cross border terrorism”, and after the Modi government came in 2014 India has given up its earlier attitude of tolerating terrorism.

“Now the ball is in their court. If they wind down the industry (terrorism) which they have built up over many, many decades, then people will treat them like a normal neighbour. They make this their core competence, then obviously that will define their image,” Jaishankar said at an event in May.

“We’ve been very straight, that they have to make up their mind. Part of the problem is also that after 2019, the then Imran khan government took a number of steps and actually downgraded the relationship. We didn’t do it, they did it.

“So where Pakistan is concerned I think our messaging has been very clear to them,” Jaishankar has said.

On June 10, after PM Modi took over for the third consecutive term, former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while congratulating him called on both countries to “replace hate with hope and seize the opportunity to shape the destiny of the two billion people of South Asia”.

However, a number of terrorist incidents have shaken Jammu and Kashmir since June 9, claiming the lives of many innocent persons and security personnel.

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