ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said that the Kashmir dispute could only be resolved through dialogue, but meaningful engagement with the current government in India was not possible because of its religious nationalism.
Speaking at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad’s (ISSI) ‘Islamabad Conclave-2021’, PM Khan recalled that South Asia had been held back by political differences and conflicts and listed the Kashmir dispute as the “biggest problem” holding the region back.
He said progress in relations between Pakistan and India had been halted because his government had to deal with RSS’s extremist ideology currently dominating Delhi. “Meaningful negotiations with India are impossible as long as the government there is inspired by this ideology,” he said, hoping that one day India could have a rational government with which resolution of disputes could be sought through logical and sane discussions.
The prime minister expected that once the two arch-rivals resolved the core dispute of Kashmir they could then go ahead to jointly fight emerging threats like climate change. He regretted that all of his government’s peace overtures to India had so far been seen in Delhi as its sign of weakness.
Fears US-China confrontation moving ‘towards new Cold War’
PM Khan said he firmly believed that those seeking to resolve disputes through war were mistaken. “They are either unaware of history or they are too proud of their weapons,” he said, adding that they certainly had no consideration for humanity. This, he warned, led to grave miscalculations.
He underscored the need for resolving disputes till the last moment through dialogue.
The prime minister also touched upon the aggravating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and the growing US-China rivalry. He feared that the US-China confrontation was moving “towards a new Cold War” and foresaw the formation of blocs. “Pakistan should try its best to stop the formation of these blocs because we should not become a part of any bloc,” he maintained.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also highlighted this concern in his remarks. “There is accelerated competition between major powers and a drift towards confrontation. This can lead to new rivalries and push the world again into ‘bloc’ politics. A new Cold War seems to be taking shape,” he observed.
He said Pakistan’s primary interest was in seeking a peaceful and stable international order that takes everyone on board. “Pakistan will remain committed to peaceful coexistence, cooperative multilateralism, and consensus-driven outcomes,” he added.
ISSI Director-General Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, in his introductory remarks, outlined the objectives of ‘Islamabad Conclave’, especially saying it is for narrative building, global engagement and bridging gaps.