—Says Pakistan’s overtures for peace are in interest of both countries
LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday told India that Pakistan’s quest for better relations should not be construed as a weakness because the objective behind this pursuit was to bring the people of the subcontinent out of poverty through uplifting trade.
The prime minister said this while on a daylong visit to Lahore where he addressed the government servants.
“They have some misunderstanding. When we want friendship, it means we desire to end poverty in the subcontinent,” the prime minister remarked addressing the government servants.
The premier warned that Pakistan’s overtures for peace should not be misunderstood. “This should not be construed as weakness,” he added.
PM Khan said that the people of Pakistan never succumbed to any pressure from any superpower. “If they [India] hurl any threat, the whole nation stands united to face till the end,” the prime minister warned.
He said that Pakistan’s efforts for peace are not merely in the interest of Pakistan but both the countries, adding that the arrogant attitude of the Indian leadership would bring to an end the efforts to improve the situation.
The relations between the two neighbours have been sour recently after the Indian government cancelled a meeting between the Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers, scheduled to be held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, just a day after confirming the development.
PM Khan had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing his desire for talks between the two countries and also suggested a meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries.
The events were followed by Indian army chief threatening Pakistan with surprise action by Indian security forces.
The Indian army chief had said, “We need to take stern action to avenge the barbarism that terrorists and the Pakistan Army have been carrying out. Yes, it’s time to give it back to them in the same coin, not resorting to similar kind of barbarism. But I think the other side must also feel the same pain.”
On questions of talks with Pakistan, Gen Rawat reiterated the government’s stand that “talks and terrorism cannot go together”.
“I think our government’s policy has been quite clear and concise. We’ve made no bones about the fact that talks and terrorism can’t go hand in hand. Pakistan needs to curb the menace of terrorism,” Gen Rawat added.
Responding to Indian army chief’s threats, Pakistan Army warned India that the nuclear-armed country is capable of defending its borders if a war is waged on it.
“We [Pakistan Army] are ready for war but choose to walk the path of peace in the interest of the people of Pakistan, the neighbours and the region,” Major General Asif Ghafoor, director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said in reaction to Gen Rawat’s comments.
Reacting to the “surprise action” warning of the Indian army chief, the ISPR DG said: “India should not disturb the peace process,” terming Gen Rawat’s statement “irresponsible”.
Gen Ghafoor said Pakistan has a long-standing record of fighting terrorism, adding “we know the price [that is paid] for peace”.
“We have struggled to achieve peace in the last two decades. We can never do anything to disgrace any soldier,” he asserted, strongly denying the claims made by India that hold the Pakistan Army responsible for the killing of a Border Security Force (BSF) soldier.
“They have in the past as well laid the blame on us for mutilating the body of a fallen soldier. We are a professional army. We never engage in such acts.
“As far as the issuance of postal tickets is concerned, the UN released a human rights violation report following which the then interim government issued those tickets highlighting the plight of Kashmiris.
“To turn this into an excuse that the peace process has been tainted or that Pakistan has somehow changed its stance, is inappropriate,” the ISPR chief said.
“There is a freedom struggle going on in the Indian occupied Kashmir, and Burhan Wani onwards, it is completely a political movement,” Ghafoor said, adding that the struggle for independence has become a part of the DNA of Kashmiris and this is now the third generation which is willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause.
“They [India] should come forward for a dialogue. Whenever attempts for dialogue have failed, it is because India has run away from the table.
“The government of Pakistan’s offer still stands for India to come forward and hold talks with us,” the ISPR chief said.
Moreover, Gen Ghafoor reasoned that India was resorting to such statements as it faced domestic issues, including the corruption allegations on the Modi government.