Kashmir Issue Is a reality, Both Nations Need Continued, Uninterrupted Dialogue: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister

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Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (Photo – Dunya News)

ISLAMABAD, (IANS) — Pakistan’s new Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday said that there was a need of “continued and uninterrupted” dialogue with India, which was the only way forward for the two neighbours to resolve outstanding issues.

Qureshi, the ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Vice Chairman, was sworn-in earlier in the day along with 15 other members from the newly-elected Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s 21-strong cabinet, Dawn news.

In his maiden speech as Foreign Minister, Qureshi said: “I want to tell the Indian Foreign Minister that we are not just neighbours; we are atomic powers. We have a lot of common resources.

“Us coming to the table and talking peace is our only option. We need to stop the adventurism and come together. We know the issues are tough and will not be solved overnight, but we have to engage,” he said.

“We cannot turn our cheek. Yes we have outstanding issues. Kashmir is a reality; it is an issue that both our nations acknowledge… We need a continued and uninterrupted dialogue. This is our only way forward,” the minister added.

Quereshi said the two countries may have a different approach and line of thinking, but he wants to “see a change” in how we behave.

“India and Pakistan have to move forward keeping realities before them,” he asserted, adding that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has written a letter to Khan, in which he has indicated the beginning of talks between the two countries.

Qureshi, emphasising the importance of fostering better relations with neighbouring countries, said: “I will try to bridge the trust deficit between Pakistan and other regional countries,” the Dawn report said.

He also said that Pakistan’s interest lies at the very centre of foreign policy.

“Wherever we need to fix our foreign policy we will fix it,” the Minister said.

Qureshi also announced his plans of a visit to Kabul, saying: “The two countries share a future and geography, and we have to work together and begin our long journey.”

When questioned about the party’s stance on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Minister said that PTI “supports CPEC”.

Qureshi had previously served as Foreign Minister during between 2008-13 under then President Asif Zardari and former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

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