Asserting that there was a need to review the narrative about Pakistan in India, Pakistan’s outgoing High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood on Sunday said the Imran Khan-led government was hoping for a “re-engagement” with New Delhi after the Lok Sabha elections.
“We hope for re-engagement after the elections in India. Diplomacy and dialogue are indispensable,” Mahmood, who has been appointed as Pakistan’s next Foreign Secretary, said in an interview with PTI.
At a time when ties between the two countries are at an all-time low, Mahmood said dialogue between India and Pakistan was the only option to understand mutual concerns and ensure peace, prosperity and security in the region.
“Sustained engagement and structured dialogue would enable the two countries to understand mutual concerns and differences, resolve outstanding disputes and build the edifice of durable peace, security and prosperity in the region,” Mahmood said.
Tensions escalated sharply after India conducted airstrikes against a Jaish-e-Mohammad camp on February 26 in Balakot, days after the February 14 terrorist attack on CRPF personnel in Pulwama.
On February 27, Pakistani jets entered Indian airspace to carry out retaliatory action and targetted military installations. While the situation has eased considerably over the last few weeks.
“A narrative is needed that captures the reality in Pakistan objectively and more fully. A narrative that also helps recognise opportunities for peaceful, cooperative and good neighbourly relations,” Mahmood said.
Last week, Imran Khan said there might be a better chance of peace talks with India and “some kind of settlement in Kashmir” if the BJP won the Lok Sabha elections, much to the chagrin of the Opposition.
On the Kartarpur corridor project, which will link the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan with Gurdaspur district in Punjab, the Pakistani High Commissioner said Islamabad was committed to completing the physical infrastructure on its side.
“The government of Pakistan is proceeding in full measures to complete the physical infrastructure on its side and it is hopeful that the modalities will be mutually agreed between the two sides in good time before November 2019,” he said.
After India and Pakistan last month held a meeting of technical experts on the Kartarpur corridor, Islamabad constituted a 10-member Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) to facilitate movement Sikh pilgrims. However, India has voiced concerns over the presence of several Khalistani separatists in the committee.