After India cited the release of postal stamps by Pakistan “glorifying” slain Kashmiri militant commander Burhan Wani as one of the two reasons for cancelling of ministerial-level talks, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said, “hundreds of thousands of people are fighting in Kashmir, not all of them are terrorists.”
Addressing a news conference on Sunday at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, Qureshi said India’s reluctance to hold talks with Pakistan will not stop Islamabad from closing doors on its peace efforts.
“Hiding away from issues will not make them disappear. It will not improve the situation in Kashmir,” he was quoted as saying by the ‘Dawn’ newspaper.
Qureshi also alleged that Sushma Swaraj’s “language and tone was unbecoming of a foreign minister”, the report said.
“We did not use a non-diplomatic language in our rejoinder. Our response was matured and measured. They adopted a new approach, and moved back,” he said.
Asked if tensions between India and Pakistan could lead to a war between the two countries, Qureshi said “Who is talking of war? Not us. We want peace, stability, employment and improving lives. You identify where is the reluctance”.
Qureshi said that Pakistan’s desire for peace should not be mistaken for a sign of weakness.
“We want peace. It does not mean, we cannot defend ourselves against aggression. We can but we do not have an aggressive mindset,” he said.
The foreign minister also reiterated Pakistan’s offer to open the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara corridor for allowing Sikh pilgrims from India to visit the historic gurdwara on the 550th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev.
India initially agreed to a meeting between Swaraj and Qureshi, but later said it would be “meaningless” to hold talks after the “two deeply disturbing” developments.
Ties between India and Pakistan nosedived following a spate of terror attacks on Indian military bases by Pakistan-based terror groups since January 2016.
Following the strikes, India announced it will not engage in talks with Pakistan, saying terror and talks cannot go hand-in-hand.
with PTI inputs