Pakistan on Friday said that the release of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman and bilateral meetings on Kartarpur Corridor recently “are steps in a positive direction” and hoped that the “long winter” in bilateral relations would come to an early end. It said that a key take-away from recent developments was that a lack of engagement creates “dangerous vacuum and serious risks” for Indo-Pak ties.
Pakistan High Commissioner to India Sohail Mahmood, in his remarks at a reception in New Delhi on the eve of Pakistan’s National Day, said that the release of the Indian Air Force pilot, return of the two High Commissioners to their respective Missions, and developments on Kartarpur Corridor were steps towards a positive direction.
He said that coercive measures have not worked in the past and will not work in the future, reports PTI. He added that diplomacy and dialogue remain indispensable for enhancing mutual understanding, addressing mutual concerns, and resolving long-standing disputes including Jammu and Kashmir.
The Pakistani envoy also claimed that in the fight against the scourge of terrorism, his country has “turned a corner”. “There is a real transformation underway in Pakistan,” he claimed. His remarks come amid Pakistan facing intense pressure from the global community to act against the terror sanctuaries operating from its soil.
The envoy further said that a relationship based on sovereign equality, mutual respect and mutual interest is the best guarantee for a peaceful and prosperous future. “We do hope the long winter in India-Pakistan relations would come to an early end,” he said.
“The founding fathers of Pakistan and India had envisaged amicable relations between the two countries. However, the relationship has remained challenged, for most part of our history as free nations. In particular, the two countries passed through a very difficult time recently,” he said.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to release Wing Commander Abhinandan, return of the two High Commissioners to their respective Missions, and bilateral meetings to develop modalities for the operationalisation of the Kartarpur Corridor are steps in a positive direction,” Mahmood said.
There was an escalation in tensions between the two countries after Indian Air Force fighter jets bombed terror group JeM training camp near Balakot deep inside Pakistan on February 26, in the wake of Pulwama terror attack that claimed the lives of 40 CRPF soldiers. Pakistan retaliated by attempting to target Indian military installations the next day. However, the IAF thwarted their plans.
JeM had claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama, following which the IAF had bombed targets in Pakistan’s Balakot.