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Shah Mahmood Qureshi called for settling down Pak-India disputes

11 April, 2019

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Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday underscored the urgency of settling Pak-India disputes, particularly Kashmir, through dialogue and reminded the international community of the need to play a positive and responsible role in the precarious South Asian security environment.

Speaking at the inaugural session of a conference titled ‘Strategic Stability in South Asia: Emerging Challenges’, organised by the Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS), the foreign minister noted the impact of the policies of major international players on the regional environment and called for recognizing the need for objective and even-handed approach which is not tainted by considerations of geo-political dominance and defining new regional security paradigms.

Qureshi asked the international community to desist from aggravating the already fragile situation in South Asia through arms supplies and designation of states as ‘net security providers’ for the attainment of their geo-political interests. He specifically pointed out that massive acquisition of conventional arms, adoption of offensive doctrines, expansion of strategic assets inventory, introduction of anti-ballistic missile systems like S-400, Nuclear Supplier Group’s exemption and recent anti-satellite test were affecting the regional stability.

“The recent belligerence displayed against Pakistan and the assumption that Pakistan can be subject to punitive strikes at will is a clear manifestation of threats to stability in the region,” Qureshi said, and added that stability in South Asia can only be guaranteed through resolution of conflicts. “Kashmir, the longstanding dispute, is at the heart of every crisis between Pakistan and India, including the latest stand-off,” he maintained.

The foreign minister said Pakistan has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to peaceful and normal relations with India. The inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor, he said, is a manifestation of Pakistan’s desire for better ties with its eastern neighbour. Talking about Indian action of postponing the April 2 round of negotiations on Kartarpur Corridor, he said Indians need to understand that the way forward lies in dialogue and not in its suspension. Qureshi, however, cautioned that while Pakistan is desirous of peace, it is equally determined to frustrate any attempt to create a so-called ‘new normal’.

Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari said India engaged in dangerous brinksmanship after Pulwama because of Pakistan’s defensive response to aggressive Indian actions in the past, including the LoC violations. Pakistan’s firm response to Indian aggression alongside de-escalatory moves, she contended, conveyed to India that if compelled, Pakistan can prevail at any level of the conflict.

Mazari proposed seven steps for establishing strategic stability, including: pre-crisis management mechanism possibly through raising the level of military hotlines; strategic dialogue on reduction in missile deployments; improving the advance missile test notification system; expanding the lists of nuclear installations exchanged annually; freezing deployment of S-400 ABM systems; conventional force reduction including the offensive weapon system; and establishing a strategic dialogue structure.

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