Pakistan to welcome 3rd-party facilitation by Saudi Arabia, other countries on talks with India: FM



ISLAMABAD, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday said Pakistan would welcome the third-party facilitation by Saudi Arabia or any other country for resumption of talks with India.


“Pakistan is ready for third-party facilitation. It is India that has always shied away from it,” the foreign minister said in a press conference held here at Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Qureshi said Saudi Arabia was the friend of Pakistan and also had business ties with India, which was a big importer of Saudi oil.


“If Saudi Arabia wants to play a role (in facilitating talks), we will welcome,” he said.


He recalled that the ceasefire agreement between Pakistan and India was welcomed by the world including Saudi Arabia.


The foreign minister confirmed that there were “no formal talks” at the moment with India, however said if India wanted it to make it happen, it “must take the first step forward”.


“If India wants a meaningful dialogue with Pakistan, it has to review its policy on Kashmir and undo the revocation of their special status,” he said.


He called upon India to give relief to the Kashmiri people, who were suffering the 19-month-long military siege and the search and cordon operations, and thus “pave way for a conducive environment for talks”.


To a question regarding his recent statement on Article-370 of the India constitution, he said Pakistan was firm on its stance that “Kashmir is not an internal matter of India”.


“Pakistan has not taken any U-turn and will never do so. The dispute, which is at the agenda of United Nations Security Council with several resolutions on it, cannot be an internal matter of India,” he categorically said.


“Pakistan has not taken any U-turn and will never do so. The dispute, which is at the agenda of United Nations Security Council with several resolutions on it, cannot be an internal matter of India,” he categorically said.


“There is no ambiguity and Pakistan will continue highlighting the plight of Kashmiris at all international for a,” he added.


By revoking Article 35-A, he said, India was distorting the demography of the Valley and denying the Kashmiris their identity.


On Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, he said it led to development of a “positive understanding” at both sides that promoting their mutual relationship was need of the hour.


He said besides agreement on investments, bilateral trade and creation of job opportunities, the extraordinary development was putting in place for the first time an institutionalized mechanism with three pillars – security, economic and cultural and soft image, and chalking out  who would be leading the respective areas.


“This Saudi visit was different in a sense that it defeated the designs of the elements that were trying to create a wedge between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Now, it is a win-win cooperation,” he said.


Qureshi said under the Vision 2030 of Crown Prince, around 10 million workforce was required in next few years and the leadership wanted to allocate a big chuck for Pakistanis.


“In addition to blue-collar jobs, we have to prepare our workforce for the white-collar jobs through their capacity-building at professional sides,” he said.


He said the $500 million Saudi fund would help Pakistan meet its energy needs through development of hydropower projects.


Qureshi said Saudi Arab had a special place in Muslim community which looked towards it for a leadership role, saying that Pakistan welcomed initiation of talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran to ease tension.


Asked if the Saudi assistance to Pakistan would lead to favours in return, he said, “Pakistan is not paying a price. It knows its own interests”.

“Diplomacy is not an instant job, but one has to chip and work on the matters through persistent efforts. Pakistan will protect its interests in any case,” he added.


Foreign Minister Qureshi said Pakistan stands with Afghanistan in its efforts for peace, prosperity, reconciliation and categorically stated that it did not side with any particular stakeholder.


“We will remain be partners in peace with Afghanistan and will continue to play our role as a facilitator,” he said, a political solution through negotiations was in the interest of Afghanistan.

He welcomed the recent ceasefire between the Taliban and Afghan government, saying that the positive development would enable a conducive environment towards negotiations.

Qureshi dismissed that Pakistan would allow any military bases on its soil in the wake of withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

“We will not allow boots on ground or allow military bases,” he said.


He assured the Afghan government and people that Pakistan wanted a strong and stable Afghanistan and “will not interfere in their internal matters”.

On situation of Palestine, the foreign minister strongly condemned the Israeli attacks on innocent worshippers at Al Aqsa mosque and called upon the international community to get mobilized to diffuse the conflict.

Regarding the prime minister’s recent criticism on foreign missions, he said the purpose was to bring improvement and avoid negligence aimed at facilitating the overseas Pakistanis. However, he pointed that it was unnecessary to make public an in-house meeting as several officials, though worked at the embassies were reporting to their own ministries and not Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The foreign minister vowed to “never let down the morale of diplomats”, adding that a task force headed by Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood had been established and input asked from the missions abroad.

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