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Pakistan accused India of imperilling South Asia peace: FO

17 March, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has accused India of imperilling South Asia’s peace and security and once again urged New Delhi to recognise the importance of bilateral dialogue between the two countries for the region. “Pakistan has shown a number of gestures which were not reciprocated by India. We hope that India will soon realise that dialogue is a key to peace and stability in the region, as well as peace between our two countries, particularly in the context of the issue of Jammu and Kashmir,” Foreign Office Spokesman Nafees Zakaria said at the weekly media briefing on Thursday.

He was responding to a question about the prospects of resumption of bilateral dialogue after ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) latest electoral victories. It was earlier speculated by Pakistani officials that New Delhi after the latest round of state elections in India might move to lessen tensions with Pakis­tan and resume dialogue.

Many are still hoping of progress in coming days even though Mr Zakaria’s critical comments about the situation in India-held Kashmir and situation of minorities in India did not suggest any impending détente.

He hit out at the BJP government for using “Pakistan card” in their domestic politics, saying it was “unfortunate and regrettable”.

The spokesman said Pakistan wanted resolution of all outstanding issues with India, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute through a “sustainable and result-oriented dialogue” which does not “disrupt or breakdown on flimsy grounds”.

Mr Zakaria said India’s belligerent posture, irrational defence build-up — being the largest importer of defence equipment in the region — and its hegemonic designs were endangering peace and security in the region and beyond. “India has to learn to live in peace with all its neighbours, including Pakistan. It is only through peace and dialogue that we can lift millions of our people from the throes of poverty,” he added.

In reply to a question about Indian tests of extended range BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, he said it underscored the importance of a bilateral engagement for introducing more confidence-building measure, avoidance of arms race and promotion of strategic stability in the region.

“Pakistan stands ready for such talks with India. Our proposal for a Strategic Restraint Regime for South Asia is still on the table,” he said, alluding to Pakistani willingness to expand the agreement on pre-notification of ballistic missile tests to include cruise missiles.

Mr Zakaria recalled Centcom Commander Gen Joseph Votel’s Congres­sional testimony in which he flagged Indian efforts to diplomatically isolate Paksitan as an irritant in improving relations and said these were “significant observations coming from a senior US commander”.

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