Addressing the founding day ceremony at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad, Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said, “Pakistan and India have a long history of war, conflict. Today, where we have serious disputes, the events of August 2019 cannot be taken lightly.”
Reportedly, he also made a strong pitch for re-engaging with India, saying that severing ties with New Delhi would not serve the country’s interests as Islamabad was already internationally isolated and disengaged.
“We don’t have a trading relationship with the east (India) and many will argue absolutely we should not. The environment is not as such, given these outrageous assaults on our principles it would be inappropriate for Pakistan to take such a step,” said the minister on the issue of bilateral trade with India.
He further stressed on the fact that engagement with India is the only way to influence its policy-making.
Questioning the group of experts at the institute, he asked, “Does it serve our interests or do we achieve our objectives, whatever they may be, be it Kashmir, be it the rising Islamophobia, be it the Hindutva supremacist nature of the new regime and government in India? Does it serve our objective that we have practically cut all engagement?”
The Indo-Pak ties hit a new low after the abrogation of Article 370 to revoke the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir, on August 5, 2019. Bilawal asserted that the Kashmir issue has formed a “cornerstone” of any conversation he has had after assuming the office.
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The FM said that he believed diplomatic, economic, cultural and political engagement were the only answer towards strengthening the ties between the two nations. Expressing dismay over not holding talks with the Indian government, he also stated that he does not even speak to the Indian people. “Is that the best way to communicate or achieve Pakistan’s objective?” he asked.
Blaming the Imran Khan-led government, he criticised the flawed policies because of which Pakistan “is internationally isolated and internationally disengaged”.
Referring to his mother and former Pakistan PM Benazir Bhutto, Bilawal emphasised that that was the time when Pakistan could have created the kind of economic commitment with India that might have compelled both sides not to resort to extreme measures.