Pakistan wants to normalise ties with India, but New Delhi has “signaled” it is interested in talking about terrorism which does not bode well for the prospects of dialogue between the neighbours, Islamabad’s envoy to the UN has said.
Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN, made the remarks a day before foreign secretaries of India and Paksitan met in New Delhi recently on the sidelines of the ‘Heart of Asia’ regional conference.
“While Islamabad has repeatedly urged Delhi to resume the broad based, comprehensive peace process, India has yet to agree and has instead signalled it is only interested in talking about terrorism,” she said. This does not make the prospects of diplomatic progress too bright.
India used its first high-level contact with Pakistan since the January 2 attack on Pathankot airbase to send out a clear message on Tuesday.
During talks with Pakistani counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry Chaudhry, S Jaishankar sought “early and visible progress” in Pakistan’s probe into the Pathankot attack that killed seven securitymen and the trial of the alleged perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks.
Lodhi addressed students and faculty at the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge on Monday as part of an event marking ‘South Asia Week’ being held at the institute.
Lodhi said Pakistan’s priorities included economic revival, defeating terrorism and elimination of violent extremism in and around Pakistan, according to a press.
Another priority for Pakistan is building regional peace and stability, which required an end to the conflict in Afghanistan, and normalisation of Pakistan-India relations on an equitable and durable basis, she said.
On China, Lodhi said the country is a “cornerstone” of Pakistan’s foreign policy and Islamabad’s relationship with Beijing is “strategic, historic, trouble free and pivotal to the country’s foreign policy”.
Lodhi said the strategic evolution of the Pakistan-China relationship has accorded the bilateral partnership added significance at a time of a “fundamental change in the global balance of power brought about by China’s rise as a global economic powerhouse.”
In recent years, she said bilateral ties with China have broadened and diversified from the traditional focus on defence and military cooperation toward a greater economic and investment orientation.
On how Pakistan will balance its relations with China as well as with the US, she said “to those who ascribe a zero-sum nature to Pakistan’s relations with China and America, a recall of history would help to invalidate this flawed notion”, according to the release.
Citing Pakistan’s “good relations” with the US and China from the time of the Cold War, she said “Pakistan intends to play the same role in the future and maintain good relations with both even as the two engage in global competition”.