Pakistan will invite India for a dialogue on the Kashmir issue as New Delhi’s policy of not engaging in talks is not conducive to peace in the region, the country’s foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz said on Friday.
Briefing reporters about an envoys conference held in Islamabad during August 1-3 to discuss Pakistan’s major foreign policy challenges, Aziz also said Pakistan is ready to sign an agreement with India on a bilateral moratorium on nuclear tests.
Aziz’s remarks came two days after India’s home minister Rajnath Singh told Parliament that India is willing to discuss only Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) with Pakistan, and the question of discussing Jammu and Kashmir does not arise.
On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told an all parties meeting in New Delhi that Pakistan would have to answer to the world community for “atrocities” being committed in PoK and Balochistan.
Aziz, the adviser on foreign affairs to the prime minister, said the envoys conference discussed several diplomatic initiatives and decided Pakistan should invite India for a dialogue on the Kashmir issue. “Our foreign secretary would formally be writing to his counterpart in this regard,” he said.
“As for India, the envoys conference noted that India’s policy of not engaging in a comprehensive dialogue with Pakistan was not conducive for peace in South Asia,” he added.
The conference, he said, spent considerable time discussing the “grim situation” in Jammu and Kashmir. It also decided that Pakistan should continue to extend full diplomatic, political and moral support to Kashmiris for their right to self-determination.
Referring to Pakistan’s proposal for a bilateral moratorium on nuclear tests, Aziz said: “We have declared a unilateral moratorium on further testing. Pakistan is prepared to consider translating its unilateral moratorium into a bilateral arrangement on non-testing with India.”
The envoys conference noted Pakistan had consistently supported the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and voted for it when it was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1996.
The conference also held detailed discussions on regional nuclear stability and Pakistan’s application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and issue, Aziz said.
“While Pakistan’s formal application for NSG membership was submitted on May 19, 2016, we had been preparing for it for quite some time. Our efforts to upgrade our export controls, nuclear safety and security long pre-date our application,” he added.
Pakistan’s candidacy is based on a desire to strengthen global non-proliferation regimes, the need for strategic stability and a level playing field in South Asia, priority for socio-economic development and technological advancement, and the capability to supply items on NSG lists Part 1 and 2.
“Our strong lobbying efforts have yielded positive results. Our arguments for criteria-based approach, and the impact of any India-specific exemption on strategic stability in South Asia and on the future of non-proliferation regime have been accepted by several NSG countries,” Aziz said.
Pakistan is confident of the merits of its application as its export controls are harmonised with those of the NSG, Missile Technology Control Regime and Australia Group, he said.