Pakistan is ready to forge cooperative relations with India provided New Delhi gives the slightest hint it is willing to do so, a top Pakistani official has said in Beijing.
India and Pakistan cannot afford to have a tense and hostile relation, Tariq Fatemi, special assistant to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on foreign affairs, told Chinese state media during his recent visit.
Fatemi, who was in Beijing earlier this month for a three-day visit, indicated a planned meeting of the foreign secretaries of the two sides will take place soon.
China and Pakistan are “all weather partners” that are set to celebrate the 65th anniversary of establishing bilateral diplomatic ties. In an interview published in state-run Global Times on Tuesday, Fatmei said Sharif has always been eager to begin dialogue with India.
“The PM’s policies regarding India are very well known. There is nothing hidden about it. He publicly says he wants good relations with India and this has been his belief for many years,” Fatemi said.
“Every time he has come to power, he reaches out to the Indian leadership. He tries to initiate a dialogue process with India.”
Good relations, Fatemi said, are important for both countries. “Relations between Pakistan and India are essential, not for one but for both countries.”
He added: “The important thing is that if there is even the slightest hint of an interest in cooperative relations coming out of India, we are ready to respond.
“We are also hoping that very soon the meeting at the level of the foreign sectaries will also take place (and) that will mean the beginning of formal dialogue. Neither country can afford a relationship of tension and hostility.”
Fatemi described Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s unannounced visit to Lahore in December as a positive development. “It was a surprise, unofficial and informal visit by Modi. He arrived on a day that happened to be the birthday of Pakistan’s PM, so it was a very warm and friendly atmosphere.”
He also spoke about the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), saying it includes energy and infrastructure projects and the Gwadar port.
“The current total package is of about $46 billion, of which $35 billion are envisaged for energy projects, in which Chinese companies will collaborate with Pakistani companies to set up power plants, because power shortage is the biggest challenge that Pakistan is facing currently. The other $11 billion will be loans extended by Chinese financial institutions,” he said.
Besides upgrading the Gwadar deep port, China and Pakistan will build an international airport in the area. Fatemi said Pakistan is creating a special force comprising 10,000 specially trained personnel to ensure the safety and security of Chinese nationals working in the country.