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There are people in both India and Pakistan who don’t want normalisation: Pakistan Information Minister

Pakistan’s Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Pakistan is still hopeful of hosting the SAARC summit, says Pakistan’s Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, adding that the decision to begin the Kartarpur corridor is in line with PM Imran Khan’s desire for peace.

In an interview to The Hindu Mr. Chaudhury clarified that while the ordinance banning Hafiz Saeed’s organisations has lapsed, the ban against them is still operational.

Was the decision to open the Kartarpur corridor in the pipeline for some time? Given that the announcements have happened rather quickly in the past week…

Ever since PM Imran Khan took his oath of office, there has been a discussion on how to mark the 550th year anniversary of Guru Nanak. It is the Indian cabinet’s decision that was new, and happened in the past week. We were preparing for this event all along, but then we sent invitations, and made some more arrangements once we knew that India would also join the corridor initiative. In that sense Mr. Modi’s government changed their position and while they did not respond earlier, announced last week they would build the Indian side of the corridor.

 

This was mentioned at the swearing in ceremony of Mr. Khan by Army Chief General Bajwa. Why is this such a priority for the government?

The Kartarpur corridor has not just come up as an idea. Since (former) PM Vajpayee visited in 1999, then in 2008 Foeign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi visited India it was raised [by the Indian side]. The idea has now been revived. General Bajwa is a Punjabi and understands the sentiments of Punjabis for this.

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh directly attacked General Bajwa in a speech yesterday, and said it is impossible for him to visit Kartarpur until violence ends. What is your response?

I think this is more about election rhetoric, or something personal. I always maintain that there are groups in both India and Pakistan that want to keep tensions alive, and don’t want normalisation, and there are groups on both sides that want peace. It is the respective governments that have to choose who they want side with. PM Imran Khan is well known in both India and Pakistan, he has understood the sensitivities that exist, and he is speaking only of peace.

In India, the biggest sensitivity is on the issue of terror, and particularly on 26/11. Yet in October, the PTI government lifted the ban on Hafiz Saeed’s organisations that have been banned by the United Nations Security Council(UNSC) like the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jamaat-ud-Dawa.

We are bound by the UN resolution (under UNSC 1267). So there is no question of lifting the ban. There is just a misconception because of the lapse of the [anti-terror] ordinance.

But the ordinance that was to align Pakistan’s Anti terror law with the UNSC designations has lapsed. Are you saying that it is still being enforced?

This is a matter still under consideration. The law ministry’s advice is still awaited. The [JuD/LeT] organisation remains banned. And the matter is now with the law ministry. So no final decision has been taken.

How do you react to PM Modi’s comments likening Kartarpur corridor to the falling of the Berlin wall?

I think Mr Jinnah referred to the Pakistan and India border to be built like that between USA and Canada, and I think that is more appropriate. We would like a soft border where people can come and go without fear and difficulties.

Are you hopeful that Pakistan can hold the SAARC summit? Will PM Modi be extended an invitation, as some reports suggest?

You would have to ask the Foreign Office. We hope Indian political parties will not use anti-Pakistan rhetoric for their political advantage and peace will be given a chance. SAARC needs to be made useful and unless Pakistan and India normalise their bilateral relationship, SAARC will not be an effective organisation.

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 7:06:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/there-are-people-in-both-india-and-pakistan-who-dont-want-normalisation-pakistan-information-minister/article25611676.ece

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