Pakistan softens stance after Modi’s speech

In a softening of positions, Pakistan welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for dialogue in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday, accepting that talks with the Hurriyat were not “necessary” before dialogue with India. India said it was “committed to all bilateral interactions with Pakistan.”

The turnaround, coming 24 hours after Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s tough language over Kashmir at the same venue, seemed to have arisen from Mr. Modi’s speech. Contrary to expectations, Mr. Modi did not retort to Mr. Sharif’s words directly, but called for a bilateral dialogue “without the shadow of terrorism.”

In particular, Mr. Modi’s words on Kashmir, saying the first priority was to deal with flood relief, evoked a softer position and a major turnaround from Pakistan. Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Sharif’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz said he hoped India would revive the dialogue between Foreign Secretaries before the SAARC Summit in Kathmandu in November.

Asked if the Pakistan High Commissioner would meet the Hurriyat leadership before these talks if they were in fact rescheduled, Mr. Aziz said: “Not necessarily, no; I think the timing is always different. Our right to meet different representatives of the Kashmiri people is always there; so we do consult them, but that doesn’t mean that it has to take place this particular time.”

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin made it clear that India was ready for bilateral dialogue, as long as it was a “bilateral” process and did not involve “third parties.” India was committed to discussing all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, with Pakistan.

“I think we made it very clear that India stands committed to all bilateral interactions with Pakistan in accordance with the Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration,” he said.

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2021 10:24:53 AM |

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