India desires “normal neighbourly relation” with Pakistan in an atmosphere that is free of violence, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stated on Thursday. Responding to a question on Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s offer of holding “serious” dialogue with India on the Kashmir issue, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India’s position on talks with Pakistan has not changed.
“We have seen the comment by the (Pakistan) Prime Minister. We have also seen, after that, the Prime Minister’s Office made certain remarks. We reiterate our position that we always desire normal neighbourly relation with Pakistan but there should be a conducive atmosphere which should not include terror, hostility or violence,” said Mr. Bagchi.
Pakistan PM Sharif in an interview with Dubai-based Al-Arabiya news channel earlier this week offered “serious and sincere talks on the burning points like Kashmir”.
“My message to the Indian leadership and Prime Minister Modi is that let’s sit down at the table and have serious and sincere talks to resolve our burning points like Kashmir. It is up to us to live peacefully and make progress or quarrel with each other and waste time and resources,” Mr. Sharif said. Mr. Bagchi in response pointed out that the Pakistan PM’s remarks were followed by several other comments indicating that there was a lack of clarity about what PM Sharif wanted to convey.
Later, Pakistan's Prime Minister's Office said that negotiations were not possible without India revoking its 2019 actions on Kashmir.
The ties between India and Pakistan came under severe strain after India’s warplanes pounded a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp in Balakot in Pakistan in February 2019 in response to the Pulwama terror attack.
The relations further deteriorated after India in August 2019 announced withdrawing special powers of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the state into two union territories.