New Delhi: Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday said he welcomed “third-party facilitation” to get India and Pakistan to resume talks, but the leadership of the South Asian neighbours must demonstrate political will to bring about a solution to existing disputes.
In an interview with Khaleej Times, Qureshi said: “We welcome third-party facilitation, but no matter what friends say, the initiative has to be indigenous. The political will has to be demonstrated by India and Pakistan leadership. They can be suggestive and facilitators but, ultimately, it is the people of South Asia who have to decide what kind of future they visualize for the posterity.”
Qureshi is in Abu Dhabi. Indian foreign minister S. Jaishankar also reached the United Arab Emirates on Sunday on an official visit. “Pakistan will appreciate anyone and everyone, including the UAE, playing a positive and constructive role,” Qureshi said.
Considering that both the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers are in the UAE, speculation is rife that the two could meet to improve ties.
Analysts in India were cautious in their interpretation of Qureshi’s comments, considering that Pakistan has always sought third-party intervention to sort out the Kashmir dispute. India has insisted that the dispute over the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has to be sorted out bilaterally.
Analysts also stopped short of calling the UAE’s actions as “mediation” rather than describing it as providing India and Pakistan with a platform for the two sides to hold talks.
Recent news reports suggested that the UAE was playing a role in bringing the two sides to hold talks. Last week, Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE’s ambassador to US, confirmed that it had played a role “in bringing Kashmir escalation down and created a ceasefire, hopefully leading to restoring diplomats and getting relationship back to a healthy level”.
He was referring to a decision by India and Pakistan to adhere to a 2003 ceasefire in February. The announcement was followed by statements by Pakistan’s prime minister and its army chief seeking a new chapter in bilateral relations.
However, within a day, Islamabad withdrew an announcement on a potential resumption of trade, following criticism that it was giving in too soon without any corresponding move by New Delhi.
Pakistan has demanded the restoration of special status to Kashmir, which was withdrawn by Indian parliament in 2019.
During the interview, Qureshi said the UAE “recognizes that Indians and Pakistanis have contributed to the development of the UAE and it has good relations with both (countries). We are happy with the role it can play”.
However, he said he was in the UAE for a bilateral visit. “My agenda is UAE-Pakistan, not India-Pakistan.” He said a meeting with the Indian foreign minister, who also travelled to the UAE on Sunday, hasn’t been planned. “I don’t think a meeting is set out with the Indian foreign minister.”