Pakistan’s Foreign Office has said that doors for diplomacy on outstanding issues with India remain open, but the environment for “a fruitful and constructive dialogue” is not there, according to a media report on Friday.The remarks by Foreign Office spokesman Asim Iftikhar came in response to questions on ties with India during a weekly briefing on Thursday.
“In diplomacy, you never shut the doors,” the Dawn newspaper quoted Iftikhar as saying. India has repeatedly told Pakisan that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Islamabad in an environment free of terror, hostility, and violence. India has said the onus is on Pakistan to create an environment free of terror and hostility.
Iftikhar said that there was a national consensus on this issue and successive governments had pursued the same policy of seeking peaceful settlement of disputes with India.The FO spokesman said that notwithstanding Pakistan’s desire for a diplomatic resolution of disputes, “the environment for a fruitful, constructive dialogue is not there”.
The questions were asked in the context of overtures by the new Pakistani government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the appointment of a trade minister in New Delhi. Pakistan Prime Minister Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi had exchanged messages after the former was elected as the prime minister to succeed Imran Khan. Soon after he was elected as Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Sharif in his inaugural speech had raised the issue of abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir.He expressed a desire for better ties with India but linked it with the Kashmir issue.
“We want good ties with India but durable peace is not possible until the Kashmir dispute is resolved,” he had said.Ties between India and Pakistan nose-dived after a terror attack on the Pathankot Air Force base in 2016 by terror groups based in the neighbouring country. Subsequent attacks, including one on an Indian Army camp in Uri, further deteriorated the relationship.
The relationship deteriorated after India announced withdrawing the special powers of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the state into two union territories in August 2019. India’s move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019 outraged Pakistan, which downgraded diplomatic ties and expelled the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad.It also snapped all air and land links with India and suspended trade and railway services.