News & Views

Pakistan willing to consider returning Indian pilot if it leads to de-escalation: FM Qureshi

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Thursday said Pakistan is willing to consider returning the Indian pilot if it means de-escalation of ties between the two countries.

The foreign minister said, “India handed over a dossier to the acting High Commissioner of Pakistan a day earlier and we will examine it. I will evaluate the dossier with an open heart and then see if talks will be held on that.”

“I wish the dossier was sent earlier,” the foreign minister stated. “They attacked first and then sent the dossier.”

“We are willing to return the captured Indian pilot if it leads to de-escalation and peace,” he added. “We are ready for all positive engagement.”

The foreign minister further said, “If Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is ready, Prime Minister Imran Khan is willing to talk to him.” Asserting that Pakistan has been calling for peace since day one, Qureshi said, “If India wants to talk about terrorism then we are ready.”

“You [India] want to risk regional stability for politics,” he said and added that “it could be the need of politics but history will not forgive you”.

“Our wish is peace and stability is our top priority,” he maintained. Qureshi questioned, “God forbid there is a war, Pakistan will be affected but will India’s economy not suffer?”

The foreign minister further stated, “I have received a message that the Saudi foreign minister is departing for Pakistan.” Lamenting that India rejected talks with Pakistan earlier, Qureshi said, “Had Indian foreign minister held talks with me in New York, I would have told her this is a Naya Pakistan.”

Regarding Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj attending the meeting of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) next month, Qureshi said, “India is neither a member of OIC nor an observer.”

“The host country had invited the Indian foreign minister as a guest speaker for one inaugural session. I have spoken to the UAE minister and apprised him of Pakistan’s reservations and told him that he should have spoken to us before inviting Swaraj.”

In response to a question regarding closure of Pakistan’s airspace, the foreign minister said, “The airspace has been closed for national and passenger security. It was SOP. We want the airspace to open at the earliest.”

“I will not hesitate to meet but OIC is not the forum for talks with Swaraj,” Qureshi asserted.

The foreign minister, while speaking to a private news channel this morning, once again invited India for talks and said dialogue is the only civilised way forward. “If India showed aggression, we showed defence,” Qureshi asserted.

Stating that “we are not stuck in the past,” Qureshi said, “We want peace in the region. There is no growth from war, only a decline in happiness.”

The foreign minister continued, “India cannot solve the Kashmir issue through strength. We are ready to talk on the issues of Kashmir and terrorism with India. They can come and sit down and we will have a dialogue.”

Upholding that war is not the solution, FM Qureshi added, “After destruction, you also have to sit down for talks. Civilised dialogue is the only way forward.”

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