'Pakistan needs shift in ties with neighbours'

Islamabad, Feb 12: Pakistan needs a major shift in ties with neighbours India, Afghanistan and Iran to achieve the goal of a peaceful region, said a key advisor to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

While speaking at the concluding session Wednesday of a two-day seminar on "Crossroads Asia Dynamics of Peace and Progress" at the National Defence University, Advisor on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz said: "The vision of a peaceful neighbourhood cannot be realised without a qualitative transformation in our relations with India, Afghanistan and Iran."

'Pakistan needs shift in ties with neighbours'.
He said building a peaceful neighbourhood was the cornerstone of the foreign policy of the Nawaz Sharif government, which wanted to focus on the agenda of economic development.

He made a special mention of Pakistan's challenging ties with three immediate neighbours -- India, Afghanistan and Iran.

Aziz said India had "unfortunately not reciprocated our outreach".

He recapped the negative developments in ties with India since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in New Delhi in May 2014, including the cancellation of foreign secretaries' talks and ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the International Border.

"The Indian leadership's threats of disproportionate use of force portend India's dangerous desire to create a space for war. This hostile attitude also reveals a clear dichotomy in India's insistence on eliminating terrorism on the one hand and creating distractions for our armed forces engaged in a relentless and non-discriminatory counter-terrorism operation, Zarb-i-Azb, on the other," he said.

Further explaining the principles that Islamabad envisioned following in a resumed dialogue with India, he said: "Pakistan shall not abandon its political, diplomatic and moral support to Kashmir cause at any cost."

Pakistan, he underscored, remained committed to a sustained, unconditional and result-oriented dialogue.

Alluding to the US's reinvigorated ties with India, Aziz said: "Pakistan appreciates US interest in South Asia and expects it to play a constructive role for strategic stability and balance in the region by allowing space and resources to focus on the objectives of economic development and poverty reduction and reduce the possibility of a renewed arms race in the sub-continent."

He called for expansion of Pakistan's trade and economic links with member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).


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