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Need for 'objective' narrative about Pakistan in India: High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood

We Hope For Re-engagement After The Elections In India. Diplomacy And Dialogue Are Indispensable, He Said.

PTI | Updated on: 14 Apr 2019, 09:16:25 PM
Pakistani High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood

New Delhi:

Pakistan is hoping for "re-engagement" with India after the Lok Sabha polls as structured dialogue will help the two countries understand mutual concerns, resolve disputes and build the edifice of durable peace and security, Pakistani High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood has said.

In an interview to PTI, Mahmood, who has been appointed Pakistan's next Foreign Secretary, also said there was a need for an "objective" narrative about Pakistan in India which could facilitate peaceful, cooperative and good neighbourly ties.

"We hope for re-engagement after the elections in India. Diplomacy and dialogue are indispensable," he said.

The comments came nearly six weeks after India's military planes struck a terrorist training camp in Pakistan's Balakot and Pakistan's subsequent counter-offensive. The flare up triggered fears of a war and countries like the US and China played a role in de-escalating tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

Mahmood said diplomacy and dialogue are indispensable to improve ties between the two neighbours and that engagement was the only option to understand mutual concerns and ensure peace, prosperity and security in the region.

"Sustained engagement and structured dialogue would enable the two countries to understand mutual concerns and differences, resolve outstanding disputes and build the edifice of durable peace, security and prosperity in the region," Mahmood said.

Mahmood left for Islamabad on Sunday after nearly a 19-month long tenure as Pakistan's envoy to India. He is expected to take up his new assignment on Tuesday.

He also said that there was a need for a review about the narrative on Pakistan in India.

"There is also a need to review the narrative about Pakistan in India. A narrative is needed that captures the reality in Pakistan objectively and more fully. A narrative that also helps recognise opportunities for peaceful, cooperative and good neighbourly relations," he said.

"We must strive for stable peace, equal security and shared prosperity for ourselves and the region," the envoy added.

In signs of easing tensions, Pakistan around two weeks back announced that it was releasing 360 Indian prisoners, mostly fishermen as a "goodwill gesture.

The initiative was followed by Pakistan High Commission here granting visas to 2,200 Sikh pilgrims from India to facilitate their participation in the annual Baisakhi celebrations in Pakistan.

Over two weeks after the Balakot strike, India and Pakistan held talks to finalise the modalities for setting up a corridor linking the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur with Gurdaspur district in Punjab.

Asked about the Kartarpur corridor project, the Pakistani High Commissioner said Islamabad was committed to completing the physical infrastructure on its side.

"The government of Pakistan is proceeding in full measures to complete the physical infrastructure on its side and it is hopeful that the modalities will be mutually agreed between the two sides in good time before November 2019," he said.

In a major initiative last November, both India and Pakistan agreed to set up the Kartarpur corridor to link the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib -- the final resting place of Sikh faith's founder Guru Nanak Dev -- to Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur.

Kartarpur Sahib is located in Pakistan's Narowal district across the river Ravi, about four kilometres from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine.

In another significant move in May last year, India and Pakistan agreed to adhere to the ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control after a spate of cross-border firings between the two sides along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.

The relations between India and Pakistan remained tense since 2016. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had travelled to Delhi to attend Modi's oath taking ceremony and the Indian premier had in December 2015 made a stopover in Lahore to greet his counterpart on his birthday.

However, the ties nose-dived following a string of cross-border terror attacks in 2016 and India's subsequent surgical strikes.

After the terror attack on Pathankot airbase in January 2016, India had announced that it will not engage in talks with Islamabad until it stops cross-border terrorism.

The sentencing of alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav to death by a military court in April 2017 further deteriorated bilateral ties.

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First Published : 14 Apr 2019, 09:16:15 PM