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War with India not an option : Pakistan Minister

War with India not an option : Pakistan Minister Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi Monday said that war was not an option to resolve the Pak-India issues.

Addressing a news conference after taking oath as the top diplomat here, Mr Qureshi said: “Both the countries are atomic powers. There is no capacity for adventure. Kashmir issue holds significance and India should understand this. Continuous negotiations are needed. We know the issues are tough and will not be solved overnight, but we have to engage.”

He said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote to PM Imran Khan and congratulated him. “He has also indicated the beginning of talks between the two countries,” the FM added.

Mr Qureshi said Pakistan’s interests are the first priority as the foreign policy will begin and end at the country.

He maintained that Pakistan is facing immense challenges and the government was determined for development.

He said the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government would pursue a bi-partisan approach to foreign policy issues.

The minister said that efforts were being made to isolate Pakistan but the government wishes to maintain peace and stability in the region.

He said it would be his endeavor to build national consensus on foreign policy. He pointed out that some forces have been pushing Pakistan towards isolation in the absence of a regular foreign minister.

Qureshi declared that he would consult with Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and also the former foreign ministers Hina Rabbani Khar and Khawaja Mohammed Asif for their suggestions on foreign policy especially the forthcoming session of the UN General Assembly.

Replying to a query, Mr Qureshi categorically said: “There are pre-conceived notions about where the foreign policy of Pakistan is made. Let me be clear: The foreign policy will be made here at the Foreign Office.”

He said he would engage with all institutions including national security institutions for their input, similar to the policy across the world.

“Don’t you seek input from CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) and Pentagon? I am aware of their working and I will work for the betterment of Pakistan,” Mr Qureshi told a foreign journalist who raised a question on the alleged interference of other institutions in formulation of foreign policy.

The Foreign Minister said he would focus on bridging the trust deficit between Pakistan and regional countries and emphasized on putting Pakistan first while fostering better relations with neighbouring countries.

On Pak-US relations, he said: “I am well informed of the priorities of US as I have worked with them in the past. Relations are based on equality and we also have our own priorities.”

The Foreign Minister said he will listen to the US concerns and also put before them Pakistan’s viewpoint. He said bilateral relationship should be improved on the basis of mutual respect and equality. He expressed his intention to pay a visit to Kabul to move forward on bilateral agreement.

“I want to bring a solid message to the people of Afghanistan. The two countries share a future and geography, and we have to work together and begin our long journey,” he said.

The Foreign Minister said he wanted to tell the people of Afghanistan that the two countries needed to become the support base of each other,adding that Pakistan and Afghanistan had the capability to become a good support mechanism for each other.

Responding to a question about China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Shah Mehmood Qureshi said PTI had supported the mega project. He said he will discuss with his Chinese counterpart the future initiatives to be undertaken under CPEC for socio-economic development of the country.

“New Pakistan requires change in the attitudes. Diplomats should respect overseas Pakistanis. I also have a small part in 100-day action plan,” he said

Meanwhile, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal stressed that the Foreign Minister had not stated that “the Indian Prime Minister had made an offer of a dialogue.”

“The FM but had said that the Indian Prime Minister in his letter to Prime Minister, Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, had also mentioned something similar to what the Foreign Minister elucidated earlier – that the way forward was only through constructive engagement,” he said in a statement said.

The spokesperson said the Foreign Minister was also briefed about the same positivity and constructive environment prevailing during the meeting of the former Minister of Law and Information with the Indian External Affairs Minister during his visit to India on August 18 to attend the funeral of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

“Pakistan looks forward to a mutually beneficial, uninterrupted dialogue with India to resolve all issues. Any attempts to instigate controversy and vitiate the environment are counter – productive and against the spirit of responsible journalism,” he added.

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