Pakistan says economic engagement with India is in its best interests: report

Relations between the two countries deteriorated in 2019. (Representative)


Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday stressed the country’s interest in trade and engagement with India, saying that past policies have left Pakistan isolated on the world stage.

“Despite a long history of wars and conflicts and the actions of the Indian government in occupied Kashmir and its anti-Muslim agenda, it was not in Pakistan’s interest to withdraw,” said Mr. Bhutto-Zardari in a speech at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad. a state-funded think tank, The Dawn reported.

Referring to the previous government of Pakistan-Tahreek-i-Insaf (PTI), he said the coalition government had inherited an “internationally isolated and internationally disconnected” country, adding that “it is time to embrace economic diplomacy to turn and focus on engagement.”

Highlighting the repeal of Article 370 in Kashmir, he said “these issues remained the ‘cornerstone’ of the Pakistani narrative and the government was ‘tackling them in the most serious and aggressive way,'” Dawn reported.

“We have virtually ceased all engagement with India,” The Dawn quoted Mr. Bhutto-Zardari as saying.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari further said that if Pakistan had achieved economic engagement with India in the past, it would have been in a better position to influence Delhi’s politics and would have prevented both countries from taking extreme positions.

Relations between the two countries deteriorated in 2019 after India removed Jammu and Kashmir’s special status by repealing Article 370 and dividing it into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Since then, diplomatic relations have been downgraded, bilateral trade has been suspended and there has been no structured dialogue.

Earlier, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that as part of its shift from geostrategy to geoeconomics, Pakistan aims to build partnerships, particularly within the region, based on connectivity, which appears to include New Delhi.

“Pakistan and India have much to gain from mutually beneficial trade,” he said, as quoted by Dawn. “We are aware of the economic dividends that can result from healthy trade activity with India,” the Prime Minister said.

It should be noted that after coming to power in Pakistan in early April, Shehbaz Sharif wrote a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressing his desire for peaceful relations with India and resolution of all outstanding issues brings.

Meanwhile, Mr Bhutto-Zardari also highlighted the country’s troubled diplomatic ties with the United States, which have been marred after Pakistan’s ousted Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government accused the United States of colluding with opposition parties to secure them to be removed from office. reported the dawn.

PTI chief and former Prime Minister Imran Khan waged an aggressive campaign after being ousted by a vote of no confidence in Parliament, demanding freedom from “slaves of foreign powers”. This heightened anti-Americanism in the country, The Dawn reported.

However, diplomatic relations between Pakistan and the United States were resumed after Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of the food security conference in New York.

(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published by a syndicated feed.)

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