Imran seeks conditions for result-oriented dialogue as Pak looks to reopen trade | India News – Times of India


NEW DELHI: While there was no confirmation of any meeting between the Indian and foreign ministers Tuesday at the Heart of Asia conference in Dushanbe, Pakistan PM Imran Khan wrote to his counterpart Narendra Modi underlining the primacy of the Kashmir issue for Pakistan and calling for the creation of an enabling environment for “result-oriented dialogue” with India.
The letter dated March 29 was in response to Modi’s letter to Khan on Pakistan’s National Day (March 23) in which, while conveying his greetings, Modi had said that for India and Pakistan to have cordial relations “an environment of trust, devoid of terror and hostility is imperative”.
Significantly, diplomatic sources confirmed that a Pakistan Cabinet committee was likely to take up a proposal Wednesday for reopening trade with India by allowing cotton imports from India. Pakistan had shut all trade with India after the government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019. If approved, the reopening of trade will be an important step forward, after the ceasefire breakthrough last month, in efforts to impart at least a semblance of normalcy to ties.
While Khan only reiterated Pakistan’s position on ties with India, the fact that he chose to respond is significant as a similar letter by Modi on Pakistan’s Independence Day last year had gone unanswered. In that letter too, sources said, Modi had clearly stated that it was important to create an environment free of terror and violence if Pakistan was serious about having cordial relations with India. Before Modi wrote to Khan on March 23, he had also wished Khan speedy recovery from Covid-19.
“We are convinced that durable peace and stability in South Asia is contingent upon resolving all outstanding issues between India and Pakistan, in particular the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” said Khan in his letter, adding that creation of an enabling environment is imperative for a “constructive and result-oriented dialogue”.
Despite the ceasefire breakthrough last month that has for now at least brought the LoC hostilities to an end, the 2 countries still seem to be moving in circles when it comes to any substantive bilateral engagement. While not completely ruling out a meeting in Dushanbe, where it was known well in advance that they were going to come face to face, both countries were reluctant to propose a meeting between foreign ministers S Jaishankar and his counterpart S M Qureshi.
India has continued to maintain that Pakistan must stop facilitating cross-border terrorism if it wants good, neighbourly relations. Islamabad though is seeking concessions from India on the Jammu and Kashmiri issue, without really specifying in what form, to be able to move ahead in ties with India.
Pakistan’s concerns seem related to alleged demographic changes in the Valley. While home minister Amit Shah has said in Parliament that the Centre will ensure full statehood for Jammu and Kashmir at an “appropriate time”, it’s unlikely that the NDA government will agree to restoring the special status which the erstwhile state enjoyed.



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