—– Put onus on India to creat environment for bilateral talks by restoring Occupied Valley’s special status
—– Says BJP’s propaganda of Muslims being terrorists is negated
—– Warns SCO members against weaponising terrorism for diplomatic point scoring
GOA: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Friday said that the people of Pakistan and India want peace, stressing that New Delhi has to create a “conducive environment” for talks between the neighbouring nations.
His comments came while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in the Indian state of Goa.
The visit by Bilawal to India is the first by a Pakistani foreign minister to Delhi in over a decade and has garnered a lot of media attention in both countries. The two have fought three wars, share frosty relations, and have downgraded their diplomatic ties.
The onus is on India to create a conducive environment for talks, said the foreign minister, adding that India’s decision to end the special status of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir in 2019 undermined the environment for holding talks between the neighbours.
Bilawal said, however, that despite his rare visit to India, there was no change in the status of diplomatic relations. “India took illegal steps in August 2019 and violated the UN resolutions by its actions,” said the FM.
The foreign minister retreated that Pakistan has a clear and solid stance on the Kashmir issue, highlighting that India’s “one-sided actions” have af-fected the terms between both countries.
“India will have to revoke its August 5 decision,” he added. Bilawal further talked about the tensions between both countries surrounding sports and said that it should be separated from politics and foreign policy.
The foreign minister, who is also the chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), said that he tried to send Pakistan’s cricket blind to India but they were not issued their visas.
“Why is India afraid of Pakistan’s blind cricket team?” he questioned. “I have tried to Pakistan’s internal politics confined to its borders.”
Bilawal also said that when Pakistan gets the chairmanship of SCO, it will also be able to organise a successful meeting.
The FM, earlier in the day, addressed the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) summit and warned the member states against “weaponising terrorism for diplomatic point scoring” without naming India.
Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, prior to Bilawal’s speech, said the menace of terrorism continues unabated, adding that taking eyes off this menace is detrimental to the security interests of all.
“The collective security of our peoples is our joint responsibility. Terrorism continues to threaten global security. Let’s not get caught up in weaponising terrorism for diplomatic point scoring,” Bilawal said.
The foreign minister emphasised that the idea of eradicating this menace requires not only a “comprehensive approach but also a collective ap-proach”.
He said that the root causes need to be addressed as well as the threats posed by specific groups.
“It requires that we let this challenge unite us to fight it rather than divide us to become its victim. Our success requires us to isolate this issue from geo-political partisanship,” he maintained, adding that practical, pragmatic solutions exist for us to put an end to this chapter once and for all.
“We must stop conflating non-state actors with state actors. Condemn all forms of terrorism including state-sponsored terrorism,” he stressed.
Later, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari hailed on Friday his trip to India as a “success”, saying that the “false propaganda” of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that every Muslim was a terrorist had been negated.
The foreign minister made these remarks upon his return to Pakistan from India, where he spoke at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) moot.
Addressing the media in Karachi, Bilawal said: “The BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (a Hindu nationalist group in India) have been trying to create this myth — they declare Muslims across the world terrorists, they declare Pakistanis terrorists. “We made an attempt at breaking this myth.”
He added, “I believe that when the son of Shaheed Mohatarma Benazir Bhutto’s son sits before them, no matter how much they try to level such al-legations, this is a reply enough for them.” –Agencies