Khawaja Asif said Pakistan wants to build good neighbourly relations with India but it cannot do so if New Delhi is not willing to meet it halfway.
ISLAMABAD (PTI) — Pakistan’s new foreign minister Khawaja Asif said today that peace between his country and India can be achieved only through the resolution of the Kashmir issue.
Mr Asif, while talking to the media in his hometown of Sialkot, said Pakistan wants to build good neighbourly relations with India but it cannot do so if New Delhi is not willing to meet it halfway.
“Lasting peace between the two countries can only be attained through solving the Kashmir issue,” he said.
Mr Asif claimed that the people of Kashmir were fighting for the “right of self-determination” which was “assured” to them by the UN through its resolutions.
He asserted that Pakistan will continue to help Kashmiris to achieve their “right to hold a referendum”.
“We want to dissipate tensions with India but they are not willing to do the same,” he claimed, while accusing India of “frequent unprovoked firing” along the Line of Control.
Mr Asif also called for “honouring” of the Indus Waters Treaty to ensure regional peace.
“Both countries want the continuity of the Indus Waters Treaty, however, any violation would worsen relations even further,” he said.
Mr Asif also alleged that Pakistan’s efforts to build friendly relations with Afghanistan were being hampered by India.
He claimed that India was “sponsoring terrorism” at the Durand Line to “create disturbance” in Pakistan.
India has repeatedly dismissed all such allegations and asserted that cross border terrorism being perpetrated by Pakistan-based groups must stop.
Mr Asif said Pakistan is a peace-loving country and wants cordial relations with regional countries. However, he warned that any “misadventure” would eventually create unrest in the region.
“Our foreign policy will be in accordance with the wishes of the people, and in view of what is in the best interest of Pakistan,” he said.
Mr Asif, who earlier served as the defence minister in the Sharif government, was made the foreign minister in Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s new Cabinet that was sworn-in after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court.
The country had remained without a foreign minister after 2013 when the PML-N came into power. The last foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, was appointed by the Pakistan People’s Party