Our offer of friendship should not be considered as our weakness: Pak PM Imran Khan

Lahore: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday said that Pakistan’s offer of “friendship” to India should not be considered as its weakness and the Indian leadership should shun “arrogance” and hold peace talks.

New Delhi on Friday called off the bilateral talks meeting, citing the “brutal” killing of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir as well as the release of the postal stamps “glorifying” Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani.

“I hope the Indian leadership will shun arrogance and hold (peace) talks with Pakistan,” Khan told bureaucrats from Punjab. “Our offer of friendship should not be considered as our weakness. Friendship between Pakistan and India will help overcome poverty.”

Pakistan “should not be threatened as it will not tolerate any act of hostility,” Khan said, adding, “we will not take pressure of any world power.”

His response came after two major opposition parties — Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — questioned the “haste” shown by Prime Minister Khan in making efforts to mend ties with India. They held him responsible for the “diplomatic debacle”, saying he should have done his “homework” before approaching for a meeting.

“The bellicose and irresponsible statement by the Indian army chief exposes the Indian designs to the world that should immediately take note of New Delhi’s threatening posture,” opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif tweeted. “Pakistan extending an olive branch to India should never be misconstrued as weakness.”

On Saturday, director general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said Pakistan is a nuclear power and its desire for peace should not be misconstrued as weakness. “If someone tests our patience, we will give a befitting reply to it and not disappoint the nation,” he told a private TV channel. “We are on positive trajectory of peace and stability after having gone through efforts over the last two decades. We understand the value of peace and shall not allow it to be reversed,” he added.

Dismissing allegations of Pakistan mutilating the body of an Indian jawan, Ghafoor said the Pakistan Army is a professional force and can never undertake such non-professional action.

Ties between India and Pakistan nose-dived following a spate of terror attacks on Indian military bases by Pakistan based terror groups since January 2016. Following the strikes, India announced it will not engage in talks with Pakistan, saying terror and talks cannot go hand-in-hand.

(With inputs from Agencies)