New Delhi: Pakistan is ready to talk to whoever comes to power in India’s national election to work towards the normalisation of bilateral ties and to move things forward from where they had stopped, information minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Tuesday.
Diplomatic channels that were used to diminish strains after the Pulwama terror attack remain operational, although in the backdrop, he said in an interview.
However, the Pakistani leadership believes there will be no forward movement until India’s election process is completed, he added.
The comments by Chaudhry, considered to be close to both Prime Minister Imran Khan and Pakistan’s military leadership, came against the backdrop of foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s claim over the weekend that India was “hatching a new plan for aggression against Pakistan” during April 16-20.
India had rejected Qureshi’s remarks as an attempt at “whipping up war hysteria” and a “call to Pakistan-based terrorists to carry out a terror attack”.
Asked about Qureshi’s remarks, Chaudhry replied: “I think the foreign minister referred to the statement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, that he has given the entire power for all actions to the military. From that, he concluded that if this authority has been given, it could be abused at any time.”
He said Islamabad is looking towards joining the new dispensation in New Delhi after the conclusion of the Indian polls.
“Whichever government comes to power, we will sit with them and see how things can move ahead. It is evident that the environment that developed post-Pulwama and the stresses are not in the interests of the people or the region,” he said.
“It’s important to bring it down and to begin the process and take it forward from where it had stopped, but for that, we have to wait for the Indian election.”
Chaudhary claimed that the post-Pulwama tensions had not been adequately addressed on the Indian side.
“From the Pakistani side, there never was any war frenzy. We tried to reduce the retaliation, we have actually behaved very responsibly. So this is not our issue, and we should see whether the war frenzy in India has declined,” he said.
Chaudhry described Islamabad’s plan to free 360 Indian prisoners who had finished their sentences as a reflection of the desire to normalise ties with India.
“This shows the Pakistani intention of normalisation with India and we will continue this policy,” he said.
He expressed disappointment at the recent death of Pakistani prisoner Shakirullah during a brawl in Jaipur Central Jail in February. The prisoner’s body had been handed over to Pakistani authorities on March 2.
“We have shown generosity and the day we released (Wing Commander) Abhinandan (Varthaman), the next day a Pakistani prisoner’s body was handed over to us. But despite that, the atmosphere in Pakistan has remained peaceful,” he said.
Islamabad, Chaudhry said, will also continue its efforts to operationalise the Kartarpur Corridor connecting Dera Baba Nanak in India with Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan in time for the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in November.