Islamabad: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday said that the only way for Pakistan and India to move forward is through dialogue and underlined that major international players have a responsibility towards ensuring strategic stability in the South Asian region. Addressing a National Conference on Strategic Stability in South Asia here, he said that recent events were a “reminder of the heavy responsibility” that both Pakistan and India have to bear in working towards addressing the “underlying challenges” to strategic stability in the region.
He said the two countries “need to commit to a peaceful environment that is conducive to the socio-economic development and welfare of the people.” Tensions flared up between India and Pakistan after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14.
Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting the biggest JeM training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured an IAF pilot, who was handed over to India on March 1.
Qureshi said that the South Asian security environment is in a “state of flux” and Pakistan expects the outside players to be mindful of their responsibility in terms of arms supplies to the region. He hoped the key players would recognise the need for objective and even handed approach which is not tainted by considerations of geo political dominance and defining new regional security paradigms.
The foreign minister called on outside parties to be “mindful” of their responsibility in terms of arms supplies to the region in pursuit of their geo-political strategies. The foreign minister said Pakistan is opposed to conventional and nuclear arms race in the region.
He said India’s “massive acquisition of conventional arms coupled with its offensive doctrine such as cold start and expansion of strategic assets including nuclear submarines are developments with serious security implications for Pakistan.” The foreign minister said Pakistan needs a “willing and constructive partner to tackle the myriad daunting challenges” that the region is facing.
“A peaceful neighbourhood is the sine qua non [an essential condition] to build prosperous societies,” he was quoted as saying by Dawn. He said the country specific exemption by the Nuclear Supplier Group has had negative implications for strategic stability in the region.
Qureshi said the “recent belligerence” displayed against Pakistan and the assumption that the country could be subject to punitive strikes at will is a clear manifestation of threats to stability in the region. Qureshi said that Pakistan has shown it is prepared to take concrete steps to ease tension and work for friendly relations with India with Kartarpur corridor like initiatives. “India also need to understand that the only way forward is dialogue,” he said.