Don’t construe Pakistan’s quest for friendship as weakness, PM Imran to India

  • 'They have some misunderstanding. When we, want friendship, it means we desire to end poverty in the subcontinent'

LAHORE – Prime Minister Imran Khan has said Pakistan will not bow to threats from India, adding if the neighbouring country continued with threats then the entire nation is standing united.

Addressing government employees in Lahore, the prime minister stressed that Pakistan’s quest for better relations with India should not be construed as our weakness because the objective behind this pursuit was to bring the people of the subcontinent out of poverty by starting trade activity.

“They have some misunderstanding. When we, want friendship, it means we desire to end poverty in the subcontinent. Trade will also revive. Someone should not misunderstand it. This should not be construed as weakness,” the prime minister remarked during his daylong visit to the Punjab capital.

“The people of this country never succumbed to any pressure from any superpower. If they hurl any threat, the whole nation stands united to face till the end.”

The prime minister expressed hope that the Indian leadership will let go of arrogance and better relations will take place between the two countries.

Cancellation of Pak-India talks at UNGA

Relations between the two nuclear neighbours have once again turned sour after the Indian government cancelled a meeting between the Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers, scheduled to be held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, just a day after confirming the development.

PM Imran had written a letter to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi expressing his desire for talks between the two countries and also suggested a meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries.

Delhi’s cancellation of the confirmed meeting was followed by Indian army chief threatening Pakistan with ‘surprise action’ by Indian security forces.

Threats from Indian army chief

“We need to take stern action to avenge the barbarism that terrorists and the Pakistan Army have been carrying out. Yes, it’s time to give it back to them in the same coin, not resorting to similar kind of barbarism. But I think the other side must also feel the same pain,” General Bipin Rawat stated over the weekend.

To a question of talks with Islamabad, the Indian general reiterated the government’s stand that “talks and terrorism cannot go together”.

“I think our government’s policy has been quite clear and concise. We’ve made no bones about the fact that talks and terrorism can’t go hand in hand. Pakistan needs to curb the menace of terrorism,” Gen Rawat added.

‘Dialogue, not war is course to peace’

Pakistan Army termed Rawat’s statement as “irresponsible”, saying “India should not disturb the peace process.”

The DG of Inter Services Public Relations, Major General Asif Ghafoor warned India that the nuclear-armed country is capable of defending its borders if a war is waged on it.

“We [Pakistan Army] are ready for war but choose to walk the path of peace in the interest of the people of Pakistan, the neighbours and the region,” the military’s spokesman said in reaction to Gen Rawat’s threats.

‘Dialogue not war is course to peace,’ DG-ISPR on Indian army chief’s threat of ‘surprise action’ against Pakistan

Gen Ghafoor said Pakistan has a long-standing record of fighting terrorism, adding “we know the price [that is paid] for peace”.

“We have struggled to achieve peace in the last two decades. We can never do anything to disgrace any soldier,” he asserted, strongly denying the claims made by India that hold the Pakistan Army responsible for the killing of a Border Security Force (BSF) soldier.

“They have in the past as well laid the blame on us for mutilating the body of a fallen soldier. We are a professional army. We never engage in such acts.

“As far as the issuance of postal tickets is concerned, the UN released a human rights violation report following which the then interim government issued those tickets highlighting the plight of Kashmiris.

“To turn this into an excuse that the peace process has been tainted or that Pakistan has somehow changed its stance, is inappropriate,” the ISPR chief said.

“There is a freedom struggle going on in the Indian occupied Kashmir, and Burhan Wani onwards, it is completely a political movement,” Ghafoor said, adding that the struggle for independence has become a part of the DNA of Kashmiris and this is now the third generation which is willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause.

“They [India] should come forward for a dialogue. Whenever attempts for dialogue have failed, it is because India has run away from the table.

“The government of Pakistan’s offer still stands for India to come forward and hold talks with us,” the ISPR chief said.

Moreover, Gen Ghafoor reasoned that India was resorting to such statements as it faced domestic issues, including the corruption allegations on the Modi government.