‘Changed mood of Modi vindication of Pakistan stance’

‘Changed mood of Modi vindication of Pakistan stance’

PM says India should not have cancelled foreign secy-level talks



By Afzal Khan

Published: Sat 29 Nov 2014, 10:33 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 2:39 AM

Islamabad — Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has labelled the handshake with him by his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi at retreat near Kathmandu during the 18th Saarc summit in Nepal as “vindication” of Pakistan’s stance on resumption of talks with New Delhi.

“We shook hands twice and exchanged pleasantries”, Sharif told Pakistani media aboard his plane on way back home from Kathmandu in the wee hours of Friday describing it as “change in (Mr Modi’s) attitude”, an apparent reference to earlier chill that initially prevailed at the start of the conference when both leaders looked askance when confronted.

The handshake salvaged the summit which was heading towards another nonproductive exercise and led to a last minute deal to create electricity grid.

Sharif said Pakistan wants ties with India on the basis of dignity, self-respect and honour and desires a “meaningful” dialogue to resolve all issues including the Kashmir dispute.

However, he said that India should not have cancelled the foreign secretary level talks in August as was agreed upon during his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi following his swearing in at New Delhi. New Delhi reacted angrily to a meeting between Kashmiri separatist leaders by Pakistan high commissioner in India before the visit.

“We had been talking to the Kashmiri leaders in the past whenever Pakistan-India talks were held. This is nothing new as we have to seek the opinion of the Kashmiri leaders on an issue that concerns them the most,” Sharif said.

He said Pakistan wishes to pursue the talks process from a position of dignity honour and self respect. He said that he will not allow the country’s dignity and image to be tarnished by anyone.

“We believe in it and will maintain it at all costs, Sharif told reporters.

He said Pakistan has always desired a meaningful dialogue with India with sincerity and wants it to be reciprocated from the other side.

When asked how the ice between the two leaders broke, he said when he arrived at the retreat, Prime Minister Modi along with other leaders was already there. He met others and also shook hands with Prime Minister Modi.

However, he categorically stated that if India wants to restore ties Kashmir issue must be discussed and that too seriously with full sincerity.

The prime minister recalled the number of deaths in Pakistan and Kashmir due to the “unprovoked” firing by the Indian troops along the Line of Control and even the Working Boundary.

To a question he said this issue would also be taken up with India when the talk process resumes.

He reiterated his stance that since it was India that called off the talks the onus of restarting the dialogue lay with New Delhi.

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