“I truly believe that if both countries have got statesmen at the same time and not leaders interested only in elections, there is no problem that cannot be solved,” Pakistan’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs says.
On January 19, Pakistan’s Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said her country sees Manmohan Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee as its partners in peace efforts between the two countries.
During a session on South Asia at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023, Ms. Khar, Pakistan’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said, “I pressed really hard for better cooperation when I traveled to India as Foreign Minister, and we were in a much stronger position than we were in 2023.”
“What we have done in these years has added to hostility.” It is impossible to change geography. It’s not a South Asian problem, but an India-Pakistan one, with a lack of statesmanship from the Indian side.
“There is a need to think beyond an election cycle and a willingness for peace. Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi may be good for his country, I do not see him as a partner; however, I do see Manmohan Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee as partners.”
Her remarks come just days after Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif requested “serious” and “sincere” talks with his Indian counterpart to resolve “burning” issues such as Kashmir.
Ms. Khar went on to say that Pakistan has learned from its mistakes and wants to move forward, but she believes that India was once a country where all religions coexisted, but that is no longer the case.
“I am not saying that we don’t have any problem in Pakistan, but our government is always working to ensure that minorities are protected by new laws and enforcing existing ones,” she said.
Ms. Khar stated that, with the exception of India, China is viewed as a pillar of stability rather than chaos in the region.
“I truly believe that if both countries have statesmen at the same time, rather than leaders who are only interested in elections,” she said.
In response to the allegation that a lack of statesmanship is stifling good relations between India and Pakistan, Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar stated during the same panel discussion that Pakistan must recognize that the problem is on their side, as India has no problems with any other neighbor.
He stated that the two countries speak the same language and have similar cultures, food, and so on.
Prime Minister Modi, according to Mr. Ravi Shankar, has extended his hand several times. He also repeatedly offered to assist, and the claim that the current prime minister is unwilling to assist makes no sense.
Prime Minister Modi has offered assistance to all neighbors and cannot be accused of doing anything, he added.
Ms. Khar also claimed that the current government has ripped India’s secular fabric apart, a charge that Mr. Ravi Shankar strongly refuted.
Ms. Khar stated that she can only engage in an informed discussion about whether Pakistan can act against terrorist organizations operating out of the country and that those asking these questions should first learn the facts about the actions taken against some of the names frequently mentioned.
Ms. Khar responded to the suggestion that economic cooperation can help build bridges, saying, “We have been through those cycles many times. When my party was in power, we talked about peace, cooperation, and normalizing trade relations with India.
“But why do I think now that there is no chance right now, is because India broke the trust. Setting up a narrative is simple. We can kill people and claim it was for the sake of peace.”
“I’ve spent too much time in politics, and I’ve lived in this region for too long,” she added. I want peace and happiness in the region, but I don’t see a way forward because trust has been broken. “I’d like to hear another language (from Indian leaders).”
“I am willing to talk peace and meditation with Guruji, but politics?” she said, stating that she does not want to engage in a tit-for-tat with Mr. Ravi Shankar.
Mr. Ravi Shankar emphasized the importance of progress, stating that there is a world beyond politics.
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