SRINAGAR: Pakistan premier Imran Khan has reiterated that relations with India cannot get normal unless Delhi rolls back the August 5, 2019 decision that stripped the region’s autonomy and bifurcated it into two federally governed territories.
“Unfortunately, since their unilateral decision on Kashmir on August 5, 2019, and because of the violation of international laws and UN Security Council resolutions, it is very difficult for us to normalise trade with [India] because it will be a betrayal of the sacrifices of the Kashmiri people,” Hindustan Times quoted Khan saying while addressing a press conference jointly with visiting Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon in Islamabad. “So till India reverses [these steps], our relations can’t improve.”
Khan said it has costs. “If the relations don’t improve, then it will be a loss for India, Pakistan and the whole of Central Asia because the whole region can be connected,” the newspaper said.
The Pakistan Prime Minister linked India’s decision making to the region’s economic well being including the future of China owned CPEC run Gwadar port. “But if our ties improve [with India], China is one side and Pakistan is in a pivotal position to connect the whole region. But this is all dependent on India rolling back the unilateral steps they took in Kashmir on August 5, 2019. Till they move back, the whole matter is stuck here,” Khan was quoted saying while inviting central Asia to trade through Gwadar.
The two leaders discussed the state and status of Afghanistan because both the countries are its immediate neighbours and have been impacted by the strife of the unending war. The access to the entire central Asian region is through Afghanistan. Its situation is a cause of concern especially after the withdrawal of US and NATO forces by September 11.
“We need peace in Afghanistan,” Khan said. “If the US leaves without a political settlement, like when the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989, the resulting situation could lead to losses for Pakistan and Tajikistan. It could affect connectivity and trade and we [Pakistan and Tajikistan] fear that terrorism could increase.”
During the Tajik president’s two day visit, the two countries signed a series of agreements. These took the defence ties of the two countries to the next level.
Pakistan newspaper Dawn reported that the agreements include the one for cooperation in various sectors, including the sale of Pakistan-manufactured arms to the Central Asian country.
New Delhi has always maintained that Article 370 and other issues are part of India’s internal matter.