Pakistan ‘ready to open Kartarpur border for Indian pilgrims’: Fawad

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ISLAMABAD: Despite New Dehli’s refusal to hold talks between the foreign ministers, Pakistan is still ready to open the border for Indian pilgrims to access Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Informaton Minister Fawad Chauhdry said in an interview with Hindustan Times.
“We have completed all the arrangements. This is an issue of the ordinary people, Sikhs and other Indian pilgrims, and an issue of faith. They shouldn’t suffer and we want to formalise the informal proposal the Pakistan Army chief made to (Punjab state minister Navjot) Sidhu,” Chaudhry said.
India on Friday cancelled rare talks between the top diplomats set for next week on the sidelines of a major UN conference, just one day after saying it would go ahead, drawing an indignant response from Islamabad.
Prime Minister Imran Khan Saturday expressed his disappointment at ‘the arrogant & negative response’ by India over his call for resumption of the peace dialogue between the two neighbours.
India will have to decide on the future course of engagement with Pakistan but Islamabad is ready to discuss all outstanding issues as it believes wars and hostility provide no solution, the minister said in a phone interview with HT.
The “real issue” between the two sides remains Kashmir, he said, adding that Pakistan is “ready to discuss everything”.
He added: “We are ready to discuss everything. We have fought three wars over the past seven decades and we can’t change our neighbours. It is for India to decide.
Recalling Indian involvement in terrorism here in Pakistan, the minister said Pakistan too had concerns about terrorism purportedly backed by India in Balochistan. “Our intelligence agencies believe India is sponsoring the movements in Balochistan and then there is the case of (Kulbhushan) Jadhav… This issue of cross-border terrorism goes both ways,” he said.
Kashmir is important for us, he stressed adding that “lakhs of Pakistanis” back the “struggle” in Jammu and Kashmir. “Blaming everything on Pakistan is not right, India too should correct its mistakes. Blaming us for the administrative, financial and other problems in Kashmir is ridiculous,” he said.
Chaudhry also said it would not be possible for both countries to guarantee that there wouldn’t be terror attacks whenever efforts are made for peace talks.
Terming Indian U-Turn on planned talks as “confusion and division” within Narendra Modi’s government, Chaudhry said peace efforts had suffered a “big hit” because of the meeting being called off. “Pakistan and India should have moved forward,” he said.
He said India should take advantage of the current consensus between Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership on foreign policy issues. “The government and military are very close and there have been few occasions when their relations have been as exemplary as now,” he said.

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