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FM Bilawal says disengaging India doesn’t serve Pakistan’s interests

"Do we achieve our objectives whatever they may be, be it Kashmir, be it rising Islamophobia?" Bilawal questioned.

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Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Thursday questioned whether cutting off ties with India served the interests of Pakistan, which is “internationally isolated and disengaged.”

Speaking at the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad, Bilawal asked, “Does it serve our interests, do we achieve our objectives whatever they may be, be it Kashmir, be it rising Islamophobia, the Hindutva supremacist nature of the new regimes and the governments in India? Does it serve our objective that we have practically cut off all engagements?”

“That I, as foreign minister, as a representative of my country, not only speak to the Indian government, but I don’t speak to the Indian people, and is this the best way to communicate or achieve Pakistan’s objectives.”

However, he said the Indian “incredible assault” on Pakistan’s position on Kashmir, attempts to change the demography of the disputed territory, and recent Islamophobic remarks of the BJP officials made it “very difficult, if not possible” for Pakistan to re-engage with India.

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“We don’t have a trading relationship with India, and many will argue absolutely we should not. The environment is not as such; given these outrageous assaults on our principles, it would be inappropriate for Pakistan to take such a step,” he said.

But he said due to trade ties between China and the US, the great power tussle between them didn’t get as bad as everybody predicted. He said if we also had economic integration between India and Pakistan, no side would have to take extreme decisions.

He said the people of India were not responsible for the steps taken by the Modi government, pushing for people-to-people contact. He said if we have no contact with the Indian people or have no trade ties, we will be unable to impact their policy-making.

“If I am talking at them through the media, through press conferences, through press releases and not talking with them, then am I able to effectively impact any sort of change.”

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He added, “We are committed to our economic engagement, and we have achieved a lot through the CPEC. There is much more for us to unlock as far as Pakistan’s economic potential is concerned.”