Pak envoy hopes long winter in ties will end soon

Pakistan high commissioner Sohail Mahmood on Friday said lack of engagement between India and Pakistan creates “dangerous vacuum and serious risks in the relationship” even as he hoped for an “end to the long winter” and the on-set of a “new spring” in the troubled ties between the two neighbours. He was speaking at a reception at the Pakistan high commission on Friday, ahead of Pakistan’s National Day on March 23. The Indian government boycotted the reception. There was high drama outside the Pakistan high commission gates before the function began, with personnel in plain-cloth-es persuading arriving guests to return, citing the official boycott. Meanwhile, referring to the events of last month and warning that “coercive measures” (by India) would not work, Mr Mahmood pitched for “diplomacy and dialogue” to address “mutual concerns and long-standing disputes”. Referring to the “very difficult time” recently, Mr Mahmood said the two countries had “limped back from the brink”. He pitched for “consolidation of de-escalation” and “stabilising ties against further shocks”. He also hailed Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s recent decision to return captured IAF pilot Wg Cdr Abhinandan to India and talks on the Kartarpur corridor as steps in the positive direction.