We hope long winter in India-Pak ties will come to an early end: Pak envoy

NEW DELHI: Pakistan on Friday said a key takeaway from recent developments was that a lack of engagement creates “dangerous vacuum and serious risks” for India-Pakistan ties, and hoped that the “long winter” in bilateral relations would come to an early end. Pakistan high commissioner to India Sohail Mahmood, in his remarks at a reception here on the eve of Pakistan´s National Day, said the release of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, return of the two high commissioners to their respective missions, and bilateral meetings on Kartarpur Corridor “are steps in a positive direction”. Coercive measures have not worked in the past and will not work in the future, he said and added diplomacy and dialogue remain indispensable for enhancing mutual understanding, addressing mutual concerns, and resolving long-standing disputes including Jammu and Kashmir. The Pakistani envoy also claimed that in the fight against the scourge of terrorism, his country has “turned a corner”. “There is a real transformation underway in Pakistan,” he claimed. His remarks come amid Pakistan facing intense pressure from the global community to act against the terror sanctuaries operating from its soil. A relationship based on sovereign equality, mutual respect and mutual interest is the best guarantee for a peaceful and prosperous future, the envoy said. “We do hope the long winter in India-Pakistan relations would come to an early end,” he said. “The founding fathers of Pakistan and India had envisaged amicable relations between the two countries. However, the relationship has remained challenged, for most part of our history as free nations. In particular, the two countries passed through a very difficult time recently,” he said. “Prime Minister Imran Khan´s decision to release Wing Commander Abhinandan, return of the two high commissioners to their respective Missions, and bilateral meetings to develop modalities for operationalisation of the Kartarpur Corridor are steps in a positive direction,” Mahmood said. Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after Indian Air Force fighter jets bombed terror group JeM training camp near Balakot deep inside Pakistan on February 26. Pakistan retaliated by attempting to target Indian military installations the next day. However, the IAF thwarted their plans. The Indian strike on the JeM camp came 12 days after the terror outfit claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir´s Pulwama in which 40 soldiers were killed.