A day after a handshake with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said today that talks with India should not be at the cost of his country’s “dignity, self-respect and reputation”.
He told reporters on his return from Kathmandu where he attended the SAARC Summit at which he and Modi shook hands, that Pakistan was against “talks for the sake of talking”.
“The meeting of the foreign secretaries has been cancelled but we can exchange greetings. We can at least ask about each other’s well-being. We shook hands,” he said on his first brief interaction with Modi at the SAARC retreat at Dhulikhel yesterday.
Sharif said he twice shook hands with his Indian counterpart and exchanged pleasantries at the SAARC Summit.
He said Pakistan desires a “meaningful” dialogue to resolve all issues including the Kashmir dispute.
Sharif also stated that if India wants to restore ties, the Kashmir issue must be discussed and “that too seriously with full sincerity”.
“Foreign Secretary level talks were cancelled by India. Pakistan’s dignity, self respect and reputation should not be marred. Keeping this in mind, talks should be result-oriented.
“If both sides want to solve the problem forever we should have serious talk over the contentious issues, including Kashmir,” he said.
“We shouldn’t just talk for the sake of talking, intention should be right. We should move ahead with right intentions,” Sharif said.
Sharif said India should not have cancelled the Foreign Secretary-level talks, insisting that there was “nothing new” in consulting Kashmiri leaders ahead of a dialogue.
“We had been talking to the Kashmiri leaders in the past whenever Pakistan-India talks are held. This is nothing new as we have to seek the opinion of the Kashmiri leaders on an issue that concerns them the most,” Sharif said.
Consultations held by Pakistan High Commissioner in New Delhi with Kashmiri separatists led to the cancellation of Foreign Secretary-level talks in Islamabad in August. Since then both countries have maintained that they are willing to engage in a meaningful dialogue provided the other side takes the initiative.
Sharif said that India should not have cancelled the Foreign Secretary-level talks as was agreed upon during his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi following his swearing in at New Delhi in May.