No "conducive atmosphere," according to India, for negotiations with Pakistan
Days after Pakistan proposed holding talks with India, Pakistan's bitter adversary, New Delhi claims the conditions are not right for conversation just yet.
"India has maintained a clear and consistent position. In a favorable environment free of terror, animosity, and bloodshed, we want regular neighborly ties with Pakistan, said Arindam Bagchi, a spokesman for the Indian foreign ministry, during a news briefing on Thursday.
Shehbaz Sharif, the prime minister of Pakistan, called for talks with India earlier this week to resolve "burning issues like Kashmir," the Himalayan region that the two nuclear powers jointly claim and have ruled over in part since 1947.
Two of the three full-scale battles between the competing South Asian nations have been fought over the disputed region.
In an interview with the Al Arabiya news station that was broadcast on Tuesday, Sharif said, "I will give my word that we would talk to India with seriousness, but it takes two to tango."
He continued, "Let us sit down at the table and have genuine and sincere talks to tackle our burning concerns, like Kashmir. That is my message to the Indian leadership and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The remarks were made by the Pakistani leader while he was in the United Arab Emirates, where he said that the country could be able to help the two neighbors work out their issues.
When Modi's Hindu nationalist government repealed Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which gave Kashmir under Indian administration some autonomy, relations between India and Pakistan deteriorated in 2019.
New Delhi charges Islamabad of giving logistical and financial assistance to the armed insurgents vying for Kashmir's independence or its union with Pakistan.
Islamabad disputes the accusations, claiming that all it does is back the region's fight for the right to self-determination diplomatically.
Former Pakistani foreign minister Jalil Abbas Jilani told Al Jazeera that Sharif's remarks regarding the restoration of ties with India appeared to be "genuine" and that Pakistan wanted peace and stability in the region.
"Pakistan wishes to settle all conflicts amicably. "Neither country benefits from the hostility that exists between them," he remarked.
"Terrorism" is a concern for both nations equally, according to Jilani, and "only if the two sit down, they can amicably handle the matter."
Abdul Basit, a former high commissioner of Pakistan to India, thinks it's doubtful that the two countries' relations will improve.
"Relations between Pakistan and India are stuck in a rut. Talks just for the sake of talking and breaking the impasse will produce more of the same, he told Al Jazeera.
The de facto boundary that separates Kashmir between the two nations, the 725 km (450 miles) Line of Control, was renewed by the two governments in February 2021. But since India's intervention in Kashmir, bilateral negotiations have halted.
Former Indian ambassador Vivek Katju claimed that Sharif's interview gave the impression that Pakistan was willing to cooperate with India without restrictions before changing its mind as evidenced by the PM office explanation.
"India's policy on relations with Pakistan has been unchanged," Katju said.
What struck me was that the subsequent statement from the Pakistani prime minister's office, which set the requirement for the reversal of Article 370, rendered irrelevant everything the prime minister had said in the interview.
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