Press Trust of india

Pak will engage with India on 'basis of equality': Qureshi

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Bishkek, Jun 15: Pakistan will hold talks with India on the "basis of equality" and in a "dignified manner", and it is up to New Delhi whether to engage with Islamabad to resolve all outstanding issues, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said.

Qureshi, who was in the Kyrgyz capital to attend the 19th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit, said this while confirming exchange of plesantaries between Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi here on Friday on the sidelines of the multilateral meeting.

"Yes, the meeting did take place, there was a handshake and exchange of pleasantries," Qureshi told Geo News.

He accused the Indian government of being in the "election mindset" to keep their "vote bank intact".

"Pakistan has said what it had to," Qureshi said.

"So India has to make this decision, we are neither in haste, nor troubled. When India prepares itself, it would find us prepared, but we will hold talks on the basis of equality, in a dignified manner.

"Neither we need to run after anyone, nor we need to demonstrate stubbornness. Pakistan's approach is very realistic and well thought-out," Qureshi said when asked to comment on demand by some people that Pakistan should not repeatedly invite India for talks.

He said India had to make a decision whether to hold bilateral talks with Pakistan to resolve all outstanding issues, and that Pakistan sought the dialogue to be based on equality.

"India has not come out of its election mindset and the extreme position they had taken to influence their constituency and to keep their vote bank intact. It is still confined in that," Qureshi said.

The exchange of pleasantries between Khan and Modi came over two weeks after Khan and Qureshi wrote separate letters to their Indian counterparts, pushing for restarting the bilateral talks.

India has not been engaging with Pakistan since an attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January of 2016 by a Pakistan-based terror group, maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together.

Khan had also made a telephone call to Modi on May 26 and expressed his desire to work together for the betterment of people of the two countries.

On his part, Modi said creating trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism was essential for fostering peace and prosperity in the region.

Early this year, tensions flared up between India and Pakistan after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir's Pulwama district.

Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting the biggest JeM training camp in Balakot in Pakistan on February 26. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured an IAF pilot, who was later handed over to India.

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