Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also says PM Imran Khan bowled a googly at India to send 2 ministers to Kartarpur.
New Delhi: Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has poked fun at his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj in diplomatically risqué comments that are likely to rile New Delhi.
“I don’t know what happened, while I can’t say that Sushma ji felt shy at this age, it seems Indian politics had come in between,” Qureshi said Thursday evening, referring to his cancelled meeting with Swaraj in New York in September.
India had cancelled a proposed meeting between the two ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly after the brutal killing of policemen in Jammu and Kashmir and the release of a postage stamp by Pakistan that glorified Kashmiri militant commander Burhan Wani.
The proposed meeting was seen as an indication of the thaw in relations between the arch rivals after the election of Imran Khan as Pakistan’s prime minister. But it was cancelled a day after it was announced.
Qureshi’s comment Thursday came at an event held to mark the 100 days in power of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party. He was speaking about the achievements of his ministry during this period.
Qureshi also said that Pakistan’s “measured”, “mature” and “persistent” attempts to engage India in talks to improve relations was repeatedly rejected by New Delhi. So, Khan delivered a “googly” to ensure the presence of two Indian ministers at the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Kartarpur Corridor.
“Imran Khan bowled the Kartarpur googly at India and as a result, India, which was hesitating to engage with Pakistan, sent two ministers to Pakistan for the ceremony, and they engaged with us,” he said, as Khan listened to the speech from the first row in the audience.
“We are happy that they came, because our message is of peace,” Qureshi added.
While Khan has renewed his proposal for India-Pakistan talks, Swaraj responded Wednesday saying there could be no engagement with Islamabad until it put an end to cross-border terrorism.
Swaraj was invited to attend the Kartarpur corridor ceremony but stayed away citing prior commitments.
Qureshi also raked up the Kashmir dispute, saying it had been the cornerstone of Pakistan’s policy and would continue to remain so until the dispute is resolved.
“On the completion of 100 days of the PTI government, I want to send a message to the Kashmiris… that you are not alone and we are with you,” he said.
All parties in Pakistan are one on the Kashmir issue, he said, reiterating Khan’s statement in Kartarpur.
Qureshi then invited all parties in Pakistan to come together to celebrate Kashmir Day, on 5 February, in London with the flags of Pakistan and Kashmir, where, he said, we can tell the word what is barbarism and what is human rights violations.
He said the world may have forgotten Kashmiris, but Pakistan hadn’t. “Imran will never forget you,” he said.
Qureshi said that Pakistanis have to understand the country’s relations with the US.
“The US has chosen India as its strategic partner in this region and in this situation, we have to manage our relations,” he said.