Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Thursday said Prime Minister Imran Khan bowled a “googly” to ensure Indian government’s presence at the groundbreaking ceremony of the landmark Kartarpur Corridor.
Qureshi’s remarks came a day after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj categorically ruled out the possibility of resumption of bilateral talks with Pakistan unless it stops cross-border terror activities against India.
Pakistan earlier invited Swaraj for Wednesday’s ceremony. But Swaraj said she was unable to travel to Kartarpur Sahib due to prior commitments. India was represented at the events by Union ministers Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Hardeep Singh Puri.
Qureshi said that opening of the Kartarpur border was a “big achievement” of the cricketer-turned-politician’s government, which on Thursday completed the first 100 days in office after winning the general elections.
“Imran delivered a googly and India sent two ministers to Pakistan,” he said, using a cricketing term.
A googly is a leg-spinner’s prize weapon, which is almost undetectable.
Qureshi noted that it was the same Indian government that had said it will not engage with Pakistan.
He said a meeting with Indian counterpart Swaraj was fixed on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last year but it was cancelled by India. He also said that India refused to engage even after the letter written by Prime Minister Khan to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to resume bilateral talks.
He was referring to the letter Khan wrote in September, seeking to seeking to re-start the bilateral talks.
Nearly 24 hours after agreeing to have a bilateral meeting between Swaraj and Qureshi on the sidelines of the UNGA, India called off the meeting, citing the brutal killings of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir and Islamabad releasing postage stamps “glorifying” Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani.
“Tensions with India are not hidden from anyone but our approach is people-centric and we need peace for people to prosper. We need peace in order to speed up the development of our country,” Qureshi said.
He recalled that “Imran Khan said he will take two steps for every one step India takes.” Qureshi also condemned the violence in Kashmir and said that Pakistan always stood with people of Kashmir and would always stand by them. “This is one issue on which all political parties are united,” he said.
Speaking on Pakistan’s “achievements” in international relations during the first 100 days of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government, Qureshi said that Pakistan’s case at global level was not heard before — something he said his ministry was trying to address.
“Our neighbour wanted to weaken Pakistan,” he said, in an apparent reference to India. “We could not present Pakistan’s case before the world because we did not have a lawyer.
The foreign minister said that the first thing on the government’s foreign agenda was to have better relations with Afghanistan.
The Pakistan foreign minister said the new government has now carved out from scratch the country’s foreign policy priorities. He said government was committed to have peaceful ties with all neighbours. He said that Pakistan had set up institutional framework with Afghanistan to settle all problems.
Qureshi said that Pakistan gave a lot of importance to relations with Iran and would not let the ties with Tehran to deteriorate.
He said relations with China were solid and poised to further deepen as the two sides have given new direction to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Qureshi also said Pakistan wanted to strengthen ties with the United States, which has been pressing Islamabad to do more to curb terrorism.