India’s hegemonic aspirations a threat for Pakistan: Qureshi

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday said India’s hegemonic aspirations were a threat for Pakistan and the region’s security whereas Pakistani moves to strengthen its defence were aimed at maintaining deterrence.

Speaking at Air University, the minister touched upon the foreign policy priorities and dwelt at length on Indian actions that were undermining regional peace and security.

Noting that peace in South Asia was being affected by “major power rivalries, regional tensions, unresolved disputes and hegemonic ambitions”, Mr Qureshi criticised India for pursuing offensive military doctrines, engaging in nuclear blackmail, rejecting proposals for strategic restraint and refusing to resolve outstanding disputes through dialogue.

India’s “hegemonic pretensions, coupled with a history of aggression against its neighbours, present a clear and present danger to regional stability, and to Pakistan’s security,” he maintained.

Says New Delhi is building up nuclear and conventional military forces

Mr Qureshi said India was building up its nuclear and conventional military forces and acquiring destabilising capabilities, including nuclearisation of the Indian Ocean and deployment of anti-ballistic missiles besides developing and testing debris-generating anti-satellite weapons.

On India’s repressive actions in held Kashmir, the minister said while those acts were causing immense sufferings to eight million Kashmiris, the unilateral moves also posed grave risks to peace and security.

He also pointed towards the lingering fear of a false flag operation by India for creating a pretext to attack Pakistan.

India, he said, was attempting to mislead the world by portraying “normalcy” in the valley through sham actions of so-called restoration of cellphone service.

He believed that the intention behind annexation of the valley on Aug 5 and the subsequent actions was to “alter the internationally-recognised disputed status of occupied J&K and to change its demographic structure and identity.”

Pakistan, he said, desires peace and strategic stability in order to focus on its socioeconomic development agenda.

“Our conduct continues to be defined by restraint and responsibility, and the avoidance of an arms race. Pakistan, however, cannot remain oblivious to the evolving security dynamics in its immediate neighbourhood,” he added.

Mr Qureshi said Pakistan’s quest for its security was not a zero-sum game.

“We believe in win-win outcomes, maximising the dividends for all. We hope our constructive approach will be reciprocated by others and there will be a new momentum for peace, progress and prosperity,” he added.

US-Taliban talks

The foreign minister hoped that the US and Taliban would soon resume their talks which would then lead to an intra-Afghan process.

Pakistan had earlier this month hosted US and Taliban delegations for the first direct contact since their negotiation process broke down in September after an attack in Kabul in which an American soldier was killed.

The two sides held behind the scenes talks during their stay in Islamabad. The meetings reportedly ended on a positive note.

Mr Qureshi said Pakistan remained committed to supporting all efforts aimed at peace in Afghanistan, extending development assistance and assisting in creation of conditions that would allow the repatriation of over three million Afghan refugees living in Pakistan.

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