“Conflict resolution” must for peace in South Asia: Pak FM Qureshi at SCO meet

Bishkek | Pakistan has delivered a “message of peace” by opening the Kartarpur Corridor for Sikh pilgrims from India, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Wednesday as he underlined the importance of “conflict resolution” for peace and stability in South Asia.

Addressing the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting here in the Kyrgyz capital, also attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Qureshi said Pakistan condenmed terrorism in all its forms but stressed the need for addressing the “root causes” of the problem.

“Enduring peace and prosperity in South Asia will remain elusive without good-faith diplomacy and result-oriented dialogue,” he said in his address. India has told Pakistan that talks and terrorism will not go hand in hand.

“Pakistan has given the message of peace by opening the Kartarpur Corridor for the Sikh community,” he said.

Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after the February 14 Pulwama attack by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror group which killed 40 CRPF personnel.

Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting a 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 Indian pilot, who was handed over to India on March 1.

Condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, Qureshi stressed the need for “addressing the root causes of the problem,” Geo News quoted the foreign minister as saying.

He informed other foreign ministers of the SCO that Pakistan was among one of the few countries to have “successfully fought” and “reversed” the tide of terrorism and extremism and was ready to share its experience and expertise with the SCO states through the Regional Anti Terrorist Structure.

Pakistan initiated work on the Kartarpur Corridor to facilitate pilgrimage of Sikh pilgrims to visit their holy shrine, he said, adding that “the Shanghai Spirit was being reinforced through the Kartarpur Spirit.”

Last November, India and Pakistan agreed to set up the border crossing linking Gurudwara Darbar Sahib in Pakisan’s Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev, to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India’s Gurdaspur district.

Kartarpur Sahib is located in Pakistan’s Narowal district across the river Ravi, about four km from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine. The Shrine is visible from the Indian side of the border and everyday a larger number of Sikh devotees gather to perform Darshan or sacred viewings of the site.

The two sides have continued talks on the corridor despite their recent military standoff after the Pulwama terror attack.

Pakistan is hopeful that the landmark corridor will become functional on the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak in November this year.

Qureshi also said Afghanistan remained central to Pakistan’s efforts to forge lasting regional stability and consistently called for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of dialogue and reconciliation as the only viable way forward.

The foreign minister mentioned that as the leadership of SCO member states would meet in June, there was a need to discuss the challenges confronting sustainable growth, environment and collective security.

Qureshi also presented a seven-point agenda at the SCO meeting focusing on confidence-building measures among member states including control on weapons race, establishment of joint fund and international framework to combat corruption and crime, Pakistan’s official APP news agency reported.

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