In an apt demonstration of just why Pakistan's assertions simply cannot be taken at face value, it has emerged that days before the Pakistan BAT (border action-) team was mutilating an Indian BSF Jawan at the border, the country's new Prime Minister, Imran Khan, was writing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling for a resumption of peace and for talks.
In the letter, which has been accessed by Republic TV, the cricketer-turned-head of state has sought a meeting between India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) scheduled to be held starting September 25.
Imran Khan's letter entails the first formal proposal by either country for a substantive engagement between the two countries. In his congratulatory letter to Imran Khan on becoming Prime Minister, PM Modi had expressed his hope that India and Pakistan could have a "meaningful and constructive" engagement -- something that was immediately misconstrued and echoed as a call for dialogue by Pak foreign minister Qureshi. Later, Pakistan issued a clarification over the statement.
Imran Khan's letter does, as expected, mention Jammu and Kashmir, closely followed by the line:
"Pakistan remains ready to discuss terrorism".
Dear Modi Sahab,
I wish to thank you for your warm greetings and best wishes on my assumption of charge as the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
I endorse your sentiment that the only way forward for our two countries lies in "constructive engagement". It was in this spirit that Pakistan's Minister of Law and Information attended the funeral of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi. Mr Vajpayee contributed in trying to bring a positive change in our bilateral relations and was also a major proponent of a strong SAARC for building bridges and developing ties.
Pakistan and India have an undeniably challenging relationship. We, however, owe it to our peoples, especially the future generations, to peacefully resolve all outstanding issues, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, to bridge differences and achieve a mutually beneficial outcome. Siachin and Sir Creek also need close attention to move towards resolution.
Pakistan remains ready to discuss terrorism.
Discussions on trade, people to people contacts, religious tourism, humanitarian issues are also important.
Building on the mutual desire for peace between our two countries, I wish to propose a meeting between Foreign Minister, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi and the External Affairs Minister, Ms Sushma Swaraj, before the informal meeting of the SAARC Foreign Ministers at the sidelines of the upcoming UN General Assembly in New York. They can explore the way forward, especially the holding of the SAARC Council of Ministers followed by the SAARC Summit in Islamabad. The summit will offer an opportunity for you to visit Pakistan and for us to restart the stalled dialogue process.
I look forward to working with you for the benefit of the people of both our countries.
Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.