Pakistan can't speak to India at the cost of dignity: Sharif

Pakistan can't speak to India at the cost of dignity: Sharif

A day after leaving the Saarc summit, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi and him seemed perfunctorily cordial, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif asserted that bilateral talks with India should not be at the cost of his county’s dignity and reputation.

He told reporters on his return from Kathmandu that Pakistan was against “talks for the sake of talking”, taking a similar stand to India, which asserted that the Pakistan and Indian prime ministers shaking hands did not signify an imminent bilateral dialogue.
“We shouldn’t just talk for the sake of talking, intention should be right. We should move ahead with right intentions,” Sharif said. “The meeting of the foreign secretaries has been cancelled, but we can exchange greetings. We can at least ask about each other’s well-being. We shook hands,” he said on his first brief interaction with Modi at the Saarc retreat at Dhulikhel on Thursday.

Sharif said he shook hands with Modi twice and exchanged pleasantries at the summit in Nepal, but asserted that Pakistan desires a “meaningful” dialogue to resolve all issues, including the Kashmir dispute. The Pakistan prime minister also stated that if India wants to restore ties, the Kashmir issue must be discussed and “that too seriously with full sincerity”.

“Foreign secretary-level talks were cancelled by India. Pakistan’s dignity, self respect and reputation should not be marred. Keeping this in mind, talks should be result-oriented. If both sides want to solve the problem forever we should have serious talk over the contentious issues, including Kashmir,” he said. Sharif said India should not have cancelled the Foreign Secretary-level talks.

“We had been talking to the Kashmiri leaders in the past whenever Pakistan-India talks were held. This is nothing new as we have to seek the opinion of the Kashmiri leaders on an issue that concerns them the most,” Sharif said.

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