Pakistan's new FM wants better relations with India

Pakistan's newly appointed Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi vows to improve Pakistan's ties with countries, including India, Afghanistan, and the US, in his first press conference after being sworn in as a Cabinet member. (Photo by Pakistan Foreign Office)
Updated 20 August 2018
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Pakistan's new FM wants better relations with India

  • There is a need for continued and uninterrupted dialogue between Islamabad and New Delhi, says Shah Mahmood Qureshi
  • Pakistan to improve relations with the US but on the basis of mutual respect, he says

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s new Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday promised to improve his country’s relations with India, Afghanistan and the US through diplomatic engagement and negotiations.
Addressing a news conference at the Foreign Office in Islamabad hours after being sworn in as Pakistan’s foreign minister, Qureshi said that peace and stability in the region would be a cornerstone of his government’s foreign policy.
“We will review Pakistan’s foreign policy and set a new direction where necessary in order to achieve peace and stability in the region,” he said.
Speaking about war-ravaged Afghanistan, the foreign minister said he wanted to visit Kabul with a message of peace and love from Pakistan because stability in both countries is interlinked.
“We need to help each other ... I ask the people of Afghanistan to resolve our issues through bilateral talks and negotiations,” he said.
“I have heard that we have a bilateral agreement in place which has five tracks and we want to move forward with those.”
The foreign minister who is also the vice chairman of the ruling party — Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) — said that his government also wanted to resolve all outstanding issues, including that of Kashmir, through dialogue with India.
“We both — Pakistan and India — are nuclear powers and cannot afford any adventurism,” he said. “We have to engage; we have to accept the realities and resolve all issues amicably.”
“We know the issues are tough and will not be solved overnight, but we have to engage,” he said.
The foreign minister said that there was a need for continued and uninterrupted dialogue between Islamabad and New Delhi as this was the only wise approach for moving ahead.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has written a congratulatory letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan and expressed his desire for dialogue, Qureshi said.
As an answer to one question, the foreign minister said that he was aware of concerns and priorities of the US administration and would try to bridge the trust deficit on both sides.
“We want to improve bilateral relations with America, but on the basis of respect,” he said.
About the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said that it was a game-changer and a long-term project and that the PTI government would continue working with the Chinese leadership on it.
“We would like to see how to enter the phase of socio-economic development as there has been a lot of emphasis only on infrastructure development in the past,” he added.
Qureshi emphasized that the government would try its best to improve the quality of life for the common man through economic diplomacy and international engagement.
“Socio-economic development will remain one of the top priorities of our government,” he said.
The foreign minister said that he would try to build a national consensus through a bipartisan approach regarding the country’s foreign policy. “We will take the opposition parties on board too … I will be representing Pakistan in an upcoming important meeting at the UN,” he added.
The foreign minister also urged Pakistani missions abroad to remember that they are “not rulers. You are meant to serve. The intent with which Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the nation and our attitudes will have to change towards our people.”
“A good nature and courtesy never make you lose anything. You gain friends. Treat our overseas Pakistanis with respect. This is now the duty of all our embassies abroad,” he added.


India’s Election Commission rejects ballot tampering claims

Updated 22 May 2019
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India’s Election Commission rejects ballot tampering claims

  • Authorities tightened security at counting centers where the electronic voting machines have been kept in strong rooms across the country
  • The Indian elections, the world’s largest democratic exercise, ended May 19 after seven rounds of polls staggered over six weeks

NEW DELHI: India’s Election Commission rejected opposition fears of possible tampering of electronic voting machines ahead of the counting of votes Thursday that will determine the outcome of the country’s mammoth national elections.
Authorities on Wednesday tightened security at counting centers where the electronic voting machines have been kept in strong rooms across the country. The winners of most of the 542 seats up for grabs in India’s lower house of Parliament are expected to be known by Thursday evening.
The Congress and other opposition parties were stunned by mainstream TV channels’ exit poll projections on Sunday of a decisive victory for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies.
Top opposition leaders met with Election Commission officials on Tuesday after videos appeared on social media showing some electronic voting machines being moved in north Indian states. They alleged that an attempt was being made to tamper with the verdict in favor of the BJP by replacing electronic voting machines, or EVMs, in some areas.
The Election Commission rejected the allegations in a statement Tuesday.
“The visuals seen viral on media do not pertain to any EVMs used during the polls,” it said, explaining that the footage showed reserve, unused machines being put into storage.
The three-person body said that after the close of polls on Sunday, all voting machines used in the election were brought under security cover to designated strong rooms, which were sealed with double locks.
Since India first introduced electronic voting machines in 1998, rolling them out as the exclusive form of polling in all national and state assembly elections in 2004, glitches have been reported, but challengers’ tampering claims have never been proven.
The Indian elections, the world’s largest democratic exercise, ended May 19 after seven rounds of polls staggered over six weeks. Some 900 million people were registered to vote.