ISLAMABAD: Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal hopes that there will be a better environment to pursue peace talks with India after the state assembly elections in the neighbouring country.
Talking to Voice of America, he said that by March these state elections would be over and there would be a better environment to pursue peace talks with India.
In reply to a question, he said: “I think we should be mature enough to think beyond that; India and Pakistan have to live together, we cannot change our geography, and we must think in terms of peace.”
Mr Iqbal said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wanted peace in the region and Pakistan had actively pursued peace with Afghanistan and India because “our development depends on peace in the region”.
Answering a question, he said: “In our elections India is no issue, nobody speaks about India, nobody does any India-bashing, but somehow we feel that the electoral dynamics in India are still quite sensitive to Pakistan-bashing. So whenever you have an electoral process in India, the government takes a certain hawkish position towards Pakistan.”
Terming India’s reaction to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project ‘knee-jerk’, the minister said New Delhi needed to look at CPEC as an opportunity to enhance regional cooperation.
“If you are doing trade through CPEC you can reach out to any destination in China from this area. So we are very hopeful and we continue to work to normalise our relations with India,” Mr Iqbal said.