Islamabad: Pakistan’s newly-appointed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has expressed the desire for good relations with India and underlined that durable peace cannot be achieved without a just resolution of the Kashmir dispute, the Foreign Office said here on Monday.

Sharif was sworn in as Pakistan’s 23rd prime minister on April 11 after his predecessor Imran Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote.

Addressing a press conference here, Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmed said that while noting the desire for good relations with India, Prime Minister Sharif already underlined that durable peace cannot be achieved without a just resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir issue.

Prime Minister Sharif has underlined the need to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UNSC resolutions and wishes of the Kashmiri people. This, he said, would enable the two countries to focus on the development challenges, according to the spokesperson.

In response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s congratulatory letter to Sharif, the Pakistani premier had said that the socio-economic development of the people of the two countries as well as the region can be achieved through meaningful India-Pakistan engagement and peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes including that of Jammu and Kashmir.

“As guided by the Prime Minister, Pakistan will continue to proactively advance our diplomacy and partnerships in all bilateral and multilateral domains to effectively safeguard our national interests and play our role in promoting peace and development in the region and beyond, said Ahmed.

Ties between India and Pakistan deteriorated after India announced withdrawing the special powers of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the state into two union territories in August 2019.

India has said that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan in an environment free of terror, hostility, and violence. India has said the onus is on Pakistan to create an environment free of terror and hostility.

Soon after he was elected as the Prime Minister, Sharif in his inaugural speech raised the issue of abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir and said Pakistan will provide them with “diplomatic and moral support” besides raising the matter at every international fora.

He expressed a desire for better ties with India but linked it with the Kashmir issue.

“We want good ties with India but durable peace is not possible until the Kashmir dispute is resolved,” he had said.

The FO spokesperson also said that Pakistan on the eve of Baisakhi celebrations issued over 2200 visas to Sikh pilgrims from India to participate in the festival from April 12 to 21. The visas issued from New Delhi were in addition to the visas granted to Sikh pilgrims participating in these events from other countries.

The pilgrims visited revered sites like Panja Sahib, Nankana Sahib and Kartarpur Sahib.

“Pakistan takes immense pride in preserving sacred religious places and providing necessary facilitation to the visitors. Marking the occasion, the Prime Minister accorded a warm welcome to the Sikh pilgrims and a spiritually fulfilling yatra, he said.

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