Speaking at the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Trade and Investment Conference he co-chairs with partners Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo, Khan said he offered India a chance to hold peace talks after being elected prime minister in 2018 but nothing happened.
“Our only dispute is Kashmir and that can only be resolved through dialogue,” he said.
Earlier this month, India said it wanted normal neighborly relations with Pakistan in an environment free from terror, hostility and violence.
“As soon as I came to power I approached our neighbor India and explained to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the way forward for the subcontinent is to resolve our differences through dialogue, “said Khan.
“I didn’t succeed, but I am optimistic in the end that I will win. The only way the subcontinent can overcome poverty is by improving trade relations,” he added.
India says that the responsibility lies with Pakistan to create an environment free from terror and hostility.
“Our position is well known. India wants normal neighborly relations with Pakistan in an environment free from terror, hostility and violence,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava. “The responsibility lies with Pakistan for creating such an environment.”
Relations between India and Pakistan were thinning after a 2016 terror attack on the Pathankot Air Force base by a terror group based in the neighboring country. Further attacks, including one strike Indian Army camp in Uri, further worsening relations.
The relationship worsened after Indian warplanes pounded the Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist training camp deep inside Pakistan on 26 February 2019 in response to Pulwama terror attacks where 40 CRPF jaw killed.
Relations deteriorated after India in August 2019 announced a special withdrawal of powers Jammu and Kashmir and the country’s branching into two union territories.
Khan, who is the first head of state to visit Sri Lanka Since the COVID-19 pandemic, political stability in the region – by maintaining good relations with neighboring countries – ensures a business-friendly environment that results in the development of society as a whole.
Sri Lanka’s Muslim leaders were allowed to meet Khan after an opportunity was initially denied them.
Rauff Hakeem, leader of the main Muslim party – the Muslim Congress of Sri Lanka – said they had a fun and fruitful discussion with Khan. He said the Pakistani prime minister had expressed confidence in the ability of Muslim leaders to achieve communal harmony in the island nation.
Khan is under pressure from local Muslim leaders to raise the issue of forced cremation of Muslim COVID-19 victims.
Sri Lanka has adopted a policy of only allowing cremation for reasons of health concerns despite opposition from the Muslim community and international rights groups who insist on respecting Islamic funeral rites.
Khan congratulated Sri Lanka earlier this month when Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said in Parliament that burials would be allowed for Muslim victims of COVID-19. However, this decision has not been implemented.
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