Imran Khan & Narendra Modi
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Pakistan desires peace in the region and wants to resolve all outstanding issues with its neighbor including the disputed Kashmir region, Prime Minister Imran Khan told his Indian counterpart in a letter.
Pakistan desires peace in the region and wants to resolve all outstanding issues with its neighbor including the disputed Kashmir region, Prime Minister Imran Khan told his Indian counterpart in a letter.
Relations between the two countries have traditionally been volatile, but they hit their lowest point in decades following a February suicide attack in Indian-administered Kashmir that killed 42 paramilitary troopers. Responsibility was claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed. There followed military escalations and even an aerial dogfight, bringing both countries to the brink of war. 
 
Tensions have barely eased since then, although the foreign ministers from both countries had an unscheduled and informal meeting on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) gathering in Kyrgyzstan. Khan and Modi are scheduled to attend an SCO meeting from June 13, again in Kyrgyzstan, but their foreign ministries deny that any bilateral meeting will take place.
 
“Pakistan desires peace in the region and wants to resolve all outstanding issues including Kashmir through dialogue,” Khan wrote. 
 
He emphasized the need to work together “on the basis of mutual respect and trust” to address challenges faced by the people of both the countries, including poverty and underdevelopment. 
 
“Dialogue is the only way to lift people of both the countries out of poverty,” he said, adding that Pakistan was keen for peace in the region and that joint efforts were essential for regional peace, progress and prosperity.
 
It is the second time that Khan has expressed a desire to revive dialogue with India since Modi stormed to victory in a general election last month to secure a second term in office. The former cricketer tweeted his congratulations to the ruling party and said he wanted to work with Modi for regional peace, progress and prosperity. 
 
Modi, in response, expressed his gratitude for Khan’s good wishes and said he had always “given primacy” to peace and development in the region. “It takes two to tango,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammad Faisal told Arab News on Friday. “We have repeatedly expressed our desire to start a productive dialogue with India, but if they are not interested, we can’t force them.”
 
He said Pakistan was uninterested in “mere handshakes with the Indian leadership” as such gestures in the past had “failed to yield any meaningful results.”
 
Foreign affairs analyst Dr. Hasan Askari Rizvi said Khan’s letter to Modi was an attempt to show the international community that Pakistan wanted to initiate a meaningful dialogue. “There is no indication of resumption of bilateral dialogue from the India side … and now it is the responsibility of the international community to take stock of New Delhi’s intransigence and influence it for productive negotiations,” he said.
 
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British rule of the subcontinent in 1947. Both South Asian countries claim the territory in full and have fought wars over it.