Kartarpur border cannot be opened till India responds: Foreign Office

The opening of the Kartarpur border crossing is conditional on India responding to Pakistan, Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said on Thursday.

Dismissing criticism, Dr Faisal also said that Pakistan was not "pleading" with India to hold talks, but that it was the latter who had initiated contact.

Last month, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had contacted Prime Minister Imran Khan and had sought "meaningful and constructive" engagement between the neighbouring countries. A few weeks later, Times of India had reported that PM Khan had responded to Modi and had proposed to hold a meeting between the foreign ministers of both countries.

India had agreed to the proposal, but retracted its decision a day later, citing the alleged killing of an Indian soldier. The move had incited a sharp response from Pakistani authorities, including PM Khan, who expressed his "disappointment".

During today's briefing, the FO spokesperson said that Pakistan "could only try" to co-exist peacefully with its neighbour.

Dr Faisal also claimed that about 18 Kashmiris had been killed by the Indian forces within the past two weeks. He condemned the killing of Kashmiris as well as the use of chemical weapons by the Indian army in held Kashmir.

When asked about Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav's trial at the Inter­national Court of Justice (ICJ), Dr Faisal said that Pakistan was "fully prepared" to contest the case. The hearings of the case will be held at the ICJ headquarters in The Hague from February 18-21, next year.

The FO spokesperson also talked about Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi's recent meetings with United States National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, claiming that talks with the US were "moving in a positive direction".

"This is why a second major meeting was held within a month," he said. Pompeo had visited Islamabad last month after PM Khan's government was sworn in office. Dr Faisal also hinted that another meeting between US and Pakistani officials would take place this month; however, he did not take any names.

When asked if there was a change in Pakistan's position on Shakeel Afridi, the man who helped the US nab Osama bin Laden, Dr Faisal clarified that while Islamabad was ready to talk about the matter, its stance remained the same.



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