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‘Delhi will have to take the first step’: peace with Pakistan will give India direct access to Central Asia, says Imran

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said India will be benefitted economically by having peace with his country as it will enable New Delhi to directly access the resource-rich Central Asia region through Pakistani territory.

Delivering the inaugural address at the launch of the two-day Islamabad Security Dialogue, Khan also said that his government after coming to power in 2018 did everything for better ties with India and it was for India to reciprocate.

“India will have to take the first step. Unless they do so, we cannot do much,” he said.

India last month 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.

Khan discussed Pakistan’s vision of comprehensive national security, built on the pillars of traditional and non-traditional security, including his vision for economic prosperity and human welfare.

Khan dwelt at length on the issue of peace in the region, including peace between Pakistan and India, saying “the unresolved Kashmir issue was the biggest hurdle between the two countries.” 

“If India gives the Kashmiris their right under the UN (resolutions), it will be greatly beneficial for Pakistan as well as for India,” he said and added, “India can access Central Asia after peace.” Khan said that having a direct route to the Central Asian region will economically benefit India. Central Asia is rich in oil and gas.

Central Asia, in the modern context, generally includes five resource-rich countries — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

India and Pakistan had announced on February 25 that they have agreed to strictly observe all agreements on ceasefire along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and other sectors.

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