Don’t get into bear hug with India: Pakistani politician

Islamabad, Feb 18 (IANS) Veteran Pakistani politician Syeda Abida Hussain has urged Islamabad not to get into a bear hug with India as long as Prime Minister Narendra Moodi is in power.

“Modi is distinctly anti-Muslim and more particularly anti-Pakistan. He is not going to let any progress made on Pakistan-India relations,” Abida Hussain told The Nation newspaper.

She urged the government to improve relations with other neighbouring countries, particularly Iran, rather than wasting time “on futile efforts to get close to India”, the daily said.

The politician disagreed with the perception that Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would like to record their names in history by resolving their outstanding disputes.

“Despite his good gestures, Modi is not going to encourage progress on the bilateral talks. So long as he is in power there would be no improvement in relations,” she said.

“As things stand today, Indians are not going to concede an inch on Kashmir and we are also not going to concede much because of our water interests in Kashmir and our commitment with Kashmiris. This being the case, how can we expect much from India?” she asked.

Abida Hussain said there was little chance of any breakthrough on the resumption of composite dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad. “Frankly, I don’t think we will get anywhere with the talks.”

She added: “It is a reality that establishments on both sides of the border are not much enthusiastic to normalise the relations.”

Abida Hussain served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US from 1991 to 1993.

“If we take a very cool view of the current situation, we should adopt the policy of ‘live and let live’ with India,” she said.

“We should not be unduly enthusiastic in our desire to improve relations.
We should not get into a bear hug with India which does not in any way promote Pakistan interests.”

Nonetheless, Pakistan should ensure that hostility between India and Pakistan does not increase, she added.

Abida Hussain also opposed open trade with India which she believed was not beneficial for Pakistan.

“We should have limited trade with India to protect our industry and agriculture.”

Abida Hussain has at various times held the portfolios of education, science and technology, agriculture and environment. In April 1999, she resigned as minister following allegations of power theft.

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