Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday ruled out the possibility of normalization of fraught trade and diplomatic relations with India, saying it will be tantamount to "betraying" Kashmiris.
"Normalizing ties with India at this point means betraying Kashmiris. Pakistan will never compromise on Kashmiris' blood," Khan said in a live telephonic conversation with citizens.
"I tried since the first day after coming into power that we have [friendly] relations with India and the issue of Kashmir is resolved through dialogue but [considering] the situation right now, if we normalize relations with India at this time we will be doing a major betrayal with the people of Kashmir," Imran said.
He added that re-establishing ties at the moment would be tantamount to "ignoring all their struggle and the more than 100,000 Kashmiris martyred".
"There is no doubt that our trade will improve but all their blood will be wasted, so this cannot happen," the prime minister emphasized, saying Pakistan stood with the Kashmiris and was aware of the kind of sacrifices they had given and were giving.
"So this cannot happen that our trade improves at [the cost of] their blood," he said.
Stalled talks, he said, can only be resumed if New Delhi reverses its scrapping of the long-standing semi-autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir.
On Aug. 5, 2019, the Indian government revoked Article 370 and other related provisions from its Constitution, scrapping the country's only Muslim-majority state with its autonomy. It was also split into two federally administered territories.
Simultaneously, it locked the region down, detained thousands of people, imposed movement restrictions and enforced a communications blackout.
Islamabad, in turn, suspended trade ties and downgraded diplomatic relations with New Delhi.
Imran Khan's remarks came amid reports that the top intelligence officials of the two nuclear-armed neighbors met in the United Arab Emirates in January this year in an attempt to stem heightened tensions between the two sides, according to Anadolu News Agency of Turkey.
Last month, UAE's ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba confirmed that Abu Dhabi was mediating between New Delhi and Islamabad to help them reach a "healthy and functional" relationship.
Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba said in a virtual discussion with Stanford University's Hoover Institution on April 14 that the UAE played a role "in bringing Kashmir escalation down and created a ceasefire, hopefully ultimately leading to restoring diplomats and getting the relationship back to a healthy level".
"They might not sort of become best friends but at least we want to get it to a level where it's functional, where it's operational, where they are speaking to each other," he said.
Islamabad, however, rebutted the reports saying no backdoor diplomacy was being held with New Delhi.
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