Following the first high-level talks between India and Pakistan in months, Pakistan's Ambassador to Germany, Syed Hasan Javed, tells DW all pillars of power in his country favor a lasting peace with New Delhi.
DW: Relations within the regional triangle, Pakistan-Afghanistan-India, have not been at their best in recent years. But now we see visits by Pakistan's Army chief to Kabul and by the Indian Foreign Secretary to Islamabad. Is this the beginning of a new era of trustful cooperation?
S. H. Javed: The changes that have been taking place both in the region and relations between Pakistan, Afghanistan and India are far-reaching. Talks between the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan hadn't taken place for long time.
But these discussions should take place as they are the best way to ensure regional peace and security. Pakistan and India should be looking towards the future. Furthermore, we wish that no country in South Asia should strive for hegemony as this creates problems.
Do you view the Indian Foreign Secretary's recent visit to Pakistan as a positive sign from New Delhi?
In my opinion, this should have happened much earlier. A lot of precious time was lost when contact was suspended last August. When Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif went to India to take part in the oath-taking ceremony of his counterpart Narendra Modi, it was a gesture of goodwill from Islamabad to the new Indian political leadership.
Sharif's attendance at Modi's inauguration 'was a gesture of goodwill from Islamabad to the new Indian political leadership,' says Javed
Moreover, PM Sharif showed his willingness to improve bilateral relations, particularly as both countries are trying to push their economic growth agendas.
Which areas of cooperation with India could you identify?
There are numerous areas - the sky is the limit. If India's leadership and the people extended a friendly hand towards Pakistan, our leadership and people would extend two. We would react to friendship with friendship. To this end, it is vital that all problems between the two neighbors are resolved.
Analysts believe there are differences between the Nawaz Sharif government and the Pakistani Army regarding engaging in talks with India. Does the Pakistani Army really support peace talks with New Delhi?
Not only the Pakistani Army, but also the government, political leaders, political parties and the nation as a whole favor having good relations with India. No pillar of power in Pakistan has any objection to it. The Pakistani Army sees the benefits which a lasting regional peace would bring to South Asia, especially to Pakistan. That is a point on which all pillars of power in Pakistan have a joint stand.
Can India and Pakistan bring about any improvement in their relations without solving the Kashmir issue first?
The Jammu and Kashmir issue is an old conflict. There are multiple UN resolutions which bind India, Pakistan and the international community to solve this problem jointly. We have also tried many times in the past to leave the Jammu and Kashmir issue aside. But this could not be done, also because this conflict is not only between India and Pakistan.
The Kashmiri people also play a role. This is now an issue about the international community honoring the promises it made to the Kashmiri people. Without solving this conflict, any efforts to improve ties between Islamabad and New Delhi would remain incomplete.
Considering the rise of Hindu nationalism in India and its stance towards minorities, do you think it presents a hurdle for New Delhi to have closer relations with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan?
Things are not moving in the right direction in India. The basic existence and identity of the Indian state was defined to be secular 67 years ago. Today secularism is being pushed out of all areas there. Internationally, nothing is being said about this.
Perhaps the world is more interested in India's size as a state or the total volume of its economy. But the Hindu nationalist agenda is not in India's own interest. Pakistan comes later.
The Hindu nationalists are a threat to India. Moreover, their mantra of Pakistan becoming a so-called failed state is something they should get rid of.
Javed: 'The Pakistani Army sees the benefits which a lasting regional peace would bring to South Asia'
Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law is something equally strongly criticized at home and abroad. Is there a chance to abolish or amend this law to stop its misuse, especially against minorities?
The blasphemy issue in Pakistan is a critically important issue. This law was passed by a two-third majority in the federal parliament. If you closely look at the cases in which people made use of this law, the accused also include many Muslims.
The blasphemy cases are not always against Christians or other minorities. We are doing our best to stop the misuse of this law. We are also investigating the potential abuse the law, and inquiring if people are misusing it for personal gains or to even settle individual animosities.
Syed Hasan Javed is Pakistan's Ambassador to Germany.
The interview was conducted in Urdu by Maqbool Ahmad Malik of DW's Urdu service.