Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday said that Pakistan would welcome the third-party facilitation by Saudi Arabia or any other country for resumption of talks with India. “Pakistan is ready for third-party facilitation. It is India that has always shied away from it,” he said in a press conference held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad. The minister said that Saudi Arabia was the friend of Pakistan and also had business ties with India, which was a big importer of Saudi oil. “If Saudi Arabia wants to play a role in facilitating talks, we will welcome,” he said. He recalled that the ceasefire agreement between Pakistan and India was welcomed by the world including Saudi Arabia. He confirmed that there were no formal talks at the moment with India, however said if India wanted it to make it happen, it must take the first step forward. He said that if India wants a meaningful dialogue with Pakistan, it has to review its policy on Kashmir and undo the revocation of their special status. He called upon India to give relief to the Kashmiri people, who were suffering the 19-month-long military siege and the search and cordon operations, and thus pave way for a conducive environment for talks. To a question regarding his recent statement on Article-370 of the India constitution, he said that Pakistan was firm on its stance that Kashmir was not an internal matter of India. “Pakistan has not taken any U-turn and will never do so. The dispute, which is at the agenda of United Nations Security Council with several resolutions on it, cannot be an internal matter of India,” he categorically said. “There is no ambiguity and Pakistan will continue highlighting the plight of Kashmiris at all international fora.” By revoking Article 35-A, he said that India was distorting the demography of the occupied territories and denying the Kashmiris their identity. On Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, he said it led to development of a positive understanding at both sides that promoting their mutual relationship was need of the hour. WIN-WIN COOPERATION Besides agreement on investments, bilateral trade and creation of job opportunities, the extraordinary development was putting in place for the first time an institutionalized mechanism with three pillars – security, economic and cultural and soft image, and chalking out who would be leading the respective areas, he said. “This Saudi visit was different in a sense that it defeated the designs of the elements that were trying to create a wedge between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Now, it is a win-win cooperation.” He said that under the Vision 2030 of Crown Prince, around 10 million workforce was required in next few years and the leadership wanted to allocate a big chuck for Pakistanis. “In addition to blue-collar jobs, we have to prepare our workforce for the white-collar jobs through their capacity-building at professional sides,” he said. He said the $500 million Saudi fund would help Pakistan meet its energy needs through development of hydropower projects. He said Saudi Arab had a special place in Muslim community which looked towards it for a leadership role, saying that Pakistan welcomed initiation of talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran to ease tension. Asked if the Saudi assistance to Pakistan would lead to favours in return, he said, “Pakistan is not paying a price. It knows its own interests.” He said, “Diplomacy is not an instant job, but one has to chip and work on the matters through persistent efforts. Pakistan will protect its interests in any case,” he added.