ISLAMABAD - Defence Minister Khawaja Asif Tuesday said that Pakistan and India can resolve their disputes through dialogue, but he added that Islamabad's desire for peace should not be taken as weakness. Talking to media persons after addressing a function at Institute of Strategic Studies Khawaja Asif criticised US saying that Washington's policies have failed to ensure peace in the region.

"People of this region have to bear the brunt of US policies which failed to ensure peace," he said. He however added that recent visit of Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif has clearly improved Pakistan’s ties with the US.

The minister stressed the need for restarting Pak-India dialogue to resolve mutual disputes, saying that Islamabad wanted cordial relationship with New Delhi "but on the grounds of dignity and equality". He said, soon after taking over the control, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed his desire for peace with India. However, he regretted that for the last few months, this desire has been misconceived by the other side.

He said, while visiting India, the prime minister reiterated his desire to work for peace with India, but the situation on the borders deteriorated. Asif said the process of unprovoked firing by Indian forces is not good for peace.

He said, "We want to have durable friendship with India and want to pursue the path of peace and regional stability." He expressed the hope that the SAARC Summit would help Pakistan and India forge better relations and deescalate tension.

Answering a question, the minister said contacts and trade between SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries should be increased for rapid development and prosperity of member countries. To another question, the minister clarified that Pakistan Army has been carrying out operation against terrorists sans any discrimination, adding that the forces have given great sacrifices in the fight against terrorism.

He said the US has been a partner of Pakistan in the war against terrorism. He said, however, the recent statement of US Defence Department is very much discomforting. He said, "We have a very robust army, which is fighting war against terrorism, on which the Americans have doubts."

"Expressing doubts over the sacrifices rendered by our security forces is deplorable," he said. The minister said, "We want to rebuild trust between the two countries." He added that Pakistan will buy Russian arms to use them in terror fight.

Khwaja Asif said in the last 2-3 decades the country suffered a lot in the war against terrorism. The terrorists targeted children, women, mosques, churches and temples. He said the terrorists are playing havoc with the country and posing a serious threat to the very survival of the country. “But our commitment to the war against terrorism is unshakable and we will continue fighting against terrorism.”

The minister said peace and stability in Afghanistan is imperative for peace in the region. He said no country should interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan for peace in that country. He said Islamabad will not interfere in the internal affairs of Kabul.

The defence minister said that a viable national security narrative is interlinked with sound economy. He said that in the last two to three decades, the country's economy has suffered immensely due to energy crisis and terrorism.

Khwaja Asif said that China has remained a reliable and trustworthy friend of Pakistan in the last 4-5 decades. He said that contracts worth $45 billion were being finalised with China. The projects are related to energy, infrastructure, railway, Gwadar Port and other areas. 

He said the economy would soon be on the road to recovery, which will ensure national security. He said, by 2017, the electricity and energy projects would be completed, adding that Pakistan is importing Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and soon would get rid from load shedding. He said that security is badly needed in this time of turmoil and instability. He said, "We don't want hostility with anyone but we must be cognizant to know about what is going on in our surroundings."

ISSI Director General Dr Rasul Bakhsh Rais said on the occasion that Pakistan has a good number of intellectuals. He said the institute has distinguished scholarship programmes. The director general said that the aim of the institute of strategic studies was to invite national, regional, foreign and western scholars to make analysis of the security situation.

Dr Rais said, "We have to create a society where ideas originate for developing a pluralistic society. He said the Institute provides choices to democratic leadership for formulating national security policy. He also said that Pakistan should play its full role in helping Afghanistan achieve peace, but it must not interfere in its internal affairs.

The conference is being attended by ambassadors, international organisations, scholars, governmental and non-governmental organisations, senior members of the diplomatic corps, armed forces and senior civil citizens. The participant speakers presented research papers on different dimensions of national security narratives.

Kh Asif also said that ISIS was established to topple the Syrian government, but now the whole world is under threat.