Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Hindu : News / International : Pakistan “exploring” possibility of bilateral engagement with India

Pakistan “exploring” possibility of bilateral engagement with India
ISLAMABAD, September 24, 2010

Islamabad says for a result-oriented dialogue, ongoing atrocities in Kashmir must stop

Despite the volley of words with India over the past week, Pakistan on Thursday said the possibility of a bilateral engagement in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly “is still being explored through diplomatic channels.” Evidently as part of sizing up such a possibility, Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal had a meeting in the Foreign Office early afternoon but neither side was forthcoming with details.

Drawing up the parameters for such an engagement while maintaining that these were not conditions, Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit reiterated Pakistan's stated position that “if India is willing to resume a comprehensive, sustained and result-oriented dialogue, Pakistan will welcome the move.”

However, he added that ongoing atrocities in Kashmir should be “stopped forthwith” because if India was genuinely looking forward to a result-oriented dialogue, it was incumbent on it to improve the situation on the ground.

Krishna's invitation

As for Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi accepting the July 15 invitation of his Indian counterpart S. M. Krishna for another round of talks in India, Mr. Basit said this would depend on whether India agreed to a comprehensive and sustained dialogue. “Our Foreign Minister has said on several occasions that rather than meeting for photo sessions, we should get down to real hard business and try to resolve our disputes, normalise our relations.”

Rejecting the theory that Pakistan was putting conditions, the spokesman said Islamabad would never accept nor set pre-conditions for talks. “What we are saying is let us negotiate. Unlike India's stance following the Mumbai attacks, our position is based on principles. We have said let us start, let us resume our negotiations. Our negotiations should be comprehensive covering all issues, should be uninterrupted and meaningful. Logic demands that if two countries are resuming their negotiations, then the process should be all-encompassing.”

‘No propaganda'

Mr. Basit maintained that Pakistan had not launched propaganda against India over Kashmir. The ground realities spoke for themselves and “it is Pakistan's duty to sensitise the world on what India is doing in Jammu & Kashmir.”

On the Indian all-party delegation's visit to Kashmir, Pakistan's stance is that unless India introspects, takes a fresh look at its “unhelpful” Kashmir policy, stops treating the State as its integral part and “stops harping on seeking a solution” within the Indian Constitution, no meaningful discussion can take place.

Cosmetic measures

While asserting that cosmetic measures by India would not resolve the issue, the Foreign Office, in a suo motu statement, countered Indian reaction to Pakistan Parliament's resolutions on Kashmir as “self-serving” as J&K is an international issue and subject of several U.N. resolutions.

The statement drew strength from the concern being voiced by the international community on the situation in Kashmir: The U.N. Secretary General's call for an “end to the deadly violence,” the Organisation of Islamic Conference Secretary General's call to “end violence against innocent people in Kashmir,” the Amnesty International's demand to ensure respect for the Kashmiri people's “right to life” and the Human Rights Watch demand for an enquiry into human rights abuses in the State.

Keywords: India, Pakistan, bilateral ties, UNGA

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