India trying to sidestep K-issue: Gilani
REZAUL H LASKAR
Islamabad, Feb 11: Pakistan today accused India of trying to sidestep the Kashmir issue and insisted on its inclusion in the upcoming Foreign Secretary- level talks, saying the composite dialogue on all outstanding issues is the “only way forward”.
“In fact, they (India) do not want to talk about Kashmir,” Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told reporters on the sidelines of an official function here.
He was replying to a question on India’s proposal for the Foreign Secretaries-level talks.
In contrast to India’s reluctance to resume the composite dialogue for now, Gilani made it clear that the process, covering eight issues including Kashmir and stalled since the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, is the “only way forward”.
Following a meeting between Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao in New Delhi, officials of the two sides were in touch to work out dates and modalities for talks, Gilani said. Rao had proposed February 18 and 25 as dates for the talks with her Pakistan counterpart Salman Bashir. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi indicated that February 25 suited Pakistan, saying it is “not a bad date”.
India had said it will raise its concerns on “terrorism emanating from Pakistan during the talks.” “I believe we should move forward. Common sense states that talks should be held as soon as possible,” Qureshi said.
“What is important is that we start talking. Of course we feel that these talks should be to re-start the composite dialogue and take it up from where we left off. After all, all the issues that both sides want to raise are included in the composite dialogue,” Qureshi said in separate interviews to Geo news channel and the News daily.
“We have many outstanding issues on our agenda, like the Kashmir issue that India recognises. There is the waters issue on which there should be talks,” he said. “If you do not hold talks on these issues, the talks will not be beneficial. Do you want progress or just talks? We want progress and not talks for the sake of talks. We want meaningful and result-oriented talks,” he said.
Pakistan, he said, would approach the talks with an open mind.
Following India’s recent offer to hold talks, Qureshi chaired an inter-ministerial meeting yesterday to assess the proposal and to formulate Pakistan’s response. A Foreign Office statement issued after the meeting made it clear that Pakistan favoured the resumption of the stalled composite dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 11 Feb 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 11 Feb 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 12 Feb 2010 00:00:00 IST
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