Ceasefire decision positive but falls short, says Pak.
21 December 2000
B. Muralidhar Reddy
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is of the view that the Prime Minister, Mr. A.B. Vajpayee''s decision to extend the Jammu and Kashmir ceasefire has a ''positive tone, yet it falls short of a clear response'' to its December 2 initiative. A Foreign Ministry spokesman told a news conference here today that while Pakistan had come forward with a comprehensive approach on resumption of dialogue, the response from India was that of ''conditional statements''. On Mr. Vajpayee''s statement on exploratory steps for resumption of dialogue, the spokesman said Pakistan was ready for an unconditional dialogue at any time, any place and any level. ''The dialogue can take in any shape. We are ready for it. We only want to ensure that there is meaningful progress towards settlement of long-standing dispute on Kashmir.'' He said Pakistan''s initiative envisaged a comprehensive approach with three main features. These are maximum restraint along the Line of Control with an appeal to India to ''completely abandon violence and repression''; consultations with the Kashmiri leadership, especially the All- Parties Hurriyat Conference and resumption of bilateral dialogue after Ramzan with the participation of the Kashmiri leadership for a just solution to the Kashmir conflict. The spokesman said the latest unilateral step to withdraw a part of troops from the LoC was yet another demonstration of Pakistan''s willingness to reduce tensions. ''This step should help start a meaningful dialogue with India to address the long-standing Kashmir dispute. Pakistan''s maximum restraint and India''s offer of ceasefire are, however, a means and not an end themselves.'' On ''composite dialogue'' with India, the spokesman said it meant dialogue at the level of Foreign Secretaries with a set agenda. The first two items of the agenda are Kashmir and security to be followed by other matters. ''We are for a composite dialogue, with Kashmir as a priority, that remains halted for the last two years''. Asked if the latest initiatives were due to international pressure, the spokesman said that international community had always been keen on an early resolution of the Kashmir dispute and resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan. To a question on the relevance of the United Nations resolutions on Kashmir, he said Pakistan''s position was firmly based on U.N. resolution on the self-determination right of people of Kashmir through a plebiscite. The modalities on the presence of security forces in Kashmir on both sides were spelt out in the 1952 resolution of the U.N. Security Council. As per the resolution, Pakistan could post 3,000 to 6,000 security forces in Kashmir and India between 12,000 and 18,000 in their respective areas of control, he said. ''Pakistan remains ready and committed to implementation of the U.N. resolution, Shimla Agreement and Lahore Declaration''. Pakistan was prepared to abide by any of the modalities prescribed in the U.N. charter, including international mediation for resolution of the Kashmir dispute. He said he was not aware of any role being played by Saudi Arabia on Kashmir.