September 2004 News

HR Abuses In Held Kashmir Main Issue: FO

13 September 2004
The Nation

Islamabad: Pakistan on Monday said it wants to accelerate the peace process with India to resolve Kashmir and other issues but the re-emergence of allegations by New Delhi on the cross-border-terrorism is regrettable. Islamabad wishes to speed up the peace process with India to find a just solution to Kashmir dispute, said Foreign Office spokesman Masood Khan while addressing a weekly Press briefing. Pakistani Spokesman made these comments ahead of the crucial meeting later this month between President General Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. He said, 'Our eyes are fixed on the meeting. This is a very important meeting but let's not speculate about the outcome. Let's hope for the best.' When asked whether Pakistan hopes for a breakthrough on the Kashmir issue at the end of the Summit meeting between Pakistan and India in New York. He said, 'We should quicken the pace. There are no deadlines but the timeframe has to be there.' He added that the ongoing dialogue with India should not be open ended and there must be a certain timetable to resolve the Kashmir issue that has bedeviled relations between the two neighbours. Khan said, 'We have to move to the next critical stage where the engagement is more intense and more productive, where we are really looking at solutions and not skirting the issue.' Terming the cross-border terrorism as a non-issue Masood Khan said it was regrettable that the Indian leadership had started making allegations about Islamabad's support to cross-border infiltration. 'There is no cross-border-terrorism taking place. It's a non issue,' he said. The Spokesman said the real issue is not cross-border- terrorism but increasing human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir which must come to an end. He said there had been a pattern of making such allegations in the past when India used to say no to talks until the 'cross-border-infiltration' ended. 'It changed when India decided to start talks with Pakistan which led to the meeting of the leaders of the two countries on January 6 and an agreement to start the composite dialogue process,' he added. Responding a question, Khan said India has rejected the Pakistani proposal on the appointment of senior representatives from both the sides to discuss the Kashmir issue as it prefers the current mechanism between the two states to resolve the Kashmir issue. To another query about new timetable of meetings between Islamabad and New Delhi, Khan said the foreign secretaries of the two countries would meet in December to review progress on the composite dialogue process and they would also come up with new schedule. Talking about the recent Pak-India talks, he said the New Delhi meeting between the Foreign Ministers was a positive engagement but the difficulties are still there particularly on the complex issue of Kashmir. He said Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz would visit India this year as part of his tour of member states of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. The Prime Minister would also travel to Dhaka in January 2005 to participate in the SAARC summit, where he would meet with his Indian counterpart, he added. To another question on possible APHC re-unification, Khan said Islamabad commends the efforts made by the APHC leaders to forge unity within their ranks. He added that APHC is an important representative body of Kashmiris and it has crucial role in the Kashmir freedom struggle. When asked about the number of Pakistani prisoners yet to be released by Kabul, Khan said 363 prisoners have been released and nine Pakistanis are still languishing in Afghan jails. He termed it a positive development and an important CBM by Kabul. He said Pakistan government is in touch with Afghan authorities for the release of remaining detainees. Talking about the latest situation in Afghanistan's Herat province, he said in view of violence, the staff of the Pakistan Consulate General has been relocated temporarily. He said there has been no damage to the premises of the Consulate and the staff members are safe. In his opening statement, Khan once again asked Pakistani nationals not to travel to Iraq until conditions improve there. He said Pakistani mission in Baghdad has informed that the interim Iraqi government has imprisoned four Pakistanis for travelling to that country without valid visas. He also rejected the allegations reportedly made by the former Bangladeshi Prime Minister Hasina Wajid of Pakistan's involvement in the attack on her party's rally. 'Pakistan and Bangladesh enjoy close friendly relations and we respect the leaders of that country,' he added.


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