Pakistan, India May Opt For 'Give & Take'
4 October 2004
Islamabad: The Foreign Office on Monday hinted at the willingness of Pakistan and India to abdicate their stated positions on Kashmir and opt for 'give and take' to resolve the core issue. Addressing a weekly Press briefing here, the Foreign Office spokesman Masood Khan said during their historic summit in New York President Musharraf and the Indian prime minister agreed to explore possible options on Kashmir which underlined political will of the two sides to settle the core issue. He said the talks between the two sides in New York were based on 'give and take'. He said, 'Both the leaders crossed one barrier in New York and they talked about the possible options on Kashmir for the peaceful negotiated settlement of the dispute.' He said now we have reached the stage where the two sides could discuss various options. 'In the past the two countries had been expressing their stated positions but now, for the first time, they have agreed to explore options on the lingering dispute which is an important step forward,' he said. He said during the last well over 50 years Pakistan and India have met bilaterally and sought assistance of the UN as well but despite that we did not have a solution to Kashmir issue. If the solution to Kashmir issue is an objective both the sides need to move away from the stated positions, he said. When asked whether any such approach would not be a deviation from UN resolutions on Kashmir issue which has been the old stance of Pakistan, Khan said these resolutions ask for a settlement of the core dispute in accordance with the wishes of Kashmiri people. He said there is a feeling all around that the leadership of two countries get together and come up with a solution that is in line with the wishes of the Kashmiris and acceptable to people of both Pakistan and India. Khan however, cautioned against over expectations, and said the peace talks between Pakistan and India is a nascent process that needs to be nurtured carefully. Pakistani spokesman said in the backdrop of recent engagements between the two countries it could be said that there is a will on the part of governments in Islamabad and New Delhi to move towards some sort of resolution. He said for the first time in history the two sides moved from just talking on identifying areas to an agreement on exploring possible options to find a negotiated peaceful settlement to Kashmir issue. Answering a question on future meetings between the two sides on Siachen and other issues, Khan said the two sides have a calendar of engagements for the last quarter of the year on various issues including nuclear CBMs, Sir Creek and other matters including Siachen. He said the two foreign secretaries will also meet in December this year to review the progress on peace process agenda items. To a question on a request by IAEA for direct interview with Dr A Q Khan, he said Pakistan has been cooperating with the UN nuclear watchdog and would continue to do so to neutralise the nuclear black market. However, he categorically stated that Pakistani government would not provide anyone's access to Pakistani scientists, adding that Islamabad would continue to cooperate with IAEA as a non- NPT state. Khan also denied media reports attributed to US National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice that the United States is seeking extradition of Dr Khan's security chief. To another question as to whether there was any request by Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, the UN special envoy to Iraq for Pakistani troops to the Arab country, he said Mr Qazi visited Pakistan in his personal capacity and did not make any request on sending troops to Iraq during his meeting with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. Such a request has to come directly from the United Nations, he added. Answering a query, Khan said Pakistan is completely impartial as far as the electoral process in Afghanistan is concerned. However, he added we remain fully committed to the Bonn process. The elections in Afghanistan would usher in an era of peace and stability and lead to an acceleration of the reconstruction efforts in that country, he said. 'Pakistan has been helping UNAMA (United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan) and other international agencies in registration of Pakistan-based Afghan refugees voters,' he said. Responding to another question, he said German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will pay a two-day visit to Pakistan from October 10. His visit will be focused on trade, economic cooperation and investment between the two countries, he added. 'The German Chancellor who will be accompanied by 15-member top business executives will also attend a business forum on the sidelines,' he said. The German Chancellor will meet President General Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and discuss bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest. He said the two countries enjoy good relations spread over decades and Germany understands Pakistan's position as the frontline state in the war against terrorism. To a question about the surprise visit of British Defence Secretary Geoffrey Hoon to Pakistan and India, he said Mr Hoon will discuss various issues of bilateral interest during his talks with Pakistani officials on Tuesday (today).