Pakistan For Better Ties, ‘just’ Resolution Of Kashmir

2 April 2008

Srinagar: As India and Pakistan get ready to resume their peace process later this month, Pakistan’s new foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has sought a “just and equitable” resolution to the contentious Kashmir issue. Pakistan wants friendly relations with India and there are “signals of reciprocity” from the other side, he said ahead of the foreign-secretary level talks between the two sides to review the fourth round of composite dialogue that is likely to take place later this month. “Pakistan is a sovereign country and we wish the just and equitable resolution of the Kashmir issue,” Qureshi said. He said the dialogue will be restarted with the formation of the new coalition government led by the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP). Qureshi stressed that regional and economic security, national defence and a “just” resolution of the Kashmir issue will be among his top priorities as foreign minister of Pakistan. Qureshi, a Cambridge-educated PPP politician, added no country - implying the United States - would be allowed to target Pakistani territory in the name of war against terrorism. Pakistan will take action by itself against militants on reliable information. Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon is likely to travel to Islamabad later this month. Menon, a former Indian envoy to Islamabad, will review the progress of the fourth round of composite dialogue with his Pakistani counterpart Riaz Mohammad Khan. It will be followed by a visit by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to Islamabad in May-June. Last week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulated Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani on taking up office and expressed hope that India-Pakistan relations can evolve to become the “best ever” in their history. Alluding to “a strong public sentiment in both countries in favour of accelerating the peace process”, Manmohan Singh hoped the two countries can “build upon the progress already achieved and work expeditiously, through the dialogue process, towards agreed solutions of pending issues.” Last month Asif Ali Zardari, widower of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, struck a positive note on India-Pakistan relations. “There is no conflict between India and Pakistan seeking to improve trade and people-to-people contacts and at the same time holding on to their respective positions on Kashmir,” Zardari said in a statement issued by the PPP.