Intra-Kashmir Trade A Big Achievement, To Benefit Kashmiris: FM

12 October 2008
Associated Press of Pakistan

Islamabad: Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Sunday that composite dialogue between Pakistan and India has entered into the fifth round and added that the Intra-Kashmir trade pact finalized during Delhi talks was a big achievement on way to improving ties with India. While talking to the media persons upon his arrival at the local airport, FM said that one should not underestimate this development, adding that it will have a far reaching impact as far as the economic integration to facilitate Kashmiri people is concerned. “We are doing all this to facilitate people of Kashmir.” The trade between Indian held Kashmir and AJK through LoC will be launched on Oct 21, he said adding that modalities are being finalized. Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Pakistan is moving forward in dialogue process with India on the basis of its historical stance on Kashmir issue. He said that President Asif Ali Zardari had also highlighted the Kashmir issue at the UN platform. He said that he had conveyed his point of view to his Indian counterpart Parnab Mukherjee that core issues should also be addressed while moving forward with the process of dialogue. Regarding Baglihar Dam project, Foreign Minister Makhdoom Qureshi said that Pakistan would protect its water share adding that it is a matter of our future. He said that President Asif Ali Zardari raised the issue regarding stoppage of water of river Chenab during a meeting with the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in USA. The Indian Premier had promised that India will remain adhered to Indus Water Treaty and has no intention to violate it, he added. He said that the Indian Prime Minister had proposed that Pakistan Water Commissioner should visit India and had promised that all the facts and figures regarding water and Baglihar dam will be shown to him. He said that Pakistan Water Commissioner Jamat Ali will go to India on October 14 to discuss the contentious issue. Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, however, added that under the Indus Water Treaty, to which Pakistan is a signatory, India has the sacrosanct right to establish hydal power generation facility on the principle of run-of-the-water. To a question about recent missile attack in North Waziristan, the Foreign Minister said that Pakistan was in regular contact with the US through diplomatic channels. The issue is of complex nature and needs to be understood fully. He said that the ongoing in-camera sitting of the parliament was convened by the government to devise a strategy with national consensus on how to control terrorism and extremism and National Assembly will discuss the issue from Monday, October 13. It is our desire that this debate should yield recommendations and strategy enjoying national consensus to counter this problem, he added. Foreign Minister said, it has been observed for the first time that senior officers gave detailed briefing to the elected representatives of the people during the in-camera sessions of the parliament on the ongoing war against terrorism to carve out a joint and consent strategy. Parliamentarians put serious and probing questions for four and a half hours and a serious and honest effort was made to answer their questions. Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that present government did not create this problem. It was there for last many years. “But we have to tackle this problem,” he added. He said that sincere efforts were being made to protect the interests of the country while taking allies in the war against terrorism in confidence. Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that this war can not be fought alone neither by Nato forces, nor Pakistan or Afghanistan. It needs a joint strategy, he added. He said that nation should not worry on statements of US presidential election candidates. Two candidates are in the field, and during debate on foreign policy, they try to prevail upon each other. Whichever party will win the November 4 presidential elections, we will hold talks with it. A round of strategic dialogue with US has completed recently. And the good news is that there exist a bipartisan consensus that they need long term engagement, friendship with Pakistan and will continue to provide assistance, the foreign minister said. Foreign Minister said that price of oil has reduced in the international market, however, since big fluctuation was observed, we are waiting for some stability in the oil price in the international market to extend the relief to the people. Shah Mehmood Qureshi also mentioned economic hardships and fiscal deficit problem but added that finance ministry was studying the matter and a decision will be taken soon.