Kashmir Talks Futile Without Pakistan: FM

20 November 2009
The Dawn

Multan: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has warned that dialogue between the government of India and the leadership from occupied Kashmir cannot succeed without engaging Pakistan which is a party to the dispute. Talking to journalists here on Friday, the foreign minister said Pakistan was not engaged in back-channel diplomacy with India over Kashmir. He said he had met All Parties’ Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in New York and invited the leadership of occupied Kashmir to Pakistan and a delegation was likely to visit Islamabad after Eid. Mr Qureshi said he had held an informal meeting with the Indian foreign minister in Kabul where both attended the swearing-in ceremony of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. He said he had made it clear to the Indian minister that Pakistan wanted constructive engagement and meaningful dialogue. And now it was for India to decide what it wanted in the future because Pakistan was not interested in a ‘photo session’. Mr Qureshi said he had asked the Indian foreign minister about a roadmap for resumption of composite dialogue handed over to him during an earlier meeting in New York. He said the Indian minister had promised that he would inform Pakistan after discussing the matter with his government but there was no reply yet from his side. The foreign minister said resumption of dialogue was not only in the interest of Pakistan and India, but also beneficial for the entire region. Pakistan was ready to discuss ‘everything’ and ‘anything’ with India, he said. Answering a question about a meeting between Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh and the US president scheduled on Nov 24, he said Pakistan would not bow to pressure from India or any other country because it had its own priorities and would take all decisions in the country’s interest. Commenting on a Washington Times report about presence of Taliban chief Mullah Omar in Karachi, the minister said that had the information been credible it would have been conveyed through official channels. He said such reports were often published in newspapers and a number of them were denied by governments of the countries concerned.