Kashmir Issue Discussed: Pak31 March 2011
Islamabad: Pakistan Thursday said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh that Kashmir and other longstanding issues have to be addressed “earnestly” and noted their meeting was a “win-win” event. “In short, Mohali was a win-win for the Pakistan-India process of engagement,” Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua said, referring to yesterday’s meeting between Gilani and Singh during the Indo-Pak semi-final match. Longstanding issues between India and Pakistan, including the Kashmir issue, have to be “addressed earnestly” by the two sides while they focus on stability and peace in the region, Gilani was quoted as saying by Janjua. “Of course, there are longstanding issues, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, that need to be addressed earnestly with a view to finding a solution that accords with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people,” Gilani told Singh. In response to questions that the two leaders had not referred to the Kashmir issue during their public comments yesterday, Janjua said that “Kashmir was discussed in the context of bilateral relations”. Pakistan is looking at the “entire engagement in a positive manner” and the two premiers had provided an impetus to the process, she said. Januja said Pakistan looks forward to meaningful progress in the ongoing process. “We do not under-estimate the difficulties but have faith and confidence in a bright future for the peoples of our region,” Janjua told a weekly news briefing. “Constructive engagement is essential so that we move towards the goal of establishing good neighbourly and cooperative relations. Prime Minister Gilani assured Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that indeed this was what the government and people of Pakistan desired,” Janjua said. Talking about the meeting between the two leaders, she quoted Gilani as having told Singh: “Both sides needed to also focus on the issues of stability and peace in the region.” Pakistan and India, as two important states in South Asia, “must endeavour to take ownership for their affairs with a view to advancing the objectives of stability and peace in our region and fulfilling the aspirations of the people” of the region, the premier said. Gilani also stressed that Pakistan wants to “move towards a comprehensive and broad-ranging engagement with India on the basis of equality, mutual trust, mutual interest and mutual respect”. TALKS A MILESTONE: GILANI Meanwhile Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Thursday described his interaction with the Indian leadership in Mohali as a “milestone” in opening a new chapter of good neighbourly relations and cooperation. Gilani, in an official statement issued by his office today, said the World Cup semi-final match in Mohali provided a “very useful opportunity to the leadership of Pakistan and India to get together and discuss the whole gamut of bilateral relations”. “The Prime Minister has termed his interaction with the Indian leadership as a milestone on the way of opening up a new chapter of good neighbourly relations and cooperation between the two countries,” he said. The warmth and hospitality shown by the Indian leadership and people to Gilani, his entourage and Pakistan’s cricket team reflected “the shared sentiments of goodwill between our two people which needs to be built upon for sustained and long-lasting peace and amity between the two countries”, the statement quoted Gilani as saying. Gilani visited India at the invitation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to watch yesterday’s keenly contested cricket semi-final clash between the two countries, which India won. ZARDARI FOR FREQUENT EXCHANGES President Asif Ali Zardari said dialogue between Pakistan and India is the only way forward to address all outstanding issues and regular interaction will provide a “solid platform” to reduce misperceptions and mistrust. Zardari also described the meeting between Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the Indian leadership as “a positive development” for the region. Zardari made the remarks during a meeting with Gilani, who briefed the President on his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the cricket World Cup semi-final at Mohali. Regular interaction at all levels will provide Pakistan and India a “solid platform to resolve mutual issues” and “help obviate and reduce misperceptions and mistrust”, Zardari said.