January 2002 News

Pak calls demand for return of PoK ''absurd''

29 January 2002
The Times of India

ISLAMABAD: Describing Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee''s demand for return of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir as ''absurd'', Islamabad on Tuesday continued its propaganda offensive expressing readiness to begin a fresh dialogue with India to work out a phased withdrawal of troops from the borders followed by a comprehensive dialogue on Kashmir. Making a statement at the media briefing here, Foreign Office spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan said it was unfortunate that despite the goodwill shown by Pakistan, the response from India has been negative. ''Absurd excuses are sometimes being made not to come for talks. All that we can say is that we will remain patient and steadfast to settle all issues,'' he said.He said Pakistan was willing to resume talks with India to discuss a phased mutual withdrawal of troops from their forward positions.''Pakistan is willing to restore on a reciprocal basis air, rail and road links and communications that have been severed as a result of Indian decisions. This is the position of Pakistan,'' Khan said. The statement said Pakistan would not be the first to initiate military action anywhere along the International Border, the working boundary and LoC. However, if attacked it would reply with full force. Once an agreement was reached, troops should be withdrawn in a specific time frame. It should be followed by a comprehensive dialogue on the Kashmir dispute as well as all other issues, he said.Outlining further steps required for restoration of normalcy, it said UN Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) should be beefed up in order to credibly monitor the LOC. India should allow human rights groups and the international media to monitor human rights in Kashmir, it said.


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