Kashmir solution must for better Indo-Pak ties: Kasuri
11 December 2002
The News International
Islamabad: Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmud Kasuri on Wednesday said the prospects of durable peace in South Asia will not improve without the just resolution of the long- running Kashmir dispute, root cause of tension between Pakistan and India.Pakistan, he said, offered resumption of dialogue to India for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute and other issues. ''I am convinced that, acting in the interest of our people, the governments of Pakistan and India need to find the best medium of commencing a dialogue,'' he told editors and columnists of the country''s leading newspapers and magazines.The foreign minister gave a detailed background briefing on national issues to the participants drawn from across the country. He spoke on objectives of Pakistan''s foreign policy and its ties with the Muslim world, China, the United States, European countries, Iran, Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries.Kasuri said that Pakistan''s steadfast position on the centrality of the Kashmir issue had made the international community realise the imperatives of finding a just solution to this dispute in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people. The entire international community now understands that ''Pakistan-India relations and prospects of durable peace in the region cannot improve as long as the root cause of tensions - the Kashmir dispute is not resolved,'' he added.Pakistan, he said cannot be coerced into compromising its principled position on the Kashmir dispute. However, he said that it would continue efforts for de-escalation of tension caused by the massive deployment of Indian troops along our border and resumption of dialogue for a just and durable resolution of the Kashmir dispute and other issues.Referring to the postponement of the Saarc Summit, Kasuri said, that after having failed to a achieve the desired objectives, through its coercive diplomacy, ''India further hardened its position on a dialogue with Pakistan.'' ''By refusing to confirm the dates proposed for the 12th Saarc Summit to be held in Pakistan, India created a situation where we were left with no option but to postpone the summit,'' he added.With regard to security policy, he said, Pakistan maintains a combination of conventional forces and strategic capabilities to deter Indian adventurism. Khurshid Mehmud Kasuri said, the objectives of the country''s foreign policy of the country were peace and development and rapid economic and social development of the country and prosperity for its people.Kasuri said the September 11 attacks on the United States created turmoil in the world which affected the policies of every nation. ''Pakistan''s choice to join the international coalition in the war against terrorism has enabled the global coalition to make important gains in the anti- terrorism campaign,'' he said.On Pakistan-US ties, the minister said, following the September 11 events, the US took a number of concrete measures to assist Pakistan in various spheres. This includes economic assistance, budgetary support and debt rescheduling. The US also has undertaken to assist us in social sector programmes particularly in the field of education.He said a series of sanction imposed against Pakistan over a 20-year period have been waived by the US. In the important area of defence, he said, the Pakistan-US Defence Consultative Group has been revived and has subsequently met in Rawalpindi on September 26-27, 2002.The minister described the strengthening of Pakistan''s deep and abiding friendship with China as a fundamental goal of the country''s foreign policy. Kasuri said, Pakistan has further strengthened its cordial relations with the European countries.Japan has recently announced $300 million grant assistance to Pakistan over the next two years. It rescheduled Pakistan''s loans of ¥64.7 billion (around $550 million), under the Paris Club Agreement, he added.The minister spoke at length at Pakistan''s relations with the Islamic world. ''Pakistan''s position in the Islamic world is a matter of satisfaction and pride,'' he said. Speaking on Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, the minister said that events in Afghanistan have always had a profound influence on Pakistan. Pakistan. ''Pakistan fully supports the Bonn Agreement and the Government of President Karzai,'' he added.He said restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan is not only in the interest of the people of Afghanistan but also in the national interest of Pakistan as well as for the entire region. The minister also talked about the close and cordial relations Pakistan enjoys with the Central Asia Republics. He said Pakistan is also pursuing an extensive policy of developing transport and communication network from Afghanistan to the Central Asian Republics.