January 2004 News

Pakistan rejects Vajpayee's contention on Kashmir issue

4 January 2004
The Daily Times
Shaukat Piracha

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Sunday rejected Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's contention that Kashmir was part of India, saying that India and the world were well aware of Pakistan's position on Kashmir.Replying to a question at a press briefing on Sunday regarding Mr Vajpayee's statement that Kashmir was part of India, FO spokesman Masood Khan said both India and Pakistan had to engage into a composite, sustained and meaningful dialogue to resolve the issue. 'Pakistan welcomes the statement by Premier Vajpayee in a PTV interview recorded in New Delhi that there have been engagements between the two countries in the past on the Kashmir issue,' the FO spokesman said. He said the 'courtesy calls' by the Indian prime minister with the top Pakistani leadership was a good sign that dialogue at high-level could facilitate the process.He said Pakistan was trying to engage India in a dialogue. 'There have been some positive developments in the past. Various confidence-building measures (CBMs) have been exchanged and they will lead to a composite dialogue for peace and security in the region,' he said. Asked about his reaction to a proposal by the Indian PM about a collective observance of the 1857 events, Mr Khan said Pakistan would give its point of view after studying the matter thoroughly. Earlier reading a statement, the FO spokesman said, 'We are grateful to all heads of state-government for their gratitude for the hospitality extended to them and excellent arrangements made by Pakistan for the South Asian Association for Regional Coooperation (SAARC) summit. 'The opening event today was elegant indeed and we congratulate all SAARC countries and its secretariat over the spirit of cooperation and understanding demonstrated by them,' he said.'Pakistan as SAARC chairman will like the summit to clearly delineate a roadmap for taking the regional forum forward,' Mr Khan said. 'The deliberations of the heads of state-government are continuing. We hope that their consultations would culminate in historic and forward looking decisions.'


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