January 2008 News

No Deviation From Kashmir Policy

23 January 2008
The Nation

Islamabad: Pakistan on Wednesday asked for the settlement of Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN resolutions saying that President Pervez Musharraf’s four-point proposal or other suggestions for “out of the box solutions” was not a shift in Islamabad’s principled stance on the core issue. “Islamabad extends political, diplomatic and moral support to Kashmiri people and favours a solution to the core issue through the UN resolutions,” said the Foreign Office Spokesman Mohammad Sadiq while addressing his weekly press briefing. He said that in addition to India and Pakistan, Kashmiris were a party to the dispute and they should be on board in efforts to resolve the contentious matter. “Pakistan is also against the fencing of the Line of Control by India,” Sadiq said. When asked whether his comments amounted to a shift from President Musharraf’s four- point proposal to resolve the Kashmir issue, the spokesman said that the suggestions for “out of the box solutions” in no way amounted to moving away from our stated position. He said, “The stated position is that the settlement of Kashmir should be on the basis of the UN resolutions. We have never moved from that.” Answering a question about Pakistan’s peace process with India, Sadiq said that the next round of talks could commence only after the conclusion of the current round of parleys between the two sides with a meeting of their foreign secretaries. He further said that the meeting between the foreign secretaries was expected to take place in near future. When asked about British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s support for India’s candidature for permanent membership of the UN Security Council, the spokesman said that Pakistan opposed the expansion of world body’s permanent membership. “Pakistan is an active member of the ‘Uniting for Consensus Group’ in the United Nations, which opposes expansion in the permanent category. We are against the creation of new centres of privilege and power,” he said. He said, “Pakistan supports just and equitable UN reforms that correspond to the interests of all, not just a few member states. We support equal and non-discriminatory approach for all regional groups with regard to their representation in the UNSC.” Sadiq said that Pakistan was working to promote a solution to the reforms of the UN through negotiations by consensus or the broadest possible agreement. Earlier, in his opening statement, the spokesman said that Pakistan was seriously concerned over deteriorating situation in Gaza. “We slam Israeli aggression. Economic blockade has been slapped on people of Gaza. Al the facilities including food and oil are not being provided to them,” he added. “This is sheer breach of human rights and international laws,” he regretted. He said that such steps would escalate tension in the region and harm peace efforts, he added. “International community should mount pressure on Israel to lift blockade against Palestinians and provision of necessities of life be ensured to them,” he said. To a query, he said Iran had given proposal for convening OIC administration committee meeting on Gaza blockade. “Talks are underway between the member countries of administration committee including Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Uganda, Malaysia, Qatar, Senigal, Saudi Arabia and Palestine in this connection,” he added. He said the date would be fixed to summon the meeting by the end of this week. When asked about India’s accords with different counties for purchase of new weapon systems, Sadiq said that Pakistan was concerned over the introduction of new weapon systems in South Asia. “This region is already overwhelmed by poverty menace, therefore, there should be no stockpiling of arms in this region,” he said. Answering a question, he said that President Pervez Musharraf had assured the upcoming general elections would be held in fair and transparent manner and we were committed to hold fair and free elections. Talking of President Musharraf’s ongoing visit to Europe, he said that President Musharraf was on his trip to European states and he would meet the important world leaders in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum. The President’s visit to European countries was aimed at fostering harmony and understanding between Pakistan and European countries in political and economic partnership, expansion of cooperation in war on terror and removing misgivings about Pakistan, he said. Answering another question on no formal invitation from the UK for the visit of President Musharraf, the spokesman said that the President’ s visit was a working visit and most high- level exchanges between Europe and other countries were arranged as working visits that did not need any formal written invitations. He said that dates, meetings and other related arrangements were mutually worked out in advance. Similarly, he said the address of President to the North Atlantic Council was dropped due to his busy schedule, as it was not possible to accommodate it in the programme. Answering a query, he said that President Musharraf was head of anti- terrorism campaign hitherto and Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani was part of it.

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