Meetings With Indian Side Will Lead To Talks Resumption: Pak

6 August 2009
The Hindu

Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday said it was hopeful that the upcoming meetings with India would lead to progress in resumption of the Composite Dialogue to discuss outstanding issues, including the 'long-simmering Kashmir problem'. Pakistan is in consultation with India to finalise a date and venue for a meeting of the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries, Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said. After their meeting, the Foreign Secretaries would report to the Foreign Ministers before they meet on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York in September. Pakistan is hopeful the upcoming meetings will result in 'some progress in resuming the Composite Dialogue process,' Mr. Basit told a weekly news briefing here. Referring to the issue of Kashmir, he said there was a 'realisation in India' that the long-standing problem needs to be resolved to usher in lasting peace in the region. The matter also involved the Kashmiri people and their 'right to self-determination cannot be denied endlessly,' he added. 'We look forward to the resumption of the Composite Dialogue so that the long-simmering Kashmir issue is resolved,' Mr. Basit said. He also said India and Pakistan could not shift from a paradigm of conflict to cooperation unless there is a 'mutual willingness to resolve disputes and problems.' 'The two countries must sit together, (show a) mutual willingness to settle problems and take hard decisions,' Mr. Basit said. Mr. Basit said Pakistan and India are moving in the 'right direction' following meetings between top leaders of the two sides. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani had met last month on the margins of the NAM summit in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt. Their meeting came a month after Mr. Singh and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari held talks in Yekaterinburg in Russia on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meet. Replying to a question, Mr. Basit said the launch of India's first nuclear-powered submarine last month was 'not a very happy development.' Pakistan had expressed its concerns in this regard as it did not want the region to get 'bogged down' in an arms race, the Foreign Office spokesman said. At the same time, Pakistan is cognisant of its security requirements and would do all that is needed to maintain a credible minimum deterrent, Mr. Basit said. In response to several questions on Pakistan's concerns about alleged Indian interference in Balochistan province, Mr. Basit said this issue was discussed by Mr. Gilani with Mr. Singh during their meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh last month. Pakistan's concerns were reflected in the joint statement issued after the meeting, he said.