Qureshi Rejects Musharraf Govt Claim On Kashmir7 February 2010
Islamabad: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi rejected on Sunday claims made by a former foreign minister that Kashmir dispute had reached a point close to settlement as a result of backchannel diplomacy with India. Talking to journalists here, Mr Qureshi said: “Neither I, nor the people of Pakistan have any knowledge about a Kashmir solution evolved by the previous government.” He said that any such proposal had never been debated, nor there was any record about it at the Foreign Office. A foreign minister in the Musharraf government has been claiming that India and Pakistan had come close to resolving the Kashmir dispute and it was just an announcement away. Former president Pervez Musharraf had also said that an agreement had been reached in backchannel talks on Kashmir on the basis of proposals forwarded by him. Mr Qureshi said the proposal might have been a secret between some individuals, but there was no record of it in the Foreign Office. He said that the importance of backchannel diplomacy notwithstanding, disputes were always resolved through formal talks. He said that four rounds of the Composite Dialogue had been completed during the tenure of the previous government while one was held by the present government. He stressed the need for resumption of the dialogue from where it was discontinued in July 2008. He admitted that the Mumbai attacks had affected the dialogue process and India had adopted a rigid position. He said India had made the offer to resume talks because of international pressure. Answering a question, he said the issue of Indian involvement in terrorist activities in Balochistan and tribal areas had been raised by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani with his Indian counterpart and it was mentioned in the document of Sharm el Sheikh summit. Mr Qureshi said that India wanted to isolate Pakistan diplomatically, but effective diplomatic efforts foiled its designs had failed. He said Pakistan had certain outstanding issues with India, but that did not mean that the two countries could not move forward. The foreign minister said that there might be some progress on the Kashmir issue, but it cannot be said that it would get resolved during the tenure of the present government. He said it was in the interest of Pakistan to have good relations with its neighbours because the economic challenges it faced could be overcome by achieving political stability and normal relations with the neighbours. About Pakistan-US relations, Mr Qureshi said that engagement with the US was in Pakistan’s interest. “Pakistan’s relationship with the US is neither of compliance nor of confrontation.” He said the country had forcefully raised the issue of drone attacks with the Americans and they were now seriously thinking of transferring drone technology to Pakistan. The minister said the US wanted Pakistan to expand the military operation in tribal areas, but its demand was not accepted. “We will keep our domestic conditions in view for making any such decision.” APP adds: Earlier Mr Qureshi said in Multan that all issues concerning Pakistan and India would be discussed during bilateral talks. He was talking to journalists after inaugurating development schemes of Rs95.2 million, including gas supply to Seetal Mari and Arazi Ghulam Hussain areas, a girls’ school in Shafi Wala, repairing of road from Budhla to Ammarabad and construction of a 2.8km road from Vehari to Budhla via Multan Cricket Stadium road. Mr Qureshi said Pakistan’s case was strong, be it the Kashmir issue, water or terrorism. He said Pakistan would not accept any pressure and would protect its interests in talks with India.