March 2016 News

Kashmir Dispute No Pre-condition For Talks: Philip Hammond

8 March 2016
Elizabeth Roche

New Delhi: In a setback to Pakistan, British foreign secretary Philip Hammond on Tuesday said that the resolution of the Kashmir dispute should not be a pre-condition for resumption of the India-Pakistan dialogue, according to reports in two Pakistani newspapers. Hammond, who arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday on a two-day visit, also asked Pakistan to speed up the investigation into the 2 January Pathankot attack which India has blamed on the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant group. 'Settling the Kashmir issue should not be a precondition for starting the dialogue process,' Hammond told reporters during a joint press conference with Pakistan prime minister's advisor on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz, the Express Tribune newspaper reported. 'I urge both Pakistan and India not to allow non-state actors and other pressure groups to derail the peace process,' Hammond said, adding: 'I welcome Pakistan's commitment to vigorously pursue Pathankot attack investigations and we hope that the country will make progress in the investigation.' Pakistan's Dawn newspaper also carried a similar report. India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in full but administer it in parts. The Himalayan region has been the trigger for three of the four wars between India and Pakistan since 1947. India accuses Pakistan of stoking an Islamist insurgency in Kashmir, a charge Pakistan denies. India also accuses Pakistan of sheltering anti-India militant groups such as the JeM. Pakistan on its part says it extends moral,political and diplomatic support to the freedom struggle in Indian-administered Kashmir. India has pointed a finger at the JeM for the 2 January attack on its airbase in Pathankot. Six militants and seven Indian security personnel were killed in the raid that lasted several days. Aziz said that a joint investigation team was due to visit India to probe the Pathankot attack. 'The probe team will visit India in the next few days,' he said. Aziz also said that Pakistan had shared intelligence with India about possible terror attacks. 'Sharing of intelligence among various nations of the world is a routine practice and this happens around the world. However, this time it was somehow leaked to media. But this showed Pakistan's commitment to fight terrorism,' he said. He was referring to reports in Indian newspapers over the weekend that Pakistan had tipped off India about 10 militants having sneaked into the country. The Indian government has neither confirmed nor denied the reports of Pakistan tipping off India on possible attacks. India and Pakistan were set to resume peace talks this year starting with a dialogue between the foreign secretaries to chart out the future course of the process. The peace talks were to resume after a two-year hiatus. But the Pathankot attack upset the process of rapprochement between the neighbours.