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Meeting between the Indian and Pakistani PM would bring down tensions in South Asia: Khawaja Asif

02 December, 2015

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WASHINGTON: Defence Minister Khawaja Mohammed Asif said on Tuesday that everybody hoped the meeting between the Indian and Pakistani prime ministers would help bring down tensions in South Asia.

Talking to the Pakistani media here, Mr Asif also said tensions between two nuclear-armed countries was a cause of concern for the entire world. “Peace in the subcontinent is obviously the first option,” he added.

Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi shook hands and sat down to talk to each other on Monday on the sidelines of a climate conference in Paris.

Mr Asif said that Pakistan had taken a series of steps for peace in South Asia and launched several initiatives for defusing tensions on both eastern and western borders.

The meeting in Paris “augurs well for this relationship, and it will bring down the temperature, which has been very high since last year”, he said. The meeting indicates that “some sort of initiative will be taken towards better relationship.”

The minister dispelled an impression that there were differences between the civilian government and the military over the army-led operations in Karachi. “There are no differences. All institutions are on the same page,” he said.

Mr Asif noted that Karachi was a very large city and that’s why it had more problems than other cities. “As it has more common criminals, it also has more terrorists than other cities,” he said.

He said the government was targeting all terrorist groups, without thinking about their ethnic or religious affiliations. “There is no exception. We are going after all terrorists.”

Larry Sampler, a senior USAID official, told the briefing that improved relations between India and Pakistan would be good for the entire region. This reflected the holistic approach of the Pakistani government, which was creating an environment for investment in the country, he said.

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