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No unilateral pullout from Siachen: Zardari

21 April, 2012

OKARA: President Asif Ali Zardari said on Friday Pakistan was ready for a dialogue with India on all subjects, and withdrawal of troops from Siachen was possible only if both the countries agreed upon it.

Addressing a public gathering, the president said, "We are aware of the extreme climate and other difficulties at one of the world's most difficult terrains but the withdrawal [of troops] can only take place if the two governments decide to pull out from the area jointly."

Zardari said the government believed that trade between Pakistan and India could bring prosperity to the developing nations. He mentioned his recent meeting with Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in New Delhi which, he added, focused on enhancing trade ties between the two countries.

He said the government would consider the proposal of Kashmir Affairs Minister Manzoor Wattoo to connect Multan with New Delhi through Head Sulemanki to boost trade.He said the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) believed that the power belonged to people, adding that the party "selflessly serves people".

The president said when he had assumed his office, all powers were concentrated in the office of president but "I transferred these powers to the real representatives of people in order to make parliament stronger".

Referring to 17 ministries in control of the Punjab chief minister, Zardari said this was the main difference between the PPP and other parties. "As others avoid transferring only a few ministries, the PPP has transferred all its power to people and provinces," he added.

"Only by empowering people and provinces, the federation can be further strengthened."

The president said the PPP had taken up the issue of Saraiki province because it believed any failure to address issues of southern Punjab might provide militant groups with an opportunity to play up the sentiments of people of the region. Zardari said dialogue was the only option to move forward on any issue. He called upon the PPP's Punjab leadership to engage people of the province in a dialogue and invite them to join its ranks.


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