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Pakistan sees 'light at end of tunnel' with India

03 December, 2013

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NEW DELHI: Pakistan's outgoing envoy to New Delhi said Monday he saw "light at the end of the tunnel" in diplomatic relations and predicted the improvement would survive next year's Indian elections.

High Commissioner Salman Bashir said calm had returned to the neighbours' de facto border in disputed Kashmir after a deadly flare-up earlier in the year and both sides were committed to improving ties. "I do not want to sound over-optimistic or exaggerate but what I am saying is that there is light at the end of the tunnel," Bashir told a farewell press conference in the Indian capital.

"We have constantly worked for the improvement in relations between the two countries and at this point of time I am personally optimistic that we will be on the upward trajectory in the coming months." Some observers have predicted ties between the nuclear rivals could be hit if hardline Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi emerges as prime minister after elections due in India by next May.

Modi, who is ahead in the polls, has been an outspoken critic of Pakistan and has accused the current Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of not being tough enough towards Islamabad. But Bashir said the outcome of the Indian elections was "not material" to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's stated goal of improving ties.

"The improvement in relations with India is very emphatically a state policy. We believe it's in our interest and we believe it's in the interest of the region," said the high commissioner. "Our prime minister is on record as having very emphatically stated that improvement of relations with India is a priority."

End.

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