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Pakistan wants 'uninterruptible dialogue' with India: FO

23 May, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday said it wants uninterrupted and uninterruptible dialogue process with India to resolve all the issues, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam, in her weekly briefing at the Foreign Office, said, "Pakistan will bring all outstanding issues on the table with India if any meeting of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif takes place at anytime with Narendra Modi." The spokesperson said Pakistan had expectations that India will come forward for the resumption of meaningful and constructive composite dialogue process, so that both the countries could focus on sustainable peace and development of the region.

She said Pakistan wants all the bilateral disputes to be resolved through a dialogue process. Replying to a question, Tasnim Aslam said if and when the meeting of the prime ministers of Pakistan and India takes place, all disputes, including Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, water issue, trade and other issues, would be discussed. The spokesperson said the invitation to the prime minister to attend the inauguration ceremony of the new Indian prime minister was received Wednesday afternoon.

She said the Indian high commissioner called on the acting foreign secretary and delivered the invitation. In Delhi also, all the high commissioners of the SAARC countries were invited to the Foreign Office and this invitation was reiterated there. Whether the prime minister would attend or not will be decided sometime today (Friday).

Replying to a question the spokesperson said, "We hope that when the new government takes over, the kind of atmosphere that prevailed during the election rallies will be left behind and we will get down to the business of statecraft."

Answering a question on the incident in Nigeria, the spokesperson said, "We condemn all acts of terrorism. We condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. As a country which has long suffered due to terrorism, we empathise with the people of Nigeria." The FO rejected the US criticism of Dr Shakeel Afridi's detention, saying his detention is Pakistan's business. "It's our internal matter as he is a Pakistani citizen and he violated Pakistani law. It is for Pakistani law to take its course. Pakistan will decide how to handle it," she added.

On the issue of two Indian journalists who had been asked to leave Pakistan, the spokesperson said the question should be addressed to the Ministry of Information. "We do not deal with visa for journalists. It is not a decision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I may point out here that while there are normally two Indian journalists in Islamabad, there is no Pakistani Journalist based in India. The Ministry of Information would be able to comment on that as well, but even when Pakistani journalists are stationed in Delhi, they are not invited to MEA briefings," she added.

Tasnim said, "On the other hand, we do not discriminate against Indian journalists based in Pakistan; they are part of the media corps here." The spokesperson also condemned a terrorist incident in China. She said, "We empathise with the people of China. We, as always, stand with China at this time. Terrorism is a menace that is hurting us all. "

The media queries pertaining to the prime minister's possible visit to India on the invitation of Narendra Modi and related aspects of the Pak-India relations dominated the FO briefing on Thursday. "Obviously, issues related to the disputes; Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, water and others will be discussed when leaders of Pakistan and India meet. Also, trade, economic relations, transnational crime, terrorism and people-to-people contact can come up for discussion," said Tasnim Aslam.

Replying to a question if the thorny issues would be taken up in the possible Nawaz-Modi meeting on May 26, she said, "Well, if and when this meeting takes place, it will probably be the first meeting between the two. They have not met in the past. They will get to know each other and leaders try to establish a rapport where they can get down to discussing serious issues." On India's alleged involvement in Balochistan unrest, the spokesperson said that Pakistan had shared its concerns with India in the past regarding the country's support to some banned organisations.

"Balochistan is not an issue between Pakistan and India. Balochistan is a province of Pakistan. I would not put it in this way that it has been the most important issue between Pakistan and India. What was discussed in past were our concerns and information regarding Indian support to some banned organisations."

On Islamabad's expectations regarding the resumption of composite dialogue with New Delhi, Tasnim stated, "On the expectations, I would not like to speculate. However, we have expectations that stem from our interest in having peace so that we focus on economic development – peace for development and peace with dignity."


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