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Independent Kashmir the only option: Pakistan

August 05, 2009 17:56 IST

Nearly three weeks after the Indo-Pak joint statement in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Pakistan today insisted that there was no change in its foreign policy and raked up its demand for an "independent Kashmir" for "long-lasting" peace in South Asia.

Asked if Pakistan's foreign policy had witnessed a U-turn in recent times, Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said there was no major change in the country's stance on issues concerning external affairs.

"There has been no change in our foreign policy. We want an independent Kashmir. We want the Kashmir issue to be resolved in accordance with the wishes of the people," Basit told newsmen here.

There was no mention of Kashmir in the Indo-Pak joint statement that was issued on July 16 after the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistan counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani in Sharm-el-Sheikh on the sidelines of the summit of Non-Aligned Movement.

In the joint statement India and Pakistan said "dialogue is the only way forward" and New Delhi agreed to "discuss all issues with Pakistan, including all outstanding issues".

"On a basic level until the issue of Kashmir is resolved we cannot imagine long-lasting peace in the region," Basit said.

He said with a democratically-elected government at the helm in Pakistan, the diplomatic tools available with it had increased.

"We can use these tools better to achieve our foreign policy objectives," Basit said.

He maintained that dialogue was necessary to address all issues between the two countries.

"As far as India is concerned, we have issues, which should be resolved through dialogue. We have always tried to do so. Presently terrorism is a major problem before us which needs to be addressed," he said.

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