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'Talks with India must include Kashmir, water disputes'

By Rezaul H Laskar
Last updated on: February 04, 2010 18:22 IST
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Pakistan on Thursday said it would welcome any move to resume the composite dialogue process with India stalled since the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, but insisted that the talks should be 'result-oriented' and cover all outstanding issues, including Kashmir and sharing of river waters.

"Pakistan will welcome the resumption of the composite dialogue because we are for a meaningful engagement with India," Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told a weekly news briefing, responding to a question on whether the two countries are on the verge of reviving their peace process.

"From our perspective, talks should be all-encompassing and result-oriented. We will, therefore, welcome the resumption of the composite dialogue," he said.

Basit noted that the prime ministers of the two countries had agreed during their meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh last year that dialogue is the only way forward.

"Pakistan has always believed that it is only through genuine and meaningful talks that Pakistan and India can resolve their bilateral disputes, including the long-simmering Jammu and Kashmir dispute and water issues," he said in response to another question.

Basit said 'some proposals' for the revival of the peace process were being considered but refused to give details. He also did not say which country had mooted these proposals.

The spokesman's comments came in the wake of reports that India was considering some form of 'measured contacts' with Pakistan.

The reports have not been favourably received by Pakistan's Foreign Office, which is for full resumption of the composite dialogue.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram is expected to travel to Pakistan for a SAARC meeting during February 26-27, the highest official Indian visit to the neighbouring country after the Mumbai attacks of November 2008.

Since the 26/11 strikes, leaders of the two sides have only met on the sidelines of several multilateral forums and India has linked the resumption of the peace process to Pakistan taking action against the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks.

In response to a question on the Kashmir issue, Basit stated the Foreign Office's position that Pakistan will continue to support the people of Jammu and Kashmir and their 'legitimate struggle to get the right to self-determination.'

Pakistan also believes that 'if India dispenses with its traditional inflexibility on (the Kashmir issue), there is a possibility of moving ahead and resolving this issue in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people,' Basit said.

In response to another question on whether the four rounds of the composite dialogue were a failure, Basit said the process had 'been successful in generating required momentum' and the two countries had agreed on several confidence-building measures on Kashmir.

He did not agree with the contention that the composite dialogue had 'not been able to achieve anything concrete' though both sides were 'still far off from the final resolution' of the Kashmir issue.

Whenever the dialogue process is resumed, Pakistan will start discussing the Kashmir problem and differences over the sharing of river waters, which Basit described as a 'serious issue.'

Pakistan is considering the 'implications of the breach of the Indus Waters Treaty by India' and authorities were weighing all options before Islamabad proceeds in accordance with national interests, he said.

Asked if India has shared any information with Pakistan on the involvement of Indian nationals in the Mumbai attacks, Basit said: "No

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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