In an unexpected shift of strategy, Pakistan occupied Kashmir's Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider has asked the Yusuf Raza Gilani-led Pakistan government not to link the controversial Kashmir issue with the renewed deliberations with India.
Haider said that instead of linking the resolution of Kashmir issue with the ongoing negotiations with India, the government should first try to resolve other 'small irritants'.
"Pakistan is facing a formidable security challenge from militants and it is not in a position to effectively fight the case of Kashmir at this important juncture of history," he said.
"Pakistan and India should maintain the status quo on Kashmir for some time. It would be wiser for Pakistan to wait for the right time to restart negotiations on Kashmir," said Haider during an interview to The News.
Haider added that he does mean that Pakistan's traditional stand on Kashmir should be reversed.
"What I am trying to suggest is that this is not the right time to negotiate Kashmir with the Indians, as Islamabad's position is obviously quite weak because of its internal vulnerabilities," he said.
When asked about former foreign minister Khursheed Kasuri's claims that both India and Pakistan had worked out a formula concerning the decades old issue during General Pervez Musharraf's regime, Haider said, "No Kashmiri would have accepted it."
He also backed the proposal to give the status of 'Most Favoured Nation' to India and allow New Delhi to use Pakistani soil as a transit route for trade purposes.
It may be noted that New Delhi has already granted Islamabad the said status, but the latter has refused to reciprocate unless the Kashmir issue is resolved.
Haider also backed India's inclusion in the proposed Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project and providing transit facility for India to trade with Afghanistan.