Islamabad: Pakistan on Saturday reiterated that it was willing to take forward its bilateral ties with India, stressing the relationship should not be held hostage to the past.
“Pakistan sends a very, very strong message that it is willing to forge ahead in the relationship with India,” Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said at a joint press conference with External Affairs Minister SM Krishna here.
Khar, who held talks with Krishna earlier in the day, said, “We need to develop a future that is people centric, development centric… and is in the economic interest and future of the two countries.”
Khar said Pakistan is committed to normalise relations with India. “Pakistan has every intention to keep its commitment,” she said, adding there is an “immense potential to normalise Indo-Pak relations”.
The Pakistani foreign minister said the two nations will see trade normalisation by the end of this year, implying Pakistan will treat traders from India like any other nation.
On the liberalised visa agreement signed today, Khar said it is only a first step in easing out travel restrictions.
She mentioned the Pakistani decision to release all Indian fishermen who are being held in Pakistani jails even after completing their sentences.
“We have invested a great deal in this relationship over 65 years. We are today confident that there’s a deep commitment from both the sides to look at this relationship through a different lens,” Khar noted.
She however raked up the Kashmir issue, saying simultaneous progress is needed on all tracks, including issues of Jammu and Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek.
“What is doable or not doable is determined by the level of political will,” Khar said, adding the aspirations of Kashmiri citizens must be accommodated.
Krishna on his part said the discussions today were cordial, frank and productive.
“There is desire of people on both sides to resolve all issues. We are committed to moving forward to write a new chapter in our relationship,” the Indian minister said.
Krishna said during today’s talks, “both India and Pakistan agreed that terrorism posed continuing threat to peace and reaffirmed our commitment to fight it effectively”.
“The Pakistani side reiterated its commitment to bring to justice all perpetrators of Mumbai attack expeditiously, in accordance with due process of law,” he added.
In response to a question from journalists, Krishna said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has never put conditions on his visit to Pakistan.
“The visit will take place at the appropriate time, when the atmosphere is conducive and something worthwhile could come out of the talks,” he said.
The minister reiterated that the PM was not shying away from visiting Pakistan.
On being asked to comment on the hardline position taken by India on Kashmir, Krishna said, “India has always believed that a step by step approach will take this relationship forward. You can’t expect in one meeting issues that have been bugging us for six decades will be resolved.”