Islamabad: British Foreign Secretary
William Hague on Wednesday sought to strike a delicate balance in his
country`s ties with India and Pakistan, saying the UK would
welcome better relations between the two countries but would
not "lecture" them on how to resolve bilateral problems.
Hague, who is on his first visit to Islamabad for
talks with the Pakistani leadership, said the new British
government is working to elevate relations with fast growing
economies like India.
At the same time, Britain desires an "equally strong
relationship" with Pakistan, he said.
"We will be sufficiently strong friends with India and
Pakistan not to tell them how to resolve their bilateral
problems and not to lecture them about those issues.
"So it is not for the UK to lay down solutions for
them," Hague told a news conference he addressed along with
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
Hague, who is on a three-day visit here, was
responding to a question on whether Britain would play a role
in resolving differences between India and Pakistan on the
sharing of river waters.
The new British government, he said, is working to
elevate its relationship with many countries outside Europe
and North America due to the changing world economy.
"Yes, India is one of those countries but we want an
equally strong relationship with Pakistan... That`s why I have
come to Pakistan as one of my first goals as the new Foreign
Secretary is to emphasise that improvement in bilateral
relationships, that improvement in broadening relations over
the long-term applies to Pakistan as well," Hague said.
The new British government`s stand on ties with India
does not "in any way contradict what we have said about
Pakistan because we welcome improvement in relations between"
the two countries, he added.
Hague`s predecessor David Miliband had become a centre
of a diplomatic row between India and Britain after he
suggested that the Kashmir issue was at the root of terror
attacks like the one in Mumbai.
In an article last year, Miliband wrote: "Resolution
of the dispute over Kashmir would help deny extremists in the
region one of their main calls to arms".
India was upset by the suggestion and had registered a
protest with Britain.
Hague`s remarks that his government intends to stay
out of Indo-Pak matters is an indication that the new
dispensation would be careful not to stir another such
Hague vowed to deepen the "strategic dialogue" with
Pakistan and to increase developmental assistance to 665
million pounds over a period of four years.
Qureshi and Hague said they had reviewed bilateral
relations and exchanged views on regional and international
issues of mutual interest.
Qureshi described their talks as good and said both
sides decided to carry forward the process and expand areas of
Replying to a question on the exchange of dossiers
between India and Pakistan on the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks,
Qureshi said New Delhi had provided answers to some questions
raised by Islamabad in its latest dossier and this information
is being examined by the interior ministry.
India and Pakistan will have plenty of opportunity to
discuss the Mumbai attacks and related issues when Indian Home
Minister P Chidambaram visits Islamabad later this week to
attend a SAARC conference, Qureshi said.