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India `hesitant` to resume talks: Pakistan

Last Updated: Saturday, August 29, 2009 - 14:35

Islamabad: Pakistan on Saturday said India appears to be "hesitating" over the resumption of the stalled peace process due to its "internal political situation" and insisted that dialogue is the only way forward for the two countries.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in a wide-ranging
interview to a TV news channel, also ruled out the possibility
of Pakistan acting on advice from the West to shift troops
from the Indian border to focus on the campaign against
militancy along the Afghan frontier, terming it as Islamabad`s
"internal decision".

Besides, he dispelled the impression that there is a
deadlock between India and Pakistan over New Delhi`s call for
Islamabad to take action against outlawed JuD chief Hafiz
Mohammad Saeed for his links to the Mumbai attacks and
demanded "legally tenable evidence" against the LeT founder.

On resumption of the bilateral peace process, Qureshi
said: "At this point, if anyone is seen to be hesitating, it
is India. Their internal political situation is putting a lot
of pressure on them. As far as Pakistan is concerned, it is
ready to engage."

The countries in the region desire the normalisation of
relations between Pakistan and India, he said.

"Pakistan has clearly said that we understand dialogue is
the only way forward. Pakistan is ready to engage (India) and
Pakistan is ready to sit at the table," he said.

"We are not worried...We can sit and put across our views
and we are ready to listen to their viewpoint," Qureshi said
in response to a question about the current status of
relations between the two countries.

Qureshi said Pakistan has not yet received a response to
its invitation to Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao to visit
Islamabad for talks with her Pakistani counterpart Salman
Bashir. "We have not yet received a reply. We have extended
the invitation and we are expecting a reply (from India)."

"In light of that reply, we will prepare the agenda and
modalities of engagement. The two Foreign Secretaries will
then report to the two Foreign Ministers and in light of that
report, there will be an engagement between us in New York (on
the sidelines of the UN General Assembly)," Qureshi said.

Replying to another question, he ruled out the
possibility of Pakistan acting on advice from Western
countries to shift troops from the Indian border to focus on
the campaign against militancy along the Afghan frontier.

"This is our internal decision. We have our own
priorities. Our military leadership understands better what
should be our strategy and where, when and how much we should
focus on things. We do not need advice from outside on this
issue," he said.

On New Delhi`s call for Islamabad to take action against
Saeed, Qureshi said that there was no deadlock between India
and Pakistan on the issue. "No, I will not call it a deadlock.
If they are interested in Hafiz Saeed, we have already told
them that if they have legally tenable evidence, then it
should be shared with us," he said.

Noting that Pakistan`s courts are independent, Qureshi
said authorities will use such evidence "to prepare a case
that can withstand the test of scrutiny."

"At the same time, the world believes the composite
dialogue is a good process and the revival of that process, in
the long run, will be in India`s interest though it may not be
perceived as such by them today," he said.

Qureshi said he continued to be optimistic about
improving ties with India despite the presence of many
difficulties. "The matter is not easy. I will not be under any
wrong impression...But I am still optimistic, I think we have
to engage them and normalise relations," he said.

"Many difficulties are there and I don`t deny them. We
have our viewpoint and while sticking to this, we are prepared
to take things forward."

India put on hold the composite dialogue in the wake of
the Mumbai attacks, which were blamed on the Pakistan-based
Lashker-e-Toiba. New Delhi has linked the resumption of talks
to Islamabad taking action against the perpetrators of the
terrorist assault.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, August 29, 2009 - 14:35
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