Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday said it was not
worried about President Barack Obama`s assertion that he sees
India as the cornerstone of US`s future engagement with Asia,
and insisted that its ties with Washington should not be seen
through the prism of US-India relations.
Obama`s remarks in an interview with PTI ahead of his
visit to India dominated the weekly briefing at the Foreign
Office, with spokesman Abdul Basit seeking to downplay the
Asked to comment on Obama`s remark that he sees "India
as a cornerstone of America`s engagement in Asia", Basit said:
"We just concluded the third round of the Pakistan-US
Strategic Dialogue and that dialogue made it very clear that
the US is interested in having a long-term strategic
partnership with Pakistan".
"We are not very worried about (Obama`s comment)".
Basit insisted that Pakistan`s relations with the US
should not be seen through "the prism of US-India relations".
He added: "Pakistan`s relations are independent of
what is happening between US and India".
Replying to another question on Obama`s remark that
Pakistan has a "special responsibility" to act "transparently,
fully and urgently" to bring the perpetrators of the 2008
Mumbai terror attacks to justice, Basit contended that
Islamabad was "sparing no effort" in this regard.
Basit refused to interpret why Obama would stay in the
Taj Hotel, one of the targets in the Mumbai attacks, during
the inaugural leg of his visit.
He noted that the Kashmir issue is a "major concern"
for Pakistan, which is hoping that Obama`s visit would help in
contributing to efforts to resolve the long-standing dispute.
In response to several other questions on Obama`s
visit to India beginning tomorrow, Basit said Pakistan was
hopeful that stronger relations between New Delhi and
Washington would foster peace and stability in South Asia.
"If India is a strategic partner of the US, we feel
that their relations could be helpful in promoting peace and
stability in South Asia.
"We are confident that President Obama is conscious of
that and his visit to India would help to promote peace and
stability in South Asia," he said.
Asked about India`s aspiration to join the Nuclear
Suppliers Group, Basit said he had no comment to make because
the matter was between India and the 45-member grouping.
"But we strongly believe that there should be a level
playing field for all countries and Pakistan has been
insisting on getting the same treatment from the international
community on civil nuclear cooperation as has been made
available to India," he said.
A question on Congress party president Sonia Gandhi`s
recent remarks about a political solution to the Kashmir issue
elicited a stinging response from Basit.
At the AICC meeting in New Delhi earlier this week,
Sonia had said that a meaningful political dialogue with all
shades and regions of Jammu and Kashmir was needed.
Basit said: "Such conciliatory but vague statements
are not unexpected given that President Obama is visiting
India on November 6. The people of Pakistan and Kashmiris are
familiar with such gimmicks that least impress them".
"The irony is that India has never shown serious
commitment to settle the Kashmir dispute. In fact, its stance
and statements on Kashmir are loaded with contradictions," he
India`s "actual objective has always been to put the
dispute on the backburner and let the world forget about it.
But this will never happen. Kashmiris have rendered great
sacrifices in their legitimate struggle and they will never
settle for anything less than exercising their right to
self-determination," he added.
It was a matter of "serious concern" that India
"continues to ride roughshod over the UN Charter and universal
declaration of human rights".
In response to another question, Basit said it was for
the US to decide on appointing a special envoy for the Kashmir
issue. "This proposal had been considered in the past. So we
would welcome it if this happens," he said.