`Pak, India have to return to sustained engagement`

Pak and India have to return to a sustained and result-oriented engagement as they have "no option" but to peacefully resolve

Islamabad: Pakistan and India have to
return to a sustained and result-oriented engagement as they
have "no option" but to peacefully resolve all outstanding
issues, including the Kashmir dispute, Prime Minister Yousuf
Raza Gilani said on Friday.

Addressing the North Atlantic Council, the principal
decision-making body of NATO, in Brussels, Gilani said
Pakistan desires "good neighbourly and cooperative relations"
with India.

He said Pakistan has suggested to India that the Joint
Anti-Terrorism Mechanism be reactivated.

"Our two countries have no option but to resolve
peacefully all outstanding disputes including Kashmir, Siachen
and water," he said.

"Dialogue, I believe, offers the only way forward. We
need to get back to a serious, sustained and result-oriented
engagement," he remarked.

The two countries "must also work closely" on
eliminating terrorism and forging closer economic and trade
relations, he said.

Gilani noted that he had a "good meeting" with his
Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of a SAARC
summit in Bhutan in April and that they had "agreed to resume
our dialogue process".

However, Gilani also said that his country continues
to have concerns about "Pakistan-specific Indian military
doctrines such as the Cold Start envisaging a limited
conventional war under the nuclear over-hang" and a "huge
increase in the Indian military budget and massive weapon
acquisitions".

"These together with discriminatory policies,
especially in the nuclear and technological arena, have
accentuated the regional imbalance in South Asia," he said.

Pakistan believes that "all these and other issues
between Pakistan and India must be resolved peacefully through
dialogue", he added.

Gilani noted that Pakistan-India relations have a
"significant bearing" on South Asian security and said:
"Unfortunately, long-outstanding disputes such as Jammu and
Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek continue to fester and require
a just and peaceful resolution."

He also pointed out that the region is "water
stressed" and that water issues "have started to impact on
Pakistan`s agriculture and the well being of our people" as
the country is a lower riparian state.

Such issues of peace, security and strategic stability
need to be addressed in a "forthright manner", he said.

The India-Pakistan peace process launched in 1997
"yielded some dividends in terms of confidence building during
the period 2004 to 2008" and both sides had agreed that the
process would be "irreversible and uninterruptable", he said.

"Regrettably, since the past two years, the composite
dialogue process was stalled. The ostensible reason given by
India was the Mumbai terror attack. Pakistan acted swiftly to
get the suspects arrested. We have done our utmost to bring
the perpetrators to justice," he said.

"We have indicated to India that only serious,
sustained and pragmatic cooperation is the sure way of
addressing each other`s concerns on terrorism. We have
suggested that the Joint Anti-Terrorism Mechanism be
reactivated," Gilani added.

Members of NATO "must take active interest in South
Asian security perspectives" as the region is nuclearised and
"issues of peace, strategic stability and security pose
formidable challenges to Pakistan and impinge on global peace
and security", he contended.

Gilani touched on other issues during his address,
including Pakistan`s relations with NATO and the situation in
Afghanistan, which he said continues to a concern for
Pakistan.

Pakistan has a legitimate interest in early
restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan as it is
being impacted by the turmoil in that country, he said.

"Regrettably, the security situation in Afghanistan
remains precarious. Despite years of NATO/ISAF involvement,
insurgency remains deep and far-spread," he said.

The London Conference decided to back a political
process for reintegration and reconciliation because there is
an "increasing realisation that a military solution will not
alone work", he pointed out.

Pakistan wants a "peaceful, stable and secure"
Afghanistan and Afghan society "must be enabled to
re-establish its societal equilibrium through an indigenous
Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process", he said.

Pakistan will be happy to "facilitate the process of
reconciliation, given the large presence of Afghan refugees in
Pakistan", he added.

Gilani made it clear that "re-Talibanisation of
Afghanistan would not be acceptable" and that the
international community, "in particular immediate neighbours
of Afghanistan, must respect the sovereignty, independence,
national unity and territorial integrity of Afghanistan".

Pakistan`s policy for Afghanistan also included
"respect for the principles of non-intervention and
non-interference in internal affairs", he said.

Gilani described Pakistan`s relations with the Afghan
government as "cordial and very cooperative" and said he
wished "President Hamid Karzai well in his endeavours to
promote peace and bring about national unity".

"The international community ought to do much more in
rescuing Afghanistan from the state of narco-war economy. A
sustained, long-term engagement is very necessary," he said.

PTI

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