Pakistan asked India to revive CD: Salman Bashir

Last Updated: Friday, February 26, 2010 - 18:28

Islamabad: Pakistan has asked India to
revive the stalled composite dialogue process as soon as
possible because open-ended talks or engagement would not help
the two countries to address their outstanding issues, Foreign
Secretary Salman Bashir said on Friday.

"We told the Indian side very clearly that Pakistan
believes it is necessary to resume the composite dialogue as
soon as possible," Bashir said at the Wagha border after
crossing over from India following talks yesterday with his
Indian counterpart Nirupama Rao.

"There will be no benefit from an open-ended dialogue.
If we hold talks without any agenda or with an open agenda it
will have some benefits but we cannot take any firms steps to
move forward," he told reporters.

Pakistan believes that if the composite dialogue is
"revived from where it was left off, it would be a big
confidence-building and trust-building measure," Bashir said.

Describing his meetings with Rao and External Affairs
Minister S M Krishna as "exploratory" in nature, Bashir said
Pakistan had presented some proposal for more high-level
meetings and a roadmap for taking forward the talks process.

"(The India side) did not reject or accept (this
roadmap). Probably they need time," he added.

At the same time, he said, there is a need for India
to "revisit" its position of focusing solely on terrorism and
the 2008 Mumbai attacks in talks and blaming Pakistan for all
its problems.

"This negative perception of Pakistan is not based on
facts. We told them this very clearly. They should revisit
facts as terrorism is a world and regional issue. Don’t blame
everything on Pakistan," Bashir said.

India’s position showed that "dialogue is being held
hostage by Mumbai" and demands for action against
Lashker-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, he contended.

"We told them that relations between the two countries
are being held hostage by such issues and this is not
acceptable to common sense and wisdom. It is necessary to
revisit their position which is not sustainable or tenable,"
Bashir said.

Bashir said his talks with Indian officials and media
interactions had given him the impression that India believes
that "Pakistan is the source of everything that is wrong" and
"all problems are due to Pakistan".

"I told them to look at this with an open mind and
that the ball is in your court. It is in your own interest and
that of the region to revisit your position," he added.

The talks between Bashir and Rao marked the first
official engagement between India and Pakistan since the
Mumbai attacks, which New Delhi says were carried out by
Pakistan-based terrorists.

India suspended the composite dialogue soon after the
assault on its financial hub in November 2008.

Bashir said his "tentative engagement" in New Delhi
should not be viewed in terms of failure or success.

Both sides had made a gesture to move forward and they
must now try to "remove misperceptions", he said.

Bashir said both sides had agreed that their
relationship had deteriorated for some months and it was
"necessary to halt this regression".

They also agreed that they would have to take firm
steps to ensure there is no more deterioration in ties, he

However, the Indian side had made it clear that the
two countries "should adopt a gradual process and take small
steps to restore confidence and trust" as there is a "lot of
mistrust" in India, he said.

Bashir said he had taken up Pakistan`s concerns on the
Kashmir issue, sharing of river water, Siachen and Sir Creek
and the problems of inadvertent border crossers during his

He said India should not created "obstacles" for the
functioning of the Permanent Indus Waters Commission or
"frustrate" attempts to resolve differences over waters under
the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty.

"The Pakistani leadership and people want good
relations with India on the basis of equality and respect.

The terms of engagement are sovereign equality and mutual
respect. This is how it is, this is how it should be," he

At the same time, he made it clear that Pakistan was
in "no hurry" to engage India in dialogue if the other side
was unprepared for talks.

"If there is a wrong conception that Pakistan is
desperate and wants everything started soon, it should be
dropped," he said.

Asked if the two sides had agreed on holding more
meetings, Bashir replied: "As far as the dates for the next
engagement (are concerned), nothing has been decided as yet."
In response to another question on India’s alleged
involvement in fomenting unrest within Pakistan, Bashir said
he had told the Indian side that Islamabad has "hard evidence"
in this regard.

"We have all kinds of proof, including photographic
evidence," he added.

"We told them about the problem of support for
militancy and terror from their side using Afghan territory
and said this is prejudicial to Pakistan’s security and not
acceptable to us under any circumstances," the Foreign
Secretary said.


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First Published: Friday, February 26, 2010 - 18:28

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