Islamabad: Pakistan needs to improve its
relations with India so that it can focus on the situation
along its western border with Afghanistan where more troops
have been deployed than at any time in the past, Foreign
Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said.
"I am aware that the attention of Pakistan`s armed
forces is now focused on the western border. There has never
been such a big deployment on our western border in the past.
Is it not in Pakistan`s interest that there should be some
betterment in the situation on our eastern front if we are to
give attention to the western front and make progress there?"
It is in Pakistan`s interest to sit at the negotiating
table for talks with India to ensure political stability,
economic growth and success in the campaign against extremism
and terrorism, Qureshi said in an interview with Geo News
"Besides, I do not see any other solution," he said.
Qureshi side-stepped a question on India`s demand for
action against Hafiz Saeed, the JuD chief and founder of the
banned Lashker-e-Taiba that has been blamed for the 2008
He said Saeed had been detained twice by the
government only to be freed on the orders of the judiciary.
"India links Hafiz Saeed sahab`s issue to terrorism
and...to the Mumbai incident. Our view is that we detained him
twice and our courts freed him on the ground that the evidence
(against him) was inadequate. The judiciary is independent and
we have to respect their decision," he said.
Asked whether the ongoing India-Pakistan re-engagement
process would be able to withstand another Mumbai-like attack,
Qureshi said the two countries should ensure the process
becomes "irreversible" if they "want to achieve something".
"If you want to start and then stop as in the past, it
will be talks without results. This has happened in the past
and the whole region loses," he said.
When he was asked how the process could be made
irreversible, Qureshi replied: "It can be irreversible if both
countries see terrorism as a common challenge and I tried to
convince (Indian Home Minister P) Chidambaram when I met him
that this problem is not only India-specific.
"Only Pakistan is not affected by it. The whole world
and region is affected by it and both of us cannot tackle it
individually. There is a need for a regional approach and till
we take it as a common challenge, sit together and search for
a way out, pointing fingers at each other will not solve the
Qureshi repeated his assertion that about 30 million
acre feet of river waters is wasted or mismanaged within
Pakistan while responding to a question on differences with
India over the sharing of river waters.
He said if river waters entering Pakistan is wasted,
Pakistan cannot then "blame" India for the phenomenon.
"That is our own mismanagement. If we are getting 104
million acre feet of water and we use 74 million acre feet,
where is the rest of the water going? You cannot blame India
for that," he remarked.
At the same time, Qureshi acknowledged that Pakistan
had differences with India over the sharing of waters and that
he had raised this matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
If the two countries could not resolve these
differences bilaterally, other options are available to them
under the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960, he said.
"We have a very good treaty in place and I don`t think
we should move away from it. We should focus on it and find
solutions while remaining within that treaty," Qureshi said.
Responding to a question on India`s alleged
involvement in fomenting unrest in Balochistan province, he
said: "We have evidence and proof which we can raise. We
looked at the situation in the region and weighed our options
and decided to use diplomatic channels and not the media.
"There is now progress and our views are accepted by
many forces, who agree that instability in Balochistan is not
in the interest of the region. They also agree that Afghan
soil should not to be used against Pakistan."
Qureshi also said Pakistan has expressed its concerns
about India`s "Cold Start" defence doctrine, which he
described as "very dangerous".
He added: "If Cold Start is implemented, will Pakistan
just sit by and wait?... If the Indian armed forces are ready,
Pakistan is not complacent. The Pakistani military is keeping
an eye (on the situation) and is aware of its
responsibilities. But that is not a solution to the problem.
This is mutual suicide and we should not do it."
India and Pakistan took steps to a phased
re-engagement during recent visits to Islamabad by Foreign
Secretary Nirupama Rao and Home Minister P Chidambaram.
Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir
exchanged proposals to be taken up during a meeting of the
Foreign Ministers in Islamabad on July 15.
Chidambaram spoke of the need for Pakistan to do more
to bring the perpetrators and masterminds of the Mumbai
attacks to justice during his meeting with Interior Minister