`Tension` with India distraction to war on terror: Pak PM
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 17, 2010, 20:24
Islamabad: Pakistan has said the world community should nudge India to resolve all "core" bilateral issues, including Kashmir and sharing of river waters, arguing that "tension" on its eastern border is a distraction to its fight against al-Qaeda and Taliban in its restive tribal belt.

"We want to maintain very good relations with India and with (rest of) our neighbours. Our enemy is terrorism and we have to focus on terrorism... We want the world to concentrate so that with India we resolve all our core issues including Jammu and Kashmir and (differences over sharing of river) water," Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said.

"We should concentrate more on the poor people of both of our countries. Our focus should be on those real issues," Gilani said in an interview to the 'Financial Times'.

He was responding to a question on the next steps to be taken to normalise bilateral ties following the Foreign Secretary-level parleys held last month.

Noting that Pakistan and India have traditionally been rivals, Gilani said the tension on Pakistan's eastern border is a "distraction" for the fight against terrorism on the western frontier with Afghanistan.

Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants have found a safe haven in Pakistan's lawless tribal belt bordering Afghanistan and the US has been pressing Islamabad to take more steps against them.

"The world should understand that we can concentrate more on extremism and terrorism if we (India and Pakistan) are on good relations with each other," he added.

Gilani also said that he wanted "composite dialogue with India" but it should be "meaningful."

Asked when he would meet his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh, Gilani did not give a direct reply and noted that Singh had said that dialogue is the only way forward but "there is a lot of pressure within (India) which doesn't let him move forward."

Referring to his meeting with Singh in Sharm el-Sheikh last year, he said they had agreed that the composite dialogue should not become hostage to the Mumbai terror attacks.

Asked about the possibility of reviving former military ruler Pervez Musharraf's blueprint to resolve the Kashmir issue, Gilani said: "We think that it can be resolved when there is a composite dialogue and we can discuss all core issues."

In an apparent reference to the Indo-US nuclear deal, he said Pakistan should be granted access to civil nuclear technology for "regional stability."

"If there is discrimination, there would be no regional stability," he said.

When asked what contributions Pakistan can make in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table in Afghanistan, Gilani said: "We had a lot of discussion with President (Hamid) Karzai on various issues and we support his reconciliation politics.

"We have told him that we want to support you. At the same time there can be more cooperation on defence, economic issues and on intelligence-sharing."

"We need more cooperation with Mr Karzai because Pakistan is in a position to help Afghanistan, to stabilise Afghanistan ... We are in agreement that there should be 'jirgas' so that we can have cooperation with Afghanistan. Pakistan is the only country which can help Afghanistan and you cannot achieve stability in Afghanistan without Pakistan."

Gilani said Pakistan had offered Afghanistan assistance in training its police force and raising the Afghan National Army. Karzai has said that he would consider the offer.

"There are decisions which have to be taken, not alone but with others as well," Gilani said.


First Published: Wednesday, March 17, 2010, 20:24

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