`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.

PTI



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

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