Pak accuses India of avoiding resumption of bilateral talks

Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday accused India of avoiding the resumption of the bilateral dialogue process that was stalled in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks and "cherry-picking" the issues that it is willing to discuss.

Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit made the remarks while responding to a question during the weekly news briefing on Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna's reported comment that Pakistan was responsible for the failure of talks held in July.

"India knows well who is responsible for the current impasse. It is India which is resorting to cherry-picking and avoiding to resume the dialogue process on all issues. India is also upset about our Foreign Minster's raising the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in his statement at the UN General Assembly session," Basit said.

Responding to reported comments by Indian leaders that Pakistan had made the Kashmir issue central to all negotiations, Basit said Islamabad could not afford to ignore alleged human rights violations by Indian security forces in the disputed Himalayan region.

"Let me reiterate that Pakistan is ready to resume the dialogue process as soon as possible but not to the exclusion of the Kashmir dispute or other important issues... It is difficult to explain as to how a country that indulges in grisly human rights violations and suppresses the inalienable rights of Kashmiris can claim to be the world's largest democracy," he said.

Replying to another question on the absence of a reference to Kashmir in the joint statement issued following Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's recent visit to Pakistan, Basit said Beijing had always supported Islamabad on the Kashmir issue and backed the dialogue between Pakistan and India to peacefully resolve the dispute.

Pakistan and India, Basit said, need to discuss "all the issues that continue to bedevil our relations" and Islamabad has not sought the resumption of talks only on the Kashmir issue.

"There is no denying that the Kashmir dispute is the core issue between our two countries. Had this issue been resolved 60 years ago, Pakistan-India relations would have been on a different trajectory. But since this is a core issue Pakistan cannot agree to any negotiations which do not include this dispute as an agenda item," he said.

Basit reiterated the allegation that India is using terrorism as a "propaganda ploy" against Pakistan though the world community had acknowledged the country's contributions in counter-terrorism.

At the same time, he urged India to share with Pakistan the findings of its investigation into the attack on the Samjhauta Express train that killed 42 Pakistanis. "India's continued reticence on Samjhauta Express raises many questions. It is time India takes us into confidence and stops beating about the bush," Basit said.

In response to another question about top world leaders calling on Pakistan to do more against terrorism, Basit said the country had conveyed its concerns in this regard to France, Britain and Germany.

"We hope that these important countries...will understand the true perspective of the issues in this region because terrorism is a global phenomenon and all countries need to cooperate to address this issue effectively rather than indulging in blame game just for commercial and political expediencies," he said.