Formal proposals after debate on options: Kasuri

Posted in Broader Middle East | 17-Nov-04 | Source: dawn.com (Pakistan)

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri during a press conference in Karachi.
LAHORE, Nov 16: Pakistan would formulate its formal proposals for the solution to the Kashmir dispute in the light of a consensus of the ongoing debate on the options outlined by President Musharraf and the opinion of the Kashmiri leaders , Foreign Minister Khurshid M. Kasuri said here on Tuesday. Mr Kasuri said a solution should be to the satisfaction of all three parties to the dispute. He made it clear that a lasting peace in the region would not be possible in case an agreement between Pakistan and India was unacceptable to the Kashmiri leaders.

Kasuri says formal proposals after debate: Kashmir issue

Answering a question at a news conference at the State Guest House, he said the government was minutely examining the public opinion and go by the same.

Mr Kasuri said a solution should be to the satisfaction of all three parties to the dispute. He made it clear that a lasting peace in the region would not be possible in case an agreement between Pakistan and India was unacceptable to the Kashmiri leaders.

He was asked to comment on his Indian counterpart's views that New Delhi would be ready to discuss proposals "formally" made by Islamabad to resolve the dispute, which has been a major source of tension between the two countries since 1947.

Mr Kasuri said Pakistan welcomed the views expressed by the Indian leaders following the options outlined by President Musharraf.

He said India should let the Kashmiri leaders on both sides of the Line of Control meet freely so that they could exchange views and find a solution. He said Pakistan was taking the Kashmiri leaders along at every stage and keeping them abreast of all developments.

Pakistan, the minister said, wanted peace in the region on the basis of honour and it had communicated its point of view to the Indian interlocutors.

In response to a question, the foreign minister said Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz would hold wide-ranging talks with India during his forthcoming visit.

After the visit, he said, Indian Minister for External Affairs Natwar Singh, BJP President L.K. Advani and various Communist leaders would be visiting Pakistan.

He ruled out any U-turn on the Kashmir issue and said parliament was free to debate the matter any time.

POWELL'S RESIGNATION: Praising Mr Colin Powell for his moderate policies because of which he was seriously listened to by the world community, Kasuri said Pakistan would miss him.

He said Mr Powell had a thorough understanding of the Kashmir dispute and he had played an important role in averting a conflict between Pakistan and India when the two countries had deployed their troops on borders. Also, he said, the outgoing US secretary of state had played an important role in bringing the two countries across the negotiating table. He wished Mr Powell a good future.

The minister said Pakistan's relations with the US were based on sovereign equality and Washington understood Islamabad's importance because of its strategic location and nuclear status. He hoped that ties between the two countries would strengthen during President Bush's second term in White House.

KABUL: Mr Kasuri said Pakistan's relations with Afghanistan were stronger than ever before and President Musharraf's recent visit to Kabul and his meetings with President Karzai and former king Zahir Shah would cement them further.

"Pakistan is the real friend of Afghanistan," Mr Kasuri said, adding that a stable and peaceful Afghanistan was in Pakistan's interest.

Referring to the trade ties between the two countries, the minister said the trade volume had increased 50 times over the past three years and would go up further. He said President Musharraf had told his Afghan counterpart that Islamabad's support to Kabul was open-ended.

PALESTINE: The minister said the death of Yasser Arafat was a great tragedy for the Palestinian people. However, he said, Pakistan would continue to extend an unflinching support to the cause of Palestine.

He said Pakistan wanted the people of Palestine get their due rights at the earliest and it was for this reason that Gen Musharraf had urged President Bush to set up a state of Palestine during his second term.

UNSC: Opposing the idea of increasing the number of permanent members of the Security Council, Mr Kasuri said conferment of veto-power status to more states would not serve any purpose. He said the UN should be reformed in a manner that regions got a better representation and the General Assembly more powers.

CHINA: The minister said Islamabad's ties with Beijing were getting stronger by the day and an attempt made by some vested interests to create a wedge between the two by killing a Chinese engineer had failed.

He said the prime minister would soon visit China and then the Chinese president would pay a visit to Pakistan.

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