ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday said it wants ‘uninterrupted’ dialogue with India to find a solution to “all outstanding issues, including the long-running dispute of Kashmir”.
“What is important is to have a dialogue between the two countries, which is uninterrupted and result-oriented,” Foreign Office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said when asked about Pakistan’s expectations from talks with India at his weekly news briefing on Thursday.
Pakistan will not accept any precondition for talks with India: FO
All components of the composite dialogue, according to him, are part of the ‘comprehensive bilateral dialogue’ the two nuclear armed neighbours agreed upon during the recent visit of India’s external affairs minister to Pakistan.
The foreign secretaries of the two countries are scheduled to meet next month in order to work out modalities and a roadmap for the series of meetings to discuss range of issues including peace and security, Kashmir, trade and commerce, people-to-people contact, Siachen and Sir Creek.
The spokesman of India’s External Affairs Ministry also confirmed on Thursday that the two foreign secretaries were in contact with each other to work out details for future engagements between the two countries.
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“The two foreign secretaries are in touch with each other but the date and venue are yet to be finalised,” Vikas Swarup said.
Role in Saudi military alliance
Responding to a question, Qazi confirmed that Pakistan is a part of the 34-nation military alliance led by Saudi Arabia, but said the extent of Islamabad’s participation in the coalition’s activities has yet to be decided.
“A question was asked earlier as to whether Pakistan is part of the 34-nation alliance against terrorism or not. The answer is yes, we have welcomed it and are part of it,” he said.
“We have welcomed the alliance and, to be specific, will participate in it as it is against terrorism. The only thing that needs to be decided is the extent of our participation in various activities of the alliance,” the spokesman added.
Pakistan wants cordial ties with India without compromising: army chief
Asked to comment on the absence of key Muslim countries from the alliance, Qazi offered no comment – Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and even Iran are not part of the coalition.
A western diplomat familiar with the development termed the Saudi move a ‘political stunt’ and pointed out that it will have little impact on the ground.
Pakistani officials, on the other hand, are privately saying that Islamabad may have supported the new Saudi initiative due to its strategic ties with the Kingdom but its role will remain restricted to cooperation on counter terrorism efforts.
The FO also emphasised that Pakistan supported the Saudi alliance because it was meant to fight terrorism. This implies that Islamabad will not become part of any effort by Saudi Arabia or its Arab allies to dislodge the Syrian government under the pretext of fighting the Islamic State.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2015.
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