ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said he will contact his Indian counterpart SM Krishna this month to suggest dates for a meeting to work out the ‘modalities’ for resuming dialogue between the two states.
““My intention is to invite [Krishna] to Pakistan. We can sit together and take up things according to the responsibility entrusted to us by the two Prime Ministers and move forward,” Qureshi said on Wednesday in a televised interview. Qureshi said if Krishna was unable to visit Pakistan for some reason, he would be willing to go to India in the “spirit of engagement, and take things forward”.
Last month Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh had met on the sidelines of the 16th Saarc summit in Thimpu, Bhutan. The two leaders had asked their respective foreign ministers to chalk out a plan for resuming talks. Asked if he expected a breakthrough in talks this year, Qureshi said: “It is a good start that the suspended dialogue has resumed.” Qureshi did not answer directly when he was asked if India and Pakistan had decided to give up the composite dialogue format in future talks.
He said the two states had decided “to discuss Kashmir, Sir Creek, Siachen (and) any issue of concern to Pakistan and India”. All eight segments of the composite dialogue would be discussed and the two countries were free to bring more issues to the table if they desired, he said. Asked if US pressure had led India and Pakistan to resume dialogue, Qureshi said: “Both India and Pakistan are sovereign countries that make their own decisions.” “Pakistan’s position was always very clear.
It did not suspend the dialogue and it repeatedly said it would be better if the process is kept going. If there is disengagement, your agenda will be handed over to the terrorists. They will think the process is so weak that one incident can scuttle it,” he said. The dialogue process between the two countries “should be taken forward so that it becomes irreversible and no act of terrorism can impede it,” Qureshi continued. He claimed that India had realised it was in its own interest to re-engage with Pakistan, he contended.
Asked about Pakistan’s water issue with India, Qureshi said Pakistan had informed India about taking the Kishanganga project issue to the International Court of Arbitration after the failure of efforts to settle the matter bilaterally. Water is a serious issue linked to Pakistan’s economy, he said. At the same time, Qureshi said Pakistan has certain responsibilities in ensuring that river water within its territory was not improperly used or mismanaged.
On Wednesday, Qureshi also said that Pakistan was trying very hard to eradicate terrorism, adding that India should realise that Pakistan is itself a victim of terrorism. Of recently convicted Mumbai attacker Ajmal Kasab, the foreign minister said: “We will give our response after going through the detailed judgment.”