Ball in India’s court: Qureshi

Agencies April 27, 2010

THIMPHU, BHUTAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that Pakistan is always ready to revive the stalled peace talks with India to resolve all thorny issues and it has even agreed to accept mediation in this regard but the delay is from the Indian side.

The foreign minister told journalists in the Bhutanese city of Thimphu where Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani also met with his Bangladeshi and Bhutanese counterparts on the sidelines of the 16th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc): “Pakistan has no problem to restart the dialogue process with India and even all political parties in Pakistan are on board on this issue. But the Indian leadership is facing internal political problems that have been impeding the resumption of the dialogue process,” Qureshi said referring to the composite dialogue process suspended by Delhi following the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

He said Pakistan was ready to accept mediation from the United States, Saudi Arabia or China for resolving decades-old issues that have been bedeviling relations between the two neighbours. “Now the international community has realised that India is facing internal problems to resume dialogue,” he said, adding that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had engaged his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh and the two leaders had agreed to continue the dialogue process. “In my opinion Prime Minister Singh wants to resume talks with Pakistan, but due to pressure from his Congress party, he cannot take a decision,” Qureshi said.

The minister said that he had presented a roadmap for continuation of peace talks in a meeting with his Indian counterpart in New York. But he regretted that so far India has not responded to to the roadmap. Qureshi said Pakistan has initiated a process to arrest the culprits involved in the Mumbai attacks and their case was in the court. “Now there is need to give due respect and honour to the court process,” he added. Referring to the Mumbai attacks, the minister said Pakistan faced many incidents like Mumbai and lost a large number of innocent people and soldiers in the war against terrorism.

Foreign Minister Qureshi is part of Prime Minister Gilani’s entourage which is in Bhutan to participate in the Saarc summit. Premier Gilani met with his Bhutanese and Bangladeshi counterparts. In his meeting with Bhutan’s premier Jigmi Y Thinley, Gilani emphasised the need for closer cooperation among Saarc member states. He said the spirit of Saarc that has brought together all the members in Thimphu should be used to bring the people of the region closer. “We must utilise the Saarc forum to develop relationships between the member states as well as for peace and prosperity in the region,” he said.

Premier Thinley appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to improve law and order in Swat and added that improvement of the situation would help the people of Bhutan to visit that area as it was the birthplace of the second most important Bhudda guru Padmas Ambava. In his meeting with Bangladesh’s Sheikh Hasina Wajid, Prime Minister Gilani said the scope of relations between the two countries could be used to explore new avenues in business arena, as they enjoyed friendly relations based on shared faith and heritage.

He also stressed the need for promoting people-to-people contacts for enhancing relations between the two states. Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh valued its close and friendly relations with Pakistan and desired to further strengthen relations with it at diplomatic, political, economic and trade levels.