Pakistan on Thursday said it wants “all-encompassing” talks with India with the issues of Kashmir and river water sharing topping the agenda, and wants to be seen as firm that the engagement must take place in the framework of the composite dialogue process.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told a television channel that Pakistan would welcome India’s readiness to hold talks with Pakistan after a 14-month hiatus if the engagement would lead to the resumption of the composite dialogue process.
“India is sending signals that they are willing to talk bilaterally. We welcome this if it leads to resumption of the composite dialogue,” he said.
Earlier, speaking at a weekly briefing before India’s proposal for Foreign Secretary-level talks was made public in New Delhi, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said “some proposals” for talks were being discussed, but did not give details.
He said, however, that Pakistan “would welcome first of all the resumption of the composite dialogue because we are for a meaningful engagement with India.”
Mr. Basit disagreed with a questioner over the usefulness of the composite dialogue process in the four years that it provided the framework for India-Pakistan talks before running aground on the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
“I think the process of composite dialogue has been successful in the context of Jammu and Kashmir in generating the possible or the required momentum, and the two countries agreed on a number of confidence-building measures in the context of J&K, so I would not agree with you that the composite dialogue has not been achieved anything concrete,” he said.
Mr. Basit said there were proposals from India for talks and “some discussion” had taken place over this, but declined to make the details public. However, he repeatedly talked about the composite dialogue process as the way forward.
“Pakistan has always believed that it is through genuine and meaningful talks that Pakistan and India can resolve their bilateral disputes, including the long-simmering Jammu and Kashmir and water issues. From our perspective, talks should be all-encompassing and result-oriented,” Mr. Basit said, repeating that Pakistan would “therefore, welcome resumption of the composite dialogue.”
The Dawn newspaper also reported on Thursday that Pakistan would accept no format short of the composite dialogue process.
February 5 is annually observed in Pakistan as Kashmir Solidarity Day, and speaking a day ahead, Mr. Basit said Pakistan would take up the Kashmir issue with India “whenever the composite dialogue was resumed.”
There was no need to be “pessimistic” on Kashmir, the spokesman assured his Pakistani questioner, adding that Pakistan would stand by the people of Kashmir and continue lobbying the international community over the issue until it was resolved in accordance with their aspirations.
Mr. Basit also said Pakistan was weighing all options on what he described as a “breach” of the Indus Water Treaty by India. “We will at the end of the day proceed in accordance with our national interests,” he said.