After the exchange of words on Kashmir by the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, though Nawaz Sharif’s office denied his reported statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here clarified on Thursday that talks, as part of a composite dialogue, could resolve key issues.

Responding to Manmohan Singh’s statement that in his lifetime Pakistan cannot win a war against India, Foreign Office spokesperson Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry on Thursday said Pakistan and India needed to address the mistrust that existed between them. Pakistan was committed to a meaningful dialogue as that was the best way to resolve issues and misunderstandings and improve bilateral relations, he said at the weekly media briefing.

‘Sharif misquoted’

Mr. Chaudhry said Mr. Sharif was misquoted on the Kashmir statement. “Pakistan has always extended moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people, and we would like to see a peaceful resolution of the issue based on U.N. Security Council resolutions,” he pointed out in response to a question on Mr Sharif’s statement that he wants to see “India-held Kashmir” free in his lifetime. At the same time, he said Pakistan’s leadership had expressed the desire to have peaceful and good neighbourly relations with India. The resolution of the Kashmir issue would help achieve that broader objective, he said.

“We have always urged the Indian government to engage with us in meaningful and substantive talks to resolve this long-standing dispute, “he said. While pointing that the Kashmiri leadership should be associated with the dialogue process, he said the government wished to have improved relations with India.

He stressed that all issues between the two countries should be resolved through talks. Improved good-neighbourly relations were an imperative for economic development of the region.

In response to a question if a senior Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front leader was thrown out of a hotel in New Delhi, he said human rights of the Kashmiri people living in “India-occupied Kashmir” must be respected.

Wall issue

To another question on reports of India building a wall on the Line of Control (LoC), he said he too had seen these reports. There was an understanding that there should be no major construction within 500 meters on either side of the LoC and this understanding must be respected.

In response to questions on Siachen, he said the country’s position on the issue is clear. “We hope that India and Pakistan engage in a meaningful dialogue as part of composite dialogue to resolve this issue.”

On the statement of Adviser to Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz that Indian troops must pull out of the Siachen Glacier, Mr. Chaudhry said the comments were made on the environmental dimension of the Siachen issue.

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