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Gilani urges resumption of dialogue

Anita Joshua
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Says ties should not be made hostage to one terror incident

Foreign Secretaries to meet in Thimphu early February Gilani hopes India will respond positively to call for dialogue
Foreign Secretaries to meet in Thimphu early February Gilani hopes India will respond positively to call for dialogue

Bilateral relations between India and Pakistan should not be made hostage to one terror incident, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said on Sunday while urging New Delhi to agree to resume composite dialogue on all outstanding issues.

Mr. Gilani said this during discussions with the visiting German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle. The Minister's visit comes less than a month after the Charge d' Affaires was summoned by Pakistan to convey its disappointment over Chancellor Angela Merkel's reported statements, incriminating Islamabad in the context of terrorism, during talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Germany.

Germany had then clarified that Ms. Merkel's remarks had been misquoted as she had only outlined the general principles of her country's counter-terrorism policy and the remarks were not Pakistan-specific. During the course of Dr. Westerwelle's stay in Pakistan, this is the second time India came up in the deliberations. On Saturday, Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi said India-Pakistan relations were discussed with the German Minister.

Peaceful resolution

Speaking about relations with India, Mr. Gilani said Pakistan believed bilateral ties should not be made hostage to one terror incident and New Delhi should resume composite dialogue with Pakistan to resolve all the outstanding issues, including the Kashmir dispute, peacefully and expeditiously.

Bhutan meet

Referring to the coming meeting between the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries in Bhutan in February along the sidelines of a meeting of the Standing Committee of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, he articulated the hope that India would respond positively and constructively to his government's “sincere efforts” for resumption of a meaningful dialogue.

That the Foreign Secretaries would meet in Thimphu was announced by Pakistan on Saturday, a day after External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna disclosed that Mr. Qureshi had indicated a possible visit to Delhi in the first quarter of this year. Pakistan, however, remained non-committal on a ministerial engagement, with Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit maintaining that it would depend on the Thimphu meeting.

Since the Foreign Minister-level talks in July 2010 — during which India wanted to adopt a graduated approach to dealing with contentious issues as opposed to Pakistan's insistence on a comprehensive dialogue — Islamabad has maintained that New Delhi's cherry-picking attitude will not help the dialogue process.

And, with Kashmir once again on the boil after last summer's violence, Pakistan's contention has been that there is no way it can go to the negotiating table with India and not discuss an issue that has bedevilled bilateral relations since Independence.

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