Today's Paper

Kashmir root cause of tensions: Gilani

Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on Sunday called for a speedy resolution to the Kashmir issue, describing it as the “root cause” of tensions between India and Pakistan. He expressed disappointment that the issue was not included in the mandate of U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke.

Mr. Gilani, who was addressing a press conference on his return from the Davos World Economic Forum, said Pakistan’s findings on the material provided by India on the Mumbai attacks would be made public soon, as the Ministry of Law and Justice had vetted it.

“The dossier that was sent to us has been investigated by the Ministry of Interior and the findings have been referred to the Ministry of Law and Justice. After their approval, I will take the world into confidence,” Mr. Gilani said.

He said he would not “jump to any conclusion” about the findings, and would not comment on statements by Pakistan’s envoy to the U.K. that the attack had not been planned in Pakistan. He suggested that the diplomat had spoken without authorisation.

Asked about the prosecution of suspects held in connection with the Mumbai incidents, Mr. Gilani said, “if anyone is found guilty, we will proceed according to our own laws of Pakistan.”

Mr. Gilani said relations with India “were very good” before the Mumbai incident, and ruled out an “immediate” improvement, blaming this on the public pressure being faced by the Indian government in the wake of the attacks.

“Actually, with the recent incident of Mumbai, there is a lot of hostility and there is tremendous pressure from people of India on the government, Therefore, it is not easy to have better relations with India immediately,” he said.

Mr. Gilani also spoke of Kashmir as the “root cause” of the tensions with India.

“Whenever we met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, we said that all issues must be resolved, including the issue of Kashmir, so that we can focus our attention on the common challenges faced by the two countries,” he said.

He suggested that a solution to Kashmir was tied to regional stability. “When they said they appointed Richard Holbrooke as special envoy for the region, we appreciated it, but we later realised that his mandate would include only Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Mr. Gilani said.

The Prime Minister said it was Pakistan’s belief that India should also be included. “Until Kashmir is on the agenda, when you talk about terrorism, a problem comes up because when there is talk of self-determination or ‘azadi,’ it gets bracketed with terrorism and that becomes a problem,” he said.

“So we are asking for regional co-operation, so a permanent solution can be found to the core issue. We have to see how far [the U.S.] appreciates our position so that we can have prosperity in the region.”

House resolution blocked

The Foreign Ministry is reported to have blocked a move by the National Assembly to adopt a resolution demanding that the U.S. expand the mandate of Mr. Holbrooke, to include Kashmir, or to appoint a separate envoy to deal with the issue.

The Dawn reported that the move in the Lower House of Parliament, initiated by Marvi Memon of the Pakistan Muslim League (Q), had cross-party backing.

The notice read: “This House resolves to ask President Obama to send a U.S. envoy on Kashmir or to include Kashmir’s resolution in the mandate of the U.S. envoy on Afghanistan and Pakistan.” On the advice of Parliamentary Affairs Minister Babar Awan, the text was sent to the Foreign Ministry, which sent back what Ms. Memon described as a “diluted” version.

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