Today's Paper

Ready for talks at Munich: Pak.

ISLAMABAD, JAN. 31. Pakistan has reiterated its offer of talks with India at any time, anywhere and said if there was inclination on the part of India, the Pakistan Foreign Minister, Abdul Sattar, would have no objection meeting the Indian representative at the Munich conference on ``Security Policy''.

The National Security Adviser and Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Brajesh Mishra, is expected to take part in the conference from the Indian side. ``If there is a possibility, there will be no lack of enthusiasm on our side,'' the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman, Aziz Ahmed Khan, told a news conference here.

Mr. Khan said Mr. Sattar would attend the conference organised by the Herbert Quandt Foundation and that Pakistan has been invited for the first time to the ``prestigious forum'' in which China and India had participated regularly. Mr. Sattar would speak on the fight against terrorism, the emerging prospects for peace and the unity of Afghanistan and Pakistan's efforts for a dialogue to address the Kashmir dispute.

Answering a question, Mr. Khan accused India of rejecting its ``eminently good offer'' to begin talks on troops pullout. ``It is unfortunate that such an eminently good gesture from Pakistan has once again been spurned on some `flimsy pretext'. We would rather discuss things across the table seriously''.

On the reported comments made by the Minister of State for External Affairs, Omar Abdullah, about both the countries holding talks on formalisation of the Line of Control, Mr. Khan said ``as far as Kashmir question is concerned, there are U.N. resolutions. There is also the Shimla agreement that calls for talks to resolve this dispute. It is a question of the people exercising their will. It cannot be resolved by making press statements''.

He said, ``the representatives of the two countries have to hold talks with each other, then the Kashmiri people have to be involved. Then we can determine whatever the people of Kashmir decide for their future for the fate of the State in which they live''.

The Press Secretary to the Pakistan President, Rashid Qureshi, said ``the LoC has been in effect for 40 to 50 years. Despite this, there is Indian firing daily. The LoC seems to be the problem. The problem cannot be a solution. Therefore to talk about a solution without talks or without getting into negotiations is not worth much''

About the Pakistani militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed figuring in the State of the Union Address by the U.S. President, George W. Bush, Mr. Khan said Pakistan had already banned the group.

Recommended for you