Kashmir has to be free: Pakistan
NEW DELHI: As expected, Pakistan has begun using the clumsy formulations in the Indo-Pak joint statement to demand dialogue on Kashmir. Seizing
upon the promise in the joint statement on dialogue over all “outstanding issues,” the Pakistan government on Wednesday said there cannot be any talks with India unless Kashmir issue is put on the table. The Pakistan side also went on to say that Kashmir needed to be free.
“We are not ignoring problems with India. We cannot think of peace in the region without solving the Kashmir issue. Terrorism is also a very big issue in front of us. We are trying to solve all the issues that we are facing,” Pakistan’s foreign office spokesman Abdul Basit said.
The development cannot but be discomforting for the Manmohan Singh government, as its leadership has been laying lot of premium on Islamabad’s so called anti-terror commitments. The prime minister, who walked the extra mile at Sharm el-Sheikh, not just de-bracketed composite dialogue from action on terror but pledged to discuss all outstanding issues.
“Action on terrorism should not be linked to the composite dialogue process and these should not be bracketed. Prime Minister Singh said that India was ready to discuss all issues with Pakistan, including all outstanding issues,’’ the Indo-Pak joint statement had said.
Even those sections friendly to the government here had warned that the reference to `outstanding issues’ would be used by Pakistan to demand talks on Kashmir.
The latest statement is sure to give fresh ammunition to the Opposition which has been accusing the government of making concessions to Pakistan. The prime minister, who was forced to re-bracket composite dialogue with terrorism following pressure from his own party and the opposition, has been claiming that the peace loving constituency in the neighbourhood has the clout and the will to force Islamabad to act on India’s concerns.
But there has been little movement from Pakistan on fulfiling any of the assurances given to India. The government has come under renewed criticism from the opposition for Islamabad’s perceived hesitation in proceeding against Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed who is wanted for the Mumbai terror attacks.
The Supreme Court adjourned the Saeed case indefinitely even as Islamabad maintained that there was no evidence of Saeed’s involvement in the Mumbai terror attacks.
New Delhi has said that there is enough information on Saeed in the terror dossiers but Islamabad has maintained that India has to provide proof of his involvement in the attacks. This comes in spite of assurances given by the Pakistan prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to the prime minister in Egypt.
The government is now left reiterating earlier formulations of initiating talks only after steps on terror. Minister of state for external affairs Preneet Kaur said that India would restart the dialogue with Pakistan only if Islamabad fulfils its “commitments.”
“I think that we have never wavered from the stand that we have taken. The prime minister (Manmohan Singh) has given many statements (to that effect),” Ms Kaur told reporters on Wednesday. Indicating that talks at the foreign secretary level is also unlikely to take place, she said that the foreign secretaries level talks was “subject to how they (Pakistan authorities) carry out their commitment”.