Press briefing by Official spokesperson of the ministry of external
Navtej Sarna: We have seen press reports of remarks attributed to Mr Khursheed Mahmood Kasuri, Foreign Minister of Pakistan, concerning the terrorist bomb blasts which took place in Mumbai on July 11.
We find it appalling that Foreign Minister Kasuri should seek to link this blatant and inhuman act of terror against innocent men, women and children to the so called lack of resolution of disputes between India and Pakistan. His remarks appear to suggest that Pakistan will cooperate with India against the scourge of cross-border terrorism and terrorist violence only if such so called disputes are resolved. Terrorism cannot be tolerated on any grounds whatsoever, and no cause justifies the murder of innocent people. We would hope that the Government of Pakistan rejects any such linkage and joins hands together with India to defeat the forces of terrorism, based on an ideology of extremism and violence. We would urge Pakistan to take urgent steps to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism on the territory under its control, act resolutely against groups and individuals, who are responsible for terrorist violence and fulfill its solemn commitments enshrined in the India-Pakistan Joint Press Statement of January 6, 2004.
We have seen media reports regarding the elections held on 11 July 2006 in what Pakistan calls 'Azad Jammu and Kashmir'. Once again the entire exercise shows the lack of credibility of the electoral process in the so-called 'AJK'. Earlier, nominations of 30 out of 31 candidates of the pro-independence Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front - Amanullah Khan (JKLF) were rejected after they refused to sign the declaration of Kashmir's accession to Pakistan. The 'AJK' Election Commission also rejected 30 nominations of the All Party National Alliance, a coalition of other pro-independence parties of Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.
Besides disqualifying all political parties and candidates who failed to meet the condition of declaring their allegiance to the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan from contesting the elections, Pakistan has also not allowed international observers to monitor the election process. These elections can, therefore, neither be called free and fair nor an exercise in self-governance.
The 14-member 'AJK' Council, the upper house of the AJK Parliament, is headed by the Pakistan Prime Minister as Chairman and the 'AJK' President as Vice-Chairman. Islamabad nominates five members to the Council from the Members of the Pakistan National Assembly and there are three ex-officio members. The Chairman, along with these federal nominees, gives the Government of Pakistan a majority in the Council as, of the 14 members, there are only six members elected through the 'AJK' Assembly. Real power thus, rests with the officials of Pakistan and the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs in Islamabad.
The situation in Gilgit-Baltistan, the other part of Pakistan occupied Kashmir, is even worse as it has never had even a semblance of representative institutions. Elections have never been held in these areas and the residents do not enjoy the basic political right to vote.
Some developments also related to the Thar Express, which you know has started with an average of 200 passengers per service and increased in popularity to carry about 700 passengers each way. Under an agreement, there were 7 coaches which could go up to 10 coaches by mutual consent. However, unfortunately, the Government of Pakistan has requested that due to infrastructure constraints, they are unable to handle the growing number of passengers at Zero Point station in Pakistan, and we should only run this train with 7 coaches. Naturally, this will limit the number of passengers that can be accommodated in this train to 400 per trip, and therefore from July 21 onwards, the Thar Express will only have 7 coaches. It will not carry more than 400 passengers a week each way, and naturally the issuance of tickets will also be restricted to this number.
Question: Are the Foreign Secretary Level talks still on track?
Navtej Sarna: I do not have any announcement on the dates as yet.
Question: Will this have an impact on the CBMs?
Navtej Sarna: I think I have given you a detailed enough briefing. Any interpretation is yours.
Question: Are these talks scheduled for July 21?
Navtej Sarna: As I said, I don't have any announcement regarding the dates.
Question: As far as the statement is concerned, on the Mumbai blasts, you have spoken again of the need for the dismantling of the infrastructure of terrorism. Does India believe that the infrastructure of terrorism in Pakistan is related to the carnage in Mumbai?
Navtej Sarna: On the specific operations regarding yesterday, the relevant agencies are doing their work and no doubt the results will be made available.
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