'Never In The Last 60 Years...'
Says the Pakistan foreign minister have India and Pakistan 'had such a sustained discussion on Jammu and Kashmir' as this time. 'And it is no secret that it is being discussed at various levels.'
MEDIA INTERVIEWS PRANAB MUKHERJEE & KHURSHID MAHMOOD KASURI
Joint Press Interaction of External Affairs
Minister Pranab Mukherjee with Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri during his visit to Islamabad
Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri: It gives me great pleasure to welcome the Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee and gives me an opportunity to reciprocate the hospitality that he showed to me and my wife during my private visit to Delhi. Today, we had a long and productive session; first we had a one to one; then we had informal delegation level discussion and a short formal session in which His Excellency handed over to me an invitation. It is great pleasure to receive Mr. Pranab Mukherjee in Pakistan. We had useful exchange of views in cordial and constructive atmosphere. H.E Mr. Pranab Mukherjee’s visit has provided a good opportunity to review the status of our bilateral relations. It is matter of satisfaction to note the overall improvement in relations between the two countries. Mr. Pranab Mukherjee called on the President and the Prime Minister of Pakistan. He also delivered letters to the Prime Minister and myself to attended the 14th SAARC Summit to be held in New Delhi. We reviewed the progress on all issues on the agenda of composite dialogue framework. We also took certain decisions. I would request H.E Mr. Pranab Mukherjee to read out these decisions for you.
Pranab Mukherjee: I would like to express my gratitude for extending very warm hospitality to me and to the members of my delegation. I would also like to apologize to all of you ladies and gentlemen for keeping you waiting for quite some time but this only shows that we were engaged in lengthy discussions. I had the privilege of calling on the President and the Prime Minister. I handed over the letter of our Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, inviting him to attend the 14th SAARC Summit scheduled to be held in Delhi on 3rd and 4th April. I also had the opportunity of handing over invitation to H.E Foreign Minister Kasuri to attend the SAARC Council of Ministers meeting as it will be 14th SAARC Summit meeting and it would be 28th SAARC Council of Ministers meeting scheduled to be held one day before the Summit begins. We had a very fruitful and useful discussion. It was held in the most cordial atmosphere. We exchanged our views freely and frankly. As I have told you of having had the privilege of calling on the President and the Prime Minister—both of them received me very warmly. Since my arrival in Islamabad, though it is my first visit, I never had the feeling that I was outside of my atmosphere or place, the hospitality is such. As he [Mr Kasuri] mentioned, we had the privilege of reviewing the Composite Dialogue. The review took place in Delhi last year when the two Foreign Secretaries met in last November. We also had detailed review and after detailed discussion on certain issues, we have come to certain decisions which I am reading for you:
- I have invited the Foreign Minister to come to Delhi in connection with the meeting of Joint Commission which will be held in New Delhi in February 2007. Foreign Minister has kindly accepted my invitation. This is not related to SAARC.
- We agreed to establish a committee on prisoners comprising retired judges of the superior judiciary to visit jails in the two countries and propose steps to ensure humane treatment and expedite release of prisoners who have complete their prison terms.
- We have agreed to expedite the Liberalization of the Visa Regime and agreed to complete the work in February 2007.
- Several agreements which are near or close to finalization will be concluded during the February visit of Foreign Minister Kasuri. These will include: a) The Agreement on Reducing the Risk from Accidents relating to Nuclear Weapons etc., b) Speedy return of inadvertent Line Crossers, c) Prevention of incidents at Sea.
- On Siachen, we discussed the issue and decided that the officials will meet at an early date to address the issue.
- We agreed to facilitate movement of diplomats to Noida and Gurgaun in India and Taxila and Hasan Abdal in Pakistan. Procedures for this will be worked out.
- We agreed that the first meeting of the Joint Anti-terrorism Mechanism takes place before end of March 2007.
- Regarding Sir Creek, the officials concerned will be directed to expedite their work. The joint survey of Sir Creek will begin on 15th January 2007.
- We have decided to launch the Fourth Round of Composite Dialogue (and that) would be held on 13-14 March, 2007.
Once again, I take this opportunity for thanking
Mr Kasuri for extending hospitality to me and the members of my delegation.
Question: Will India fulfill its commitment in handing over Jinnah House to Pakistan? How close you are after today’s discussion on an agreement on Siachen?
Pranab Mukherjee: I am fully aware of the sentiments of the people of Pakistan in regard to Jinnah House. I respect the sentiments. We are fully aware of the issue and we will resolve the issue as expeditiously as possible. In response to your second question, we have discussed this issue several times, discussions have taken place. It would be difficult for me to give you the exact time frame, but we have decided to instruct the officials concerned to expedite the process.
Question: There is a general perception that if there is forward movement on Joint Mechanism on Terror, this will facilitate Premier Manmohan Singh to visit your country. How optimist are you? If there is no support of the people, it becomes difficult to take it forward.
Khurshid Kasuri: I disagree with you. If the people did not support the peace process, it would have finished long ago. If there have been bomb blasts in India and Pakistan, accusing fingers have been pointed at each other. My own impression is that there is a strong support for the peace process notwithstanding the reservation the people in both countries have regarding each other. And that is the reason why we are going to launch the fourth round of Pak-India composite dialogue. Regarding the anti-terror mechanism, this is in the interest of both the countries; Pakistan and India have suffered at the hands of terrorists. India has been voicing its concerns regarding certain people. We have also been voicing our concerns regarding certain regions and the people. We do not wish to queer the pitch or the atmosphere by going into the details. It is to say, we recognize India’s sensitivities and hopefully India recognizes our sensitivities. If we are not serious, the President of Pakistan and the Prime Minister of India would not have agreed to the creation of joint anti-terror mechanism in Havana. And if we were not serious, we would not have fixed the date for first meeting of anti-terror mechanism meeting.
Pranab Mukherjee: I will start from what my friend H.E. Foreign Minister has said that the very establishment of anti-terror mechanism is the outcome of the joint statement issued by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and President Musharraf at Havana. Thereafter at the foreign secretary level meeting in Delhi in November, the actual composition and the institution was worked out. Now we have decided and are giving them a date by which they have to meet. Surely, when they meet, they will work out the mechanism and we have decided to make this experiment fruitful so that this become an effective instrument to combat terrorism. Terrorism is friend of nobody and it is the biggest menace in the post-Cold War era and most of the countries recognize that it requires strong determination to combat terrorism and concerted efforts of the international community as a whole. Prime Minister has accepted the invitation and a suitable date will be fixed mutually through the diplomatic channels.
Question: The Prime Minister desires friendship with Pakistan. Do you think without solution of Kashmir, there can be lasting friendship between the two countries?
Pranab Mukherjee: To have enduring peace and friendship between Pakistan and India is absolutely necessary. Of course, there are issues which ought to be resolved. And serious efforts are to be made to resolve these issues. The composite dialogue is leading towards resolving the issues. I do not think these two ideas are contradictory to each other, rather they are complementary to each other. Problem resolution and institutional arrangements of ensuring peace are the two sides of the same coin and we are trying to attempt that.
Question: Time frame for Kashmir problem…. Musharraf proposals….?
Pranab Mukherjee: You have answered your own questions when you referred that the problem is existing for the last 60 years. In these 60 years, several attempts have been made starting from Simla agreement in 1972 to latest Havana declaration by the statesmen of the two countries. Unfortunately, we have not been able to resolve this issue. It is difficult to give a time frame because talks are going on. In respect of the proposals of President Musharraf, you have read the response given by the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh that all these issues should be discussed and we are ready to consider each and every idea to find a solution.
Khurshid Kasuri: In addition to what H.E. has said, we have never, in the past 60 years, had such a sustained discussion on Jammu and Kashmir as we have had this time. And it is no secret that it is being discussed at various levels. The very fact that the Prime Minister of India made those positive statements should be a reflection the way this matter is progressing.
Question: Musharraf said there should be joint control. What is India’s reaction? Mr Kasuri, can you give us more details about your discussion on Siachen?
Pranab Mukherjee: So far my response to the first question is concerned; I have already mentioned that the Prime Minister has given his views in Amritsar. Any idea of resolving the issues could be considered, examined and an attempt made to find a solution.
Khurshid Kasuri: On Siachen, let me say here, although I was accused by media both in India and Pakistan of being overly enthusiastic, I will repeat what I have said there. Given the political will, it can be resolved in days. Lot of work has been done. H.E. Mukherjee and I are aware of what work has been done. Today, we had a discussion and we agreed that the officials meet early. Some things are there and I cannot go into details publicly. I told him that if the intention was to find where the troops were, we could find means and ways to meet India’s concerns. But we have to go and let the officials meet. Their meeting is necessary for a comprehensive plan (that) Foreign Secretary of Pakistan handed over to India during his last visit. That is a package. It does meet the concerns of the two sides. This package, in our opinion, takes into consideration the concerns of the two sides. Today, we reviewed that. If India’s concerns are where the troops are, means and ways can be found.
Question: ISI sponsoring the insurgency…?
Pranab Mukherjee: It is the responsibility of any government to take appropriate steps to prevent insurgency and the government of India is doing the same. So far as the involvement of certain agencies is concerned, we are aware of it and we have brought it to the notice of appropriate authorities.
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