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Pakistan offers ministerial talks to reduce Indo-Pak tension

Publication Date : 17-01-2013

 

Pakistan yesterday urged India to engage with it at the foreign ministers level to reduce tensions on the Line of Control (LoC) and the United States welcomed the Pakistani offer.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who is currently in New York, also advised Indian leaders to avoid making statements that could further increase tensions between South Asia’s two nuclear-armed neighbours.

“Instead of issuing belligerent statements by the military and political leaders from across the border and ratcheting up tension, it is advisable for the two countries to discuss all concerns related to Line of Control with a view to reinforcing respect for the ceasefire, may be at the level of the foreign ministers to sort out things,” she said.

“Continued tension along the LoC is not in the interest of peace and stability in the region,” she warned.

In an official statement released by the Pakistan mission at the UN, the foreign minister noted that Pakistan and India were both important countries of South Asia and “it’s imperative for them to demonstrate requisite responsibility for ensuring peace by addressing all concerns through dialogue”.

The foreign minister warned that “the rhetoric and ratcheting up of tensions” was “certainly counter-productive” and recent statements from New Delhi had disappointed Pakistan.

“We are saddened and disappointed at the continued negative statements emanating from India both from the media as well as certain Indian leaders,” she said.

For its part, Pakistan had observed “a measured and deliberate self-restraint” in its public statements on India, Khar pointed out.

“This has been done keeping in view the interest of peace in the region. We have invested hugely in the dialogue process and have worked energetically to keep the dialogue process moving forward in a sustained and constructive manner. Pakistan has gone out of the way to build constructive relationship with India,” she said.

At a regular news briefing at the US State Department, spokesperson Victoria Nuland welcomed Pakistan’s offer for foreign minister level talks. “We favour dialogue between India and Pakistan on all of these issues in any and all channels,” she said.

She noted that the United States had been expressing its concerns on recent clashes along the LoC ever since the current dispute began and had encouraged the two countries to resolve this issue, “talking directly at senior levels”.

Nuland also noted that the situation had calmed and during the last 24 hours both governments had recommitted themselves to dialogue.

Responding to a question on internal political disputes in Pakistan, Ms Nuland reiterated the US positions that this was an issue for Pakistanis to resolve in a “just and transparent way”.

The US official pointed out that Pakistan “has an established electoral process, outlined in the Constitution” and that process had to be respected.

Asked if the US saw the possibility of a military coup in Pakistan, Nuland said the issue “needs to be solved democratically and according to the Constitution”.

“That’s an internal issue for Pakistanis to resolve, as long as it is resolved in a just and transparent manner that protects the constitution, protects the rule of law,” she said in an earlier statement. “We stand strongly in favour of a democratically elected civilian government in Pakistan, and we’ll continue to do so.”

Nuland noted that the Pakistani foreign minister had come to New York primarily because Pakistan was taking over as chair of the UN Security Council. “So the talks with her will focus primarily on UN and multi-lateral issues.”

She said the US Embassy in Islamabad was closed during the last two days and would remain closed for public service yesterday as well “because of the number of people out in the streets”.

The US ambassador had also been “very active” during this period but “I am not going to get into details of his activities,” she said.

The embassy, she noted, had advised Americans living in Pakistan to take usual security precautions but had not issued a new security alert.

 

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