Sequencing of issues should not intend to 'score points': Pak

Sequencing of issues should not intend to 'score points': Pak

Asserting that both countries have to act "responsibly", Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, in an exclusive interview to PTI, said "we need to create a right atmosphere".
"We need to change the atmosphere from one of bickering and acrimony to good.... We have been successful so far," he said while commenting on meeting with his counterpart Nirupama Rao where both sides agreed to have a series of interactions to discuss outstanding issues over the next few months before Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi's visit to New Delhi in the middle of this year.

Rao had said the various identified issues would be discussed over the next few months in a sequence which she refused to specify."It is a ladder, we have to climb. There will be a sequence. Obviously, it will have to be a sequence. The things which need to be done quickly, will be done first. The things which need more preparation will be done a little later. But we hope to have all this well in place before the visit of Foreign Minister Qureshi (to Delhi)," she said.

Asked how Pakistan would like to do sequencing of the outstanding issues during the interactions ahead of the visit, Bashir said "we are trying to work that out in a manner so that it doesn't mean point scoring or one upmanship... The intention should not be to score point or take unilateral advantage."

The Pakistan Foreign Secretary said both he and Rao sincerely believe that moving ahead and engaging each other was in the interest of both countries.Bashir said there was no doubt in sincerity of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intention to have friendly relations with Pakistan.

Asked if he still maintains what his Foreign Minister S M Qureshi said about Singh not being backed by his political party in the peace initiative with Pakistan, Bashir said "it doesn't make a difference."

Last year, after his talks with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna in Islamabad ended in acrimony, Qureshi had said that though Singh was sincere in his efforts to have friendly ties with Pakistan, his party (Congress) does not back him on the issue.Bashir also said the feeling on both sides was to "take ownership and move forward" to resume the dialogue process.

After holding ice-breaking talks with Bashir here on Sunday, Rao has said the two countries were in the process of bridging the "trust deficit" and appealed that the process of re-engagement should not be "killed" by anybody through any statement or action. "Let it breathe," she said.

"For the next few months, things are not going to remain dormant. There will be activity... There will be a lot of activity, lot of interaction that had in a sense been put in abeyance for many months now. The intention from both sides is to resume that process," Rao told reporters here on the margins of a SAARC conference.

She identified the issues that would be discussed between departments concerned on both sides as J-K, peace and security, terrorism, narcotics trafficking, Sir Creek, Siachen, trade, promotion of people-to-people contacts and cross-LoC trade.

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