Resumption of composite dialogue is only sensible course:Pak


Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi termed as a "positive development" the Joint Statement issued last week after talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani in Sharm-el Sheikh and said it needed to be taken forward.

Qureshi told PTI in an interview here that Pakistan had taken steps for punishing the perpetrators of 26/11 and "there is recognition by the Indian Foreign Secretary (Shivshankar Menon) that cooperation they (India) have received from Pakistan on this occasion is unprecedented."

He said "the fact that Pakistan reiterates its position on cooperating with India in bringing perpetrators of Mumbai attacks to justice is a positive development."

Contending that "engagement is the most sensible way forward and dialogue is the only sensible course," he said, "resumption of composite dialogue will help both countries because we are of the view that engagement, sitting across the table on different issues, is better than disengagement."

Referring to the Joint Statement, the Pakistan Foreign Minister said: "We realise and agree that there are outstanding issues that can be resolved through bilateral negotiations and incremental progress."

In the Joint Statement, India had agreed to delink terror from action taken by Pakistan against terrorism.

This aspect was seen as a climb down by India which has been maintaining that there can be no talks till Pakistan dismantles terror infrastructure existing on its soil and acts against perpetrators of Mumbai attacks.

However, despite the Joint Statement, Singh has maintained that "starting point for any meaningful dialogue will depend on actions by Pakistan."

Qureshi, who was in Phuket to attend ASEAN Regional Forum Meeting, said the joint statement marks a recognition by both the countries that they have common challenge (of terrorism) that needs to be resolved.

"We have to continue to be positive. We have to continue moving forward," he said.

He also described as a "positive development" the decision of the two countries that Foreign Secretaries will meet as and when required and the Foreign Ministers will meet in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September.

On Jamaat-ud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed being released by Lahore High Court, Qureshi attributed it to independence of judiciary.

"Judiciary is independent, as it is independent in India, it is independent in Pakistan," he said about the release of Saeed, mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, who was set free by Lahore High Court citing lack of evidence.

Qureshi claimed that the Pakistan government had gone in for appeal against Saeed's release after seven months of detention following the Mumbai attacks.

The release was seen as a result of Pakistan's lack of interest to take his prosecution to logical end.

Qureshi said trial against the people apprehended in Pakistan for Mumbai attacks has "started in right earnest". Pakistan has arrested five LeT members in connection with 26/11 and chargesheeted them last week.

On the confession of Amir Ajmal Kasab, the only surviving attacker of Mumbai, the Pakistan Foreign Minister said "we have not received yet the authenticated copy of his statement. Once we get it, we will respond."

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